La Corda d’Oro Blue Sky

October 25, 2014

I never would have thought that this series would have a sequel. More accurately, a sequel spin-off. It might have been eight years since the first season aired so I was actually surprised when La Corda d’Oro Blue Sky came out back in April 2014. Just like in sequel spin-offs, this season isn’t a direct continuation of the first although some of the main themes of it are still there. Although with an entirely different cast of characters, the basics still remain. The classical music, the school that teaches this music and the reverse harem. Ah, yes. That is what this series is about, right? I suppose after countless games churned out of this series (believe me, there are a lot of them), it is time to perhaps appeal to the new generation of females and steal their hearts via classical music. That would be romantic, no?

Episode 1
Kanade Kohinata was such a good violin player that the adults believe she would be the next prodigy. One day she receives an anonymous letter asking if she has reached her limit and she remained ‘stagnant’. Kanade and Kyouya Kisaragi are taking a train to go see the latter’s brother, Ritsu in his violin play in some Yokohama High School Music Festival. They witness Chiaki Togane from Jinnan High School going on stage first. Despite this being a classical music, his violin is electric. Needless to say, his performance is electrifying. Heck, with so much fan girls, I’m sure they couldn’t care less how it sounds as long as they get to see this handsome dude. Next is Reiji Myoga from Amane High School. This guy is the opposite. Nobody cheers for him. At least the fan girls are silent. Even the number he plays. It sounds so cold and haunting. It’s like he is taking out his anger on somebody. And he’s staring at Kanade. Finally the performance Kanade has been waiting for. Ritsu from Seisou Academy doesn’t disappoint but Kyouya isn’t impressed. At the end, it is announced that there will be a nationwide high school music competition. This revs everyone up to become the best in Japan. Well, it’s rare to see lots of classical music enthusiast among these high school students. Kanade and Kyouya go meet Ritsu but he puts on a serious face and makes them stay to listen to his announcement for his orchestra club. Since they’ll be participating, they are going to aim and win this thing. They’ll dominate Japan! If this wasn’t a classical music genre, I think that would have sounded like a world conquest motto. Chiaki and Ritsu renew their rivalry and vow their school will take top spot.

When it is time to go home, Ritsu says they are going to be living at the student dorm of Seisou called Linden Hall. He has their stuffs moved in too! Who the heck is he to authorize this without their permission???!!! Ritsu asks them if they are content with what they are now. Don’t they feel moved in that performance? He wants them to fly in a bigger sky with him. Kanade thinks a lot in her room. She remembers Ritsu leaving them to go study at Seisou. He was that determined. Going even further back in time, Ritsu told her he met a fairy and gave her some ring. He hoped they will attend Seisou together. This and that letter made Kanade decide to go with the flow and attend this school. Kyouya is not impressed. Heck, he is against it. But since he can’t leave Kanade alone, he also decides to join. Obviously they join the orchestra club and Ritsu doesn’t waste time in announcing they have applied to enter the competition. He also knows those he wants to play in the competition. Ritsu will be the first violin followed by the club vice president’s Daichi Sakaki in his viola. Haruto Mizushima will be on cello duties. For the second violin, it will be double-cast of Kanade and Kyouya. Wow. Just joined and they got their big break already.

Episode 2
The other club members smell cronyism. Did Ritsu choose them just because they are childhood friends? Thus it is decided that they will be tested in 2 days to see if they have what it takes to appeal to the rest. Kyouya isn’t fond of this thing and thinks of just failing it. Kanade tries to find a room to practice but everywhere is filled with eager students practising their pieces. It is like they haven’t given up on being part of the ensemble. On her way home, she sees this guy, Sousuke Nanami trying to throw his cello in the river! Remember people, don’t pollute the river! There is always the garbage bin. She bumps into him to prevent the unthinkable. He laments that if he had gotten rid of it, his pain and suffering would end. Oh, really? She brings him back to the dorm hoping Ritsu will solve his problem. But what they see are Haruto and Kyouya arguing. The former tells him he is no good but the latter is stubborn that he didn’t want to be picked. This causes Sousuke to blow his top at Kyouya. Telling him off that he is lucky to be part of the ensemble where others could on dream and never got that chance. Once he calms down, it is explained that Sousuke is Haruto’s childhood friend and took cello classes together. Although he goes to Amane now. Sousuke is troubled because he was rejected the ensemble and expelled from his music club. He believes it is his fault for not meeting expectations. When he first saw Reiji played, his heart was so moved that his dream was to be part of his ensemble. Now that dream is dashed. This makes Kanade do a lot of soul searching. She feels guilty that she was lucky to be picked over others. So much thinking she does that on the day of the test, she’s wandering around and reliving past nostalgia of her time playing violin. She looked so happy then. A strange girl, Nia Hasekura snaps her out and mentions about fairies living in this academy. She reminds her about the test and this makes Kanade scramble. She reaches in time to start playing. The moment she does, everybody is wrapped in awe. So now you believe? This makes Kanade remember the fun in playing violin. After that, Kyouya doesn’t disappoint either. Everyone now accepts them after hearing such awesome work. It made them feel the joy of when they started playing their instrument for the first time. Sousuke is determined not to give up too.

Episode 3
Kanade and Kyouya tag along with Haruto and Sousuke to Amane. They meet some cocky musician who looks more like a punk, Takafumi Hido who doesn’t hesitate to put Sousuke down. Of course there is the kind gentle handsome guy, Sei Amamiya. Inside the usual room where Reiji practises, Kyouya is somehow attracted to the nice violin and instinctively goes to touch it. Before his fingers could get closer, Reiji punches him!!! His eyes and tone really say “Don’t you dare touch his f*cking violin!”. He recognizes Kanade and in typical baddie fashion, vows to crush her. WTF?! Sousuke says he wants to rejoin so Reiji tells him to earn his place with his own power. Kanade must have some scary nightmare after hearing Reiji’s declaration. She wakes up with Nia by her side but she soon disappears. She learns Daichi and Haruto will be living in the dorm as they are part of the ensemble it would help raise their natural sense of unity. Nia is also a residence in this dorm and she is a journalist. Ritsu has everyone practice right after breakfast. Because Kanade cannot concentrate, Ritsu has her play another piece. At the park, she hears Sei playing a toy piano to the kids. It is not coincidence they are here. He is looking for her. Because he wants to fall in love with her!!! WTF?! And it’s pretty odd that Kanade agrees to hang out with him as he takes her to places. Like on a date. I’m not sure if he really, really, really loves her because a flashback reveals the chairman of Amane, Alexei Zhukov once told him his music lack love. Uh huh. So is he trying to cultivate love like this? Yeah. He is even wondering what love is. After a meal, he was like, I really love you. She’s in shock. Who wouldn’t? And then he wants her to say it just to feel how it sounds. And she did. Hey, I don’t believe she would take saying those 3 magical words so lightly. Then they go practice but at the end he doesn’t feel it is that good. It’s like he is getting desperate wanting to know what love is as he tries to kiss her! Thank goodness Kyouya who was looking for her the entire day somehow found them. I don’t know how he found this place but thankfully the kiss didn’t happen. Sei still looks sad, wondering about love and his music needs it. Whatever. Kanade practises alone back at the dorm and the rest could hear she is much more solid than before.

Episode 4
Kanade sees Arata Mizushima on a winning streak at the vending machine. How many cans can he carry? She is surprised that he is living at Linden Hall too. Arata is Haruto’s cousin and part of the orchestra club of Sendai’s Shiseikan High School. Among the other members include Kouhei Iori, Wataru Kano, Shirou Hozumi (looking like a gang leader more than anything. Look at his ‘X’ scar right across his face!) and their president, Yukihiro Yagisawa. The quintet will be staying here for the tournament. Unlike Seisou’s ensemble consisting of string instruments, Shiseikan’s ensemble is all wind instruments. Before Arata can turn this into another date episode with Kanade, the rest of them tag along to town. They see Chiaki and his ensemble, Toki Housei and Mutsumi Serizawa holding a guerrilla concert to the public. Of course, the fan girls would be just swooning over him. After their flashy performance, Chiaki notices Kanade and wants to see her skills so he makes her go play on stage by announcing to the public that she will play next. She plays a decent piece but Chiaki feels disappointed. If she continues like this, mediocrity will be her limit. Oh, it’s that taboo word again. Toki can’t stand the heat so they go somewhere cool to relax. Why Linden Hall of all places? Since Ritsu is here, Chiaki doesn’t hesitate to tell him that Kanade’s mediocrity will have them eliminated in the first round so forget about reaching the finals. You know what they say about underestimating your opponent… And then with BBQ ingredients arriving just in time (from Hozumi’s dad as thanks for letting live in the dorm), it’s a great time to break the ice for some nice BBQ. Kanade and Daichi notice Toki feeling weak so they let him rest. Toki tells Daichi that he is the weakest link in the ensemble. Daichi tells Kanade how he ended up in this school and club. He wasn’t much into classical music till he heard Ritsu play. He was moved and touched by his sound as well as clear goals. He might not have much experience in practising compared to those playing since childhood but he is going to believe in Ritsu who picked him as a member. And so the tournament is here. Our 4 big schools pass the first and second round with ease. The top 8 made the cut for the third round. Kanade as usual is somehow late for the draw of the third round. She bumps into Reiji’s sister, Shiori (Lacus Clyne? Euphemia?). Guess which school Seisou will face first? Shiseikan. Too soon? But they just became friends…

