Revue Starlight: The Movie

Well, Here We Are

Yeah, I don’t have a caption for this post. Usually I would, but I am not sure what kind of simple description would get some bit of what this film is about or whether that would be the angle I would go with. I say this because it is such an interesting movie that occupies so many places at one time. It is that kind of film where it feels like it doesn’t have a focus when it actually does the whole way through. One could call this film a series of vignettes or train stops along the lines of a train ride. What does that remind you of? Well, probably nothing right now because I haven’t gotten into any sort of plot or description for this film yet. But I feel like the people who have watched the series might have an idea.

Then when mentioning the series, I really wasn’t interested in checking out this film at all. Especially since I found the TV series of Revue Starlight to be kind of mediocre to average. Not in terms of ideas because I feel like a takarazuka school that has a secret underground audition where you have to sing and dance against another opponent to find a place in the audition ranking. That itself is a cool idea. But when you see how boring the characters are because they are more archetypes then actual characters or how it doesn’t go all the way with its concept when there is a twist 7 episodes instead of the halfway point. The series is a mess.

So yeah, I decided after seeing some shouting about this film online from people who really liked this main series for some reason, it was finally time to just try it out. I didn’t want that sense of hype to make me dislike it in any proportion because even if I do like a lot of the people who posted about it, there are also people I don’t like saying the same positive things.  It was between this film and Steamboy that recently appeared on, so it was basically a coin flip and well, I will enjoy Steamboy another day. I guess I do have to say that I did enjoy this film a bit better than the tv series even if some of those flaws I had with the tv series are still there.

Where To Start?

I guess the beginning is a good place to start right? Yet, the beginning is the tv series. That is a bit of a surprise in that Revue Starlight: The Movie is a sequel and yet it isn’t? For instance, we are watching the end of Seisho Academy’s 99th graduation class. That means their last play is in motion AND all our kids are going to go somewhere after graduating. Some are just going to try out for a new troupe while others are either going home to use their skills they learned at Seisho in new and fascinating ways they never thought would be possible. Except there are those damaged by what happened at the end of Revue Starlight. Karen doesn’t know what to do with her life ever since Hikari left her. The real story starts when the last play starts to be rehearsed.

That is when the Giraffe appears once again. These girls’ drives and passion show up once again to fuel their fight for a spot on a stage somewhere. Their perfect stage that will fit them. Then there is Hikari being woken up for her hunger of being on the stage with Karen after she ran away from it at the end of the tv series. From London, she joins the vague rail line as everyone else, don’t worry about it, as she journeys to see what happened with Karen and whether she can bring her back. So many of her stops are either something to do with Karen from her backstory with Hikari driving her forward in her own acting while Hikari tries to save her. Add some additional stops with the other characters having their own fights and you can all that the movie structural wise. Definitely a different experience from most films and that’s fun.

The Heart of Revue Starlight: The Movie

It’s pretty clear that this film is about Hikari and Karen. The tv series was about them and so this film is about that relationship coming together again. It’s a very nonlinear sort of way of doing it which I can’t help but really love. Karen isn’t seen on screen that much in person besides some scenes showing that she has fallen behind or doesn’t have anywhere else to go. So I feel like those scenes where she is recapping her own journey working the hardest she can just to get into Seisho Academy. It feels like she is re-examining every decision she made in her life since meeting Hikari when she was very young and barely got into theater acting with that competitive yet friendly spirit with Hikari pushing Karen to go harder just to meet Hikari on the stage again.

Then there is Hikari traveling back to the beginning of the first season where she and Karen met again. That moment when Hikari was the Homura of that classroom by being that mysterious transfer student that can do anything. Of course, that girl never allowed Karen an inch into her life on the stage until the ending of that series so Karen loving her way is Hikari’s fault. So of course she has to get onto the Giraffe’s train from London to return. So it is another culmination and examination of a soul, Hikari’s soul, to repair the damage that was done. It is a very gay and emotionally poignant sort of arc created by all the train stops throughout the film. Eventually, the trains stop at the same station where the two can meet again. The framing is so cool. 

