Greetings, and yay for an episode I didn’t enjoy as much! I was getting antsy over whether all I was going to do was to cheer for this show so this time, I’ll be cheery for liking episode 3 less than the first two. What we essentially cover this week is Maeda’s friends and presumably the future members of the shamisen club, the reason behind her involvement with the instrument and its relation to Setsu, and the alumni who left that beautiful but broken shamisen behind, Kamiki Seiryuu.
I know we’ve only caught a glimpse of her in the first episode for a second and we’re truly meeting her in this episode, but Yui-chan is my favorite character already. She’s close friends with Maeda, has the ‘protector of the cinnamon roll’ role in the friendship, she seems kind of cheeky and a big tease; I love such characters! From how she was portrayed in the first episode, I thought she’d be a seasoned shamisen music listener/fan considering she was watching an online stream of Setsu’s performance but it seems like she just stumbled upon it. Or, it’s also a possibility that she’s a fan of another group that’s supposed to perform that night, hence the reason why she had already tuned in. Whatever the situation was, she’s now the only one amongst the small friend circle who’s witnessed that stellar stage, and she’s having so much fun with the info!
We also meet Kaito, former-bully-turned-love-interest. From the promotional posters, it looks like he’ll become a part of the club as well. Poor Maeda, she cowers so much upon the mere sight of Kaito. I’m, again, guessing that these feelings of fear, distrust, and Kaito’s affection towards Maeda will be one of the plot points. Well, I at least appreciate how honest he was about what he feels.
Thus came the part where I wasn’t feeling myself; Maeda and Setsu’s encounter. While I’m by no means a stranger to wandering artists since we historically had a similar tradition that dates back to the 13th century, it still felt too much of a stretch that Maeda’s grandmother listening to Setsu’s grandfather and their grandchildren uniting in the same high school through Matsugoro’s impromptu song.
Because this discovery was ‘too good to be true’ and maybe revealed a little too early into the story, combined with his usually expressionless face, Setsu being anxious over his grandad’s song felt too dramatic, without the necessary build-up. Keeping the first two episodes in mind, we could tell he knew he couldn’t copy his grandfather and that might create a clash with Maeda’s grandmother’s memories. He is already struggling to untangle what’s been mixed up ever since his grandfather’s passing. Even though the audience knows these, just like that douchebag of a teacher storming on Maeda for listening to music when the class had already started, the tone was too exaggerated and didn’t really fit in with the rest. Minus the overly dramatic reveal, the friend circle is slowly forming, that’s always fun to see. And their teacher Koyabu Keiko suggesting they all go and see Kamiki Seiryuu’s performance was timely. We finally get to meet the genius everyone’s been talking about!
Before his performance, we see Kamiki visiting his teacher’s house in Aomori and exchange a few words with the teacher’s daughter Mai, Setsu’s childhood self-proclaimed rival. You see, Kamiki and Setsu crossing paths is no coincidental and doesn’t feel far-fetched; one of them is highly well-known and the other is the grandson of a master. Kamiki is working under a teacher in Aomori, which is an important prefecture for shamisen music. It doesn’t come as a surprise that they’ve heard about each other. From the looks of it, Kamiki has high expectations from Setsu already.
I felt relieved when Maeda and Setsu finally had a proper conversation about the song and Setsu explained himself in a way that Maeda could understand. It was interesting when he pointed out that playing the song would be impossible for Maeda, but even more impossible for Setsu. When the performance starts, everyone in the audience almost falls into a trance, fully focused on the stage. The silence before and after Kamiki’s performance, along with the lighting, amplified the heavy presence of the artist. I keep saying this but, I can’t wait for the soundtrack to come out so I can listen to these performances without the commentary of the characters.
I don’t understand anything about the artistry itself, this goes without saying, and maybe there was a certain effect used to achieve this during the recording so I’m not sure, but there was a very obvious difference in the clarity of their playing between Kamiki and Setsu in this episode, also Setsu’s first performance was better than his last in this sense. With string instruments, one of the key points is that we should be able to hear every string distinctly resonating the notes and even I was able to tell the difference with this one. I wish I had video editing skills so I could put those three performances together for comparison. Maybe until the next review, I can find a beginner-friendly software for that ~
Setsu’s relationship with his grandfather’s contribution to the repertoire reminded me of that episode of Barakamon where Handa accepted the task to write on Miwa’s father’s boat. He dreaded for days how to go about it and was afraid to put his brush on that perfectly white surface but all it took was for kids to dip their hands in the paint and leave marks on the boat. In the end, I’m glad Setsu’s finally meeting the world outside of his grandfather’s house and having that clash with others, and himself, that’s necessary to grow both as a person and an artist. He finally takes that step towards Maeda, thanks to the push from Yui.
How was this episode for you? What did you think of Kamiki and his performance? Let me know what you think! Tomorrow, I’ll be back with a post on music as a manga genre. Until then, have a nice day and take care ~
Other reviews of Those Snow White Notes
- Those Snow White Notes Episode 1 — Desolate
- Those Snow White Notes Episode 3 — Apple Blossoms
- Those Snow White Notes Episode 4 — Sudden Downpour
- 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 —