「風」 (Kaze)
“Wind”

If there was ever to be a ‘Tournament Arc’ in this series, then this is where it begins. Setsu and the gang head down to the Matsugorou Cup, where schools from across the country have gathered to do battle with shamisens. With a whole new look resembling something of a Power Rangers crew, this episode was perhaps the most colorful of the series so far, but not just for its visuals.

Piecing Things Together

The tournament had drawn in characters from many different backgrounds and really did well to keep making those previously introduced characters staying relevant and navigating the course of the plot. As usual, this was done through yet another appearance of Wakana Sawamura, the wise older brother, as well as Umeko Sawamura, the main driver of events in the series. The dots are finally being connected, and we see this through the IRL meeting of Yui and Mai, as well as the brief interaction between Setsu and Sōichi, which establishes the vast contrast between their characters and capitalises on the unifying force of shamisen appreciation.

Kaito is the Key to Setsu’s Power

Of course, what is this series without a classic argument involving Kaito, who like many of the viewers I’m sure, simply cannot stand Setsu’s behaviour at times and lack of ability to read social cues. I feel Kaito is actually a far more important character than meets the eye. While he may give off the typical hot-headed and passionate anime character vibe, in many ways he is the key to Setsu’s motivation.

We saw this in last week’s episode where we learned of Kaito’s tragic injury that compromised his future in professional soccer, which led to an empathic reaction from Setsu. The result saw our main character being driven into action, and this episode was no different in that aspect. It was almost bone-chilling to see Setsu show his passionate side, headbutting Kaito and shouting “I want to win!”

The Controversial Ending Scene

The closing scenes of the episode saw Setsu make an announcement to his team, which in retrospect could be interpreted differently depending on the viewer. “Listen up,” he says, “If you want me to give my best performance, you’re gonna have to carry me toward it.” This was met with a puzzled reaction from the team, and even a look of sadness and concern by Yui in particular just as the ending credits begin to roll. The team concludes that “he’s still full of himself” and begin to follow him in a sort of uncomfortable but accepting manner.

My personal interpretation of this scene is that the team are filled with mixed feelings. On the one hand, they feel a little insecure that their team leader is depending on them to “carry him” to his best performance. On the other hand, they are relieved that Setsu is becoming a team player of sorts, and really wants to win the group division rather than purely focusing on his own individual division. This, coupled with the words of clarification from Wakana about Setsu’s pre-performance “quirks” seems to have given the group more insight into how Setsu thinks (and feels about winning), and in some ways, the group will be feeling alot of additional pressure to perform well to not let him and each other down.

The final panel with Yui’s disheartened face tells me she is deeply empathetic with Setsu’s feelings, and this may have stemmed from a previous conversation with Mai Tanuma, who knows alot about Setsu’s childhood. My feeling is that Yui has learned something about Setsu that is unknown to the other memebers of the team, and possibly even unknown to us as the viewers too. The fact that the strong-willed character Yui was giving off this expression must mean there is something deeper going on that is bothering her, and it’s definitely not to do with the pressure of the tournament.

What did you think of the final scenes of this episode?

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