I know, the new season has started, but lemmie finish the old one first, dammit!
In Hatarku Saibou the title of final episode, Hemorrhagic Shock #2, tells you all you need to know. Turns out our new Senpai and Kouhai were not sucked out of the body, but most of their red cell buddies were, and with not many cells left, they’re stuck delivering O2 to cells as fast as they can, possibly knowing that it won’t be enough. We learn that with this shock, blood pressure increases, not good for the cells stuck transporting on the side of a cliff with no room to go but down (or out). Also, body temperature goes down, so our girls are carrying their boxes through a snowstorm, where we get the “It’s useless” speech from the kouhai, and the “fight-on” speech from our favorite. Meanwhile, I’m waiting for the tranfusion, which, when it comes, is amusing enough. The new cells are confused, as are the locals, but the day is saved for whatever body this is, not to mention the trillions of cells doing their job every day. There’s a happy segment where we meet everyone again, and that’s how the show ends–happily.
It was all predictable, because this was a predictable show. Most episodes start happily, there’s a threat, and the threat is disposed of. Along the way the creators roll out predictable side stories, like the Sensei/Kouhai bit in this last story, the cells training to be white cells, or Killer-T’s and nearly failing to make the grade, all the stories with roots that go way back in storytelling and weren’t told very cleverly here. One exception was the allergy episode with the mast cell and the antibody coming to blows was the exception, and that was the funniest episode. The show had to lean on its novelty of humanizing the cells (which was often amusing) and putting their daily routine using symbols we can understand. I think the red cells being the dependable delivery folk we see in Japan every day summed it up the best. And I learned some things about how our body worked, though it meant stopping the action for monologues. Still, even if I expected to be bored by the story every week, I still enjoyed watching. It was cute, happy, and occasionally clever.
Shoujo Kageki Revue Starlight finishes with imagery and symbolism I can only begin to figure out. What I got, however, is that Hikari, believing that grasping for a star, big, little, or both, is a sin, and by shutting herself off in that pink desert she is atoning for the sins of all the others who have tried. Part of that means losing her memory, making herself Claire in the story. Karen manages to break Hikari out of her Sisyphean routine of building a hill out of pink stars and having a big star swing down and destroy it (little idea what that’s supposed to mean with the stars), but once she gets her memory back it means another battle, and Hikari wins again. All of this is cut off from time to time by passionate declarations by the giraffe and cuts to the other girls making nabe at their dorm and setting places for the two missing girls …
All of this is entertaining enough, but then the show turns the weirdness up further, and we get a spectacular rebirth of Karen, the pillars shining an image of Tokyo Tower, only to be smashed up by the big Tokyo Tower, which forms a bridge for Karen. The giraffe expounds excitedly about this being a continuation of the ending, i.e, a break from the cycle of grasping only to be cast down. Wakarimasu! However, for me, wakarimasen. While I love stories where such cycles are broken, I saw nothing from Karen that would allow such a rebirth–it came from nowhere. I get that Hikari realizes that Karen herself is the star she was trying to grasp, but I didn’t catch anything before that would lead to that.
Well, nevermind. The girls return and eat nabe and take up the two lead roles in a production that now has a happy ending. It didn’t entirely sink under the weight of its symbolism though it came close, and I like puzzling shows. I guess that’s why Revue Starlight and Planet With were my two favorite shows this season. Apart from the weirdness, the show did a fine job of fleshing out all of the characters, to the point where one of them was maybe more compelling than the stars. Also, it was great to look at. The camera was always taking an interesting angle to view things and the battle scenes were fluid and exciting. I understand that this show is part of a franchise and no one apart from the creators expected much from it, so for the anime to turn out this well is a testament to the people who made it. Well done. Now, on to the new season!