Well, this was certainly an interesting character introduction. Meet Asuka’s mother: A controlling, abusive, psycho bitch that has absolutely no place in a narrative such as this. I really don’t like child abuse stories, not because they make me uncomfortable (it takes a lot more than that to discomfort me), but rather because they almost always feel so contrived. There’s always a kid with an issue that you can tell just by looking at them, but they don’t speak up about it and are always hiding their bruises. The parent that is causing this pain is a completely one-dimensional asshole that only serves to be evil, and not relatable in any way shape or form. One day the parent (usually a mother) snaps in public and the oh-so controversial act of physical violence takes place. Slap, then shock, then awe. Oh my, I’m so profoundly dismayed by this, shit just got real and I’m on the edge of my seat because this is so emotionally enthralling and-*Long, loud fart noise*
I’m sorry, but dramatic slaps are not fucking cool anymore, and as far as I’m concerned, they never were in the first place. All slaps ever do is make everyone involved look like a damn fool. The person performing the slap is a fool because they’re unable to control their very simple emotions and can’t express their thoughts in any actually meaningful way. No one has ever been persuaded by being slapped in the face, after all. The victim of said slap is also a fool, because they always just stand there and take it. I would’ve honestly preferred Asuka punch her mother in her bitch face as retaliation, or at the very least has some sort of inventive response to this blatant cliché. Then there’s everyone in the room. They’re all stupid because they just continue to gaze with their jaws on the floor, as if they’re alongside us audience members rather than active participants in the story.
I know a lot of this comes from “respect your elders” culture, but I also believe that is sort of bullshit as well. Perhaps I’ll continue this topic another time though, as I’ve ranted long enough and have barely talked about the actual episode at hand. Anyway, Asuka gets slapped because her mother wants her to resign from band but Asuka herself doesn’t want to and Taki-sensei won’t accept any resignation without Asuka’s expressed consent. And of course, Kumiko just happens to be there to witness it all.
Talk about what happened to Asuka spreads around the school, conversations spark more conversations, and of course Kumiko and Reina have their own things to say about it as well. The reoccurring theme of “something to play for” comes back yet again, and this time it’s to be reflected on Asuka. Reina and Kumiko wonder what exactly does Asuka play for? Does she love band or does she just want to rub it in her mother’s face? What does Asuka truly care about? Her clear skill and that beautiful practice scene from a couple episodes back would suggest that she truly enjoys playing, but it seems like there must be at least one more ulterior motive at play here. Alas, Kumiko can’t seem to understand Asuka at this point, which means the audience isn’t meant to understand her yet either.
Asuka is gone for a little while the school chats up a storm and the overwhelming sense of paranoia sinks in. Then she comes back acting as her normal, boldly humorful and subtly abrasive self. Some students are relieved while others remain unconvinced, and of course ask her if she needs help. Of course Asuka keeps up her act as her pride won’t allow her to be a victim. More so, I think she understands the effect she has on the group as a whole, and so perhaps she wants to be normal for them as well.
The effect of her absence is that their music sucks and no one can concentrate while they believe she’s in trouble. Rumors spawn that Asuka’s resignation form have been accepted and so she is gone yet again, causing this disruption in their practice. Taki-sensei becomes disappointed in the band letting their emotions get in the way of their performance (as opposed to emotions enhancing their performance, but he didn’t say that). He leaves them to figure this problem out on their own, and the president stands up to give a very moving speech about how they all need to support Asuka if/when she comes back.
Then the band performs a show and what a surprise-Asuka is there to play with them. It is yet another moment where the performance speaks for itself, and there’s even an awesome sax solo to top it off. Now, before I end this post there are a few things I feel need to be mentioned: 1) Asuka calls Natsuki over to talk to her about something. We don’t know what that something was, but Natsuki seems to be her new confidant. 2) The final moment of the episode was actually a scene of Kumiko’s sister leaving the house. Again, I do not understand why she is suddenly point of focus, but perhaps something good will come out of it (by which I mean entertaining, not necessarily good for her or Kumiko). 3) The musical score in this episode was fantastic, and that’s not usually something I pick up on. A lot of it is somber to match what’s happening in the story, but that somberness evolves throughout the episode into something a little more hopeful, at which point Asuka returns to play with the others. And the song they performed together was really upbeat and fresh, almost funky in a way.
I think the music really carried this episode for me, because the rest of it just made me worry about falling into too many clichés. Are you worried about these clichés like I am? How do you feel about slaps? I’d love to see your comments, but if not then at least let me thank you for reading. See ya next time.