Kageki Shoujo!!

Title:Kageki Shoujo!!
Keywords: , , , ,
Notables: Animation - PINE JAM
The Kouka Review is a famous acting troupe composed entirely of young, unmarried women who play all roles. Especially renowned are the Otoko-yaku, the girls who play the parts of men. The troupe is supplied with recruits by the Kouka School of Musical and Theatrical Arts, an extremely selective school which accepts only a tiny fraction of those who apply for admission. Among those who have earned acceptance in the Review's centennial year are the man-phobic former idol Ai Narata and the unusually tall and muscular Sarasa Watanabe, who end up as roommates.

13 episodes
OverallArtAnimationCharacter Design MusicSeries StoryEpisode StoryReviewer
Buy 8 7 8 8 9 9 Ggultra2764 [series:4338#1552]
Kageki Shoujo explores the budding start of various high school girls attending the Kouka School of Musical and Theatrical Arts to become part of the school's famous acting troupe, main focus given to former pop idol Ai and the tall Sarasa. Focus in the series shifts between exploring the developments of the first-year students as they settle into life at Kouka and exploring the pasts and backgrounds of some of the students to explore what led them to want to become part of Kouka. The character development makes for the strongest point of Kageki Shoujo as episodes are focused on exploring the challenges faced by a number of the characters with their personal growth in trying to become successful actresses as part of the Kouka Troupe and even touching into some touchy subjects like sexual harassment, eating disorders, and sexuality. Some acquainted with Japanese culture may spot the similarities that Kouka has with the real-life Takurazuka Revue being an all-female theatrical troupe and sporting similar elements in their aesthetic styles and the types of roles played by their troupe, which is a definite inspiration here. The only major shortcoming I have with the series is that the series ends abruptly during a major point in its plot, which isn't surprising considering its manga source material is still ongoing as of the time I write up this review.

But beyond that, Kageki Shoujo still made for one of the more engaging recent shoujo titles I got to see with its focus on the world of theater. It may not be the first anime that ventures into that realm, but the strong character development and commitment to exploring this world did make it an engaging watch throughout its 13-episode run despite its abrupt ending and certainly among the better anime I've seen for 2021 thus far.

Last updated Saturday, October 09 2021. Created Friday, October 08 2021.
Rent Stretch [series:4338#628]
(All episodes watched):

I didn't take many notes while watching episode one of this show, but it left me curious about how this mis-matched pair of students might do at this unusual school. Ai is initially contemptuous of Sarasa, who she sees as a country bumpkin with totally unrealistic ambitions. Sarasa, on the other hand, likes everyone. No doubt the jaded Ai will be re-taught a few lessons about what it means to be a performer. The signs are that their arrogant upper classmates will not make life easy for them. So far, so good.

The other girls weren't as hostile as I had expected. And Ai is still widely admired while I had thought she might be considered a has-been. Otherwise, Ai and Sarasa didn't really get to know each other much better in episode two. Sarasa can be enthusiastic to the point of being distinctly annoying. In episode three we learn how Ai's man-phobia came about. What her stepfather did to her wasn't really all that extreme--a French kiss?. Like most TV traumas, it's not very realistic or debilitating and can basically be brought completely under control by just avoiding the thing she fears. But it does make her more understandable and likable. It turns out that the 'creep' who Ai once insulted in a scandal that got her thrown out of the GPX48 group wasn't such a bad person after all, which is indicative of characters having greater depth in this show than in most anime (though I wonder why a girl tried to manufacture a scandal for Sarasa in episode four). In a pretty mediocre season, this show was one of only a handful that was looking like a keeper.

A good deal of time is spent fleshing out characters other than Ai and Sarasa. Like the girl who has a weight problem or Sarasa's 'boyfriend' (it seems like an arranged thing which they don't take all that seriously), who is a Kabuki actor, or Kaoru, another student who is under pressure to excel because her grandmother was a famous Kouka actress. I don't exactly see how these people's personalities will make a significant difference in the main plot, the friendship and training of Ai and Sarasa. And every episode spent on these secondary characters is one less to spend on the two girls--can this series wrap up in just one season? Ai seems to have largely shaken off her man-phobia somehow; the story was probably written by someone who knew nothing about anxiety disorders. And what was it again that made Ai shift from being dismissive of Sarasa to liking her? I forget. This show seems less focused and noteworthy than it initially did.

It had seemed that time was running out for this 13 episode series and there were no signs of a powerful climax, but in episode 11 things start to move. The spotlight is back on Ai and Sarasa, and things get genuinely touching. But they are already close friends, aren't they, and what major conflict has yet to be resolved in the two remaining episodes? Will they star side by side in a major production? What with all the time that was spent on minor characters, I got the impression of a story that wasn't long enough for a full season and thus had had to be padded. But things came together pretty well in the final episode. At least one character who had seemed to get time they didn't deserve reappears, which seemed to justify the attention after all. Maybe the same was the case for the others in the original manga. The story could end here in a perfectly satisfactory manner or another season could be seamlessly attached (there was no mention of that). I had been feeling kind of frustrated with this show before this episode, but afterwards I was prepared to give it a pass.

Last updated Monday, September 27 2021. Created Tuesday, July 06 2021.

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