What a final episode! I wasn’t expecting there to be so much discord in the finale, but honestly it fires me up! I want to see Setsu succeed and grow into his own person with his own sound. And while this ending wasn’t exactly the happy ending that we typically expect, it shows us that there’s so much more that can come – this is just the beginning of his journey. It gives me chills!
I know I say this a lot, but this episode really was a roller coaster. We pick right back up with Setsu’s performance as it has now shifted away from Matsugorou’s sound and more into Setsu’s. I love the imagery of the rain clearing up, and it fully shows their distinct styles. It was definitely something that he was able to pour his emotions into and share it with the audience. I especially loved how they showed various characters being impacted by his performance. I especially appreciated the judge who described the emotion as “yearning”. And honestly! In terms of emotion and a great performance I would have given first place to Setsu hands down! … But when you look at the technical aspects it does make sense the Souichi took the victory.
Souichi’s performance was a surprise. Personally, it didn’t hit me as much as Setsu’s performance or even Kaji. And I think that’s because he has the technical skill to really hit it home with these competitions. He’s a powerhouse, and his sound comes with the correct technique and just overwhelming you. I really, really with we would have gotten more visuals with his performance. We’ve been waiting so long to hear what the big deal is with him and how he plays, I felt a little bit shorted that we didn’t get more out of his performance. I felt like I didn’t really get to know more about him in his performance, which is something that I had really enjoyed throughout the series. However, we do get to see that he is in fact someone to be on the lookout for. Also, I hope that a friendly rivalry can blossom between him and Setsu, but it looks like that might take a little bit of time.
One thing this episode did a really good job at was making me absolutely despise Umeko. At first, I thought she was just the over-the-top character who was flashy and just an overall Girlboss™. But her actions over the past couple episodes and this one really just made her irredeemable in my eyes. It was clear that she was unhappy over Setsu’s decision to play a different sound from the one that she wanted, but to purposefully deliver the reward and drop it? and then to call him pathetic??? Geez… no wonder Setsu doesn’t think of you as his mom. I’d wanna distance myself from you too if you acted like that. Also, when she goes back to speak to the judge? “I want him to win with his own skill” Ma’am you and I both know that is Bull. You just told your son he was pathetic for not copying Matsugorou’s sound. If you want it that badly, why don’t you reproduce it? Let Setsu live! Let him experience things! He’s already devastated after the performance; you don’t need hurt him anymore.
All that being said, I do actually appreciate how much of a discordant ending this was. It really shows how this is just the beginning of his journey. Setsu has been introduced to many wonderful people (and hooray for Yuna making an appearance!) and experienced so many things. Even in these twelve episodes he’s shown tremendous growth. It really did hurt to see him in so much pain at the end. Nobunaga Shimazaki really hit it out of the park. It was such an ugly cry but portrayed Setsu’s feelings so well. It was raw and painful to listen to, but also perfect for the moment! I love that everyone collectively agrees that this is something that Setsu needs to work through on his own, but it also just shows how many people were impacted by his playing. They don’t want him to give up, they just want to see him grow and cultivate his own sound. Setsu, if your grandfather could talk to you again, I’m sure he would be proud of you for starting to find your own sound. We’re all cheering for you!
I can’t believe this is the final episode. I’m really hoping they announce a second season because I feel like I haven’t been given closure. There’s so much more that can happen with all of the characters and I would love to see more of each and every one of them! I’ve absolutely enjoyed this ride and I hope there’s more to come! Thank you, Mashiro no Oto, for a great season!
And so, Mashiro no Oto comes to a close with this phenomenal final episode. It really doesn’t feel like it’s over and that we’re just getting started. I sincerely hope we get a second season full of growth and development for all the characters. There is just so much that an bring everything to the next level!
