「 風花」 (Kazabana)
The moment we’ve all been waiting for has finally arrived, as Setsu, Kaito, Rai, Shiru and Yui finally step up on stage as the final performance of the Matsugorou Cup group division. Despite not coming in first place, I feel the special award given to the team was a far greater accomplishment than coming in 1st place ever would’ve been.
For me, the special award was an incredibly well-thought out way of bringing to light the nature of Setsu’s freestyle shamisen approach while properly accrediting the creative importance in playing the instrument and expressing one’s authentic “sound.” In essence, Setsu does not compete to defeat others, but to defeat himself, and I feel his ideals in this regard make him a very attractive character and the most worthy of carrying on his grandfather Matsugorou’s legacy to the new generation of shamisen enthusiasts.
So, what exactly was so “different” about team Setsu’s performance that it received a standing ovation? Well to put it bluntly, it’s that they were so unique in their approach that they simply could not be compared to the other performances using the same metrics. While they ultimately did receive 3rd place, it was the special award that truly showed they were of a different realm, much like how you couldn’t compare an artist like Michael Jackson to, say, Elvis Presley, as they are both kings in their own rights.
Setsu revealed his strengths as a leader in this performance, that is, a commander from behind the scenes. By first getting Kaito to go for an aggressive start, followed by Rai adding his own creative mix into the piece really showed that Setsu can bring out the best in everyone by making their talents shine. He has the ability to keep the piece from falling apart with his sheer skills, but also managed to off-set this task to Shiru and Yui, both of whom did a great job at keeping it all together with an error-free performance.
Tears were shed since losing out on 1st place, but I still see this result as an overall win, to receive 3rd place in a contest where many were seasoned shamisen pros, and to also establish yourselves as the “wow” performance with the most creative flaire are nothing but wins in my books. I was moreso disappointed that Mai had lost out on 1st place, as I really do feel she had the best performance overall, and I was definitely cut to see the winning team to be a performance I paid very little attention to. Nevertheless, the writers at the very least accomplished the “unpredictability-factor” by choosing them as the winners, though I’d be lying if I said I was pleased with the result.
On a final note regarding all this, I am both annoyed and inspired at Setsu’s motivations during the Matsugorou Cup shamisen contest. As a viewer, there’s nothing more I want to see than Setsu absolutely destroy the competition with a brilliant solo performance, but as an analyst, I feel that his approach to the group piece was pure perfection, and he made something great out of a team of shamisen newbies.
Looking on, I’m very much looking forward to the individual division, as this is where Setsu will truly shine and allow his individual brilliance be known. My only concern is if he can’t bring out his best performance, like what happened during his encounter with Seiryuu earlier in the series, though I doubt this will be a problem at this point. All in all, it’s gonna be an awesome next few episodes to wrap up the series!