12 Days of Anime – Day 9 – Welcome to Fabulous Keito!

Before we had Fabulous Max from Penguindrum we had just plain Fabulous from Star Driver.  You remember that anime, right, that one from about a year ago with fabulous masked persons piloting fabulous but strange mecha in a fabulous alternate dimension of pure and unrestricted fabulousness?  And let’s not forget about the glittering abdomen/peacock-feathered garments or those punches that destroyed mechas when they landed square on the pilot’s face.  It was truly a fabulous anime.   But there was one character in particular who refused to be fabulous like everyone else.  Keito contrasted everyone by always being serious, dull, and rational, distinct from everyone else in the series.  But it was all just a ploy and it was made apparent when we saw one scene in particular, one which completely redefined Keito’s character, redirected Star Driver and pretty much left me downright speechless.  Fabulous, too.

Keito was always the only serious character in Star Driver.  When everyone else around her was having fun and being absolutely ridiculous, she was personifying the model student.  Not only was she the class rep, head of the science club, and top in her class but she was a leader in the Glittering Crux, going by the pseudonym Ivrogne and heading the section Bougainvileae (who’s only other member was Mami Yano or Undine).  But even then she was entirely serious there, too.  You would always find her silent, showing no excessive emotions, and accompanied with an open book.  The only times she did something remotely humorous or comical was when they used her serious nature in jokes, often making witty remarks toward Kanako’s behavior toward Takuto.  Only once or twice did Star Driver show a crack in her character, mainly in the form of jealousy, but even then it was used at the end of a joke and we merely thought of it as quirky Star Driver humor again.  This pretense continued up until the 18th episode when…

Wait, what?

Is that Keito?
KEITO?

What is going on?

Not only was this karaoke scene used to its maximum effect in completely reinventing Keito’s character but it had the funniest punchline of any joke in the anime and quite possibly the entire Winter anime season.  What made this scene one of the most memorable in all 2011 was how it was perfectly directed, from its impact on the story and its characters, to how it appeared on the screen (animation, artwork, colors, fabulousness, everything), to the reaction it got from the audience (shock and wonder).  Only moments before was Keito refusing the idea of wanting to become an idol but she also belittling Wako on her dreams.  And just a few scenes earlier did we learn that Keito was childhood friends with Wako and Sugata, too.  So not only did we begin to develop her character and explore her past but we were hit with this unexpected scene and it completely demolished her former self and allowed her to be reconstructed as one of the most crucial and central characters for the ending of Star Driver.

We’ve had a ton of surprises already in Star Driver but they were normally reserved for jokes or plot advances we could not comprehend at that time.  They were nothing to this degree or this magnitude, either.  Her serious personality had been shattered and it allowed her to pursue new roles in the anime without creating contradictions or confusion.  Didn’t help that one of her new roles turned out to be strange itself.  But without this karaoke scene before, this new angle for Keito would’ve just been horribly out-of-character and slightly more confusing than it already was.

This karaoke scene in particular was not one of my favorites but it ended up being one of the most memorable things about Star Driver.  Keito was one of my least favorite characters in Star Driver and I didn’t care about the whole idol angle or any of that jazz.  But the scene was beautifully animated, full of motion and emotion, and ended with a joke that caused me to pause the anime to let me catch my breath after laughing so hard before I could resume.  What it did to Keito’s character, instilling some personality to her, ended up revolutionizing Star Driver.  I began to enjoy Keito in Star Driver from that scene forward and it certainly helped the series overall.  It’s hard to ignore the impact this scene had on the anime and the reaction it got from the audience.  Even Takuto was shocked at what he saw.  I don’t think Takuto could’ve said it any better at the end:

It’s a Wonder.

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