STARMYU – Review

Today I reviewed STARMYU, which turned out to be something of a hidden gem in the musical anime genre. STARMYU succeeds on solid character work and terrific musical sequences, fully embracing the possibilities of its genre to express dramatic turns in catchy and visually vivid song and dance segments. It’s a little rough around the edges in some ways, but still a very fine show.

You can check out my full review at ANN, or my episode notes below.

Episode 1

Right, this melodramatic dancing

A black-winged angel

Okay but not great animation

These background colors are quite nice

OP is all about pursuing dreams

Along with the idol songs, the soundtrack seems heavy on electronic/synth tracks. Not really that great

Ayanagi music academy

Introducing our various boys

Yuka Hoshitani is our lead

Nayuki is the soft-spoken boy

The Kao Council, the intimidating music department leads

Yeah, they’re really leaning into a shoujo melodrama affectation here – and then the Kao Council actually break into choreographed song. You have to buy into it

This is basically an actual musical

Traditionally animated, though the choreography and animation aren’t the most impressive

Otori is the white-haired guy

Hoshitani is a pretty likable lead

Some backstory between Otori and the glasses pusher

The red-haired guy is a kabuki actor. Tengenji

He’s an ass

Tsukigami is the blue-haired kid and the top of the class

It looks like the main group will all be dropouts picked up by Otori – the irregulars, made into a Star Team

“I want to dance…”

And now he gets his own character song at the end, I guess?

Nayuki has stage fright

We’re getting a fair amount of character development for just the first episode

The Star Teams dynamic gives this show a bit of a sports drama flavor, since they’re got direct competitors

Episode 2

The Kao Council actually all seem pretty reasonable

Otori gets his own intro song. The backgrounds for this are gorgeous

Wow, and now this black profile segment. They’re going all out on these segments

The characters express themselves through their songs, but they also just express themselves in reasonable conversations

If every character is going to get a music video this imaginative, this will be a very fun watch

Even the animation here is quite solid

As first years, they’re only candidates for the musical course. They still need to prove themselves

Half the teams will be eliminated after a performance/tournament, and then half get removed again after a second one. There we go

Today they’re doing a play

Great gag – Hoshitani thinks he was chosen to be the detective because he’s talented, but the two actual talents know it’s the easy part

And Hoshitani overacts like hell, of course

And the script just ends. Dang, this is a nicely composed episode

Time for improv

I like how much we’re getting all of their internal thoughts

Nayuki tries to save his ass

Ah, blue-hair’s performed in musicals

The internal thoughts are already selling this whole cast

Hoshitani acknowledges he was carried. Good

Yeah, Otori’s the heir of the school

This show leans more towards musical theater than idols, which I really like

Welp, now Nayuki has his own song. And with an entirely new background style

Yeah, this really is a musical. He’s singing about how Hoshitani lifted his spirits

“These guys might be able to change this tedious estate”

Red-hair wants to get rid of Hoshitani, of course

Episode 3

Oh my god Nayuki made them both box lunches. He is the best wife

Seems like this episode is focused on Tegenji, the red-haired guy

He’s an ass, but he seems to be driven by carrying the future of kabuki on his future. He’s legitimately worried Hoshitani is dragging them down

Some silly misunderstanding drama

The purple-haired guy also has a job

“There are rumors about how Otori gathered people who should have failed”

“What’s important in musicals is teamwork”

Blue-hair nails Tengenji’s problem – he’s terrible at cooperating in general

And now Tengenji gets his own song. Gorgeous backgrounds, all with a kabuki theater sound and flair, mixed with rock

God, even this song sounds so cocky. Great stuff

But it also focuses on ephemerality, his fear for kabuki

“I’ll stick to my own way of doing things.” Tradition versus, er, Otori

Ah, Tengenji’s been hiding a cat

And he’s super protective of her, and it’s adorable

Oh my god, Tengenji gets a love song dedicated to his cat

Another distinct art style for Hoshitani’s silly memory

The animation is solid when it needs to be

“Don’t let your failures show in your face”

Episode 4

Tsukigami, the blue-haired dude, is this episode’s focus

A month has passed

Apparently his mother is involved in his drama – and someone named Haruto, likely a brother

Yep. His very accomplished brother, who has some award ceremony

Kuga can play piano. He’s kinda been the wild card of the group

Kuga just eating cup noodles for lunch. He happily accepts rice balls. Once again, this is a very reasonable cast of characters

Kuga is just a quiet but nice dude from the start

Oh man, Kuga’s song is a crazy spy thriller narrative. Great shit

Heavy filters, rich colors, dramatic compositions. Everyone has their own style

Dang, and we’re already at the first stage tournament

Kuga immediately becomes a friend. It’s nice that some people are just reasonable

Team Hiragi is here!

