「ましろのおと」 (Mashiro no Oto)
“Those Snow White Notes”
In this final chapter of what has been a solid first season of “Those Snow White Notes,” I am left with feelings of sadness that there will no longer be an episode of this heartful series to look forward to each week. Still, I am also filled with hope and excitement for the possibility of a second season. It’s been a rollercoaster of a journey, and I’ve thoroughly enjoyed reviewing this show which I could only describe as being different from anything I’m accustomed to, but in all the right ways.
Setsu’s Final Performance
The switch-up from Matsugorou’s sound to Setsu’s sound from last week’s final sequence certainly provided the hype needed to set up this finale to the first season of an incredibly well-strung shamisen-themed story. I do wish that Setsu began his piece using his own sound from the get-go, as this turned out to be a critical factor for Setsu scoring lower than expected. Again, the theme of individuality vs conformity was resurfaced as the judges revealed that Setsu’s performance was too difficult to judge due to the switch-up and that he did not connect the two pieces professionally enough, which was indeed the truth as Setsu made the decision on the fly to change up the piece to his own sound.
Nevertheless, our protagonist stole the hearts of many with his performance, even reaching those characters we have not seen since the early opening chapters of this series, such as Yuna and Taketo, and I’d be lying if I said it didn’t make me feel nostalgic seeing them again. At the end of the day, Setsu is driven by the audience’s reactions and likes to play with “no boring sounds” involved. My interpretation of that is he enjoys fast-paced shamisen strikes, the kind that makes you motivated and inspired to get up and follow your dreams, or at least that’s how it made me feel. The underlying lesson here is to make the most of what you have, let your talents shine in your own way, and avoid a life spent in imitation of others.
Despite his awe-inspiring two-part performance, Setsu was given 3rd place, which is not a bad result all things considered. Sadly, this was met with a flurry of constant backlash and soul-crushing criticisms from numerous key figures, some of which I have completely lost respect for. Firstly, Setsu’s own mother Umeko intentionally drops his trophy to the ground in a shameless manner on stage and calls her son a “disgrace” while putting on a mask of pleasantry as to hide her true nature from the audience. This revealed the complete lack of understanding from Umeko, who has reared her ugly head as a character who disgustingly uses her son as a tool to achieve her own wishes.
If that wasn’t enough, Setsu later receives an earful from Mr. Tanuma, a.k.a his biological father, who states he knew Souichi would win, and that Setsu is nothing without a teacher to guide him. Finally, he is given a lecture of sorts from Seiryuu Kamiki who claims that Setsu is “self-indulgent” when it comes to his shamisen style, perhaps referring to the fact that he is without a mentor and lacking a competitive drive to really strive to “be the best.” I personally can understand both and Seiryuu and Setsu’s motivations, as one is driven by competition and winning, while the other is simply driven by the shamisen itself, pursuing a more “pure sound” that essentially has no destination.
Season 2 Predictions
While I was hoping for a classic heart-warming ending to take place, this one gave me plenty of hope for a second season that could be even more intense, more dramatic, and above all more spine-tingling in its plot and delivery. The stage has been set for this series to soar even higher, as many of the high-level shamisen players are building up their driving forces to keep getting better, particularly the likes of Mai Tanuma and Seiryuu Kamiki, both of whom were heavily moved by the performances of the Matsugorou Cup.
My final predictions for the next phase of this series is that Setsu’s team will have a major role to play in the development of his own driving force, as I’ve noticed throughout the series that Setsu is most at peace, and most purely driven when he was in the company of his friends from the shamisen club. It’ll be interesting to see how things pan out though, especially with Kaito planning to attempt knee surgery to get back into his original dream of playing soccer professionally, while the rest of the team’s futures remains relatively unknown. One thing’s for sure however, Setsu reaches for his shamisen in the final sequence of this episode, implying he is coming to terms with his feelings, and whatever path he chooses to take from this moment forward will certainly revolve around his most-loved possession in the whole wide world.