Ah… this was kind of a bummer of a first episode. I’m not saying it was bad, but the mood was just really low throughout most of it. I get it, we have to establish our tragic protagonist who abandons his instrument only to join up and make friends in the future while playing said instrument. But if you ask me, some of the set up was lacking. I’m going to give it a pass for now since we needed to get all of that out of the way to set up where our protagonist is coming from. Though,,,, I really do hope that it won’t constantly take such a depressed tone for the rest of the series.
As of right now, Ao no Orchestra doesn’t do anything new and that’s okay. We have our protagonist Hajime Aono, a former violin prodigy, who has since put down his instrument for good. His reasoning? His father sucks. A lot of his memories of the violin come from his father who is a world class violinist. And while I thought he may have died previously, his character design shows him as a very scummy looking person. Turns out he had an affair which devastated Hajime’s mother, and naturally, he doesn’t want to do anything with his father or doing anything that could hurt his mother. But, it’s very clear that his feelings toward the violin are much more complicated than “my father did a bad thing and he’s the reason I even played”. Throughout the episode he talks about how much he loved the violin and his father playing it. So, I really hope that we take the time to break down his feelings.
Thankfully, once we start leaving Aono’s head, things turn much more light-hearted. After getting smacked in the head once again with a sports ball he finds his way back into the infirmary only to be woken up by the sound of some… pretty poor violin playing. Initially, he hears it through a dream as if he’s critiquing his younger self, but once he snaps back to reality he finds another student, Ritsuko Akine, playing. Unfortunately for him, she’s quick to call him out as a pervert since he appeared out of nowhere with nose still bleeding. Do I blame her for coming to that assumption? No. Do I find that trope tiring? Yeah. Anyways. After this he’s incredibly quick to call out her shoddy violin skills. She’s touching the other strings, her nails are too long, etc. It’s clear that she’s not a violinist. The two end up bickering more, but I found it pretty refreshing given the contents of the episode. Aono is much more animated now and it’s just another moment that shows his maintained interest in the violin.
Thankfully, his instructor (who, by the way… is he the only teacher in this school?) arrives at the infirmary specifically to check on Aono, but we quickly find out that he is the one that gave Akine the violin. I personally think it’s funny that Aono finds out his teacher played the violin along with the rest of the audience, because you would think the two would have had a conversation about it at some point. Still, it turns out this instructor decided to give his violin to Akine because he wants someone to attend his alma mater playing his instrument. It’s a cute premise! But in the back of my mind I definitely had a moment of fear: violins can get really expensive. I’m not a string player, but if the instrument was precious to me or any of my other musician friends, they’d be much more wary about lending out their instruments. That being said! I will overlook that, because she needs a violin to learn on!! Because after all of this comes to light, the teacher basically tells Aono and Akine that they are going to be working together with the added incentive of Aono passing P.E. and Akine continuing to play the violin.
It’s going to be a rocky start for these two, but if she’s able to bring him back to the joy of music, it will all be worth it. But hopefully any misunderstandings will be cleared up soon !!
Perhaps I wasn’t in the right headspace when I watched the first episode, but I enjoyed this second one much more! Even though there were still some heavy topics surrounding the characters, I truly felt that the emotional pacing of this episode was much better.
This week we focus a little bit more on Akine as Aono starts to take an interest in her. After all, he’s never really seen her around school and why on earth is she always in the infirmary when she should be in class? Turns out she’s being bullied and ostracized by her class. More specifically, it seems she was being bullied by a specific girl and her friends after Akine retaliated against another girl’s bullying. But since Akine was the one who actually slapped the bully, everyone is able to start rumors about her and since the original bullied girl has left, the mean girls need someone else to target. In short, it’s a really terrible situation to be in. Despite this, while it does seem like she snaps every once in a while, she still seems to hold her head up high around everyone who is not her classmate.
I enjoyed the dynamic between Akine and Aono more in this episode because Akine doesn’t seem to get too hung up over certain things. I was really worried that she was going to continually treat him like a creep, but it seemed like she warmed up to him rather quickly. After a brief visit to the Aono residence to fix up the violin, she’s able to learn a little bit more about him and becomes determined to hear him play. Aono is still very much battling his feelings of the violin and his father, but doesn’t bother disclosing any of that information to her while they are in the practice room. Instead, he takes the time to listen to her and correct her form. So far, I think this anime does a good job about showing the love he has for the instrument even though external factors are preventing him from picking it back up. While I’m not the biggest fan of still shots, I do appreciate that as he’s watching Akine, he’s reminded of his younger self and just how happy he was to play the violin.
Personally, I think this leads to Akine’s words having a lot more weight to him. Eventually, he tells her that his father was a pro violinist then there was a scandal and divorce. But Akine is quick to point out that his father’s actions shouldn’t have an impact on his own ability to play the violin. Then, of course we get the final scene by the river which is where I think this episode really shines. The two of them are able to have a heart to heart about why Akine wants to play the violin. She’s honest with her feelings and willing to put herself out there despite everything that’s happened to her. I think these feelings balance out Aono’s nicely as he is able to find a new spark after hearing her words and watching her experience so much joy. And I absolutely love the fact that he was able to play the violin at the end of the episode. He seemed so incredibly happy to play it again without the attachment to his father’s sound. He sounded free. I’m just a sucker for a happy ending with music. Happy ending to at least the second episode. We still have 22 episodes to go. Though!! I hope they start to play other pieces than Canon in D! It’s a lovely song, and a staple for people to learn, but there are so many other options!! I hope that we will expand our repertoire as the season goes on!
But with that, it seems like we’re finally moving towards the high school orchestra club next week! I’m excited to see how things develop.
Possibility of Watching: Pretty High
Possibility of Blogging: We’ll see how things develop!