The Problem With So Many Stops

So here is where I question whether or not this is an actual sequel. All the side characters have their fights they already had in the series just redone with better animation. The visuals and singing are not much of a complaint. The singing and dancing are real pieces of spectacle with so many cool shots and framing devices thrown around all of it. But here is the thing, why are these girls having arguments over the same fights over the same sorts of things? It’s been at least two years since they settled all of these things. They just feel so soulless and a waste of time as a result. Maybe if there was a bit more dimension to these characters?

For instance, why are Futaba and Kaoruko fighting over Futaba trying to break out from Kaoruko’s shadow once again? What is the point of that? The ending was the exact same? It really just shows how flat and uninteresting those two are. I have very similar fights about Nana and Junna’s fight because that one is just about Junna breaking out from Nana’s judgment of not being good enough and while being excellent, didn’t have that much thematic richness to it. On the other hand, Claudine and Maya fighting and/or flirting at each other over who is the top of the tops was good because that isn’t something that I could get bored of honestly.

The Symbolism is More Obvious

I just want to start out by saying this isn’t a bad thing. Having a lot of the imagery and symbolism being more readable to a general audience is good. You know, despite some people not having any media literacy with the show is literally pointing and yelling at what the themes of a show are about. Besides Tokyo Tower and position zero in the show, not as much of it was as obvious as it could be. A feature that comes from the slight shift of 12 episodes anime into a two hour movie. It means that a lot of the ideas have to be a bit more condensed and more manageable for everyone to understand. So let’s discuss some more of those.

The giraffe’s purpose becomes a lot more obvious in this film. I admit that I was fine just having the giraffe being there as a picture of insanity. But when he appears in the form of food of all sorts into the vague form of a giraffe? Obviously, he is the few behind everyone’s ambition of moving forward on that stage. That fuel of ambition that comes from wanting something beyond the normal means. I really enjoyed that fact. Then there is the installment of tomatoes which is that activation of performers searching for their next stage. The first bit of food on their journey is somewhat representative of the starting being full of blood. So there is some blood thirstiness to what they are setting out to achieve and its great. 

Some striking imagery comes from that like these girls on top of the stage moving to their next position being killed off while in transit. Especially poignant when those girls get up from those decapitated and brutalized states to move on anyway. That itself joins with a lot of the train imagery of these girls always going somewhere in motion. Or that life is full of a variety of train stops along the way and we can choose where the train is going, but the stops are unplanned. There is a lot of thought being put into these ideas in the film that are very poignant and just ready for analysis. I can only do the bare minimum of that on my end because I am sure there is more out there or there isn’t. It kind of depends, I suppose. 

And Finally, Conclusive Thoughts

So yeah, this film looks good. I mean seriously, the whole thing is kind of incredible in styles and animation with all sorts of cool settings here and there. A really cool sense of direction and style helps elevate the material from great to extraordinary. The series itself already was pretty good looking on a lot of levels, but that was a series that almost imploded due to the schedule of the production and the quality of the show at the brink of following apart. So this film is this production given 4 years to do what they from it. It feels like the original SDF Macross crew working on their Film: Do you Remember Love. It’s them fighting back and showing what they were going for when producing the series and actually achieving it.

So yeah, this show is good by visuals alone, this film is worth watching. The emotional core is what really sells it though. Hikari actually feeling things after being so emotionally distant in the film was a great pay off for her. Same with Karen re-examining her life provided a lot of good sort of energy for it too. Well worth it and well placed on good sorts of level or it too. Can appreciate and see all sorts of good levels and textures for it too. Plus that emotional exploration of what it means to continue fighting for the stage that you should be on because the world isn’t just going to give that to you. IF you watch the series, here is the film that caps off a lot of its plot. It’s worth watching the decent tv show to watch this really cool film. 

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