Episode 5
Kanade practises but can’t keep focus since Hozumi’s scary face keeps popping up in her mind. She got exhausted by the heat but Hozumi catches her and even helps keep her hydrate. Arata’s luck continues because he won lots of lottery at the convenience store that entitles him to free tickets to the pool. Having fun at this crucial moment? To relief stress I suppose. So while Arata, Kanade, Kyouya, Iori, Kano, Haruto and Nia cool down, Hozumi and Yagisawa continue their practice. Victory is only on Hozumi’s mind to restore the wind orchestra club back to its glory. At the end of the day, the Shiseikan quintet receive bad news that their club is being disbanded in favour of the new brass band club. Arata remains positive that all they need to do is to win. Oh yeah, Kanade heard it too. And even though it’s not her problem, her face is laced with guilt. WTF. Nia tells them the reason why that club only has 5 members. Based on her investigation, that club has been banned from entering all competitions last year due to one of its members getting into an act of violence. Hozumi? Kanade cannot believe it. He’s such a nice guy despite his scary looks. Believe it. Once the Shiseikan quintet get together, they remember the teacher wanted to expel Hozumi or else the club will be banned from competitions. But Yagisawa will not allow it. Iori admits that it was his fault because Hozumi was trying to save him. That’s how he got his scar. He should be the one to quit. Yagisawa believes nobody is quitting because he doesn’t believe in abandoning his comrades when they can play beautiful music at the same time. So they get revved up to win this. Amane and Jinnan easily secure their spots in the semi-finals. Looks like Sousuke is back on the team at the expense of Hido. That guy is seething in anger… Kanade wanted to congratulate him but seeing that they are enemies in the competition, he maintains his distance. What’s wrong with these people? Shiseikan start their performance. Hozumi remembers how the other wind club members quit and blamed him as long as he is still in the club, the club has no future. They left for the brass band club but you know those who stayed back. Their sounds of unity reverberate to a standing ovation. Now it is Seisou’s turn and Kanade is still having this dilemma. Is she going to let Shiseikan win? She still thinks she is inferior? What’s wrong with her?

Episode 6
Kanade is too worried that everyone could pick up the shakiness in her sound. At this rate they’ll lose. Ritsu then takes the lead to save his ensemble. It is a dangerous move since if you have noticed there is something wrong and painful with his left wrist. With Kanade calming down and everyone else following Ritsu’s rhythm, everyone in the hall feels like they are flying in the sky with pink butterflies! Shiseikan is looking like they know they’re in deep sh*t. The end results: Seisou wins. But of course. Why don’t both sides look happy? I know the loser won’t but Kanade? It’s like her fault, right? Hozumi gets down on his knees and apologizes everything it’s his fault. Even scary guys can cry. Kanade sees this and feels guilty but was made to ‘shut up’ and watch. Hozumi feels bad that they lost so miserably but Yagisawa doesn’t think so. He is proud of today’s performance. It was one of their best. No matter who criticizes their loss, it doesn’t change the fact of how they played today. Then everyone reconciles and starts anew. So now you relieved, Kanade? Just then, Ritsu’s left wrist starts acting up. He is rushed to hospital as Daichi explains. Although he is okay, he has to be admitted for a few days for tests. Now the blame game on their side continues. Kanade as usual, it’s her fault for putting stress on him. Haruto thinks it’s not her fault since he had this problem before she came and it is the orchestra’s club for being unable to support him. Okay, Okay. Nobody is to be blamed. Kyouya is just pissed. But can Ritsu make it for the semi-finals? At this rate he won’t make it. Kyouya is still pissed. If Ritsu can’t be the first violin, would it mean Kanade have to take over? She doesn’t have the confidence. Kyouya freaking pissed. So don’t ask him what to do. Because they can’t forfeit as it will be Ritsu’s last high school performance. Yeah. Why don’t you do it without the brothers then? That night, the Shiseikan guys lure Kanade and co up to the observatory room to show them fireworks as thanks for the hospitality. They renew their rivalry and promise a greater fight next year. Hozumi talks to Kanade that it wasn’t just Ritsu but all of them who beat Shiseikan. So if she gives a half baked performance in the semi-finals and lose, he won’t forgive her. That is supposed to be words of encouragement… Ritsu is discharged early but since he can’t play, he makes Kyouya as the first violin. Now this guy has had it. The ultimate pissed off mood ever.

Episode 7
Kyouya is not going to do it. To prove his point, the poor chair got abused. He needs to chill out. But there is some good news. The Shiseikan guys got approval from their teacher to stay till the competition is over. They will cheer for Seisou and they will also win it for them. Yeah, it would be sad to see a bunch of handsome guys go home that early. Ritsu strictly supervises his ensemble (minus Kyouya) and he can even tell off Kanade to get out if she’s not taking this seriously. But he maintains Kyouya will be the first violin. Believe in him. Meanwhile Alexei talks to Reiji that he must win this competition for his deceased parents blah, blah, blah. Alexei is his adopted father. I guess during the break is when Kanade and co get enough time to blame themselves for their shortcomings. Just do you best, okay? Kanade talks with Ritsu and she knows he is the one suffering the most despite putting up a brave front. It is safe to say Jinnan is Seisou’s next opponent since Chiaki barges into their practice just to confront Ritsu why the hell isn’t he participating. Is he blind? Can’t he see his arm bandage? Actually he hints that as long as he is not playing, Seisou has NO CHANCE of winning. So fix that wrist of his. And that is supposed to be his words of encouragement? Kanade must be desperate to ask him what she needs to do to bloom. Of course, only she must find that out herself. Kanade is troubled thinking about this so Yagisawa brings her to see Chiaki practice. This is his passion, resolve, etc. They see his father entering the room to condemn his playing style. He also wants Chiaki to forfeit the tournament but he won’t. Seems his father is against Chiaki playing using an electric violin but Chiaki shows his conviction to stick to this music style till the end. Kyouya continues to wander aimlessly and thinking about the past. Kanade is worried enough to go look for him. And when she does find him, he is saying they will definitely be defeated because as long as Ritsu is not there, their loss is guaranteed. How does he know even without trying? Because he knows. He feels he will be a disappointment even if he took his place. It will only frustrate him further. He wants to run away. Quit school. Stop playing violin. Just escape. Heck, he doesn’t even know what to do. Kanade for once gives good advice. It is because Ritsu believes in him. Of course Kyouya will never be Ritsu. Kyouya is Kyouya, Ritsu is Ritsu. He plays his own sound, they play theirs. And there’s the big hug to calm it all down. So are you ready to go back? Yup. He’s ready to play. He has got lots of practice catching up to do.

Episode 8
The Jinnan guys are counting their chickens… Kyouya is back to practice and he is on fire. It’s like he is on a different level. He even has personal Spartan training with Ritsu just to find his own sound. Kanade talks to Yagisawa who tells her about Chiaki’s determination to compete with Ritsu. Two years ago they were competing finalists in a competition that Ritsu won. A reason for that was one of the judges was Chiaki’s father and he gave his son all duck eggs! His father is not a judge and only a sponsor in this tournament so he was looking forward to this rematch with Ritsu to seek his father’s approval. Ritsu notices a violin string Kanade keeps. It snapped in a competition she played in when she was young. Ritsu fixed it and she has been keeping it as a charm ever since. However Ritsu doesn’t remember it but Kanade could vaguely remember he was very mad after that. Did something like that happen? The first semi-final begins with Jinnan taking the stage first. Their playing and coordination are great as ever. You can hear those Chiaki fan girls applause and scream in approval. Next up is Seisou. Kyouya takes firm control of the ensemble as he leads the way. So great their music that people start to see birds flying high in the sky!!! OMG! It’s reaching the stratosphere! Hey, there isn’t any air here. But what the heck, it’s astronomical! With that loud applause (I wonder if any Chiaki fan girls converted seeing they too were applauding) and Chiaki himself admits defeat, it is no surprise that the official results also announce Seisou advancing to the finals. Chiaki is impressed Kyouya has improved and matured a lot although he still paints Kanade as mediocre. However they find her interesting and want to raise her so care to transfer to Jinnan? No way! Of course that goes without saying that since Jinnan has been defeated by them, they must win the competition on their behalf. An even sweeter note for Chiaki is that his father somewhat acknowledges his great performance. Meanwhile drama is building up in the other semi-final with Amane facing off with St Cecil High School. This devil woman, Saeka Enjoji is going to make Reiji suffer like hell.

Episode 9
Alexei wants his assistant Ryoko Mikage to do a background check on Kanade. More drama for Amane because Hido still can’t accept Sousuke replaced him. Reiji tells him off his music is just noise. It doesn’t meet his standards. Beware of guys like him who seethes anger in silence… Saeka confronts Reiji before she takes to the stage and will make him pay for he did to her brother, Alan. He doesn’t remember. Doesn’t care. Well it seems Alan must have seen the devil when he competed against Reiji. He became so scared to hear him play that he couldn’t stand on stage again. WTF?! Big wuss!!! Ever since, Saeka has only lived to avenge her brother and crush Reiji. The crowd finds it odd that Saeka who has been playing violin successfully is now resorting to flute. She plays a slow and sad song. It has an effect on Reiji and Shiori! OMG! They’re weakening! Seems they were in a car crash that killed their parents. The siblings barely survived the cold winter. This song was being played on the radio. Yeah. Traumatic memories. I wonder how Saeka knew it was this song. Then again, it could be her observations on him. But that’s another story. Kanade offers to go find Reiji on Shiori’s behalf. He snaps out when he sees Kanade. However he won’t accept her sympathy even if he dies. Although she cannot remember, he vows to crush her for that humiliation. He might be that angry kid in her vague memory. Thanks to that, Reiji is fired up. Saeka is dumbfounded to see him standing. His playing is so intense that his ensemble has a hard time following. Heck, the scene turns into one that he is sucking the souls of everyone!!! Darkness!!! WTF?! In the end, Saeka fails to avenge her brother. I hope the judges didn’t get scared and make Amane win. Even with the win, it’s not all rosy for the rest. Sousuke still cuts that forlorn look while Alexei notes Sei’s playing still lacks love. So Sei goes to see Kanade again and really wants to fall in love with her. They spend time together again and they admit their own story they aren’t that good. He brings her to Alexei’s beautiful flower garden as he believes in pure beauty. I don’t understand what Sei is ranting about beauty and art, etc. He gives her a blue rose that she takes well care of. So later we learn Sei may not be really interested of falling in love with Kanade. He doesn’t care about others taking an interest in her as long as he gets the desired results. Ritsu makes Kanade the first violin. Oh, now it’s her turn? Is he playing musical chairs? Are you up to it, girl? Don’t wilt now even if she’s thinking about the ferocity of Reiji. Finally Alexei notices some love in Sei’s piano play. Ryoko returns with her research. I don’t know if she stole a photo album with pictures of young Kanade. Alexei believes she is that girl from that event.

