In this review for Revue Starlight The Movie we’ll look at how it’s everything you loved about Revue Starlight dialed up to 11, with a neat little bow to wrap up a truly special series.
Note that while this review won’t contain spoilers for Revue Starlight the movie, it will contain spoilers for the anime and its recap movie, Rondo Rondo Rondo because it is damn-near impossible to talk about this movie without assuming you haven’t seen either of those first.
Growing Up Is Hard
I’m personally a huge fan of how the movie was marketed- at no point do you ever know the plot for the movie, with only a vague inkling that it deals with the impending graduation of the 99th Class in the prestigious Seisho Music Academy.
In this case, the setup for Revue Starlight the movie is actually fairly commonplace- each of the girls is choosing their next path in life, and main character Aijo Karen can’t decide. Her childhood friend Hikari has gone back to the UK to continue her acting career there, and Karen wants for nothing since she got her dream of performing Starlight together with her at the end of the anime.
It’s not just these two having issues- every single one of the pairs is facing similar turmoil- everyone’s making some deeply personal decisions about their future, and feeling like the other in their pair is being selfish and/or being left behind.
I really like this as the core conflict of the entire movie- rather than introduce some new drama, their tension all builds up off where we last saw them in the anime. Futaba wants to strike it out on her own at a prestigious Tokyo theatre troupe, which means not being able to baby her friend Kaoruko anymore since she wants to go home to Kyoto. This is a great example of a plot point originally introduced in the anime that’s expanded on in the movie- Just because Futaba and Kaoruko made up in the anime and were still friends, it doesn’t mean they resolved the issue that Futaba was always going to grow into her own person.
It also helps that all the pairs in this anime have amazing chemistry with each other- the emotionally charged nature of their Revues are a great way to explore what all these stage girls mean to each other, when faced with the idea that they’re eventually going to be separated and forced to deal with it.
If you’re expecting this movie to be a huge battle against a final boss, you’d be good to throw that expectation away. This movie is all about the girls sorting out their issues, against the backdrop of the wi(l)d-screen baroque- a phenomenon teased at the end of Rondo that pulls them back into the mysterious world of the Revues as they realize they need to find new stages to perform.
That being said, the movie does also expand a lot of Karen’s background- she was previously my least favorite part of the anime, being the weakest in a cast of really well-written characters. Revue Starlight the Movie looks into how she got to where she is, setting up just what she’d been doing in the time before she meets Hikari again in a way that actually fits her character.
Just like the anime, the real scene-stealer in Revue Starlight The Movie comes in the form of Moeka Koizumi’s portrayal of Daiba Nana. As the mysterious traitor who’d been trapping the entire 99th class in a timeloop for actual decades due to her obsession with not moving on, we get one of Moeka’s finest performances as Nana skulks around scenes, recognizing that every one of her friends is going through the same thing she was.
We also get some slight expansion on just how much we actually know about the banana-themed stage girl- without going into spoilers, details about everyone’s Banana-chan are at least brought up, making it feel less like the anime had just conveniently forgotten what exactly she is.
Just like the anime, Revue Starlight the Movie features some of the most over-the-top spectacle I’ve ever seen. Revue Starlight is defined by its dramatic fights set to gut-wrenching music- and this movie delivers on all fronts. If you’ve seen Rondo Rondo Rondo you’ll need to know that this is also by far the most violent Revue Starlight movie- there’s a lot of blood and gore and some viewer discretion is advised.
This embracing of adult themes actually works well in the movie’s favor- there are some downright terrifying implications going on in some of the revues, leading to a sense of drama it feels like the anime was asked to steer clear of. It also helps that each of the Revues are shot incredibly well- it’s a literal treat for the eyes, with some really powerful imagery going on.
There’s no real way to describe this outside of that feeling that they’ve very much turned the knob up to 11. Everything you’ve loved about the revue fights in the anime is bigger and louder, but not in a way that feels thoughtless or shallow. Instead of creating some bigger badder revue with an actual villain at the end of it, the stakes feel bigger because the characters are dealing with bigger emotions than squabbling with your classmates.
Suffice to say, Revue Starlight the Movie was a great first review for the year. It would have been easy to make this a cash grab tie-in to the gacha game, or a vehicle to introduce the new generation of Seisho’s Stage Girls. Instead it was a very true-to-message epilogue for the anime, complete with the occasional meta-commentary about the creative process.
That being said, that does mean some baggage- I highly recommend getting into it only after watching both the anime and Rondo- the anime does a better job of telling you who these Stage Girls are, and Rondo is great for expanding the more dreadful nature of the Revues, and Nana as a character.
Still, what it does with its simple plot has to be commended. “The power of friendship” never plays a role in solving their problems: they have real issues with each other, and the movie stresses that they have to address these. It leaves every Revue with a great feeling of closure, since every character acts decisively, unlike their counterparts in the anime.
If you’ve any love for the main cast for Revue Starlight, definitely give Revue Starlight The Movie a look. It combines bold theatrics, great music and some visceral fights along with amazing direction to create something that feels like an amazing sendoff for this cast of characters.
|A thrilling spectacle
|If you haven't watched prior material or came from the gacha game, don't watch this
|Great epilogue for the anime
|Very in-theme with the rest of Revue Starlight