The series tells the story of the five students; Yuuta Hoshitani, Tooru Nayuki, Kaito Tsukigami, Kakeru Tengenji, and Shuu Kuga as they struggle to enter the musical department of Ayanagi Academy, a school focusing on music. They need to be accepted to the Star Frame Class, which is directly taught by the members of Kaou-kai, the most talented from the musical department who stand at the top of the pecking order within the academy. Luckily, they are spotted by Itsuki Ootori, one of Kaou-kai members.
It's an immensely enjoyable ride with this series. It's a relatively simple story, but it's easy to follow and it's a fun watch. The series composition is amazing in that I always feel satisfied after watching because most times it contains drama within the episode and also balances it out with lighthearted moments. It never gets too heavy even while you are emotionally moved by plot developments.
I first decided to try out this series because I saw a composer that I like was doing the soundtrack. Honestly this show wouldn't have attracted me otherwise since I like watching anime with action or romance, so I
didn't expect I would come to love this series.
The first episode will definitely catch viewers off guard. But even though you'll often be surprised by the sudden songs it's something you'll find yourself more or less getting used to. I recommend watching at least the first 3 episodes to see how you'll like it.
Starmyu appears to be this dumb silly show but if you go deeper you'll see the writers and director have put quite a bit of thought into it. There's symbolism here and there and I like how they lay down plotlines and details that are picked up later again in the show. And more than that, it's a classic story about youth and friendship, dealing with their own everyday troubles, chasing their dreams. I love the tagline on the show's promotional materials - "I don't know a way to give up my dream."
A big plus of Starmyu for me is that it takes away annoyances I've had with other anime. There's always the energetic and optimistic character type which appears here in form of Hoshitani, but the good thing about him is that he's surprisingly realistic when it counts. Also, the lack of a female MC in this show (it being an all-boys school) was especially refreshing, and it made the relationship between the guys shine even more instead of watching them vie over a girl.
If I had to name one fault that Starmyu had, it would probably be the animation, which sometimes looks derpy and low-budget. There were a couple of times where the characters didn't look themselves. But in return for that the staff puts special attention on the musical scenes. Some of them are really pretty and detailed, and the dance scene in one of the episodes was quite talked about thanks to the smooth hand-drawn animation.
No grouches about the voice acting. There are some good choices here in the cast since there is a lot of singing going on and for the most part they have good vocals, including even the least experienced member of the cast Lounsbery Arthur, who's playing a main character for the first time. Standout singing voices for me are KENN and Hanae Natsuki.
I think that the music is something that everyone can listen to. Personally the character songs are 50-50 hit and miss for me, but that's a very high rate by my standards. The good songs are really good, while the rest are just "meh" but not dislikable. Soundtrack BGM-wise, it's always excellent in this series.
Lastly while this series is obviously targeted at females, I've noticed that there is quite a handful of guys in Japan who enjoy it. Don't be put off by the all-male cast; you might just enjoy the story.
Generic. The story involves 5 boys who have auditioned and been put into an idol group within their school and must compete to be placed into the music department. This means they’ll be evaluated on their performance growth to see whether they could make it in the schools official elite musical.
Generally, you would assume this would mean competing against the other groups of performers for a place in the department. While this is true, it’s only to an extent. Ive counted over 20 different groups, and we only saw one group besides our main group ever perform, which they only did twice. This
means there is almost ZERO tension when they are ranked as we dont see what any of the other teams did to compare them too! We dont even get to see much of the technical side of rehearsing, as we mostly receive still shots of stretches or poses. Whatever.
Going back and listening to the tracks, they actually werent bad. I think my favorite voices belong to Kaito and Kakkeru. Voice acting was pretty solid but I cant really recall much background music.
Generic Tropes. We have the stoic, blue haired “perfect” boy with an Onii-san complex, Red-haired and arrogant uppity boy, a timid motherly type who just wants peace, The purple other-stoic but also edgy artsy one (he plays piano!), and the BORING upbeat brown-haired protagonist. Red-har was the most entertaining, as I appreciate the arrogant ones a lot plus, his cat stuff was cute.
However, the character interactions just dont feel right. After watching it, the kids barely know shit about each other and I really barely feel any substance tying each other together aside from being on team Otori. I suppose Nayuki became more outgoing from being on the team and being around MC-kun, but it want really focused on. The characters barely reflect on their past or talk about their feelings so I really dont understand why I should care.
Art: TERRIBLE. The character designs are so uncomfortable to look at. Almost every frame had me cringing just at the faces. Seriously, what were they thinking. It’s easy to see almost all the faces are identical to wear I feel like im watching the much-better Osomatsu-san. Everyone’s haor had this weird splotch of (root?) color at the top making it look like they all had bad dye jobs. Even the bodies have mostly the same shape. This designer should be fired. Some of the backgrounds during the songs looked nice I guess.