Episode 10
I presume Jinnan has so much free time after their loss that they can renovate Linden Hall and start flirting with Kanade. I also presume they’re going to stay here? Back at Amane, he tells the ensemble that Sei will forfeit himself from the finals and leaving to study overseas under some teacher since he has achieved his goal. Reiji will not allow his plans to change. Ryoko brings Kanade to see Alexei. He wants her to join Jinnan and entrust everything to him. He wants to blossom her ability and then be part of his Russian Opera House Philharmonic whom he is a conductor. Nia interrupts them and doesn’t want Kanade to join him. Oh, he is her uncle. Before they leave, Alexei’s words that only she can defeat her enemies and rejoice in her victory made her remember those hazy memories. So that pissed off kids was really Reiji. Back at the dorm, Nia explains her uncle will do anything for his music ideals. This means getting anyone and then tossing them away if they do not meet his standards. She doesn’t want him to get involved with him. During practice, Ritsu doesn’t seem impressed with Kanade’s play although technically it sounds perfect. He asks what she wants to do with this ensemble. Is this the performance she wants? On her way back, she is enthralled by the sound of a violin coming from the graveyard. She is surprised to see the famous violinist, Tsukimori playing a tribute to his late precious supporter. She didn’t waste time asking how she could sound like him because she feels she is missing something as this is her first time playing as first violin. He explains about someone telling him about the word beauty. Are the beautiful sounds she finds and her other members the same? After that, Chiaki and Toki pick her up in their Mini to go show her some fireflies’ sanctuary. Yeah well. Another explanation about beauty and Kanade seems to put the pieces together. Now she knows what she wants. Cheeky Chiaki thinks of letting him kiss her if she wins. When she gets back, she has everyone practice again to hear their sounds and make some final adjustments. On the day of the finals, as they leave the dorm, the Shiseikan guys are giving them a loud verbal cheer. I thought they sounded like yakuzas… I also thought it was embarrassing if I was the one receiving that cheer… Of course the reminder, win or else. Yeah, they even bought victory charms from the shrine for them. Lastly, Shiori approaches Kanade and pleads for her to save Reiji.

Episode 11
To save Reiji is to beat him in the finals with her true performance for his clock has stopped moving 7 years ago. Shortly after that, Kanade gets kidnapped. As the finals start in 5 hours, everyone is worried where she could be. Arata thought Kanade dropped her charm and returns it to the gang backstage. That is when they knew something is wrong. All the guys even from other schools start searching for her. Kanade wakes up in a room with Hido. He will release her once he settles his score. Reiji comes in and Hido has been waiting for him. He wants Reiji to reinstate him back into the ensemble and blabs about his dream to play with him in the competition. However Reiji stands by his decision that his music sucks and that he is a rat. Hido becomes so mad that he starts swinging the pipe. In the confusion, Reiji protects Kanade and gets hit. And now Hido is sweating in his pants. Wasn’t he trying to kill him in the first place? Like the chicken he is, Hido asserts this is not his fault and runs out. He bumps into a cupboard that conveniently drops and blocks the only exit. Just great. Meanwhile Sei is on his way to the airport when he thinks of dropping by Linden Hall. Then he hears Kanade is missing and from Nia’s investigation, Hido might be behind this. He starts rushing off to find her. Since the issue of 7 years keep harping, Kanade wonders what the fuss is all about. What has she done to him? Don’t remember? Good. Because he is being scary, her memories return. Yeah, being scared right out your sh*t brings back your memories.

7 years ago, the duo were in the same competition. Kanade had no spare violin strings since hers broke and Reiji gave his extra one to her and even tuned it for her (not Ritsu). They both played the same piece. At the backstage, Kanade overheard Reiji talking to Alexei about the promise if he wins and he will guarantee something for Shiori. Although official results are not out yet, Alexei can tell Kanade is the superior one. You can blame this guy for saying big words to kids and scar them. He tells Kanade right away that she is the winner and that there can be only one as the rest are miserable losers. That’s not all, Kanade gave away the victory to Reiji in which he considered an insult. He also has big words for her. Uh huh. He will hate her for the rest of her life and drag her to hell!!! Woah! No wonder a girl like her got so traumatic. No wonder she can’t remember. Don’t want to remember! Of course now Kanade feels guilty that she is responsible for his suffering. But if he hates her, why did he protect her? That humiliation changed him. Perhaps this is the only thing he can be grateful to her. He has practised so much that he is now undefeated. Only Kanade can defeat him. Sei sees Hido wandering around like a zombie. He sees Kanade’s handphone in his possession and forces information out of him. Then he calls the rest about it and they make their way there to rescue them. They’re so glad she is alright. One hour left to the finals. Can they make it? Chiaki and Toki’s mini should do the trick. But only cutie Kanade gets the lift. Before they left, Kanade told Reiji she will win for the sake of everyone who helped her and of course for Shiori. Time to settle it all on stage.

Episode 12
Before the start of the finals, Alexei goes up to Kanade to apologize for his student’s actions. Then he wants her to forgo this competition which is just some game and farce to go travel the world and perform. Everyone isn’t happy. Especially Kyouya who is close to blowing his top. Alexei adds that this competition’s purpose is to discover diamonds in the rough like her and was worried Reiji would have crushed her. She declines his invitation (Reiji laughing back at Alexei) and will do so no matter how many times he asks. The competition is where she will spread her wings and there is no other sky for her. He regrets he has shut her door to the future. Although he backs down for now, he warns that she must not make the same mistake 7 years ago when she is a kind hearted person. She still is now. He hopes she won’t get crushed by her own kindness. And so Kanade now fully remembers every detail of that competition 7 years ago. When it was her turn to play, she stopped and walked off stage. Reiji was bloody upset over this walkover victory and thus the unforgiving hatred. Now he has waited for this day as Amane goes first. Everyone has their own sound and it impresses the audience. But Reiji… What the heck is that dark matter revolving in the middle of the hall?! Is everyone going to get sucked into it and die???!!! I know he is being merciless and dark but this is too much. Seisou is next up and of course we hear Kanade’s thoughts of not wanting to run away anymore and her thanks to everyone who has helped her here. So much so everyone experiences a healing nature! Woah! Birds and butterflies fluttering everywhere! Enough to make bad kids like Hido repent and see the light! Everyone except Reiji who is still trapped in his ball of darkness! He remembers the disappointment 7 years ago and the humiliation which is much worse than death. It is confirmed that he was the one who sent her that letter. But eventually Kanade’s music is so great that the great light even shines into Reiji’s darkness. And Kanade is descending like a goddess and extends her hand to him! Will he finally be conquered?! Yes he is! Therefore it is no surprise that Seisou wins this competition. They are the best in Japan. So is everything forgiven? Well, I thought Kyouya who is the most angst ridden guy could turn into the most emotional one. After being presented with the trophy, Kanade is invited to play an exhibition piece since she is the first violin. She takes joy in playing her violin as we hear the thoughts of some of the guys on her. Ritsu remembers talking to a fairy about a girl who plays the violin so beautiful and wanted her to meet that girl. The fairy turned into that ring. Everyone is soothed by Kanade’s sound. Even Reiji is finally smiling.

Music From The Heart
To put it in a short sentence, everything feels rather okay and nothing extraordinary. Because I am not a classical music enthusiast, I don’t really know how to enjoy those featured pieces unlike everyone in this anime. Heck, I was paying attention and ‘distracted’ by their inner thoughts that overlap with the music as they play it. And because this season is just about a national high school competition and we see the main school go on to trump other big schools along the way and become the champion, it feels just ordinary.

I feel that the character development is weak considering that with only a dozen episodes and so many handsome guys in this show, there is hardly any time to go deep into their backgrounds. Even so, it would be just for that particular 2 or 3 episodes when Seisou faces them. Then they’ll be just sticking around just to remind us that they are still around although not really relevant. So you get the case of too many hot guys hanging around with nothing much ado. Even for the guys are Seisou, there is nothing deep about them or their personal issue (for example, Kyouya’s concern of always being compared to Ritsu which was easily solved when he was just told to play his own way). Daichi and Haruto feel like secondary characters and while Kyouya and Ritsu feel like although they have some sort of potential and connection with Kanade (believe me, everybody does), it somewhat fizzles out. Their past could have been explored but it was just limited to short flashbacks. Nothing deep. Some of the guys in the other schools have their goals and ambition but it just feels too shallow. Just like I said, once they get defeated, it is over for them so it is up to Seisou to carry that ‘burden’ and win it for them. So really. Winning is everything? Looks like it.

