One of my favorite things about a long running series is watching the characters progress. Uta no Prince Sama Maji Love, as the longest running (and thus most successful?) idol anime (and I’m only talking about boy idols here because hello, those are the only ones that should count!) offers four (soon to be five!) seasons worth of character development at our perusal. What I find most interesting is that said character development, in my opinion, is most evident through the main idols’ performances, and it is done in such a subtle way that one can’t always be sure of its intentionality without close examination.
In such a seemingly lighthearted anime as UtaPri (but the fallacy of that is a discussion for another day and is touched upon, surprisingly enough, in point four here), one might be tempted to cast aside the notion as a “WHY ARE THE CURTAINS IN THIS NOVEL GREEN?? WHAT DOES IT MEAN??” kind of conjuncture, but I’ve gone around with myself enough that I feel quite strongly that the move was intentional on the part of the creators.
In the interests of keeping this post short, I won’t analyze every character separately through their music. I won’t get into the contrast between original main group Starish and their later-reveled Quartet Night senpais as an illustration of the group maturing and coming into their own, and I won’t discuss how their motivations as artists are illustrated throughout each seasonal arc. (I could do all these things, but we’d be here all day.)
At the end of each season, Starish (as well as the other groups, but I’m focusing on main group Starish here) performs their “culmination number,” and it’s the legacy of the buildup from the entire ~13 episode stretch. I will post videos of each performance and give my brief analysis as to why the particular title shows a progression in their maturity as artists. Don’t worry about too~ many spoilers; I’m not worried, but as always, read at your own risk. ❤
Let us begin!
Season 1: Uta no Prince Sama Maji Love 1000% (Click the link below and go to 20.08!)
This is their first moment in the sun! The high school boy idol group Starish only forms because of their desire to work with composer Haru-chan and the latter’s determination. Each boy (and they are still boys at this stage) wants her for himself; “Which will you choose, Princess?” the lyrics read. While there is definite excitement behind their debut as idol performers, being a group was never originally in the stars, and the biggest draw for them is still their “Little Lamb.” Who will win her heart? The dance moves are innocent and excited as they jump up and down; their lyrics are sweet and lighthearted, speaking of the thrill and confusion of first love that literally leaves them reeling. “For some reason, it’s overflowing with you. A mysterious rave that connects our hearts,” Ren and Masato sing together. All of our main cast are 15 to 18 years old at this juncture, and it is reflected by the innocence of their performance. Their words even reference high school! “We are not in a textbook! Love, change the star!”
Season 2: Uta no Prince Sama Maji Love 2000% (saving you a link click this time because this actually has lyrics with it!)
“Full power, full throttle.” The change in performance is now obvious; the boys play to the crowd of similarly aged peers and give them the fan service they crave. (Notice the pelvic thrusts and butt shaking. Do you hear the increase in screaming as Cecil and Sho touch each other?? Those boys knew exactly what they were doing. The confidence behind,”We’ve kept you waiting,” will attest.) While the boys are still interested in Nanami (Haru-chan), they’ve come into being a true group (as Cecil completed their number) and now sing more for the entertainment of their fans than they did at debut. That song wasn’t only for their lovely, quiet composer. That song was also for, as Ren would say, the *ladies.* While less racy than the dance moves, the lyrics become just a tad more demanding, a *tad* more scandalous without going too far, “Give me, give me love, ahhh~” and “If it’s the best, alone with you…” being two examples.
Season 3: Uta no Prince Sama Maji Love Revolution (Click the link below and go to 14:38!)
You’ll have to forgive the awful CG incorporated this season; the creators got lazy, but I think the complaints of fans reached the right ears because, while season 4 does incorporate computer animation, it does so much more seamlessly and of an outstandingly higher quality than season 3. Moving on from that, “Beyond 1000% and beyond 2000% is a revolution of love!” The boys are still wearing plays on their school uniforms and using their youth to their advantage, but now they’ve started to grow into themselves. You’ll notice the obvious fan service is gone. The girls no longer squeal over every suggestive move they make. The song, Revolution, is aptly named is truly just that. You’ll notice right away that the emotion in their voices has increased, I kid you not. It’s obvious with Masato’s first lines and the maturation of Cecil’s tones following! Their voices are coming into fruition and are merging together into something newer and smoother than seasons 1 and 2 offered. With the companion seasons’ ends laid out next to each other as they are for the purposes of this article, it is impossible to miss. The guys are all in their late teens to early twenties at this point, and their focus has shifted from romancing Nanami (though many do still fancy her) to their own futures and the trajectory of Starish. In a totally platonic sense, the boys have really come to love each other, and now their relationships as friends and groupmates mean just as much to them as their relationships with their composer. (Some fans resent this natural shift in focus away from the shows female MC, but I love that their focus has grown to encompass more than teen romance.)
Season 4: Uta no Prince Sama Maji Love Legend Star (Click the link below and go to 8:36!)
The boys…the UtaPri boys, that dear Starish…I’m not trying to be sappy, but… those boys are men now. You might not believe I could get so emotional about a show like UtaPri, but you’d be mistaken. Our youngest is roughly 20, our oldest 23. These men are my age. The song above is my very favorite Starish performance not only because their singing has become phenomenal, but because they’ve moved away from the romance of youth and have come to the realization that while they’ve been blessed, nothing lasts eternally. While their bonds will last a lifetime, they will eventually become those older men like their managers who step aside to let new talent shine. “Swear that you’ll be next!” Otoya insists. The song reflects on the love of their journey and the special place it holds within them. “Lasting in our hearts,” Masato says. These are not boys pining over a crush. (In fact, only the few who were proven romantically serious about Nanami still carefully consider their potential relationship, and they don’t push the issue because they know how to be responsible to their mutual circumstances.) These are men reflecting on their change in perspective. Their opening montage in which each man says a line reflects this change. Season 2, you will notice, had all the boys making romantic statements; in season 4, the same can only be said of Ren (and this is fitting as it reflects his true personality and is one of the few who is truly in love with their composer). The lyrics relay that our men are going to work hard, burning until their star dies and going out in a colorful blaze of glory. “What is eternity?” Tokiya sings in a hauntingly beautiful high note. “Singing our hearts out right now is the eternity of Starish.”
We swear now that we will rise up with endless bonds that will never break. Living together through today, the stars of the galaxy with an eternal glow.
I didn’t touch a lot on the technical aspects of the season 4 performance, such as their improved dance synchronization when compared to season 1, but that’s because I got so caught up in the emotion of the moment, it never seemed like the right time. UtaPri isn’t a perfect series, but Season 4 more than captured some of that original magic again, and I was quite pleased. I can’t wait to see where season 5 leads and I can only hope that they continue to expand upon the magic and awesome character development that we’ve thus far seen.
Tell me, have you seen Uta no Prince Sama? Did this post make you want to? Do you understand the regard in which I hold their character progression as conveyed by performance?
Let me know!
P.S. THOSE HIGH NOTES IN “LEGEND STAR” (season 4). MY GOSH. ❤ ❤ ❤