「えきびるコンサート」 (E Ki Biru Konsato)
Aka: The Disappearance of Tanaka Asuka.
Now that we’re adapting the third novel of the series, it feels like we’re getting to the meatier content, giving us more with the characters we know and are familiar with rather than introducing unfamiliar faces into the mix. The first six episode were pretty great, but nothing quite tapped the quality of the first season, so now we’ll play the waiting game to see if the second half matches expectations. It’s the differences between it being pretty great and KyoAni’s greatest TV anime, so even if what remains doesn’t exceed the heights of last year’s offerings, I’ll be happy with what I’ve got. If there’s one thing this second season has done better than the first, it would be treating the cast as an ensemble and approaching the drama from that perspective; by having several characters integral to every storyline, nothing feels like filler or padding – everything has meaning, and we get to know all these characters even more because of it.
Asuka’s drama takes centre stage this week, and it’s just as exciting and unfortunate as I’d hoped. It turns out the figure at the end of last week’s episode was her mother, and she doesn’t understand Asuka’s decision to stick with the band when it won’t benefit her in the long run. I can see her perspective, and I liked that this episode humanised her even in her most aggressive moments. I’m lucky enough that I never had parents who pressured me to quit something I had found passion in, but I can imagine being put on the spot by your teacher when your unaccepting mother is right beside you can’t be an easy thing. Asuka remains calm in that mysterious manner she’s mastered, but when he mother lashes out and slaps her for going against her wishes, things get serious.
Asuka’s response is tepid, and it’s hard to get a proper reading of her mood and opinions after that moment; the rest of the episode leads us one way and then another, keeping us wondering just what’s going to happen. I appreciated that her mother showed instant regret for slapping her daughter, but that was still an awful thing to do. I just hope we get more behind-the-scenes moments with Asuka and her family as this arc progresses, because Kumiko’s outsider perspective can only deliver so much.
Another character that stood out this week is Haruka, who despite being the effective leader of the band doesn’t have much of a part in the drama and many of the storylines over the past two seasons. She’s a plain girl who doesn’t stand out compared to her kouhais, but her bringing the band together after Asuka’s departure and then impressing with that daunting solo in the station performance was the epitome of “cool”, which isn’t a word I’d think to describe her by. Even if the central storyline isn’t as profound this time around, the varied scenes and developments across the cast is giving me more than enough to keep me entertained.
By the looks of it we’re going to get more family drama with Kumiko’s sister going… somewhere. These episodes sure do end off on the best/worst places, and it sucks that we don’t get previews to tease us, even if its mere breadcrumbs. I don’t know what’s coming next, but I expect more Asuka and her mother, and Kumiko and her sister, as things get personal and heated between them.