Mashiro no Oto – Episode 3

I can’t believe we’re already on episode 3, I feel like we just started. But it seems like this anime is finally starting to settle into place this week. The Shamisen club has experienced its boom of members and now we’ve had a goal for some of our characters to achieve. I like the trajectory this anime seems to be on, in that we are more focused on the emotions that can be conveyed through the Shamisen, rather than winning some larger competition with the team. I don’t think I’ll be upset if a competition does come in the future, but it’s kind of neat that it’s not the focus right off the bat.

This week we get to meet an interesting combination of characters that will make up the Shamisen club… and I’m not too sure if I’m 100% on board with all of them yet. But that’s half the fun! We get to see them grow and hopefully succeed together. Shuri and Setsu I’m pretty content with, as they are two driving factors. Setsu has his whole backstory with the shamisen and ultimately came to Tokyo to find sound. Then of course we have Shuri, who could potentially bring out that sound. Granted, the main motivation right now is on what her grandmother heard, but I’m interested to see how that will shape up in future episodes. As for Yui, I’m pretty sure I like her! It might take a little bit for her to grow on me, but I kind of like the pushy chaotic nature that she provided. Heck! She helped them all skip the club member gathering phase and just made Setsu join off the bat, so credit where credit is due! Kaito on the other hand, didn’t really get off on the right foot with me. And I know it’s just because we haven’t really gotten the chance to get to know him. Just… right now he’s just the guy with the crush and seems to be constantly misreading the situation. My hope is that he’ll have the chance to redeem himself next week. But if he does stay the same it won’t make or break anything for me.

Now in terms of development this episode, I’m excited to see what will come out of it! First, we have Shuri and her grandmother’s song. First of all, I feel bad that the entire class had to hear what she was listening to, but I think the tradeoff was pretty good. She gets some of her classmates laughing at the situation, and she finds the one person that could possibly know what song her grandmother was singing. Of course, he does know that sound is long gone. So, on the one hand that’s sad, but on the other at least it’s a lead! I liked that this episode moved in the direction of having Setsu make a decision based on whether or not he could do something. Would it be better to attempt and most likely fail? Or would it be better to never attempt and not have to worry about the failure? It’s tough! He was probably the closest in tune with his grandfather’s sound. No matter how talented he is, it would be near impossible to replicate. But it’s quite a nice start to the story! It can go in multiple different directions! He could develop his own true sound, which will accomplish the wish of his grandfather, or he could find his grandfather’s sound and find a way to be connected with him after all this time. There’s a lot of interesting ways to go with this!

And of course, we have this little side plot brewing with Kamiki Seiryuuu. It was nice to see how Setsu was affected by his sound, but it was kind of a bummer that Setsu wasn’t able to play as vibrantly when given the chance. However, I loved the visuals that were portrayed! The sharp cut ins with the snowstorm paired with the fear in Setsu’s eyes was great! It really emphasized his concern and fear of his own playing. Yeah, he had the technique, but there was nothing behind it. No true emotion. And Yui even mentioned that it was a boring performance! I wasn’t the biggest fan of the whole Kamiki interaction, but I liked what came out of it. It’s an introduction to someone that Setsu has let down significantly and will have to build up reputation with again (of course his reputation with Kamiki was probably 0, but now it’s definitely in the negatives). But it’s probably going to be all that more satisfying when Setsu can find his sound and play for him Kamiki again to really have an impact. I wonder what role Kamiki will have in the rest of the series. Will he be a looming force? Or will he take a more central role?

Overall, I think we had another fine episode this week. It didn’t  hit me as much as the previous two have and I think it’s because we weren’t hit with any strong performances within context. Episode 1 we got his performance as the opening act, where he was clearly communicating out his feelings to the audience. In Episode 2, the duets served as a means of connection. Whereas in this episode, Kamiki’s piece had an impactful performance, but I don’t know very much about him. His dissonant, hollow, bell-like notes didn’t have the opportunity to tell us more about him. And then of course, Setsu’s performance was impactful in its own way. Being unable to convey an emotion, it was meant to be technically impressive, but that’s it. There wasn’t really an emotion attached to it aside from fear in being unable to remember what he wanted to convey. And, while I don’t think this episode was as good as the rest, I do think it was a fine way to start setting up the main story. Not every episode needs to be a homerun, but I’m glad that we’ve at least covered some bases.


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