A break from the auditions comes as Hikari leaves the Academy in the wake of Karen’s loss. Is it still possible to repair their relationship? Remember, if you like this article and 5 Point Discussions, please share it on Facebook or Twitter! It really helps. And if you’ve got any comments or questions, please hit me up @SageShinigami.
1. Few things are funnier in anime than well-placed “foreign” language dialogue. Despite Karen suffering her first loss to Maya last week, the truly shocking event was Hikari’s sudden turn on her–the episode ending with Karen trying to explain her first loss only to wind up getting slapped. “Promise Tower” starts with the familiar “flashback through dreaming” device, with Karen waking up and wanting to settle things with Hikari…except, Hikari’s vanished. There’s no sign of her luggage or things, which sets Karen to looking for her.
Karen’s a bit of a bonehead, so the episode wastes a bit of time having her look for Hikari in impossible places (like under stools or throw pillows) as well as being a bit of a pest and waking up nearly every girl in the house looking for her. The few she doesn’t wake up she ticks off by being generally annoying, which results in this scene where Claudine asks her to go away in French. Unlike most instances with foreign language usage, we’ve known since the beginning Claudine was from France, so having her default to her native tongue when flustered is a great touch.
2. Hilariously, despite making several references to how you’ll get “punished” for discussing the audition with people who aren’t involved in episode two, Kaoruko and Futaba apparently decided “screw the rules” and just told one another about it. They share a quiet moment in the dance practice hall talking about their involvement, and since neither of them have faced one another there’s literally no other way they could’ve found out without risking one side not knowing. This brings into question whether the Giraffe-in-Charge knows as much as he says, or if they simply got lucky. So much of this story is being told deliberately, it seems unlikely we don’t eventually get an idea of what happens if someone does talk to a person who’s uninvolved.
3. It seems like Hikari’s been distant from Karen (and the others) since her first appearance, and “Promise Tower” finally starts to make ways towards breaking that down. Karen wastes half the episode trying to track Hikari down through whatever hints Hikari’s willing to send her through texts, burning through all of her money before Hikari gives her an actual location and stays put. Awkward as it is, their conversation is easily the best part of the episode.
Aside from the glorious scenery porn, it’s reminiscent of what it feels like in real life when you’re around a friend you haven’t seen in a long time. Things start out uneasy, with both of you wondering how much the other has changed and if you can still maintain that closeness you once had, until you have that talk where all the memories and emotions come pouring out at once and you’re just as close as you ever were.
At the end, the two meet under Tokyo Tower, and Hikari explains why she’s been so distant after Karen joined the audition: because losing causes you to lose the “most important part of yourself”. We’re not clear on what that is yet, but it does lend credence towards things getting much darker in the second and final thirds of the series. Still, Karen remains undaunted, suggesting the two pass the audition and become Top Star together, because the giraffe never actually told them there could be only “one”. It’s cute, and Hikari agrees to reach for Top Star alongside her, but pulling it off is going to be much harder than either of them could imagine.
4. At some point the “true stakes” of the audition will be revealed, and we’ll start to see the “true” character behind these girls. Which ones are really loyal, which ones are backstabbing monsters, and so on. That’s why scenes like this, where the girls stand up for Karen and Hikari, who aren’t home by curfew, are so important. They care about each other enough to risk the consequences of being caught by the headmaster, who shows up at their dorm to do a headcount of all the girls. Scenes like this humanize the girls in ways that will be important for everyone arguing over the show later when Kaoruko does something absurd like stabbing Futaba. (Yes I realize I’m behind on these recaps, but if that’s actually happened I haven’t seen it so consider this a successful prediction.)
5. That said, of course they don’t get away with it. Karen and Hikari arrive early in the morning, having to walk back home because thanks to Hikari they spent literally all their money. The girls are anxiously awaiting their fellow classmates–part out of concern, mostly out of wanting to avoid being caught. The last part doesn’t work out so well, as their teacher rides by on a bicycle and informs them all they’ll all be taking some sort of “legendary punishment” for being out after curfew and lying about it. Still, for now Hikari and Karen are back…and Hikari finally feels like she’s at home among them. This is a pretty pure episode, so I’m guessing either next episode or the one after has a huge “Wham!” moment for us.
Shoujo Kageki Revue Starlight is available for streaming on HI-DIVE.
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