We meet again for another review of Those Snow White Notes! I’m still a bit high on my excitement for the show so excuse me if my tone is a bit too cheery. This episode covers who was that beautiful woman busting down Yuna’s door like she’s finally tracked down some dangerous drug cartel, Setsu’s first meeting with his brother after he ran away to Tokyo, and what happened back in Tsugaru in the meantime, to end with a short glimpse of Setsu’s first day in high school. We are still a little slow on the development part, which I appreciate.
Starting with my favorite development, the opening! I’ve been listening to Burnout Syndromes ever since they’ve done an opening for Haikyu!! in 2016 and I couldn’t stop myself from squealing when I’ve learned they worked on the opening for Those Snow White Notes as well. And boy, did they deliver!
Setsu’s meeting with his estranged mother Umeko isn’t portrayed as an emotional mother-son bonding after years, but more like two performers coming together. She does intervene in terms of providing a place and means for Setsu to live on as he continues his education, and I’m sure we’ll get to see more of how this reunion will play out in the future. But for now, it’s time to crown their reunion with the only bond they have left apart from the biological one: music.
I can’t stress how much I enjoyed their song! I couldn’t find much information on the performers; I only know the famous Yoshida Brothers are overseeing the musical pieces and technical aspects but I don’t know who are the actual performers. The same goes for Umeko, I wonder if her seiyuu Honda Takako is also doing the singing, or they had another performer. Whoever they are, the nasal tones, the use of breath, and the smoothness in melismatic singing (when a singer sings one syllable while moving between lots of different notes successively*) were all captivating.
Now that his life is in gaining some sort of shape, Setsu is ready to step into his new school. His brother Wakana is there to have breakfast with him and take him to school but both of them being nothing but fools for shamisen, they end up talking more about the recent competition that Wakana came 3rd in. The second place went to Setsu’s childhood -one-sided- rival Tanuma Mai’s brother Souichi. The first place is Ogata Kousuke, which we, later on, learn that he’s an alumnus of Setsu’s school.
While Wakana is dumbfounded in the principal’s office listening to the fictional tragic backstory his mother created for his little brother, Setsu is greeting his classmates. When he visits the teacher’s room after class, a classmate of his enters the lounge as well, with a big shamisen case in her hands. Left behind by Ogata Kousuke, Setsu helps her assemble the parts of shamisen and almost induces a heart attack when he mentions the price for repairing the ripped leather on shamisen’s body.
The episode comes to an end with some sweet nostalgia where before Wakana goes back to Aomori, Setsu suggests that they play together once. This part was another favorite moment of mine! There are songs that I’ve listened to in different phases of my life, and hearing them once again takes me back to those times in an instant. The song Wakana and Setsu came up with together is imbued not only with memories but represents their relationship dynamic as well. Their energy and emotions naturally pull their listeners in.
One thing I’ve become aware of while watching the episode was that I’ve become less tolerant of physical violence played out as comedy over the years. The scenes where Umeko used tear gas to take Setsu to his new place or all the beating or choking are, I’m guessing, supposed to underline Umeko’s fiery character. To me, they simply look too extreme instead of funny and I wondered if this kind of portrayal was necessary.
I’m looking forward to the soundtrack being released so I can comfortably listen to the songs! One time at the end of the year, upon seeing my Spotify Wrapped a friend jokingly said that I was trying to squeeze out every penny I spent on Spotify because when they did the math, I had listened to 7-8 hours of music every single day. Whether it’s a healthy amount or not, I’ll leave it to your discretion. However, this soundtrack will definitely be a welcomed addition.
How was your experience with the second episode? Were you able to get into the story a bit more? What was your favorite moment? Share them by leaving a comment and see you tomorrow!
(*) I learned that in traditional enka, melisma in this very particular style is called kobushi. The difference between kobushi and vibrato we know from classical music is the irregularity of the sound’s fluctuation; as in, vibrato is two notes in succession, played repeatedly while in kobushi, the artist wanders more but still stays withing the scale. In short, this is the vibrato that’s like a trademark which makes it easy to identify traditional singing.
Other reviews of Those Snow White Notes
- Those Snow White Notes Episode 1 — Desolate
- Those Snow White Notes Episode 3 —
- Those Snow White Notes Episode 4 —
- Those Snow White Notes Episode 5 —
- Those Snow White Notes Episode 6 —
- Those Snow White Notes Episode 7 —
- Those Snow White Notes Episode 8 —
- Those Snow White Notes Episode 9 —
- Those Snow White Notes Episode 10 —
- Those Snow White Notes Episode 11 —
- Those Snow White Notes Episode 12 —