Kana HanazawaSumire UesakaRisae MatsudaTomomi Mineuchi
Lapis Re:Lights
Medium: TV, series
Year: 2020
Director: Hiroyuki Hata
Writer: Hajime Asano, Kasumi Tsuchida
Actor: Arisa Suzuki, Ayane Sakura, Chie Shishido, Chihiro Ishihara, Haruka Itou, Hazuki Hoshino, Hikaru Akao, Iori Saeki, Kana Hanazawa, Live Mukai, Miyu Machida, Mizuki Yamamoto, Rina Honnizumi, Risae Matsuda, Risa Kubota, Saeko Oku, Seka Hirose, Sumire Uesaka, Tomomi Mineuchi, Yoko Nakayama, Yoshino Nanjo, Yu Sakuragi, Yu Sasahara, Yuka Amemiya, Yukari Anzai, Yukimi Hayase, Yuko Ono
Keywords: anime, fantasy
Country: Japan
Language: Japanese
Format: 12 episodes
Url: https://www.animenewsnetwork.com/encyclopedia/anime.php?id=22935
Website category: Anime 2020
Review date: 3 October 2022
Lapis Re Lights
Under its fluffy, lightweight surface, it's an oddity. It feels like the kind of low-effort viewing where you don't need to pay much attention, but then the second half started doing things I hadn't expected. It's all of the following:
1. It's about trainee witches at magic school!
2. No, it's an idol anime! (Sometimes.)
3. No, it's a mobile phone game adaptation! (In the game, you're a professor at Flora Girls' Academy and you help train the students and produce their operas.)
4. No, it's a gentle, bright, colourful piece of nothing about girls being nice to each other!
5. No, it actually has an interesting plot, once it gets going!
Ep.1 introduces a girl called Tiara who wears a tiara. She has a very high social status (that she tries to hide), yet the headmistress puts her in a group of failing students. Flora Girls' Academy believes in collective responsibility. A group stands or falls together, based on the average score of its members. Tiara is in danger of being expelled before she's even attended her first classes. Fortunately, though, she's a lovely, optimistic girl who sees this as an opportunity to help her four new friends.
We then get lots of light, fun episodes as our heroines try to earn points. They fail a lot, mostly thanks to the wonderfully stupid Lavie, who's the show's most entertaining character. (When she says a long word in ep.9, her friends assume that she's in shock.) The show's airheaded tone is such a good distraction that it took me longer than it should have to start wondering why the headmistress had dumped Tiara in the manure on arrival. (The show spills the beans in ep.11, which is absurdly late, but note that no one seems surprised.) Personally, though, my suspicions went deeper. I wonder if the school was cheating. Minus 70 points in ep.7? It's funny, yes, and of course Lavie's to blame, but I wonder if the teachers weren't quietly adding a Tiara Tax to that penalty. Similarly, ep.8's punchline smells of dirty goalpost-moving to me, even if the girls have no argument with it.
There are other headscratchers, though. Why does no one at school recognise Tiara? (Rosetta does, but that's because they already knew each other.) You'd think someone that important would have their face better-known. That said, though, the show also got me speculating about royal inbreeding (Eliza's shared cough) and darker unstated motivations for railroading Tiara, but these guesses ended up getting trumped by the proper answers.
Sometimes, the show's silly, e.g. the names. I rolled my eyes on meeting the girls from Yamato. (Mind you, a bigger problem with those three is Nadeshiko's catchphrase of "rock", which I came to hate.) Sometimes, it's funny. (I laughed at the invincible wall gag in the ep.3 bumpball game.) Then, sometimes, it's wasting your time with idol song-and-dance routines. I fast-forwarded through those, which meant skipping the first nine minutes of the season finale. Yes, the last episode. That was surreal. The idol nonsense is a real problem, unless of course you like watching CGI anime girls stop the plot to sing for a few minutes. Fortunately, it's only obtrusive for a few episodes in the middle, then again in ep.12.
The show's first half is light fun, but ep.6 had me wondering if this show had a point. Eps.7-8: IDOLS! (This school awards points for doing an "Orchestra", as an idol performance is called, so our heroines are singing to avoid expulsion.) After that, thankfully, the plot kicks in and the show gets interesting.
The show's tone belies some of its worldbuilding and story elements. Our heroines' fluffy adventures are happening while magical monsters attack towns. The army's main job appears to be monster extermination. Ep.6 is horror-themed (although not seriously) and has a girl who hasn't realised she's dead. The show's also throwing some light bones to the presumed male otaku audience. It's an all-girl show with the expected opportunities to speculate about girl-girl attraction. There are predatory lesbians (one of whom has incestuous preferences and targets her own sisters' underwear), a mass bathing scene in ep.3 and Tiara's nude astral plane form in the finale. No visible nipples, though.
It's a cute, likeable and often empty show... except when it's not. It's interesting. I'd particularly recommend the last four episodes. I don't imagine I'll rewatch it, though.