The Hiragi teammates are immediately given their own personalities through solid conversation

All three of Tsukigami’s family members are prestigious theater stars

Time for a Tsukigami song

He’s surrounded by a giant stage, reflecting the expectations placed on him and the person he believes he’s supposed to be

Clocks and stairs, reflecting his anxiety about succeeding as quickly as possible

“‘Work hard, work hard.’ You sound like that’s all you know how to do!”

Tsukigami getting in fights with the A team

Hoshitani breaks up the fight. Great shit

Time for a brawl!

The whole team demonstrates their support for Tsukigami

Episode 5

“Are you not future actors?”

They have to choose a leader

More nice visual interludes, this time elaborating a prince’s fairy tale

Now the whole team gets to hang out

They all have a solid rapport at this point

I like that they’re emphasizing the various individual skills you have to master – strengthening your core, etc

Dang, strong animation for their rivals’ performance

Their performance makes Hoshitani even more insecure

“One of my teammates said kings should make their own dreams come true.” Our leader discussing his desire to break free of the expectations of his family name

“I just want you to look like you’re having more fun.” The Ping Pong ethos

Getting backstory on the cool loner team member

“I copied musicals on TV to make my mother happy.” Aww

Hoshitani gets another song!

Nope, it’s a group song. Good stuff

This show’s songs are really good

And of course, Hoshitani ends up being the leader

Episode 6

Nayuki’s twin sisters are enlisted to save their crappy costumes

The sisters are powerful

The choreography and direction of their performance is terrific. The animation’s pretty solid, too

Otori breaks tradition in two ways – rearranging the song as a positive dance, and streaming the whole thing to the whole school

And their rivals are big fans

They got eighth, a perfectly reasonable score

“I don’t want to restrict my students.” This is also a show about teaching, oddly enough. Helping people embrace their own spirits

Otori once left a Star Team

“The same blood flows in our veins.” Oh dang

Yeah, they’re brothers

Episode 7

It’s time for a summer training camp!

The cast really work together well now

Oh my god, Team Hiragi jumps out and starts a dance number. Amazing

This song’s visual execution is awesome

“That vase was Chekhov’s gun, huh?” lol

It’s great seeing both the teams and the brothers work together

The team leaders meet

Episode 8

Their second round competition will be at a festival with a big audience

Their ability to gather an audience and stage the production will also be judged

It’s nice that Team Otori has a reputation now

Their conversations and arguments remain quite strong

“Right now, the members of Team Otori are started to be treated by the students like revolutionaries”

Oh man, this musical performance is so good

Episode 9

Otori’s team has their performanced cancelled, but Otori doesn’t tell them

Otori and Hiragi were brothers, but Hiragi was taken in by the head family

Hiragi ended up having a very strict upbringing

“I want to dance more freely to express how I feel.” Hiragi was shaped in the family’s likeness, while Otori represents freedom

When the results are announced, Otori can only focus on the teams who didn’t make it, and the pointless suffering of this whole ranking system

He decides to quit the Star Team. His leader believes in him

But Hiragi is wounded by him quitting

Hiragi has to cling to his status as the Hiragi heir, having suffered so much

“Are you going to leave me alone again?”

And now the cycle repeats again the the Kao Council

“We need to protect Ayanagi Academy.” “Even if it means stealing the student’s dreams?”

Episode 10

Their performance time now overlaps with Team Hiragi’s

The general piano-led soundtrack is also pretty reasonable

The group starts to split apart a bit

They all get stuck in shumai dog costumes

Otori’s advice to all of them is great

This crew is really good

Episode 11

Huh. Looks like we’re getting one random episodic adventure before the finale?

Ah, they get to meet Haruto Tsukigami, Otori’s mentor

And of course Hiragi sent them here, hoping they might convince him to save Otori

Otori traded their right to perform for his own resignation

They share a feather-filled duet. Hoshitani is the white angel

Once again, nice reflections on teaching

Welp, looks like a typhoon will ruin their performance

Nayuki gets a really nice scene here

Episode 12

The outdoor stage collapses, their performance is cancelled

They decide to go for a guerrilla performance

“Do you want to be washed away in the storm with this performance?” Beautiful