Uta no Prince-sama - Maji Love Revolutions Episode 9
by Rebecca Silverman,
Whenever things get too slow in UtaPri, I find myself thinking of things Haruka's eyes look like. This week I came up with custard with lime candies in the center, which says that while there were some good and surprising moments this week, there was still enough downtime for minds to wander – but not as much as past episodes. As predicted, this week belongs to Reiji (or Rei-chan), the only male cast member to have normal coloring. Reiji appears to host some kind of variety show (with which Otoya and Tokiya help), and since all the other members of Quartet Night are releasing solo songs or otherwise doing things on their own, he needs one as well. It will be used as the new ending theme for his TV show and naturally Haruka is going to compose it. When Reiji asks her how she'll do that, she tells him that she likes to get to know the singers she's writing for so that she can think about them as she works, which leads to him whisking her away in his vintage VW Bug for some one-on-one time.
You certainly have to admire Reiji for that – not only does the guy have the self-confidence to hang a small plushy of himself from his rear view mirror, but he's also the only one of Haruka's potential suitors to take the bull by the horns and actually take her out. (And I don't for a second think he's joking at the end, but I'm curious to hear what others think about that.) He's impressed with the personal touch Haruka puts into her composing, and he's willing to work with that, telling her about his childhood in showbiz and how he got by by remembering that he could simply quit at any time. Her reaction to that statement, which she takes to be more immediate than it is, takes him by surprise in a good way, and I'd almost pinpoint that as the moment when he really falls for her. Since we haven't necessarily seen that moment with the other lovely young men, it feels safe to say that the path described in this episode is the most traditionally romantic of the eleven on offer, as well as one of the few where it looks like Haruka is as attracted to him as he is to her.
In any event, Tokiya and Otoya clearly see Reiji as more of a threat than any of the other contenders, visibly panicking when Reiji runs off with their favorite composer. This is given a slightly more serious tone than it might have had by the fact that the humor of the episode comes from Otoya's total ineptitude at magic tricks and sleight of hand – the poor guy can't do a card trick to save his life, and in one particularly fun scene, he can't keep the rabbit in the hat. Reiji's professionalism shows through here, as he handles the situation with more tact than Tokiya, who is visibly irritated by his partner. Both young men recognize that Reiji is years ahead of them in charisma and skill, which only adds to their worries when he leaves with Haruka, some of the only actual jealousy we've seen across three seasons of Haruka's romantic adventures.
There are unfortunately some visual issues this week, with characters not so much off-model as very simplified, as if they were meant to be further away from the camera than they actually are. While everyone is recognizable, although in all honesty that may be due to the color scheme, they don't look quite as good as they usually do, with barely any facial expressions or facial features apart from eyes. There's no dancing this week, even during Reiji's song, and given what I just said, that's probably for the best, even if you miss it.
Given the history of the series, it seems unlikely that Haruka will actually choose anyone when this season comes to a close, but this episode makes Reiji a real contender. With a more typical romance trajectory to the episode and a character secure enough to very nearly take the plunge, this is both a nice change of pace and a pretty good half-hour. Hopefully Reiji won't just vanish once the story returns to the Triple S plotline.
Uta no Prince-sama - Maji Love Revolutions is currently streaming on Crunchyroll.
Rebecca Silverman is ANN's senior manga critic.
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