Uta no Prince-sama - Maji Love Revolutions
by Rebecca Silverman,
The first of the new cross groups roll out this week with Otoya and Natsuki being cast as princes in a rock musical from a well-known “prodigal” director, which despite my first mistaking it for a misspelling of “prodigy” actually means that he's not associated with any one theater. Haruka, of course, will write the songs, and the two must now make the move from performing songs to acting. But before they can learn to inhabit their characters, they must learn to know themselves. Awww.
Yeah, that's the plot for this week's episode of UtaPri, and it really is quite lackluster. There are a lot of scenes of Otoya and Natsuki standing across from each other declaiming as well as unsettling closeups of Haruka's face, and while Otoya is one of my two favorite guys in the show, even I have to admit that it's not all that exciting to watch him stand on a stage or mope around worrying about his role...The main problem isn't the lack of a thrilling plot or any cheesiness that arises, because this is this show and those things are to be expected. The issue is rather that we only get to look at the characters without seeing them be themselves except for right at the end, when they tell each other who they are. If I am to be totally nitpicky, that's also a problem, because neither Otoya nor Natsuki realizes his personality for himself; both have to be told by the other, which negates any real character development. For a franchise that opened its first season with a fairly realistic panic attack, this is a definite downward turn.
On the other hand, there are some very fun parts of this week's offering as well. When Cecil comments that the roles the guys are playing sound more like Tokiya and Syo, Otoya decides to go sit with Tokiya and copy every single move he makes in an effort to learn how to be like him. Tokiya has no idea what's going on at first, and the side-eye he gives Otoya is pretty funny. Natsuki, meanwhile, watches manly movies with Syo, only to totally fail to grasp how to act like him; once again, it is the other guy's reaction that makes the scene.
This season thus far has seen a read reduction in Haruka's role in the series, about which I have mixed feelings, though she is more present in this episode than the previous two. Since she's supposed to be our point-of-view character, her lack feels awkward, although I suppose that we could assume that we're seeing through her eyes when we don't actually see her on screen. (That's got its problems too.) On the other hand, her personality has been getting lesser with each successive season, so she's kind of difficult to miss having around. Interestingly enough, with the decrease in Haruka we seem to have an increase in Saotome – he's been in every episode so far, which is much more than we saw him in season two.
There are some artistic issues this week, with a lot of off-model faces, particularly on characters far from the screen, whether they are primaries or background roles. There looks to be less detail in the clothing as well, regardless of how in focus the characters are, which is unfortunate. In fact, all of this week's detail budget apparently went to Otoya's guitar in the end of the episode, which really looks like it has a sword stuck in it. Its fanciful design, along with that of Natsuki's viola, are the visual highlights, and while they're pretty great, I think it's safe to say that most people watch this show to look at bishounen, not fancy intstruments.
UtaPri is still the same brainless fun it always has been, but the quality really does feel like it's slipping. Hopefully they're just trying to get to a specific point in the story and it will pick up again, because I'm feeling a little sad that this just isn't measuring up to its predecessors.
Revolution Count: 0
Uta no Prince-sama - Maji Love Revolutions is currently streaming on Crunchyroll.
Rebecca Silverman is ANN's senior manga critic.
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