Pretty Rhythm: Rainbow Live has been a wonderful yet underrated surprise among the anime I’ve seen. On the surface, it looks like a typical children’s magical idol show with an ice-skating gimmick, but the combination of tightly-crafted story arcs and amazing character development among the cast has made the show shine like a prism stone. Bell Renjoji, a main character who’s received the most dramatic character development in the series, is the focus for both this article and the show’s Christmas episode.
Going over the full details of this character would probably warrant another article of its own, but here’s the short, spoilery summary: At the start of the series, Bell’s mature yet intimidating confidence hid many insecurities from the pressure to be the best at everything by her mother. As a result, she got increasingly burdened from the idea that she need to be perfect in order to be loved. It took her friends and her rival Naru Ayase looking out for her after a failed performance for her to realize that there were people out there who loved her for who she was. This not only gave her the courage to stand up to her mother, but also dramatically changes her outlook in her friendships and performances.
Rainbow Live’s Christmas episode comes in a few months after that breakthrough. For their main Christmas event, the fashion shop Prism Stone Harajuku decides to organize a Duo Show program with Bell and Naru. To prepare for it, both girls agree to spend a night with each other’s families as a way to get to know each other better. Bell comes to Naru’s house first, and is absolutely surprised by the warmth she felt from being around Naru and her parents.
The scene above says a lot of the current dysfunction that surrounds the Renjoji family. Bell has come a long way from what she used to be, but she still struggles with knowing whether her mother loves her. Likewise, her mother Ritsu, while much tamer than before, still puts Bell’s accomplishments on a pedestal, and tries to micromanage her life without her say on the matter.
Naru’s stay at her house doesn’t go as smoothly as Bell hoped it would. Her mother’s need to impress and flaunt her accomplishments has hit on nerves constantly through the night. It all comes to a head when Ritsu rips her design sketch for her performance outfit in half, all because she didn’t like how her and Naru’s outfits were so different from each other.
Right as the above scene played, Bell’s father Yukihide arrives back home from his overseas trip and immediately notices the tense atmosphere in the room. Bell then quickly covers up what happened as an accident before excusing her and Naru to her bedroom. Later that night, Bell apologizes to Naru about the incident, and talks more about her feelings about her family. As she explains, her dad’s constant overseas business trips have brought a lot of pressure and loneliness to her mom over the years. What eventually became a burden for Bell to be perfect was, once upon a time, a desire to make her parents proud and happy.
After watching the girls perform at their Duo Show event, both of Bell’s parents have now come to be aware of all the mistakes they’ve made to their family, thanks in part to what happened the night before. Yukihide apologizes to his wife for putting so much pressure on her while using his business trips as an excuse to leave his family alone. Likewise, Ritsu’s remorse from her previous actions have now led her to reprioritize and properly affirm her love to her daughter.
Before I end this article, there are two particular lines from the episode that I want to carefully address here:
Let me make myself clear here: while these lines were helpful for Bell’s situation, the reality is that there are parents out there who don’t love their children as they should. The ways that some families show their kind of love can be toxic and destructive. Relatives can break your heart in the most painful ways possible, especially during the holidays. I won’t say to anyone in this situation that there’s a one-size-fits-all solution, because different factors come into play for different families. However, I hope that I can give you some words of encouragement from this. Like with what happened to the Renjoji family in this episode, there is always hope for forgiveness and reconciliation. It may take a lot of work and time to get to that point, but it will definitely be worth it in the end. On the other hand, just because your relationships with your family is broken, that doesn’t mean that you can’t experience love elsewhere. The Christmas season, in this case, is able to showcase love through many examples: from friends coming to celebrate the holidays together, to charities organizing food drives for the less fortunate, to God sending his Son into the world to save us from our sins.
I pray that your Christmas will be full of love, joy, and hope.
Day 10: Tomorrow, we jump into episodes 16 and 17 to see how Chise and Elias celebrate Christmas on The Ancient Magus Bride.