I know I was technically in a symphonic band while I was in school and not in an orchestra, but after watching this episode I am feeling incredibly nostalgic for it. I absolutely cannot wait for us to dive into the actual orchestra club and start to spend more time with the other members of the ensemble. However, it looks like we’re going to have to wait until next week to meet more members as half of this episode was spent trying to get into the school.
Now that Aono has willingly returned to playing the violin, it’s time for him to re-address the whole High School situation. Takeda is pretty quick to introduce him to Umikaku, the high school he attended. Takeda is particularly partial to the orchestra club, despite it not being the best during his time there. Currently the club has 8 consecutive national wins so it’s only natural that he would want to have someone experience it when the club is at its peak. However, I really do appreciate that Takeda doesn’t force Aono to join the orchestra club. Even though they have conversations about the club, he actually encourages Aono to find the club that is right for him. Sure it makes sense for him to join the orchestra because of his violin skill, but if that’s not where he would feel comfortable, he doesn’t need to join (of course, given the title of the anime it’s pretty clear that he will join the orchestra club). Aside from this moment though, I personally felt the first half of the episode was rather slow. We get little tidbits of information about Akine, like how she’s actually the 3rd highest scorer in her grade, or that she probably has perfect pitch (whispers to myself: I won’t be jealous, I won’t be jealous, I won’t be jealous, I wo–), but personally I feel like these bits of information would have been fine to reveal a little bit later. As much as I enjoyed this episode, it took me a long time to get invested.
So where did I get invested? Pretty much as soon as they found they got in. The moment that was able to call me back into the episode was the short conversation they had with Takeda at the train station. He talks about how, before he gave Akine his violin, he tried to play it once again. I think anyone who used to play in an ensemble has had one of those moments where they pick up their instrument again, filled with nostalgia, only to quickly realize, “Ah, I don’t know if I’ll ever get to that level again… or even experience anything like it again.” I know it’s something that I have had to personally reconcile with my own instruments. I have joined ensembles since I was in a symphonic band, but nothing has quite pushed me as hard as that program did. I talk to other musician friends, and as funny as it sounds we were all truly at our musical peak during these times. All of this is just to say, Takeda-sensei I get it and I’m feeling so called out right now.
The second part that caught my interest was the introduction of Haru Kozakura, Akine’s friend who also played violin since childhood. We don’t know very much about her yet aside from the implications of bullying mentioned in the previous episode and that she seems incredibly anxious around Aono. Clearly, the two of them have crossed paths before even if Aono can’t remember who she actually is (but shout out to him for at least saying she looked familiar). Otherwise, I’m looking forward to seeing her and Aono get along moving forward.
Finally, the third part, to no one’s surprise, the actual orchestra performance. I was already feeling particularly called out with Takeda’s reminiscent moment in the episode, but the moment the conductor walked on stage I was captured again. Now, I agree that the CGI animation style was a little jarring to see so suddenly, but I was fully expecting it for the actual performance animation. But I still loved the movements they were able to capture. The rise of the baton, the looks towards certain sections, the focus on dynamics while the other conducts… Ah, it really made me want to play in a group again. I’m definitely rooting for this series, I want to see it succeed. I want to see the struggles and victories of these characters. I just hope we dive into more music in the upcoming episodes.
Note: Due to the lack of distribution for this series, I have decided to drop my coverage of Ao no Orchestra. My apologies!