Therefore the romance part is a big disappointment for those who are really hoping to see something solid. Even a casual viewer like me does not particularly feel the romance blossoming between Kanade and the guys. I know I won’t be expecting every damn hot guy to come after Kanade but even the potential ones (the ones I think would be in the running for her attention) like Arata, Sei, Kyouya and even Reiji but it all falls flat. Arata is more of a playful kind and from the way I see it, he just loves hanging out with her only to have Hozumi put his foot down and remind him about concentrating on practice. Sei originally was using her as a stepping stone to perfect his music and till the last moment he only realizes he truly loves her. But even that makes me hard to believe because of his poker face. Kyouya who has been with Kanade for a long time could have shown some potential in this although I won’t put my hopes high for him. However he spends more than half his time in angry mode which just effectively I think kills off his candidacy chance of being Kanade’s lover. And Reiji… I was thinking he would turn out to be a tsundere ;p. Guess not. So these are the ‘front runners’ that I was guessing to see if this romance thing ever materialized but sadly, it was just all about the music and competition. Because the other guys like Daichi and Haruto don’t even show us a hint of any such interest in her, what more poker face Ritsu. In short, being a reverse harem genre and such a weak romance segment just makes this series a let-down. Besides, I don’t feel much of a bonding between her and the guys.

As for the characters, for most of the time I view Kanade as weak being the protagonist. She has a kind heart and that greatest strength is also her greatest weakness. Every time she hears her opponent having some sort of issue that the only way for them to solve it is to win the championship, she is being ‘paralyzed’ with this fear that if they don’t win, it won’t be a happy ending for them and doesn’t even hesitate to forfeit herself. If she does this to everyone, she will never get off the ground. So what she gives way? See what she did to Reiji? What about others? They might just say, “Gee, thanks. See ‘ya” for all we know. Of course with her devastating memories of that incident resurfacing, it is a good thing that she has decided not to run away and face the music (pun intended). Sure, she is stronger and elegant for now. But I feel it is too late because the series has already ended. She is also weak in the sense for being lost in her goal and unable what to do. It took her almost the entire series to figure out what she wants. And that is thanks to the help with some of the guys. She was also unable to concentrate in her practice as her thoughts were filled with worrying about the unnecessary. See? This is what her kindness gets her into. And who cares for her? Even Ritsu doesn’t show mercy if she doesn’t put her heart and soul into her music.

Reiji seems to be casted as the ‘antagonist’ of the series because of his scary face and the darkness aura he gives out. I guess even in classical music clubs you can find delinquent/scary looking characters. Heck, almost everyone had this potential. Only Hido lives up to his true delinquent looks but finally repented. I don’t even know how this guy ended up in the orchestra club. At least it is better than being out there in the streets doing crime. Reiji as the antagonist is perhaps a blessing in disguise for Kanade since with him around, she is put on her toes and after all that hatred, even a guy like him has to succumb to the good side. Well, there are 2 sides to a coin. I’d say that Kanade and Reiji spurred each other to greater heights. If not for that humiliating incident, Reiji would not have become such a cruel and merciless violin maestro and in turn help stimulate Kanade’s growth when they meet again. Without him, she would still be flying in that narrow sky. So would Alexei be the main antagonist then? But what he says is true. Competitions like this are cruel because out of all the competitors, there can only be one winner. Everybody else are losers. Dog eat dog world. I give him points for being frank and honest, don’t beat around the bush. But I thought he should have worded it better especially when he is talking to children. You know how such words can scare and scar them for life. At least he does not discriminate when it comes to music. Young or old, a musician is still a musician. And though he has not change a bit, the only positive side I can see to his ambition of having the best is that, well, only the best deserves to be on the global stage. So work hard if you want to catch the eye of this guy. Otherwise, you are not worth his time (and the world’s) or you drop out.

Other characters feel rather okay or just average and like I put it before, too many characters so there is hardly any proper time to give proper focus to them. Even among the Seisou guys, you see hardly any development going on. You just get to see some of them with ‘notable’ traits like Kyouya is always defined by his angst so much so you wish this guy took up some anger management class. Then there is Arata the happy-go-lucky guy of the series and his extremely good luck is some sort of a running joke. Too bad his luck couldn’t be extended for his school to beat Seisou and win the competition. Then there is some sort of rivalry between Daichi and Toki but for whatever reasons since they both know each other and occupy the same position in the club. Then there is this quiet taciturn Mutsumi who acts like a butler to Chiaki and Toki if he is not playing with them. Ritsu feels irrelevant the more the series progresses. Ever since his wrist gave in, he has sat in the side-lines just watching over his ensemble. If the producers killed him off, I think I won’t even realize he is gone ;p. I thought this was going to be his big show seeing how he talked like it was very important to him. But I guess it doesn’t matter since he let Kanade and Kyouya to take over the limelight. All for the music and his school, right? The most ridiculous one I find was Saeka’s brother with his stage trauma. I don’t know. It just feels ridiculous. After her defeat, no more of them is heard (although you can still see them enjoying Kanade’s music in the finals – at least Alan seems happy). It’s like her story was just to tell us about Reiji and Shiori’s traumatic past.

At least this season there isn’t any magic or fairies (unless you count that last episode 2 second cameo appearance). In that sense it seems more down to earth. I mean, the last season had a girl who doesn’t even know how to play the violin and she got a little help from a fairy to pull off some magic and ‘con’ everyone that she could play. This time, at least Kanade had some talent and skill in the violin and thus no need for such magical creatures to butt in. The only magical moment is when the ensemble starts performing and you can tell it is so damn good that Kanade’s ring starts to magically glow and transport everyone in the hall to experience a whole new exciting panorama. I know it is exaggerated stuff but each time this happens, I can’t help laugh since it reminds me of those food themed animes where the food taster goes into a different universe and ecstasy as a sign the dish is unbelievably delicious. No words could describe it. Same case here. It’s just like sex for your ears, huh? This is highly speculative but I think Nia may be a fairy because of the way she pops up nowhere and gets her information. Despite she is a journalist but the kind of information she gets feels suspicious.

The drawing and art as compared to the first season seems to have the characters looking, well, less mature. While the ones here do look like high school students, the one in the last season has some of them looking like young adults. Personally, I think Kanade looks cuter than the last season’s main female ;). Then again, it must be that era of anime since the first season was way back in 2006. Most probably it is because a different studio produces this season. TYO Animations may look like a new company with only a few animes under its belt (notably the Tamayura TV series). That is because it is a newly formed company via merger with Yumeta Company, the studio that did the animation for the first season. Of course both seasons have lots of hot looking guys. This is what the series is about, right? Great classical music + Handsome guys = Perfect recipe for capturing the hearts of girls. If you’re into classical music, that is.

A fun fact to note is that many of the casts who lend their voices in the prequel return to voice new characters in this sequel. For instance Reiko Takagi who was the voice of Hino in the last season takes on another heroine as Kanade this time. Because most seiyuus tend to have flexible voices, you can’t really tell it is them unless you really know how they sound as most of them voice characters which are opposites of what they voiced in the prequel. For example, Jun Fukuyama voiced the sleepyhead (and probably gay sounding) Shimizu the last time. This time as Kyouya he is so full of angst. Just like his other angry character roles like Kassim in Magi. Kishou Taniyama who was the voice as Tsukimori is now Chiaki. Since both characters make their appearance here (although the former limited to just that one cameo scene), you won’t really be able to distinguish them (at least not for me) as both characters are poles apart.

Other returning casts include Katsuyuki Konishi as Ritsu (was the voice of Ouaski in the last season), Yuya Uchida as Daichi (Kira), Satoshi Hino as Reiji (Etou), Kaori Mizuhashi as Haruto (Lili), Kentarou Itou as Yagisawa (Tsuchiura), Daisuke Kishou as Arata (Yunoki), Yuki Masuda as Sousuke (Amou), Akemi Satou as Nia (Fuyuumi), Mamoru Miyano as Sei (Kaji), Masakazu Morita as Hozumi (Hihara) and Hideo Ishikawa as Toki (Kanazawa). It’s like having a reincarnation, eh? I guess that is why this is called a sequel spin-off. New casts joining the list are Kenyuu Horiuchi as Alexei (Sasaki in Bakuman), Hiroaki Miura as Hido (Mitsubachi in Katanagatari) and Risa Shimizu as Shiori (Sasha in Michiko To Hatchin).

The opening theme is Wings To Fly by Maestro Fields, which is basically up of the seiyuus of Kyouya, Ritsu, Chiaki, Yagisawa and Reiji. The opening line of the violin play is quite exciting as it is closely similar to that all-female string quartet, Bond (namely their Viva and Victory pieces). Then they had to ‘spoil’ it with the guys singing and turn it like a boy band style of singing. How I wished they retained just the violin parts. The ending theme, Andante is at a much slower pace and although it sounds like another boy band song, there are different versions to it. More accurately, after ever 2 or 3 episodes, you will hear the boys of the different schools singing their version of it. That means you will have all the 4 academies having their turn doing this track. And if that is not enough, the final episode has all the guys from the 4 academies singing it! I’m not sure if they’re trying to be like We Are The World. But heck, I can’t even tell the difference. Being a classical music genre, there are of course some classical music but due to the lesser amount of episodes compared to the first season and the focus more on the story, there aren’t as much classical music to grace your ears. And for a guy like me who doesn’t appreciate classical music much, I do not know or recognize the pieces featured here.

Overall, this series isn’t going to stick in my memory banks in the long run because if you talk about animes with classical music, Nodame Cantabile comes to mind and even the first season for this series I feels still fares better albeit a bit silly with magic and a fairy. I am not a fan of reverse harem animes but since I have been watching quite a number lately, this one isn’t the best either and there are a handful of others that could easily best this one. Say, Uta No Prince-sama Maji Love 1000% or 2000%. Replace classical music with pop idols and you get that anime. Maybe they should try making a harem series using pop idols too. On second thought, that wouldn’t be such a good idea. Over the top cat fights, shameful mudslinging, confrontational showdowns and distasteful seduction that would mar their idol career. You wouldn’t want to see that to your cute girls like that, would you? That would be a disaster and nothing near music to your ears.

