The Drama of the Stage: Kageki Shojo!!

I love pretty much everything about Kageki Shojo!! It’s not the first anime about aspiring actors, and it’s certainly not the first to be inspired by the Takarazuka Revue, but it combines elements of both in a way that makes every episode an emotional journey.

Watanabe Sarasa is a teenage girl who has just been accepted into the Kouka School of Musical and Theatrical Arts, which trains students to become future members of the all-female troupe known as the Kouka Revue. It’s no easy feat getting in, let alone making it through the program, but Sarasa has a couple of unique traits that cause her to stand out: her towering height compared to the other students, and her background connected to the traditionally all-male kabuki theater, which brings a different flair to her performances.

Kageki Shojo!! Inevitably reminds me a lot of the classic Glass Mask, especially with how much Sarara’s ability to embrace her roles and mimic others is reminiscent of Kitajima Maya. However, while I hardly remember any of the characters in Glass Mask outside of the major ones, virtually every side character in Kageki Shojo!! makes a powerful impression. Each girl brings their own perspective and baggage to the Kouka School, such that even the notion of “pursuing success” can differ immensely in terms of how each character defines it, and what they perceive their own strengths to be.

The students’ backstories (and current stories for that matter) can also get quite dark at times, with topics like sexism, neglect, predation, and bulimia being explored. Impressively, the series balances both its heavier and lighter elements without trivializing the former or making the latter feel inappropriate.

The anime ends at 13 episodes, but there’s clearly more manga that can be adapted. I can’t wait for a second season, should it ever come o

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