Super Ultra Hyper Miracle Kashikoma!
Major spoilers after the break.
You can never tell what shows are going to be grounds for direct comparison. On one hand, a kids’ show that’s equal parts bizarre, merchandisable and largely wholesome. On the other hand, a one-cour arm of a franchise that’s pushing the limits of how far yuri and lewdness can go on TV. Though in either case, you’re dealing with an innocent, twintailed girl who has the power to change the world.
Yes, I’m going to be comparing Valkyrie Drive and PriPara, because both of them used the same plot twist within a week or two of each other. Akira and Hibiki had a lot in common. Supposedly being the one major boy character in a series otherwise full of girls – though PriPara had a leg up here with Meganii, the mascots, Leona, etc. – yet having a gender-neutral name, ambiguous character design, and both ruling from a high castle, overlooking the main characters with a sense of amusement and contempt.
The correct term for what’s going on with Leona and Akira and Hibiki is “transvestite”, I believe. It’s a thorny issue that a lot of the world is still not very good at talking about, and I’m just one guy writing about it on his little-seen blog. But I’ll try to do my best. And there’s a lot to unpack before we get to the reveal that Hibiki is actually a girl. So many amusing moments.
For one, the elevator takes Lala and company to the burger shop just across the street from Prism Stone. Hibiki couldn’t have a more obvious secret hideout. (Having Ajimi snooping around while “This show is brought to you by McDonald’s” is on screen only adds to the comedy.) Then there’s the little moment where they watch themselves being spied on, leading to a Droste image on Hibiki’s computer, the likes of which I haven’t seen since Kamen Rider Decade Complete and his forehead of infinity.
Surprisingly, the moment where Hibiki reveals her true gender comes about rather plainly. Hibiki just waltzes into Prism Stone, gets assessed by Meganee, and signs up for a performance. I’ve said it before, but Meganee is incredibly lax about letting people in. It fits with the show’s “Everyone’s friends, everyone’s an idol!” tagline, but you have to wonder if those glasses have any sort of screening process.
Hibiki’s song strikes me as very similar to June’s in Rainbow Live. Very regal sounding, with a more elegant style of performance compared to the high energy pop the main characters have been performing. It’s so good that Hibiki actually gets to do two songs – one as in-show performance, and one as the ending.
After the song, Hibiki and Lala agree to return the cards and challenge each other for a duel. Hibiki invokes the Saints – that is, Aira, Mia and Naru – as an example of a golden age that should return, compared to Lala’s dream of everyone having a chance. I’d think that Lala would try to abolish the ranking system altogether, but everyone likes the sound of being a Godly Idol. Also, Hibiki’s attempts at pomposity are immediately deflated by Falulu calling him “Mahou-chan”.
I had suspected that Hibiki may not be all that she appeared to be at first, and my guess was proven right. But simply being right isn’t enough to delve into what it means for the story, how it will change the characters’ relationships going forward, and how many Brilliant Prince cards Takara Tomy can sell at an arcade near you. The Hibiki plot has kind of been running in place for a while, even as new characters like Ajimi enter the picture, so I look forward to seeing where the show goes from here.
Sweet Transvestite from Parajuku! Leona and Hibiki discuss going outside societal gender roles. Or Hibiki just gets up to hijinks inside PriPara. The episode can be both of those.