Kageki Shoujo!! – Episode 13 [Final Impression]
And the audition results are out, with quite the surprising cast! I loved seeing all the performances by the girls and even Andoh-sensei. With just this simple audition, we’ve seen so much growth and development with these girls I’m almost sad that we won’t be able to see the final performance. Still, they all gave their best and I really enjoyed seeing the variety in performances.
I like that the episode started with Andoh’s Romeo performance and that he didn’t hold back on his students. It really helped to paint the picture that everyone who auditioned was still an amateur. We’ve gotten beautiful performances from these amateurs, but to see them go against him? None of them are even close. And the thing is, he’s still reading off the script! He hadn’t prepared anything! Just imagine if we got to see him in his full glory! But thanks to him giving his all in his performance, we got to see Sarasa’s stellar Tybalt, which was truly enjoyable.
And while her performance was spectacular, I really think this episode shined once the auditions were over. I loved being able to see the results and everyone’s responses! I’ll start off the bat with Ai. I feel kind of bad that Ai has drifted off into being a bit of a side characters, or rather, her role hasn’t has as much of a focus as it did in the earlier episodes. She’s grown so much in just these short 12 episodes, before Kouka was just a place for her to pass the time without having to worry about too many men. But now, she’s dedicated to improving and actually becoming a girl of the stage! Seeing her cry about the audition results really solidified the growth that she has had. In addition to Ai, we also get to see the results for Kaoru and Aya and while I’m a little bummed about Kaoru not getting the role, I think this is also a learning experience for her. Plus, it led to a really nice moment where she was able to stand up for Aya. That was especially nice to see because Kaoru has definitely had more of a “tough love” interaction with Aya. It was just a really nice moment between the two.
But really, the focus was on the role of Tybalt and those results. Prior to this episode, I would have been really surprised to see Sarasa get the role, but after her performance, I definitely think it was well deserved. I certainly wouldn’t have wanted to be in the room having to pick one of them though. I’m happy that Sawa finally got her chance in the spotlight this episode! We finally get to see things from her perspective and I love the conversation we got to have between unprecedented prodigies and those who really have to put in a lot of hard work. And it’s something that I think a lot of people can relate to – you can try really hard at something, but it often feels like someone who is just naturally gifted swoops in and takes all the glory. And yet, there’s still value in putting in all that hard work. You’re pushing yourself and growing – if everyone was perfect, that would be boring. Sometimes the experience of that struggle helps you to connect more with others.
And I thought her segment would have ended with the conversation with Andoh, but I appreciate that they took it another step further with the conversation with the class rep. Andoh can provide great feedback, but from Sawa’s perspective he hasn’t experienced the same things she has. It’s frustrating to work so hard and not get something. But the 2nd Year class rep was able to connect with her. It’s hard being the class rep because so much is expected of you, when you falter all eyes are on you. It’s a position where you’re always put in the spotlight. But! I really wouldn’t have picked anyone else for the role, Sawa was a brilliant representative. And as she learns and grows perhaps she’ll learn to embrace and target those fangirls in the audience and become a top star with Kouka.
Ahh, this really was a lovely final episode. I feel like most things were wrapped up nicely and I feel pretty happy with this closure. Of course, I’d love to watch more episodes, but overall, I’m happy where each girl ended and just knowing that they aren’t done with their journey makes me pretty happy. Thank you Kageki Shoujo!!
And so, the curtain falls on a really wonderful series. Kageki Shoujo!! brought us into the world of the girls who long to be on the stage and I don’t think I would have wanted it any other way. This anime had wide range of topics that it covered and ultimately, I think it did them all justice. It’s time like this where I wish seasonal anime weren’t so limited to the 12 / 24 episode count because I just want to continue to watch these girls on their journey.
Looking back on it, I had no idea what direction this anime would take. I genuinely expected it just to be about girls going to acting school and enhancing their skills because of it. And in some ways, it was. But it was also so much more. Early on, they were able to tackle heavy topics with remarkable care. And while those topics were heavy, they were still able to present them in such a way that didn’t just aim to push the shock factor. Rather, these were things that people genuinely experience. After Ai’s story regarding sexual assault and Aya’s with an eating disorder, I honestly expected that most of the other girls would bring up concepts of similar severity. I was bracing myself for this to be a darker show, but not every girl experienced something quite on that level and at the end of the day I think that’s okay. We got to see a wide variety of events that impacted everyone and their desires at Kouka. There was good variety and I appreciate that.
And among that variety we got tropes that we were much more familiar with and yet, I still think they were all done pretty well. The twins focused on jealousy and independence from each other, which was really interesting to see. They both struggled with what they as a “pair” wanted to do vs their own individuality. It certainly wasn’t as heavy as Ai or Aya’s story, but it was still valuable. They got to have the conversations with each other and work through the feelings. And during the auditions, I was really happy to see both of them going for Juliet. Kaoru on the other hand is living in the legacy of her family that comes before her. Her episode was endearing because we get to see her desire to be just another girl, but also recognizing her own dreams. (Plus, even though her episode was only one episode long, it was such a cute little romance that I genuinely cried at the end.) And then of course there’s Sawa, the girl who I almost expected not to get anything. Like the others, she’s put in a great deal of hard work, but feels that she’s consistently outshined by those prodigies. I wouldn’t say it was as dramatic as some of the other stories, but it still struck a chord and I’m glad that we got to explore that idea before the season was over.
Even beyond the main cast, I enjoyed what the side characters were able to bring to the table. From Andoh and Taichi to Akiya and Hijiri, they all added something to the story. They didn’t need to have grand stories attached to them, but they still added additional tension to the story. Even thinking back to the beginning, Kitaouji still provided great things to the stories. At first, he was someone that we were weary of, but over time he became a steppingstone for Ai’s own growth. Thinking back on it, I’m surprised that we haven’t seen him again, but I’m not unhappy about it. But I just want to hit home, that I just loved the interactions characters had with each other, Risa and Sarasa, while Risa doesn’t do a whole lot, that was a pretty powerful moment. The music teacher, the dance instructor, the older actresses… they all gave us something whenever they appeared. This was such a great cast of characters I could go on for days.
But I do have to take a minute to talk about Sarasa Watanabe, a true bundle of joy. From the moment she was introduced she was just so much fun to watch. Her enthusiasm and excitement for everything was really refreshing among everything else that was happening. And even in the face of adversity she would dim then shine just as brightly as before. It was nice seeing a character who really wanted everyone to succeed and be happy around each other. And as such, there wasn’t a whole lot of drama between the main cast – yes! there was competition, but overall they got a long really well. But despite her positive demeanor, there were still things she was struggling with. She was just a really enjoyable character to have.
I can’t overstate how much I enjoyed watching this series, and this is one of those series where coming up with a rating is incredibly hard. I think this is a gem, that was overlooked in the season, but it was still well polished and made me excited to tune into every week. I know it’s not everyone’s cup of tea, it’s brought me a lot of joy. And for that I’m going to go ahead and give it an 8.5/10. I really enjoyed my time with this series! I would love for us to get a second season, or even just a movie to see where these girls are going to go. As they say, ‘Encore! Encore! Encore!’