Animation: Ugh. Some of these episodes would have at least a third of the scenes shown in still frames. It’s almost like they didnt try. Theatre is a very visual and moving art, but it feels so stiff, just like most of their dance sequences. Also, please fire this animation director. Overlaying ugly still images over simple repetitive movements doesnt look nice, it makes it look like you got lazy. There was also an extreme over use of sparkles. Come on.
At least I got some good laughs at the over the top performances. Nayuki rode on a dolphin through the sky. That’s good shit.
the only enjoyable thing about this show was making fun of it. my friend and i literally came up with a new backstory for the main character because he was so painfully boring and bland. he was like an unseasoned chicken breast-- he was that bad. he wasn't talented!! he sucked!! there was nothing about his character that i liked. he's probably the worst main character i've ever seen in an anime.
the four others in the main group were fine. they were really only defined by one or two things/traits, but they were better than the main character, who i hate with a fiery passion.
only people i cared about in this series was the rival group. if THEY were the stars i would have loved this show. they were ten times more interesting than the main group, i screamed every time they came on screen, and they were just the better group. i was hoping and praying for their final performance, AND I DIDNT EVEN GET TO SEE THAT. WHAT THE HELL.
the music wasnt that bad, but i didn't care about the story. at first the art caught my eye, but as it went on the amount of boring shots in each episode really killed it for me.
so yeah i don't like this show. i might watch season two just to mercilessly mock it and scream at the dumbass main character, but i doubt it. looking back on it, the show was just pretty boring to me.
Ludonarrative dissonance is a pretentious term from 2006 game reviewers that refers to a game's narrative clashing with its gameplay. Having watched "Starmyu", formerly referred to as "High School Star Musical", I believe that this term should be co-opted for things outside of video games, such as animation.
There's a certain point in the final episode where the titular Stardust Team claims that they will host their final performance in an avant-garde way. You see, that's sort of the overarching story of this show. The musical team of our 5 main characters likes to perform in unconventional ways - challenging the standards of their school ensnared
with tradition. So while this embracing of the new and unconventional ways totally makes sense within the show's story, it clashes with the anime as a whole.
I have not watched Prince-Sama, but I have been told by multiple trusted sources that High School Star Musical's format is a carbon-copy of it. And judging by descriptions alone that makes total sense. Both feature musical academies with teams of 5 bishonen boys color-coded by their hair, and are likely made to appeal to the exact same audience. While High School Star Musical's moral seems to be embracing quirky and new ideas, its execution is the exact opposite. It plays itself so safely that there's not a single moment of the show that stands out to me. Likewise, there's not a single moment that I really hated. High School Star Musical carefully constrains itself into as many classic tropes it can find, and by doing so, makes itself a bastion of average.
Although I didn't hate any of it, High School Star Musical definitely has some quirks. The character designs look like they were stolen from the vaults of the producers of Free!, and the character models seem are very samey. Episode 6 introduces two twin girl characters (the only girls in the whole show, literally), and they kind of look like the animators just took their standard boy designs and added some long pink hair. Also they reminded me of those twin girls from Johnny Test. God bless all of our souls.
High School Star Musical, like almost every bishonen show, suffers badly from queerbaiting. The target audience of this show was surely preteen and teenage girls, and to capitalize on that, the producers made sure to add plenty of romantic tension between the main characters. But never enough. You see, the producers want those teenage girls to take the cast of High School Star Musical as their husbandos. However, they also know that boy's love sells. In an attempt to appease both, the producers add all sorts of blushes, stuttering, and even misinterpreted declarations of love and dates, but never actually announce that their male characters are in gay relationships. This queerbaiting is present in western shows too (think Supernatural and Sherlock), and once you notice it, it's really hard to ignore that the producers are using marginalized sexual orientations as a footstool to make their show more popular, without even giving those orientations proper representation.
I've been giving High School Star Musical a lot of flak, but if its goal was to create an utterly average show like I outlined earlier, then it did it well. If you don't put a lot of critical thinking into it, the show isn't a slog to get through - under one condition. If you watch the show at 1.5 times speed, it becomes easy to get through and all the music goes nightcore mode. The lines are simplistic enough that you can keep up with reading too. Shortening episode duration to 15 minutes makes this show incredibly manageable, and if I hadn't discovered this I would probably have given it a lower rating.
In the end, High School Star Musical seems as average as can be, but there may be a lot of value in the discourse that results from it. Its ludonarrative dissonance is strongly resonating and each viewer may interpret said dissonance very differently.
Back in 2006, when the term "ludonarrative dissonance" was coined, game reviewers were so caught up in talking about how a game's mechanics worked alongside its story that they forgot to actually talk about things readers cared about, like whether the game was fun and worth buying. Sort of like how you can read a Pitchfork album review and have no idea what the music is supposed to sound like. So for the Starmyu Review, I tried to recreate that feeling of being so far up your own ass that you can't even write good reviews.