Uta no Prince-sama - Maji Love Revolutions
by Rebecca Silverman,
It feels a bit as if the writer of the first episode of this season has made a return for this eighth one. All of a sudden we're back to the endless repetition of the word “revolution” (I counted seven) as well as the idea that if they do well enough with their cross-unit groups, Starish might be allowed to audition for the Triple S. All of these things have popped up sporadically in the intervening episodes, but this is the first time since the first that they've all been a part of the episode's plot, and I have to admit that it's nice to see things get back on the track the introduction indicated.
We begin this week by learning that things have gone really well for the two Starish cross-unit groups who have thus far debuted: Otoya and Natsuki have won best new actor awards and Syo, Ren, and Cecil's commercial did excellently at an advertising competition. Expectations are high for the remaining two guys, Tokiya and Masato. Saotome proclaims that they shall perform in the Neo Dream Festival, a venue for premiere idols, and that their task will be to simply perform a new song, written by Haruka, of course. (Because otherwise, she really has no reason to be in this story.) The guys decide that they will write the lyrics before Haruka writes the music, which turns out not to be the best idea: they think too similarly, albeit with very different vocabularies, and they end up at an impasse. In a relatively rare turn for this season, Haruka actually saves the day in a scene that also lets us see her composition skills in action, which may be the best actual plot moment of the episode. Honestly, we know that all of the Starish guys are very talented and can do just about anything. We're aware that Haruka writes the music that backs them up, but she's become such a non-entity as the seasons of UtaPri go on that, as I mentioned before, she almost feels like she has no reason to be in the show. This episode rectifies that as she helps to break them out of their stalemate in a moment that not only justifies her continued presence, but also gives us a bit more insight into why all of the guys like her so much. It's a needed moment, and while it is fleeting, it grounds the franchise a bit.
Crushes on Haruka aside, this is a good episode for fans of non-canonical pairings among the guys – there's lots of Masato/Tokiya fodder as the two work together (and train under a waterfall) and Natsuki and Syo have a wrestling match on a couch at one point too, which feels like the scene that could launch a thousand fanfics. Once again everyone gets a line or two and their moment on screen, which would be more satisfying if the overall quality of the episode was just a little bit better; faces are decidedly off-model in more than a few scenes. There also isn't much in the way of dancing this episode, which is a bit of a disappointment even as I am forced to acknowledge that the duo's song doesn't really lend itself to flashy dance numbers.
With moments of humor, fangirl fodder, and a reason for Haruka's continued presence on the show (besides, you know, being the point of view character), this is a pretty good episode. Reiji has yet to have his own episode, which will probably be next week, and then that still gives the show time to devote to some actual exploration of the Triple S plot. This is still strongest if you're not watching for the story, but episode eight still manages to get things done in terms of both its contained plotline and the overall goal of the series.
Uta no Prince-sama - Maji Love Revolutions is currently streaming on Crunchyroll.
Rebecca Silverman is ANN's senior manga critic.
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