The Matsugorou Cup continues in this episode 8 of Those Snow White Notes. In last week’s episode, the beginning of the Cup brought with it some serious competition for Setsu and his club. This week’s episode brings forth even more potential rivals. Most notably, we finally get to hear Setsu’s childhood friend, Mai, perform.
Nerves are increasing among the members of the Shamisen Appreciation Club, especially for Shuri. These nerves are made worse by the performance of Ushio – the cocky boy who was vocal during the other group’s performances. Ushio’s unique playing style evokes loud cheers from the audience. Onlookers are especially impressed by his signature “Arakawa twang”, a sound caused by repeatedly sliding his hand up and down the string.
Meanwhile, Yui, who is typically loud and confident, appears to be crumbling under the pressure of the competition. Shuri asks her why she acts strong all the time, never showing vulnerability. Here, we get a flashback to Yui and Shuri’s childhood. Through the flashback, it becomes clear that Yui always felt the need to protect Shuri, as she was the more sensitive of the two.
However, it seems like Yui has been hiding her own insecurities this entire time, as she breaks down, crying. She expresses her worries about making a mistake during the performance. Shuri comforts her and promises to help shoulder her concerns.
My main complaint with Those Snow White Notes thus far is that it tends to rush through moments of character development, resolving issues between the characters so quickly that they lose significance to the plot. These scenes with Yui and Shuri are no exception. While moments like this provide compelling insight into the internal struggles of the characters, the pacing feels too rushed.
Next up, in episode 8 of Those Snow White Notes, it’s Mai’s team’s turn to take the stage. Spotting Setsu in the audience beforehand, Mai gets fired up and proceeds to go all-out. It’s clear that Mai is the star of the show, outperforming everyone in her group. As a result, her fellow group members strive to keep up with her.
The shamisen performances are always a highlight in each episode, and it was great to see Mai finally get a chance to shine. Shamisen experts commenting from the audience describe her playing style as modern. It will be interesting to see how Setsu’s more traditional playing style compares to hers. The tension between traditional and modern playing styles is a common theme in anime about music, but it’s fascinating to see how this trope is used with an instrument as old and steeped in tradition as the shamisen.
The episode ends with Setsu suggesting to Rai that they try something unorthodox in their performance, right before they go on. Mai’s performance must have shaken Setsu for him to want to change things up at the last moment. Will their risk pay off? We’ll have to find out in the next episode when we finally hear the Shamisen Appreciation Club perform.
All images via Crunchyroll