Uta no Prince-sama - Maji Love Revolutions
by Rebecca Silverman,
This episode is about Ranmaru of Quartet Night, and I'll admit it – when he pulled out the dried fish he kept in his pocket for a stray cat he knew, he totally won me over. Apart from that, this week's foray into the world of impossibly pretty young men who sing and dance was relatively bland, which is a shame because Ranmaru appears to have more of an internal conflict than any of the other characters, or at least lets his show through more than the others do. Apparently before he joined Quartet Night, Ran was the bassist in a rock band, one that dreamed of performing at a specific outdoor theater. One morning (or night?) when he's out jogging, Ranmaru notices that the theater is going to be demolished so that the Triple S stadium can be built, and he views it as a metaphor for how his musical life has changed. He loved rock, but now he has to focus on being an idol, and the destruction of the stage is equivalent to the crumbling of his rocker dreams. Plus, you know, he's got a lot of work to do, so getting the old band back together, even for a last show before the venue is knocked down, just isn't practical.
Ranmaru's a bit of a contradiction: badass rocker with a devil-may-care look and totally devoted, hard-working member of a boy band. He really means it when he tells Haruka that he refused to play with his former group because there's so much to do in preparation for the Triple S competition, and he appears to truly believe that he has to leave rock music behind and stick with pop if he wants to move forward. Haruka, being who she is, sees that he can still love rock and forge some sort of musical compromise, which is what she naturally pens for him in record time, since apparently she was told to write him a solo piece. This time she looks to have written the lyrics too, because there wasn't enough time for him to have done so between the time she gave it to him and when he performs it in the most symbolic place possible. His voice and her song give him the powers of Instant Crowd Gathering, thus fulfilling a bygone dream and allowing him to move forward. Aww.
Sweet as this plot is, something about the way it is carried out doesn't quite work. It may simply be because it's more serious than previous episodes, but it could also be because as a character, Ranmaru doesn't do much emoting. He barely speaks, and as we see in several scenes, including a shower and him sleeping, his default facial expression is that his mouth is slightly open while he stares off into the distance, making him appear nearly as robotic as Ai. The inclusion of several of the Starish guys as shocked onlookers doesn't really serve the story at all since we don't have the backstory that is apparently present in the games. If you like Ren and Masato it's a treat, but otherwise they're sort of in the way here. Much more entertaining is the solidification of the suspicion that the other members of Quartet Night find Reiji really annoying – that really becomes clear as we see them interact with each other more than they have in previous episodes.
One thing that really does stand out in a good way here is the brief moment when Ran practices his choreography after the other three have pooped out. It's a momentary return to the way the show looked in previous seasons, with smooth, careful animation, and as goofy as the choreography itself is (and the flying sparkle sweat), it's a really nice moment...and sort of makes up for the terrible running we see towards the end.
So now three of the four Quartet Night members have had their episodes (presumably Reiji's is imminent) and Haruka's options have expanded. This isn't a great episode, but it does still have its moments. But...does anyone else sort of miss Starish?
Uta no Prince-sama - Maji Love Revolutions is currently streaming on Crunchyroll.
Rebecca Silverman is ANN's senior manga critic.
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