I am so glad that I decided to pick this anime up for the season. It was one that I initially glossed over when looking into what would be airing this season. Even when I made the decision to pick it up, I wasn’t sure where we were going to go with the story and was pleasantly surprised with the first episode. I fell in love with this series pretty quick. I just adore the concept of conveying thoughts and emotions to others without necessarily using words and in this anime the Shamisen was a perfect catalyst for this. Now, if you’ve been following my coverage of this series, you’ll know that I consistently gush over the use of duets to establish character relationships. Early on they really established how a musician can make a connection with their listeners and as a musician myself it brought me a lot of joy. And in terms of those duets, we were able to hear the emotion in the music. Hands down my favorite duet in the series was between Setsu and Wakana (who is, surprisingly, probably my favorite character). I loved the two of them connecting. But what really brought it to the next level were the visuals! The accompanying scenes just elevated the emotion. No words were exchanged between the two, but you could feel their brotherly bond, and no matter how annoying one of them was – they would always be in the other’s corner.
Even beyond the duets, the music and visuals were rather stunning. Every time they performed there was some greater purpose for doing so. We always managed to more forward or learning something about our characters from it. These moments honestly were the strongest part of the series for me – more than the character interactions. They just did a really great job of laying the groundwork for us and I’m so glad they took this approach.
As for the overall plot of the series, I thought it was hit and miss. To be a little more specific I was incredibly invested in the first two arcs (Setsu arriving in Tokyo and Bringing Gramps’ sound to Shuri’s Grandmother). If I’m honest, I’m bummed that we didn’t get to spend more time with Yuna or have Setsu learn more about himself outside of the school setting. I can’t believe I’m saying this, but I’m almost upset that we ended up in the school club setting. The first episode really led me to believe that we were going to get something much different than what we actually got (now don’t get me wrong, I’m not unhappy with what we got… just surprised). We only knew Yuna for one episode, but she had so much character and relatability. I really wish we got to learn more about her. Every episode had me wishing for her return.
I’ll admit that I started to check out mid-way through. The series seemed to fall into the traditional “school has competition so we need to get good! but we’re starting from basically scratch” trope that we’ve seen many times before. And hey! If they trope is done well, I absolutely eat it up, but this time around it felt really predictable. Initially during this time, I was hoping that we would spend more time getting to know our club mates, all of whom are very interesting people with unique stories. But at the end of the day, we didn’t get to learn too much about them and they honestly felt a little flat by the end of it. I really wish that we got to see deeper sides of them, but I really felt like we were just watching Kaito get mad over and over again. To me, it just felt like there was a lot of missed potential.
I was relatively invested in their growth for the competition, but at the time it felt like a mild interest. I didn’t really start getting invested again until we entered into the individual competition as the stakes started to rise. By this point it had been quite a number of episodes since Setsu had played his Shamisen so I think I was just hungry to hear more. So, as we watched the other individual performances, I was just getting more and more hyped for his performance, and honestly back to my other point, we got a lot more development for Kaji and Arakawa from their performances! So, I couldn’t wait to hear Setsu perform. And the ending! Hoo the ending! I’ve already shared most of my thoughts above, but I think it’s a perfectly find ending for the series. These twelve episodes feel like a prologue and Setsu’s journey is just beginning.
If I had to give this anime a rating, I would give it a 7.3/10. There were a lot of things that I really liked, but there were some things that fell pretty flat for me. The overall story was one that I really enjoyed and there were great visuals to accompany the fantastic music. The character development left something to be desired and some of the plot lines can feel a little bit cliched. I feel a little bit bad about this rating because early to mid-season I was still considering this to be the surprise gem of the season, but at the same time I felt like I was let down a little bit. It was just like a rough relationship, I was head over heels for the series in the beginning, then things got a little rough and it started to lose its luster, but at the end we were able to come to a good place and I can’t wait to see what the future has in store.
So, all of that is to say: Please give this anime a chance! There are a lot of really great things to come out of it, and I really hope that we’ll get a second season in the future. I want to see Setsu find and share his own sound!!