Kageki Shojo episode 8 is one that may at first seem like a filler episode of sorts. The girls go back to school after the summer vacation, but most of the episode is spent in flashbacks. There, Kaoru Hoshino’s journey to Kouka is explored, and it’s revealed what she had to go through in order to succeed in the path she chose.
Yet, despite this episode focusing on the story of a supporting character, it carries as much weight and emotion as any episode in the show thus far. It’s a wonderfully emotional short story that adds so much personality to one of the Kouka girls. Let’s look at the key talking points from this spectacular episode in a spoiler-filled discussion!
Keeping with tradition
Kageki Shojo episode 8 sets the scene for Kaoru’s story up very early on. Her grandmother was a performer for the Kouka troupe long ago, and Kaoru aspires to keep with tradition. Despite being in her senior year of high school, she yearns to get into Kouka academy. In a number of instances, it is implied that this could be her last chance to apply for Kouka.
What’s also well established in the episode’s early minutes is the struggle that she has to undergo in chasing her dream. In the present, she chides Sarasa and Ai for having let themselves go and get tans on vacation. This bit is complemented really well in the flashbacks when they showcase Kaoru taking great care to keep away from the sunlight. This leads her to be the butt of the joke for her peers. She becomes an easy target for them as someone trying so hard to pursue her goals.
As viewers may have known from watching the previous episodes, Kaoru is incredibly determined and single-minded. She knows exactly what she must do to achieve her goals, and will have the strength and focus to do it.
The flashbacks complement this, showing that she has always been this way even before getting into Kouka. What adds to this further is the additional struggle she endures in this process. In her old school, she is far from normal. While girls are going out on dates and enjoying life, she is practicing at a dance studio. And while girls get to gossip by the bus stop, she carries her umbrella, looking out for her tan. This is just a good characterization for a character and does a great job establishing in viewers’ minds who Kaoru is.
Kaoru and Rikuto
During her regular commutes, Kaoru eventually becomes acquainted with a boy named Rikuto. The differences between them are stark. Kaoru seeks to be a performer, while Rikuto is a benchwarmer for his baseball team. However, the two bond over what similarities they can find in their experiences. Both are struggling in their respective fields, and both seek more in the pursuit of their goals.
Eventually, they become very good friends. They began to spend more time together, even texting each other constantly when apart. They shared their little successes with each other, as Rikuto and Kaoru improved in their fields over time.
However, things take a wrong turn when the two have a clash of beliefs. Rikuto expresses his doubts about striving for success in baseball, attributing it to the pressure of wanting to be like his older brother. He likens it to Kaoru wanting to be like her grandmother. Kaoru is heartbroken and insulted by this. To her, Rikuto could not be more wrong. There’s nothing else she wants to do beyond strive for Kouka. Pressure or not, no one forced her into the path she chose. She made the choice, and she’ll go down this path no matter what.
This was just heartbreaking to watch. It was really nice to see Kaoru happy with Rikuto, if just for a little bit. To see it all go down in flames in this way is truly sad. She even goes as far as to berate herself for hoping that she could be like a normal girl, if just for a moment. This is the first romantically tragic moment of the show, and it’s executed so well. It’s difficult not to have a heavy heart while watching Kaoru walk away from Rikuto in tears.
“I was in love with you”
The love Kaoru expresses for Rikuto is undoubtedly the biggest moment of the episode. Two noteworthy moments occur that lead to this key talking point.
First, unbeknownst to Rikuto, Kaoru watches him hit the home run that sends his team to Koushien. At that moment, she drops her umbrella and any thought of Kouka couldn’t be further from her mind. She sheds tears of joy as she watches him through a television screen. Rikuto, the benchwarmer, finally got his moment in the spotlight.
Second, in the present, Sarasa shows Kaoru a picture doing the rounds on social media. It’s of a familiar-looking bus stop, where a note has been attached. Addressed to “K”, the writer explains that they’re still playing baseball, thanking “K” for everything. As Sarasa gushes over how romantic it is, Kaoru in a faint whisper wistfully agrees. She thinks of Rikuto, and how when she walks on Kouka’s silver bridge, she might just save him a seat, and might just tell him how she felt about him once upon a time.
Be still, my beating heart! It’s this kind of thing that makes the heart flutter. It’s the perfect bittersweet ending for a concise little love story like this. In a vacuum, this episode’s compact little tale is so well done and evokes so much feeling. It’s hard to believe how invested one can get in a love story that isn’t even theirs. It’s moments like this that get the butterflies inside to dance to their heart’s content. Absolutely brilliant.
A wonderful love story
Kageki Shojo just keeps on impressing. This week’s episode is a showcase of the way the show can tell a story so true to life and infuse an element of magic within it. In a way, it’s because we understand that these magical moments can and do occur from time to time that this works. The magic in these little moments in life is captured so well in Kageki Shojo episode 8.
Furthermore, the episode’s ending also highlights how the people we’ve met can have such a profound effect on our lives, even if they’re no longer in it. Kaoru and Rikuto’s story serves as a stellar example of this adage. It’s a poignant and sincere ending to a damn great episode.
(This week’s Kageki Shojo ED is also Kaoru-themed! Do check that out!)
Kageki Shojo episode 8 is available to watch on Funimation! Episode 9 will premiere on August 29, 2021.