Uta no Prince-sama - Maji Love Revolutions
Episodes 1 & 2
by Rebecca Silverman,
Plot has never been the reason you watch UtaPri. Sure there is one, but it tends to take a backseat to the antics of color-coded pretty boys singing, dancing, and trying to woo heroine Haruka Nanami, she of the Terror Eyes. Ostensibly season one was about the gang succeeding at Saotome Academy, while season two focused on the addition of Cecil and Starish's rise to stardom. Season three, subtitled “Maji Love Revolutions,” takes Starish and another Saotome-sponsored boy band, Quartet Night, and pits them against each other as they both try to audition for a pseudo-Olympic event called the Triple S. Well, Starish has to compete – Quartet Night is told by Saotome himself at the end of episode one that they're going to try for the performance slot. Starish, he says, is too new and not ready for such a big move. But then - Revolution! Starish decides they'll try anyway! Let's all say “revolution” again!
So apparently this season is going to be about both Starish proving that they're awesome enough to perform at Triple S while also learning to work with Quartet Night and then each other as Saotome takes a page out of The [email protected] Cinderella Girls and splits them all up into smaller groups. Haruka, meanwhile, must work like a dog to write songs for pretty much everyone. It's interesting to note that while she featured heavily in the first episode, which functioned as a way to reintroduce everyone and remind us that they're all in love with Haruka, she's barely in episode two, which sends all the boys off to some sort of seaside resort to film a TV show and take photos. This again feels very much like an introductory episode, except this time we're reminded of everyone's personalities rather than their names. We see this a bit more with Quartet Night, which makes sense since we've only known them since season two. Basically this is a series of short gags (Cecil doesn't like water! Syo's afraid of ghosts! Rei's good with preschoolers!) designed to let us relearn everyone's quirks and to draw the guys without shirts, and after the disappointment last week with the CG dancing in the ending theme, it is a relief to see that the basics still look nice. Rei's character design really doesn't seem to fit in with the rest of the guys with his brown hair and gray eyes; it looks too mundane in a color scheme filled with screaming salmon and fire engine red, but otherwise this is bright and as pretty as it needs to be, with sort of a sugary quality to all of the men.
The new opening theme we see in episode two seems to imply that the romantic interests who will make a mark are Otoya and Tokiya (red and navy blue, if you can't remember their names); it's got the same loony fun quality that the others have had while teaching us the lesson that it's fine to go sky-diving without a parachute if you are a reverse harem heroine. Mercifully it is devoid of the CG from the ending theme and looks much more like previous seasons. Episode two also features an insert song by both Quartet Night and Starish, complete with both a montage and a music video over the course of its run.
Simply put, episode two is a lot more fun than episode one, and also features a drastically reduced number of times people say the word “revolution.” (I'll be keeping count all season.) While it is short on plot, it's long on loveliness, from the varied backgrounds to the boys themselves, and it really doesn't hurt the episode very much not to have Haruka in it, although I would hate to see her totally sidelined for the rest of the season. There's a fair amount of melodrama when Saotome splits Starish up at the end, but it will allow more of people's favorites to be in episodes devoted to two or three guys rather than one, as in previous years, so it will probably work out for the best, for us as viewers, anyway.
With these two episodes, it looks like UtaPri is ready to deliver more of what makes it simultaneously so fun and so embarrassing: candy-sweet bishounen, lots of song and dance, a guy for every type you could want, and Norio Wakamoto. Get writing those songs, Haruka. You're going to be busy.
Revolution Count: Episode One: 10/ Episode Two: 3
Uta no Prince-sama - Maji Love Revolutions is currently streaming on Crunchyroll.
Rebecca Silverman is ANN's senior manga critic.
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