This season’s not off to an amazing start. That said, looking over what seems to be the dozen or so male gaze-centric isekai/power fantasy shows and the ton of sequels I have no interest in picking up, it wouldn’t surprise me if these were among the better premiers of the summer.
As I see it, Re-Main has two major problems. First, it seems to be aiming to be a drama, a comedy, and a school sports anime all in one – and while it doesn’t necessarily outright fail at any of this, it doesn’t do a good enough job to stand out as especially unique or competent at any of them either. Aside from the tone being a bit all over the place, making for an uneasy blend of cliché-seeming melodrama and out-of-place humor, I just wasn’t sure what the primary focus was supposed to be, or even whether the show itself knew what it wanted to achieve from this premiere.
The second main issue is that the water polo part was the only real reason I picked Re-Main up in the first place. Don’t get me wrong, I know next to nothing about the sport, but given that I don’t think (?) any anime has featured this as its main selling point before, I figured that even if the premise wasn’t terribly original, at least the sports part of the show would be. However, since there was zero water polo in action throughout this entire episode (and no, a photo of four dudes in speedos doesn’t really count), the show also failed to pique my interest in that regard. This means that the other aspects of the series would have needed to pull enough weight to keep me around for more – and since that isn’t the case here, especially given that the side characters (namely, the parents and the little sister) present a far more interesting viewpoint than our main guy, I’m not sure I feel motivated enough to watch a second episode of this.
So I’m a bit of a fan of the Takarazauka Revue, and I’m also a big fan of Rose of Versailles – both the 70s anime and the Takarazuka stage production, the latter of which I was able to see (the Cosmos troupe 2014 version, just in case anyone was wondering) in person during my first stint of living in Japan. The Revue has made it into plenty of anime before, but mostly in a manner that’s been “inspired by” or “loosely based on” (Revue Starlight), or else as an outright parody (the Zuka Club in Ouran High School Host Club). This is the first anime that I know of where the Revue is all but named as such and the entire plot revolves around it – or at least, the training school version of it. So yeah, knowing nothing about the anime itself going in, I was excited to see what Kageki Shoujo!! might have to offer.
… Not all that much, apparently. Between the bitchy side-characters, the bizarre plot beats (sure, we regularly send in the JSDF to train budding musical stars, wat?), and the gender-related themes that have all the complexity and subtlety of a sledgehammer to the face, I was disappointed, to say the least. Kageki Shoujo!! may present itself as an earnest, albeit not overly heavy, school drama about following your dreams to stardom – a bit like a non-magical Takarazuka version of Kaleido Star – but its ham-fisted approach to its subject matters made the premiere seem more like a bad comedy at times. Neither serious enough to come across as particularly genuine nor campy enough to be charming, Kageki Shoujo!! has some good base ideas and characters to work from, yet fails to make good use of them. And unfortunately, I simply lack the time (or let’s be honest, the patience) to watch stuff that doesn’t grip me right from episode 1, no matter how lackluster the rest of the season may be.
Oh, and as an aside, I’m frankly baffled that this anime of all things was directed, composed, and edited entirely by men – an ironically missed opportunity if I ever saw one.