The individual competiton has begun! While this episode may not have been too eventful for our main cast, it certainly had one of the biggest twists of the series so far. Yes, I am indeed referring to the revelation of Setsu’s biological father, Ryuugen Kamiki, who up until now was known as Genzou Tanuma, the father of siblings Souichi and Mai. This was highly unexpected for several reasons, for one it seems so late in the series to be introducing additional blood-relatives of Setsu, but also the fact that it turned out to be an already-established character with a seemingly set role as being the father of the Tanumas, truly made this a plot twist of epic proportions.
Other than this grand reveal, the other notable parts were the two performances this episode, but for me it was Ushio Arakawa (Fukushi Ochiai) who stole the show. Since his group performance a few episodes ago, I’ve been hoping to see this upbeat fighter for passion take on the spotlight. His unique approach to the shamisen is both free and pure, much like Setsu’s approach but in its own style. Arakawa makes a big deal of getting the crowd excited, and his wild rebellious performance even got me riled up, as he threw away all his concerns and decided to do away with being conservative right off the bat.
If there’s anything I love about this show, it’s that any character can make you root for them, and the way the producers communicate invoke this feeling through the music is simply awe-inspiring. I am not a manga reader by any means, but I simply could not stomache even the thought of experiencing this series without audio, I mean, how would we hear the amazing shamisen music through paper pages? I don’t doubt this series is that bad without the music, and I certainly do enjoy the plot and accompanying drama, but the music just takes it to a whole new level of greatness.
The final sequences of this episode showed the puppy-eyed Takaomi Kaji (Yuki Kaji) performing his carefully crafted piece, but with a twist. Inspired by Ushio’s performance, Takaoma decided to go hit the strings more aggressively and passionately in a manner very out-of-character. Unfortunately, this backfired on the poor kid, resulting in a string break which has seemingly brought his awesome performance to an abrupt end. While I am somewhat shocked and a little saddened about this, I can’t say Kaji was a favourite character of mine, but my heart goes out to anyone that was looking forward to his individual performance. I certainly got what I wanted with Ushio’s firework performance, and I know I’d have been absolutely heartbroken if this happened to my guy here.
On a final note, I couldn’t help but notice the subtle hint at Setsu’s incredible sense of shamisen strings when he realised there was “slack in one of the strings” by listening in a completely different room space. This was a good way of showing Setsu’s unmatched instincts when it comes to the instrument he loves most, and has certainly got me hyped up for our main man’s individual performance. With nothing to hold him back, and a strong desire to win, I can’t wait to finally see Setsu let loose like no tomorrow. The countdown has begun, and with just two more episodes to go, here’s to hoping they’ll end off this season with a bang!