Well, sooner or later this would happen. A versus between two reverse harem animes that have music as its central theme. They are La Corda D’Oro (La Corda) and Uta No Prince-sama Maji Love 1000% (Utapuri). Both are based on a video game targeted at female audiences but there’s no harm for a guy like me to take a look, right?

The music academy
La Corda: Seisou Academy – The school is split into General Education and Music Department.
Utapuri: Saotome Academy – Graduates will have the opportunity to join the Shining Agency after graduation.

Current principal
La Corda: Akihiko Kira – Son of the family founder of the school.
Utapuri: Shining Saotome – Former super idol.

The main heroine
La Corda: Kahoko Hino.
Utapuri: Haruka Nanami.

Her best friend
La Corda: Nao Kobayashi and Mio Takato.
Utapuri: Tomochika Shibuya.

The handsome ‘harem’ guys
La Corda: Len Tsukimori, Kazuki Hihara, Azuma Yunoki, Keiichi Shimizu and Ryoutarou Tsuchiura.
Utapuri: Otoya Ittoki, Ren Jinguuji, Masato Hijirikawa, Natsuki Shinomiya, Sho Kurusu and Tokiya Ichinose.

The supernatural factor
La Corda: Fairy – Lili. She gave Hino a magic violin.
Utapuri: Spirit – Cecil Aijima. He gave Haruka the confidence in her abilities.

Heroine’s musical talent
At first they were noobs. Through magic or hard work, they get to be musically accomplished.
La Corda: Kaho plays the violin.
Utapuri: Haruka pens and writes songs.

Teacher in charge
La Corda: Hiroto Kanazawa and Shinobu Ousaki.
Utapuri: Ringo Tsukimiya and Ryuuga Hyuuga.

The competition
La Corda: Over course, there will be 4 selection processes of concour in which the selected participants will play a piece and get ranked.
Utapuri: Working towards their graduation, an idol and songwriter must pair up for their graduation performance and the winning pair will get a chance to debut with the agency.

Music type
La Corda: Classical pieces.
Utapuri: Idol songs.

Ladies’ men
La Corda: Yunoki.
Utapuri: Ren.

Lively guy
La Corda: Kazuki.
Utapuri: Otoya.

Cold, unfriendly guy
Acting aloof and distant to the heroine at first but eventually warms up and have feelings for her.
La Corda: Tsukimori.
Utapuri: Tokiya.

Split personality
These guys have a dark ominous side you don’t want to mess with or meet…
La Corda: Yunoki.
Utapuri: Natsuki.

Double life
La Corda: Yunoki – Got Hino to pose as his fiancee to put off his many marriage interviews, including the persistent Ayano Takashina.
Utapuri: Tokiya – His alter ego on stage is Hayato whom everyone is made to believe is his twin brother.

Strict upbringing
Their family doesn’t have favourable views of the music industry and their son is just in due to some agreement thingy.
La Corda: Yunoki.
Utapuri: Masato.
N/B: Oh God… Yunoki’s name 3 times in a row…

Petite guy
La Corda: Shimizu.
Utapuri: Sho.

Cooking guys
La Corda: Tsuchiura and Kanazawa are good at cooking.
Utapuri: Natsuki may love cooking but they turn out to be disastrous!

Not singing from the heart?
La Corda: Tsukimori – He doesn’t believe in it. At first…
Utapuri: Tokiya – Ryuuga points out the songs his sing have no heart in them. At first…

Non-musical instrument guy
Refers to the guy who doesn’t specializes in playing music instruments. His voice is his major music instrument.
La Corda: Kanazawa.
Utapuri: Tokiya.

La Corda: Megumi Shouji stood up as Hino’s pianist accompaniment because of her jealousy that she was chosen for the competition.
Utapuri: Other students in Haruka’s class badmouth her for not having the necessary talent to read music notes or play the piano.

La Corda: Tsuchiura once had a fear of playing in public.
Utapuri: Sho has fear of heights.

La Corda: Episode 6 – After the first selection, the concour participants attend a 4-days-3-nights training camp at Fuyuumi’s villa; Episode 26 – A special 3-days-2-nights summer camp for the concour participants to come up with a ‘unique tune’ theme.
Utapuri: Episode 8 – The students of the academy head to Saotome’s private island for their training camp. This is for students to pick their partners for the final assessment.

Quitting school?
La Corda: Yunoki may be quitting music to study in London as what his grandma wants since she only views his passion as just a hobby. Of course that didn’t happen because he went to London just to cancel his transfer.
Utapuri: Ren is on the verge of being expelled by Ryuuga if he doesn’t hand in his work in time. Ren would’ve gladly get ousted if not for the actions of a certain lady who ignited his passion for music and to stay on.

La Corda: Hino’s violin strings broke and render her unable to play for the concour.
Utapuri: Saotome bars Haruka from taking part in his Starish project.

One big song for the lady
La Corda: After the final selection, all the concour members sing a song for Hino.
Utapuri: The guys of Starish sing together to bring Haruka back and also making their debut with the first song she wrote for them as a group.

Song of the series
La Corda: Ave Maria.
Utapuri: Maji 1000% Love.

Opening and ending themes
La Corda: Opening theme is Brand New Breeze by Kanon; Ending theme is Crescendo by Stella Quintet.
Utapuri: Opening theme is Orpheus by Mamoru Miyano; Ending theme is Maji 1000% Love by Starish.

End segment
Right after the ending credits.
La Corda: Lili’s One Point Classic segment which enlightens us on information on musical terms, composers and instruments.
Utapuri: Just an end card illustration of the characters asking us to tune in to next week.

Number of episodes
La Corda: The first season, Prima Passo had 26 episodes and the sequel, Secondo Passo had only 2 episodes.
Utapuri: The first season had 13 episodes. A second season is slated for production in 2013.

Studio production
La Corda: Yumeta Company.
Utapuri: A-1 Pictures.

Production year
La Corda: 2006.
Utapuri: 2011.

Since I have seen Utapuri more recently than La Corda, my memories of the former are still ‘fresher’ as compared to the latter. It’s hard to choose which one is better because each is almost similar but have their little differences either. Both have its fair share of drama, romance and comical bits. Plus, I’m not really into this kind of music genre especially if it revolves reverse harem. But I feel La Corda have more character development and focus as compared to Utapuri seeing it had more episodes to spread out. So if music is really part of your life, you can use these shows as motivation to help you get one step closer to your dream. Be it a famous idol or an instrument specialist. Of course, don’t forget to put in hard work and practice.

La Corda D’oro

July 29, 2011

What are the things that are good for the soul? Chicken soup? That’s when you are sick. Chocolates? Not unless you have a sweet tooth. Music? Well, that depends on your taste and in this case if you have any interest in classical music and anime, you might want to check out Kin-iro No Corda or better known as La Corda D’oro: Primo Passo. Like many other animes, I thought this was adapted from a manga but found out that it was adapted from a game intended to target female audiences. Female audiences? You know what this means? Yeah, music with love and drama and a way to attract girls to watch this means you have got to have lots of hot hunks and good looking bishonens, right? Right. You’ll find a lot of them here in this reverse harem series.

My only other classical music-themed anime was Nodame Cantabile and it wouldn’t be fair to say that both these animes are alike except by the fact that they feature classical music in its episodes. One obvious difference is that in this series, we have the presence of a fairy. Say what? Yup. You heard me right. Apparently the setting of how this school, Seisou Academy came to be was a kind man saved a little fairy boy and treated him well. To show his gratitude, he uses his magic to establish the man’s dream of a music school and hence the birth of Seisou Academy. So if you want classical music animes that are down-to-earth and slightly realistic, this isn’t the one. Go for Nodame instead.

Episode 1
Second year student Kahoko Hino is rushing at the start of the school term because she’s running late and she gets off with a bad start by bumping into a fairy named Lili. She isn’t dreaming. Unlike many girls who swoon over cute things, Hino isn’t and freaks out at this phenomenon. At least she’s normal. Worse, she’s the only one who could see Lili. It would be bad if other people caught her talking to herself. Lili takes great interest in Hino and gives her play a violin, in which Hino is very much reluctant. After all, she can’t play any music instruments. Fairies in this series as explained are tasked to spread the happiness of music but as years and decades pass by, fewer people could see their presence. Over the years, the number of people who could see them dwindled as time has changed. So if Hino can see him, it means she’s got a hidden talent in music, right? Maybe. Hino gets even freaked out when she tries to play the violin. Her body is moving on her own! It’s like as though she’s a pro! Well, Lili’s magic violin is just a prototype and the user has to be on the same wavelength if he/she wants to play it. Yup, Lili wants Hino to try her creation out like a guinea-pig. But how would he convince her? Just shed some crocodile tears, add in a little drama and don’t give her room to talk back or think deep. Yeah, Hino takes up the challenge. After all, it wouldn’t hurt to try. Seisou Academy is divided into 2 sections, the Music Department (students in white uniforms) and the General Ed Department (black colour). Hino falls in the latter category. At the start the term, the principal announces the participants of a concour. They include Len Tsukimori (obnoxious, proud and unfriendly violinist), Kazuki Hihara (lively and ‘noisy’ trumpeter), Azuma Yunoki (polite and gentle flutist), Keiichi Shimizu (sleepy cellist that also talks in a drowsy manner), Shouko Fuyuumi (shy introvert clarinet player) and Hino. Everyone else is from the Music Department so if a General Ed student gets selected, it either means she is one damn good player or there has to be some kind of mistake. Hino is hoping for the latter. Since Hino took up Lili’s challenge, she can’t back out now. But all she has to do is put in some effort and the magic violin will weave its way through producing astonishing music without anybody suspecting a thing. Being selected as a participant may sit well with some but there are others who are also jealous because like human nature, somebody else got chosen instead of me. Hino on her way meets a trio of b*tchy females berating Fuyuumi for getting selected. Hino steps in to stand up for her but gets into a mess because the b*tches now wants her to play a song to prove her worth.

