Ensemble Stars has been growing on me with these past few episodes. Despite my gripes with the pacing and forever annoying telling not showing habits, this series has finally become enjoyable to watch… NINE EPISODES IN. I guess better late than never? Though I doubt normal people would stick around and wait this long for it to finally take off. I have suffered greatly for this moment. Though to be fair, the last couple episodes were pretty interesting as well.
But man, things pretty much kicked off where it left off with Izumi holding Makoto hostage. I honestly don’t see how Izumi is so popular in Japan. He’s downright creepy if you ask me. He seems to have built up an image of Makoto in his head and is unwilling to see his true self and what he actually wants. But holy crap, Makoto pulled some pretty epic moves this episode. From breaking the glass cup to use it to free himself from his bindings to pretending to smash his face in to trick Izumi. I had a feeling he wasn’t hurting himself, but that was a pretty good ploy. He made it sound convincing and knew that was the one thing he could threaten Izumi with. I also had a feeling that out of everyone, Makoto wouldn’t even think of betraying the group. He found a place he could belong outside of his modeling career. A place where he’s free to be himself rather than what people want him to be. If only they SHOWED us his problems being a model. But I’ll digress…
I just want to express how much I FREAKING RESPECT KEITO. This boy has just proven himself to be best boy for sure! What is with glasses wearing characters this season just stealing my heart lol. The fact that he pushed Isara to be more confident in what he actually wants rather than just going along with things in his own way was just… UGH HE’S SO GOOD. Keito has so much respect for his rivals and wants to face them head on without any underhanded tactics. Even going as far as to clear Isara’s doubts in what he’s doing and opening his eyes. Keito’s also got a good group supporting him and in turn support him in his endeavors. Man I love him and his group.
Speaking of which, I also appreciate that Isara come around to be more definite in what he wants since he was pretty wishy washy at the start, not really showing much passion towards Trickstar. Which is why I thought he’d betray them because he could be swayed either way. It was as if he was there with them, but not truly a part of them or held the same aspirations as the rest of them. Thankfully Keito set him straight and inspired Isara to become more passionate in what he does rather than spreading it out to all of his duties. And boy did I have to clap for him when he just straight up OUTS knights on Izumi’s underhanded methods of kidnapping Makoto. I definitely wasn’t expecting him to just declare what they did in a microphone to the entire audience, but honestly, it was well deserved. Especially since Izumi had no right to be angry at them since he was the one who tried to force things with Makoto.
Isara’s declaration even gave the audience eyes lol. Not to mention that even one of the other knights members was disgusted with Izumi’s actions. And I honestly couldn’t help but scoff at Arashi’s comment on how he believed the “enemy’s” words because THEY WEREN’T WRONG ABOUT IZUMI. The redhead was justified in getting angry at him.
While Isara and Makoto have solidified their stances as Trickstar members, Hokuto is the last one holding out. And while I’m disappointed with him, I’m not angry nor blame him for this predicament. Out of everyone, Hokuto has the most chips on his shoulder when it comes to being an idol. I can understand where he’s coming from since he comes from a family of celebrities basically. His dad is a current idol and his mom is an actress, which means he has certain expectations immediately placed on him being their son. He’s expected to be a great idol because of it and he feels like it’s his duty to become one, even if it meant betraying his friends/group to get ahead.
I feel like because of these expectations, he’s become blind to the fact that he might be becoming the type of idol that the school churns out. One without passion and doing it out of obligation. He even joined the theater club most likely because of his mother’s career. Though it’s not hard to see that he’s pretty bad at acting. That’s not where his passion is. What Hokuto needs to learn is that his life is his own, not something dictated by others. He needs to find a way to escape his parents’ shadows and become someone he can be proud of, his own person. Find where his true passion is and not have someone tell him what to do and what to be. He needs the push like what Keito gave to Isara and I’m sure Nagi- erm, I mean Wataru will most likely provide for him if the ending has anything to say about that. I also like the detail of how it’s obvious how much Hokuto’s absence is felt in Trickstar’s performance. With just the three of them dancing, it feels like something is missing, incomplete. Trickstar was made as a four man group and is supposed to be one. In the end, I’m sure Hokuto will make the right decision to come back and cast aside the chains holding him back.
Also is it just me or does little Hokuto look like Haru from Free? I mean, LOOK AT HIM.
However, Trickstar wouldn’t have been able to accomplish so much if it weren’t for the other groups helping them along. And while it doesn’t necessarily feel like Trickstar deserves all these wins since it’s not by their own power, a true rebellion is done with a bunch of others backing you, so I feel like it’s more or less that Trickstar represents change to the system and not necessarily them being better idols than the others. It’s just sad to me that the twins are constantly used as the sacrificial pawns in the rebellion. While it doesn’t show in their tone or faces, I’m sure the constant losses are affecting them and might be hurting their self esteem. Maybe, or maybe I’m just looking too deeply into things. Though I admit that I had a good laugh at one of the twins attempting to jump on Eichi.
Switching gears, I APPRECIATE THE POWER RANGER GROUP SO MUCH. I really liked and appreciated them from the start and they just gained all of my respect this episode. While I wish we could have seen the battle between Ryuuseitai and fine, but this anime is notorious for not showing me anything so I shouldn’t be surprised. But anyways, I was completely BLOWN AWAY that Ryuuseita’s plan was just to wear fine, more specifically Eichi down. While they were another sacrifice in the rebellion, they still gave it their all to tire the guy out before their eventual battle against Trickstar. I legit watched another anime that used the same tactic so I was already hyped. At first I was annoyed that Eichi just told the audience how he’s sickly and needs to take it easy when he can, but it was literally the build up to what Ryuuseitai would do so I’ll let that one slide. Chiaki was basically like: “GOTCHA.” I must applaud you for that sir.
And while I’m not into their style, I am so happy to see that Ra*bits finally got to perform, especially after what happened in the 2nd episode. Not to mention I just felt happy seeing Nito perform with a big ol’ smile on his face. He definitely seems a lot happier in this group than he did in Valkyrie. They finally got to show their stuff to the audience and us and it was honestly heartwarming to see Akehoshi congratulate Shino in finally performing. I admit, the kid has a cute smile. DON’T UNDERESTIMATE THE POWER OF CUTE. And while I know that they’re ultimately going to lose to Trickstar, I’m just glad they were able to put up an actual fight against them and not just be swept to the side.
A LOT happened this episode and I felt engaged till the end. Which is definitely a step up from how this series started. Though I still have gripes with the amount of telling (and talking in general) rather than showing. I also wish we got to see more of the performances. Like how Trickstar beat knights. Not to mention that the build up to Anzu stepping in for Trickstar ultimately went nowhere since Makoto and Isara came back before she had a chance to perform with Akehoshi, killing all the feels in the previous scene. Anzu getting shafted out of doing anything and having any lines strikes again… Other than that, this was a pretty solid episode and I’m eager to see what will become of the inevitable battle between fine and Trickstar.
Also, can we just appreciate Saito Soma’s performance of the twins? It’s very subtle and I still can’t tell them apart, but the twins do have different variations of his voice. If you listen carefully, you can hear slight differences in the way that they talk and sing.