This week’s episode 7 of Those Snow White Notes (Mashiro no Oto) follows the beginning of the Matsugorou Cup. It’s the Shamisen Appreciation Club’s first time performing in a competition, so nerves and tensions are high between the group.
As the club arrives at the competition venue, they find it’s a much more glamorous event than they anticipated. This prompts Yui to pull out the matching costumes she prepared for the club members (much to their horror). Yui also discusses meeting up with fellow competitor Mai, who she knows from online gaming. She is able to deduct from Setsu’s reaction that he has a history with Mai.
We see a flashback of a young Mai yelling at Setsu for not entering a shamisen competition. Teary-eyed, Mai explains that Setsu’s refusal to compete against her is why she can’t get the approval of her father, who is a renowned shamisen player. Young Setsu, not motivated by the need to win, tells her plainly that he’s not interested.
Staying true to form, he says “Gramps sound is the only thing I’m interested in”. It’s interesting to see a protagonist whose devotion to their craft doesn’t come from competing or the joy of playing, but from a deep admiration towards their mentor.
Meanwhile, Mai tries to convince the competition staff to let her enter the solo division so that she can compete against Setsu. She seems just as determined to beat him in competition as she did when she was younger. However, she’s told she’s too late to enter. Outside of the competition venue, Setsu runs into talented shamisen player Souichi. It will be exciting to see the two finally compete against each other in the individual division.
In Those Snow White Notes episode 7, the competition begins, as the other high school groups start to perform. Outside of the stage, Kaito yells at Setsu for wandering off so close to their performance time. He accuses Setsu of being embarrassed to play with amateurs and not having faith in their ability to play shamisen.
Setsu, becoming uncharacteristically passionate, tells Kaito that he cares just as much about the competition as they do, and wants to win. This reflects a change in attitude for Setsu, who has previously been single-minded in his love for the shamisen.
The episode ends with a potential new rival for Setsu; a gifted shamisen player from Osaka, by the name of Kaji. As he and his peers take to the stage they are met with cheers from the audience, and it’s clear he has a following within the world of shamisen.
Sestu’s brother, who’s watching the performance, observes that the group plays completely in unison, like a “well-trained marching band”. Will Setsu and his club of amateurs be able to compare? We’ll have to wait until the next episode to find out.
Sawamura Matsugorou is a shamisen player of legendary talent. Upon his death, his grandson, Sawamura Setsu, lost his ability to play. Having lost his beloved sound, Setsu finds himself in Tokyo in search of a new sound to love. Tachiki Yuna, who works at a club, hooks him up with a gig to play there as a warm up act. Setsu imbues the sound of his shamisen with his many thoughts and feelings he has of others, still searching for his own sound and his own feelings.
All images via Crunchyroll