Episode 2
Thankfully those b*tches are so called Bodyguards (I guess it’s another term for fan club) for Yunoki. So when the hot guy comes by, they back down but challenge her to play a piece at a later time at the school garden. Hino befriends Fuyuumi, Yunoki, Hihara and also the persistent journalist club member, Nami Amou. She also meets cutie Shimizu sleeping like an angel outside on the hill slope and then Tsukimori practising in the music room. She is impressed by his play but he scorns her. It’s easy to pass off Tsukimori as a jerk but this is just the start. You know about people when they hate each other at first and then eventually open up? Same case here. Just watch. Hino practises on the rooftop and her Ave Maria easily captures the heart of those in the distance. Later all participants are being called by Hiroto Kanazawa, the teacher who is reluctantly put in charge of the concours. He tells them about the selections of the concours. There will be 4 selections, each with its own theme that the participants must choose a piece and play based on it. They will be judged and ranked after their performance. The first selection is coming up and the theme is ‘opening up’. What do you think is going through Hino’s mind when she thought she now has to enter big tournaments, playing in front of big audiences that would easily scare the living daylights out of normal students. Luckily Hino receives support from Hihara, her classmates Nao Kobayashi and Mio Takato, and a fellow General Ed student, Ryoutarou Tsuchiura who is also a football club member. Then it’s the showpiece that Hino dreads and the Bodyguards anticipate (in hopes that she’ll screw up somehow). Hino plays fine at first an easy Gavotte piece but when she realizes it has attracted lots of spectators, she grows nervous, her hands shaking and paralyzed with fear.

Episode 3
Hihara comes to Hino’s rescue. His playful trumpet play eases her tension as they make a lovely duet, mesmerizing the crowd except the Bodyguards. I’m sure they would’ve called her cheating for taking on some assistance but when Yunoki-sama is around, anything will do. We need this guy around Hino more often for ‘protection’. Later after Hino seeks Kanazawa’s advice about the concours like researching on the other participants, Hino spots Tsukimori being cornered by a bunch of jealous guys. She splashes water from the flower vase on all of them to cool things down. I guess she took that too literally, huh? Then she accidentally tripped herself and cut her fingers from the broken vase. Tsukimori tells her to take better care of her fingers since they’re vital to play her violin. Also, Tsukimori and Tsuchiura do not get along with each other, trading sarcasm whenever possible. After school, Hino hears the sound of someone playing good piano and follows it to Minami Instruments shop. She is surprised to see Tsuchiura playing it and likewise, he too is shocked to see her. She wishes for him to be her accompanist but shoots her down immediately. He makes her promise not to tell anyone about this. Hino needs to find a piano accompanist for her first selection and though Yunoki can introduce her to one, the thought that it will be one of his Bodyguards just wouldn’t do so she turns his nice offer down. Luckily, a girl named Megumi Shouji comes to her rescue as she offers herself to be Hino’s accompanist. Hino is happy and relieved but why is it that Shouji has that conniving look on her face?

Episode 4
Hino is friendlier with Lili now and not as suspicious when she first met him as the fairy makes periodical visits to check u on Hino’s progress and offer more musical sheets for her practice. Great. Just what she needs. Tsuchiura helps Hino practice by being her temporary accompanist in the music room. Later she visits Minami Instruments and the owner shows a video of young Tsuchiura playing the piano. A prodigy or genius for his age if I should say. She also learns that Tsuchiura once entered a concour but after that, he became irrational and gave up piano. Hino is puzzled why he is wasting his talent when he is in the football club instead of taking up music. Later she continues to practise with Shouji though it didn’t last very long. Yeah, just over 2 hours. For a General Ed, that seems pretty long. In the evening, Hino seeking more practice finds a room to do so and sees Tsuchiura outside the window. She manages to persuade him to play a little song. Then she mentions about watching that video, in which upsets Tsuchiura. She’s trying to be nice to find out why he stopped playing the piano but he tells her to mind her own business and worry about herself instead since the concour is tomorrow. On her way home, Hino sees a guy, Shinobu Ousaki, captivating the crowd with his violin play at the park.

Episode 5
The first selection is here. Since Hino knows nothing about dressing up for the concour, Lili uses his magic to change her outfit like what the Fairy Godmother did to Cinderella. Only, Hino experienced different outfits like Chinese dress and a nun before coming to one that is acceptable. The hall is packed with students anticipating their performance. The concour starts with Shimizu going up first but his performance as noted by the judges is so textbook-like, then Hihara with his lively trumpet piece, then Fuyuumi (stiff and nervous) and Yunoki (charming all the girls more than ever). Hino’s turn is coming up but Shouji is nowhere to be seen. She rushes to find her and heard that it was her original plan to ditch and disqualify her. Her reason is of course jealousy. She thinks Hino isn’t taking music seriously and for reasons unknown got chosen to participate in the concours unlike those who have been slogging for years and never got a chance to shine. I know Hino sympathizes with her but would it be right to take it out on her? At this point? Just then, Tsukimori steps in and chides Shouji for not being serious in music because of her actions. This sends Shouji into shock as she runs away crying. Hino thinks she might have feelings for Tsukimori. Hino returns to the backstage and it is now her turn to play. She plans to go ahead without an accompanist. A few lines into her performance, the judge tells her to stop since she is without an accompanist. That is when Tsuchiura hops in to be her white knight. Everyone is charmed by the joyful manner of their Tristesse piece. Even Tsuchiura’s pals didn’t know he could play the piano this well. Finally it is Tsukimori’s turn as he puts up an electrifying violin performance. In the end, Tsukimori steals the show and ends up ranked first while Hino is dead last.

Episode 6
Well, don’t let the results get to your head or take it to heart. Due to Tsuchiura’s sudden amazing performance, he has been added to the list of the participants for the concour. Wait a minute. Like this also can? Come to think of it, I’m sure there are other good music students who want to enter this way too. Just that they need a chance to show themselves, right? What’s more, Tsuchiura from the General Ed, that has got to be an insult to some Music Department students. Anyway all the concour participants go on a training camp with Kanazawa supervising them. It will be at Fuyuumi’s villa since she has multiple sound-proof rooms for them to practice. What else to do hear but to practice, practice and more practice. They can also get some music CDs to listen due to the extensive collection. Hmm… Shimizu’s life revolves around music so it’s day in day out nothing but music. Wake up music, eat, sleep, music all over again. Sometimes I feel his like an unenergetic robot. Tsukimori and Tsuchiura are paired to sleep in the same room. As usual they don’t get along and demand Kanazawa to swap. So Yunoki gets to sleep with Tsukimori but sorry fan girls, no yaoi moments. Hino visits Hihara, Tsuchiura and Shimizu’s room to snack. Tsuchiura and Hihara argue to see who sleeps on the sofa. That leads to an accident whereby Hihara trips and falls on top of Hino on the bed. Hino gets embarrassed and leaves the room. Well, Hihara too. He learns that Tsuchiura has dated girls before. That statement made Hihara somewhat relieved though he himself is confused what that means. It means you have a crush on Hino. And that troubled look on Tsuchiura’s face also indicates the same thing. Hey, this is a reverse harem shoujo anime. That is to be expected. Next morning, Hihara apologizes to Hino and is back to his cheery self. She also holds no grudges but as usual it’s ruined when Tsukimori cold remarks about her being at the second selection for real.

Episode 7
The training camp continues. Kanazawa has Hino, Fuyuumi and Shimizu help him out for errands in town. This means the guys, heated-up food for lunch. Tsukimori shows that he isn’t perfect because he mistook the oven for stove and burns all their lunch so Tsuchiura has to go fry fried rice. During that, Tsuchiura learns Tsukimori’s mother is no other than the famous pianist, Misa Hamai whom he greatly looks up to. That night, Tsukimori is awakened by Hino’s violin in the garden. He also takes up his violin and plays a duet with her Ave Maria piece which resonates beautifully throughout the villa. On the day of their departure, Kanazawa reveals the theme for the second selection to be ‘something to believe in’. Back in school, Amou is pestering Tsukimori for an interview for his victory for the first selection. He tries to hide and escape from her persistence and ends up in the music room that Hino is practising in. He covers her mouth so as not to make a sound so that the pesky journalist would go look elsewhere. Not too happy with that ‘molestation’, Hino walks away but soon realized that his hands are much hotter than before. Hey, he’s a cold guy, remember? She rushes back to see him fainted next to the door. She is about to go call a doctor but unconsciously Tsukimori stops her and this time his head falls unconsciously on her shoulder. Hino has no choice but to sit there with him. What’s more, he has got a good grip on her hand.

