It’s the first stage of the Chopin Competition. New rivals and old take to the stage in hopes of taking the coveted first place spot! This is another musically-charged episode, with great performances from each of the competitors, and an array of pieces from Chopin’s extensive portfolio.
Japanese Original Episode Title: ショパン・コンクール
The first day of the Chopin Competition preliminary rounds is underway. Kai watches from the crowd as pianists from all over the world take to the stage, but one in particular, Wei Pang, has a playing style that shakes Kai to his very core. What is the meaning behind Wei Pang’s distinctive laying style? Is there some connection between him and Kai’s teacher, Ajino?
Fanservice with Purpose: Midway through her performance, French pianist, Sophie’s dress strap snaps, revealing her rather lacy pink bra. However, while the crowd is raising a fuss about the incident, Sophie herself continues playing as if nothing has happened, showing just how dedicated she is.
Narration: Usually we just see the events of the anime unfold through Kai’s perspective with the occasional insight from some of the other characters. But in this episode, Kai becomes something of a narrator of sorts, with his thoughts serving as commentary about the competitors, their musical programs, while providing key insight into the Chopin Competition as a whole.
English: The commentator for the Chopin Competition announces all of the competitors and their musical programs in English.
Visualizing the Music: Wei Pang has a way of channeling his past into his playing, making for a much rawer and emotionally powerful performance. During his performance Shuuhei visualizes his playing to that of a dragon in the midst of a violent sea, his powerful playing style seemingly swallows the listener up in the tempest he creates with his notes. But, when the focus is on Wei Pang he is visually engulfed in flames, another representation of the passion behind his playing.
Themes & Trivia
Yamaha: Yamaha is a Japanese manufacturer, established in 1887. While the company is known for producing a wide array of musical instruments, though their bread and butter are their pianos.
Steinway and Sons: Steinway is an American piano manufacturer, established in 1853 by German Immigrant Henry Engelhard Steinway.
Not So Different After All: Chinese pianist, Wei Pang, and Kai have a lot more in common than meets the eye. Both come from the “wrong side of the tracks” having grown up in poverty.
Now Playing: There were quite a few of Chopin’s musical pieces played in this week’s episode:
I love how this series can take a piano competition and make it just as exciting as oh, let’s say, a boss battle in a shounen anime. You really feel the tension as each pianist steps onto that stage to give it all they’ve got. Even the competitors in the stands, who offer little more than commentary on the pieces being played add another level of excitement to the story, while also offering some key insight into the inner workings of the competition.
Also, I know Wei Pang and Sophie are supposed to be supporting cast members, but, I like them a whole hell of a lot more than I like Shuuhei right now. Wei Pang, in particular, is a wonderful foil to Kai. They both came from “non-traditional” backgrounds and through hard work and determination managed to find themselves in Warsaw for the Chopin Competition! It’s amazing! And their approach to music is so different too, Wei Pang channels his pain into his music, while Kai instead seeks to bring out the beauty in them.
Sound and Fury
This week’s episode had us in the thick of it with the Chopin Competition! We were treated to two phenomenal performances and Wei Pang is shaping up to be a rather interesting rival for Kai. I can’t wait to see how this whole thing wraps up. At this point, it’s anyone’s game!
NEXT TIME: Pōrando no Shinsei (ポーランドの新星)
Piano no Mori (The Piano Forest)
Spring 2018 | Anime Info | Simulcast