[Review] Re:Stage! Dream Days – Episode 1

By: Caitlin Moore July 8, 20190 Comments

What’s it about? When Mana Shikimiya transfers to Marehoshi Academy mid-semester, the stern student council member who gives her a tour sternly tells her that clubs are kind of a big deal here. Membership is not optional, and the “Going Home Club” doesn’t count.

Mana wanders into the first club room she finds, and there stumbles on a beautiful girl in a kimono who informs her that she’s the president of the lyrical dance club. And who combine lyrics and dance more than anyone else in the modern day? Idols, of course!

I’ll be honest – this one almost passed us by. When putting together the seasonal list, I took one look at those tiny-bodied, bobble-headed character designs and figured it was one of those idol shows aimed at seven-year-olds that never get translated and skipped it. But when HiDive announced they’d acquired it, well… maybe it would turn out to be something more?

Now that I’ve watched the first episode… No, probably not. Turns out, it’s mostly just boring.

Maybe I’ve been spoiled so far this season, as the hit-to-miss rate has been absolutely stellar compared to usual. This is only the second show that has been a total snoozer out of the dozen or so shows I’ve watched before now.

Actually, no. That doesn’t really cover it. Re:Stage! Dream Days combines the childish character designs of series like Aikatsu and Lilpri with stock genre tropes and elements of more otaku-oriented idol series for an experience that would be jarring if it weren’t just so goddamn dull.

I know a lot of you are totally here for the homoeroticism that tends to permeate otaku-oriented idol shows, and that’s fine. I get it. My own queerness is totally and utterly divorced from moe tropes, but not everyone feels the same way. Those of you who do like it may actually get something out of Re:Stage, because it lays that not-quite-lesbianism on thick.

The first thing Mizuha does when meeting Mana is stare intently at her boobs for reasons I am yet to understand. And Mana and Sayu! There’s enough longing looks, interlaced fingers, and bus-side promises to fill an entire series, let alone the first episode.

And yet, since this all happens in the first episode, between two characters with almost no personality between them, with little time to build up any kind of genuine relationship or investment, it just feels rushed.

Everything else is just incredibly bog standard. The club doesn’t have enough members and will be disbanded unless Mana joins! Sayu has been working hard toward being an idol since she was a little girl! Watch her dance! (The episode does get points for not relying on stiff, unnatural-looking CGI for her dance sequence, even if it was all one shot of her upper-body from a static camera angle – not exactly inspired.) They’re going to win a contest and be discovered as the Next Big Thing! With the power of frienshippppppppppppppppppppppppppppppppppppppppppppppppppppppppppppppppppppppppppppppppppppppppppppppppppp

Oh sorry, I fell asleep with my finger on the keyboard. Just talking about Re:Stage makes me pass out. And since I have more to do before I turn in for the night, here’s the bottom line before it happens again: Re:Stage! Dream Days, with its homoeroticism and apparent lack of male characters, will appeal to some. But the big-headed art looks weird to me, the jokes don’t land, and it’s all about as fresh as the stink of week-old tuna salad.

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