Episode 8
By the time Hino wakes up, Tsukimori has left but he left her his coat as her blanket. She decides to visit his home to return it and on the way meets Tsuchiura and Hino so they too follow her to Tsuchiura’s large mansion. Though Tsukimori is much better now, they are fascinated with photos of Tsukimori when he was small and with his parents. Are they overstaying their welcome? Hino still hasn’t selected a piece for the second selection and becomes stressed. Noting her vast level difference with the rest especially with Tsukimori, she practises at any chance available, leaving no room and time to hang out with Nao and Mio. This upsets Nao that she has changed. A breakdown in their friendship becomes inevitable. Hino continues to practice though she is somewhat depressed. Then she accidentally breaks a music box, a birthday present from her friends, she sinks into further depression. Luckily Hihara was there to cheer her up by fixing the mechanism of her music box. Grateful Hino returns to her cheerful self and decides to use this music box’s Canon as her piece for the second selection. Then she and the other concour members help out in some survey for the entire school to gauge student’s reactions on the concour. With a few hot and cute guys, that won’t be a problem in attracting the girls, right? Though some students have nasty and demeaning comments about not interested and a certain General Ed student coming in last, Nao and Mio chide them for their stuck up attitude and unlike them a certain someone is trying their best. This means their friendship is patched up and Hino is back being friends with Nao and Mio. They apologize and will continue to support her in the second selection. Later Hino bumps into the same guys who were harassing Tsukimori in the earlier episodes. They badmouth him and even mock that she may have a crush on him (maybe?). Tsukimori was there to tell them to GTFO. Hino notes he has been acting strangely recently and wonders if it is the stressed of the concour. She steps on a landmine when she says could it be his parents are coming to see him for the second selection. Man, have you ever seen Tsukimori’s worried face like that?

Episode 9
While pondering that awkward situation and wondering how to greet Tsukimori in the future, Hino is also facing low morale since she thinks her stage performance isn’t good (what do you expect after getting last place). Tsuchiura suggests she perform in public to improve herself. Along the way, she bumps into Amou. The last person she wants to tell about her plans. Amou thinks she is shopping for a dress and when she spots Fuyuumi across the road, takes the girls to go on a shopping spree. Then returning to school, Hino this time spots Shimizu collapsed in the music room. First Tsukimori, now Shimizu? Thankfully, it was just his usual slumbering. Man, he can sure sleep anywhere. Later at the park, Hino meets the owner of Minami Instruments who her about a salon concert at the park hall and suggests she go watch it. She also meets Shimizu there as they watch the trio of famous ex-orchestra members perform. After that, they meet the trio and are persuaded to play her violin as a demo for the trio. Lovely as usual.

Episode 10
The second selection is underway. Before the concour starts, Tsukimori’s parents personally meet the participants backstage. This time to order of performance is based on their ranking position from the previous selection. Since Tsuchiura isn’t ranked, he goes up first and puts on a magnificent Chopin composition, followed by Hino who now has a permanent piano accompanist in the name of Manami Mori, then Hihara, Fuyuumi, Shimizu (being told by Kanazawa to walk slowly to stall for time. And he really did that! Lol!) and Yunoki. Way before Tsukimori’s turn, the rest realize he is missing and go search around the school. Actually he was cooling himself down in the dressing room when some guy knocked him out and locked him inside the closet. Hino senses something amiss because Tsukimori’s violin is left on the dressing table but the player is nowhere to be seen. Tsuchiura searching outside the hall overhears that Tsukimori’s rivals are the one that have locked him up so he gets strict with the jerks. He brings the culprit back to Kanazawa and hopes that he could do something to delay the performance but nothing could be done since if you’re talking about concours, elegance not only in performance and appearance matters but time as well. Yup, Tsukimori is very close to be disqualified. Hino hears Tsukimori’s voice from the closet and is going to get help to let him out but Tsukimori says that it is over for him which is good news for her because it means less one rival. However that isn’t Hino’s intention because she was looking forward so much to his performance. Yeah, don’t ever say things like that. This makes Tsukimori to barge out with Hino’s cooperation. By the time they rush back, everyone has left. Later alone in the hall, Hino and Hamai hear Tsukimori play his piece alone onstage.

Episode 11
The results are out. Newcomer Tsuchiura surprises the pack with first place while Hino takes second. Tsukimori of course is last place. Even with second place, Hino feels uncomfortable and not used to it all (remember, it’s her magic violin doing most of the job). When last place, not happy. Now second place also not happy. After a little girly celebration at Amou’s house with Fuyuumi, Hino meets Hihara in the streets and accompanies him and Yunoki to buy Hihara’s brother a birthday present and eventually got a cap. A flashback how Yunoki and Hihara first met when they were first year students at Seisou Academy. Though Hihara will continue his music studies after graduation, Yunoki will be abandoning it to continue and support his family business. Next day in school as Hino decides to practice more rather than immersing herself in depression, she finds Yunoki practising on the rooftop. Seems like the usual nice conversation you could have. When Hino thanks him and will do her best for the next selection, Yunoki reveals his true colours. He calls her annoying and puts on an intimidating over her. OMG! Say this can’t be true?! A gentleman and prince charming like Yunoki’s true self is a darker side? Truly shocking. Still waters run deep. He is a damn good actor putting up his polite manners and careful enough making sure nobody sees his other side.

Episode 12
This of course is a big shock for Hino after knowing Yunoki’s true character. So now, she has more needless thoughts on her mind. First the concours and now this, Yunoki’s dark side. He wants her to quit the concour. I’m sure Hino at this point is going to give up halfway even if he intimidates and mocks her. Yunoki dangerously flirts with Hino and poor girl may even think she could get raped any moment. Just like when Yunoki forces himself over Hino at the infirmary bed when she bruised her knee from falling down the stairs but holds himself back from doing anything regrettable. Eventually Hino can’t expose Yunoki’s true character because no one will believe her. Hot guy wins over amateur girl anytime. Another round of depression. But this time Hino can’t blame Yunoki for deceiving others because she herself is playing the same game with her magic violin. Later Hihara invites Hino and Yunoki to help out his orchestra club. Hino learns that Ousaki is an alumni helping out the club. The moment Yunoki steps in, all the girls glomp around him. What an unexpected surprise. Too popular. Oh, if they’d only know the truth. But would that stop them from admiring him? Then one of the orchestra students demonstrates her violin in front of Hino and wants her to comment but Hino just ran away. Ousaki catches up to Hino outside and though she still feels guilty and is nothing compared to everyone else as her participation itself is strange, he says that because of her, more General Ed students became interested in music. Then he puts up a violin demonstration to cheer her up.

Episode 13
So as not to wallow too much in her guilt, Hino continues to immerse herself in violin practice. However she is neglecting her mid-term exams so much so Lili confiscates the violin in order for her to concentrate on her exams. The real reason being is that her heart is troubled and he doesn’t want her to play with such feelings. And Hino is so attached to the violin than before, I’m thinking she might experience withdrawal symptoms if she doesn’t touch it any time soon. Besides, the theme for the third selection has already been announced: ‘Irreplaceable thing’. Hino searches for Lili in vain to return her violin but to no avail. While studying at the rooftop, she meets Hihara and learns how he got into playing trumpet (he was fascinated by the sound of a trumpet player he heard on the school rooftop during his middle school years and would never fail to turn up during recess to hear her play). Mio and Nao are fascinated that Hino is getting some help with her studies with Tsuchiura and think they too have something going on but all that is on Hino’s mind is that she misses her violin very much. So much so when she hears a violin play in the middle of the street, her hands start to play an air violin, much to the crowd’s amusement before she flees in embarrassment after realizing what she’s doing. Later, Hino goes visit a museum of stringed instruments with Shimizu to learn more about her violin. Then at a cafe, Shimizu notes how she loves the violin because of the way she performs with it (surprising her) and that he likes her performance though he doesn’t clearly know why (maybe he likes her too?). Next day, Hino calls out to Lili that she wants to play the violin not because of winning the concour but rather she loves playing it. Lili is convinced with her words that he has been waiting for her to say all this time and returns the violin. You can really see the relieved look on her face. Next day on the school rooftop, Hino isn’t happy that even after taking time off from violin and studying, she only scored 53 in her mid-terms. Well, just like any other thing, it’s always the daily practice that makes you good. Don’t expect overnight miracles. Then Yunoki comes up to her with that intimidating and teasing character of his. At least her composure with him is better now. But he shocks her by calling her first name (an indication of intimacy).

Episode 14
Hihara didn’t hear clearly but he jumped gun thinking that Yunoki and Hino are getting engaged! So eventually the rest of the other guys also find out but the truth is, Hino is just helping Yunoki out by being his fiancee. Yunoki’s family is very strict when it comes to tradition so like all his elder brothers, there are marriage interview candidates and the likes. One of them being Ayano is really persistent and is coming to see him today at his home. Without thinking, he told Ayano that he can’t marry her and already has someone he likes. You know who lah (even if he displays his darker side to Hino you can tell that he would eventually fall for her. He just doesn’t show it. He’s good at hiding, remember?). So yeah, all the other guys, Tsuchiura, Tsukimori, Hihara and Shimizu are let into the house and being filled in by Yunoki’s younger sister Miyabi. When Ayano comes by, she ‘interrogates’ Hino on which part she likes Yunoki. I’m sure she’s in a dilemma of what kind of answer to say. She wants Hino to let go her legal wife status?! She even gets bold with Yunoki but that guy kisses Hino on the forehead, shocking everyone. Then Yunoki’s very strict grandma returns home early. Everyone is forced into hiding but naive Ayano thinks she should go greet her. Grandma is not too happy to see a young unmarried girl (Ayano) taking advantage of the adult’s absence to do something that may lead to misunderstanding. Nobody dared speak against her. as she reminds Yunoki he has a duty to uphold the family’s name. I can see why Yunoki is always putting up a polite facade. Now it’s Hino’s turn to burst out to tell the true side of the story, that her engagement with Yunoki is just an act and not to treat them lightly since Yunoki is popular in school and takes the concours seriously. Anyway grandma has them all leave since it is late. Hino and Ayano apologize to each other before leaving. Ayano feels she should try her best while Yunoki advises her to experience various encounters and improve herself. Hino and Yunoki had a private chat. She wonders which side of him is real because it must be very hurting to deceive others (right back at her). Yunoki thanks her but she isn’t sure if she was teasing him. Hino, Tsuchiura and Tsukimori are leaving via train station whereby they meet Tsuchiura’s ex-girlfriend, Mizue Sakimoto. She blunders when she thinks Tsuchiura or Tsukimori are Hino’s boyfriend, causing all of them to blush and feel uneasy.

Episode 15
Hino and the girls are discussing about the hot guys in the concour. Hmm… Is that how they look in the eyes of others? Not that Hino would know if she has feelings for any of them. The guys are outside eavesdropping not because they wanted to, but rather they can’t find an appropriate time to enter. The next day Hino goes to the park to practice but sees Hihara playing basketball with his brother and friends. She practises while the guys play. But her heart is stirred because each time she thinks of Yunoki’s dual personality and Sakimoto’s misconception, she hits the wrong note and sends the guys off their pace. Soon Hihara’s brother and pals decide to leave Hihara with Hino alone, giving excuse that they remembered to do something. She notes his brother is wearing the cap they picked out for his birthday. Then they pass by an outdoor cafe and see Tsuchiura and Sakimoto drinking together and join them. So I guess this is the third time Sakimoto mistakes Hihara as Hino’s boyfriend, though she did mention they look good together. Then she suggests the guys challenge each other on a one-to-one basketball match. During that, Sakimoto reveals how she was the one who dumped Tsuchiura mainly because he looked so much happier when he was with his guy friends and the thought of him calling her by her first name never materialized. She may just be crazy in the concept of being in love. Hihara then injures himself though it isn’t anything serious. Sakimoto has Tsuchiura escort her home and leaves the other two alone. After Hino puts a band aid on Hihara’s wound, he wonders if he could call her by her first name. She approves but couldn’t bring herself to call Hihara’s first name. At that moment, Hihara realizes he has fallen in love with her.

Episode 16
Ousaki requests the concour members’ help to perform for some kids at school. Seems only Hino, Tsukimori, Hihara and Shimizu are available. While Hihara is tasked to do other errands, the string quartet puts up a performance in front of the young ones. Hino has a hard time since has never heard this piece before. The children can’t tell that Hino is lagging behind them which provide cover for Tsukimori and Shimizu to help her recover her pace. After their performance, they teach the kids on the basics of playing the violin, etc. At the end when they’re cleaning up, Hino spots a violin in a room, picks it up and play. It sounds horrible since it isn’t her magic one. To Hino’s horror, Tsukimori heard it and he wants Hino to explain the meaning of that awful sound. Hino is ‘saved’ when Hihara barges in to help but Hino runs away and sits dejectedly on a park swing, thinking that her lie and deceit is exposed. She even asks the kids if they hate liars. Of course they do. Hihara saw her crying too. Because of that, Hino sinks into depression and sharp Tsuchiura notices this though she won’t tell him. He suspects Tsukimori is responsible for this because she excuses herself when Tsukimori comes into the picture. Later Hino is furiously practising her violin to forget about it when Tsukimori comes in to stop her as it will damage the violin. Though he doesn’t force her to answer, he concludes that there is a possibility that she could only play that one. However it doesn’t matter to him because the most important is one’s attitude towards music and in this case since Hino is like that, he tells her straight that he can’t accept her.

Episode 17
Hino weighs heavily what Tsukimori has said. Even Yunoki doesn’t feel like tormenting her. She is going to practice further but on the rooftop but hears Tsukimori doing so. She changes her mind and rushes back down, passing by Tsuchiura and Hihara. Tsuchiura goes to ask Tsukimori what happened but he seems indifferent so much so a fight nearly started. Tsukimori says that he didn’t see Hino coming here and questions why Tsuchiura gets so emotional when Hino is involved. Before you know it, the third selection concour is here. Hino’s trouble is also deeply affecting the performance of Hihara (there were lots of mistakes in his performance), Shimizu (his mind is somewhere else), Tsuchiura and Tsukimori. It wasn’t their usual performance although Fuyuumi is rather calm and better than usual. It is Hino’s turn and after seeing high level performances from Tsuchiura and Tsukimori so she gets worried if she’ll ever match their level. During her turn, she plays too hard on the strings and wishes for her magic violin to make her put up a good performance so much so in the end, 3 of the strings snapped.

Episode 18
Shocked at what has happened, Hino runs off the stage. Yunoki is the last to perform and even though he said he will not be affected by Hino like everyone else, in a way, he too is affected because he played too seriously. The results of the third selection are announced. Yunoki takes first place ahead of Tsukimori and Tsuchiura while Hino drops back to last. Just did a boomerang, eh? In the dressing room, Hino is obviously very depressed. Lili explains how the violin mirrors her heart. He offers to fix it up with his magic but it seems he himself is surprised the violin remains broken as it is. What will she do now? There isn’t a spare magic violin, isn’t there? Yunoki on his ride home remembers how he once played and excelled in piano, even having potential to surpass his brothers. But his strict grandma told him his brothers are already playing it (after all in strict family tradition, the younger brother isn’t allowed to get better than the older one as he is to only support). He took up the flute after listening to his grandpa’s advice. When Yunoki reaches home, grandma tells him that she has arranged for him to study in London as soon as possible. What about his concours? Well, to her music is only a hobby. Does Yunoki have any say in this from the beginning? Vetoed. Elsewhere, Hamai wishes for Tsukimori to perform in a charity concert with her but he turns her down citing he isn’t at her level yet. Hino returns life prior to the concours, without her violin. Tsuchiura notices she isn’t practising anymore and questions her but Hino says she is thinking of quitting the concours. No matter how much he shakes her, he just can’t get her to change her mind. After all, it’s none of his business. Tsuchiura then passes by his football club in action. One of the members wants him to fill in for an injured guy for the prefectural tournament. However the club president-cum-captain tells him to make a choice: Either to play the piano and give up football or give up piano for football. He doesn’t want somebody who is half-hearted and can’t even decide.

Episode 19
Looks like another withdrawal is on the cards because Yunoki informs Kanazawa about his situation to transfer to London. While Hino ponders if this is her chance to withdraw from the concour so that she doesn’t have to play the violin again, Yunoki comes by to tell her about his transfer. Soon everyone gets wind about Yunoki’s transfer and you know what this means to all his fan girls. How can they live without him? What is Seisou Academy without him? Sighs… Hihara confirms this from Yunoki himself the next day and thinks when they stopped telling each other the truth and Hino doesn’t smile anymore. Meanwhile Shimizu is looking for a certain sound (Hino’s) and bumps into Tsukimori practising in the music room. They chat as Shimizu expresses his desire to hear Hino’s sound like the time it resonated so beautiful when Hino and Tsukimori played a duet of Ave Maria at the training camp. Hino sees Kanazawa and tells her intention to quit but he tells her if she would find something new. Lili confirms the magic violin can’t be fixed anymore since its strings broke, magic from it was released and now it has become a normal violin. Hino notes that it will be better this way since she won’t be deceiving people anymore. After Tsukimori overhears from Hihara that Hino is quitting, he confronts her and asks her if she is okay with that. Then he tells of his past how he was bullied and they almost broke his fingers. The scariest part wasn’t the bullies but the thought of never being able to play a violin again. Can she live with the fact without playing the violin again? Though she replies that she can, her tears tell a different answer. He notes that her tears are her true feelings but she denies it and runs off.

Episode 20
Hino returns the broken violin to Lili but the funny part was Lili was trying hard to escape from a cat who either wants to eat him or play with him. I just thought why didn’t he fly upwards? Then Fuyuumi gets disheartened to learn about Hino’s withdrawal because she looks up to her and without her, she’s at a lost. Even if Hino is prepared to go back to her life, those pre-violin days, Nao and Mio say they can’t because they came to love her playing. So everyone is so depressed about the withdrawals that the fourth and final selection doesn’t seem that important now. Hino still has that mindset that she doesn’t have the right to play the violin bla bla bla, but everyone wants to hear her play yada, yada, yada. I guess this girl needs more convincing so it’s Ousaki’s turn to weave his magic words to her. He takes her to the amusement park and in the Ferris wheel, tells her about looking at the world from a different perspective. Instead of thinking about our little existence, he looks at it as how big and wide the world is. She doesn’t need to force and answer now because eventually that answer will come to her naturally. This confirms Hino’s feelings that indeed she wants to continue playing the violin, even if it is one without magic. All the more after hearing Tsukimori’s violin practice which brings back memories of all the good times she had playing it. Asking Lili if she could play the violin again, he is happy that she doesn’t hate the violin and although she can fix the strings and all she could have is a normal violin, he notes that there is a bond between Hino and her violin that can’t be taken away: Corda, the Italian word for chord which could also mean bond.

Episode 21
Hino requests Tsukimori to help fix her violin strings. He takes her out of town to a guy who fixes and services violin for his family, Nakata. Hino learns about the labels in a violin that can tell of its creator but of course hers doesn’t have any as it is from Lili. Thankfully Hino’s violin body doesn’t have any serious damage. Tsukimori tests a violin to check its ‘fitness’. Hino and Tsukimori return to Minami Instruments to buy strings and with Tsuchiura’s help, they tune her violin. Sounds horrible but she is resolved to start from scratch. In no time, she resumes her violin practice in school and even if it goes out of tune many times, the concour members are glad to hear Hino’s sound because it is a sign that she is back. With that, everyone gets their spirit and self-confidence back. With Hino returning, Tsuchiura too must make a decision. He hands his resignation from the football club to the captain but the latter tears it away. He only wanted to see his resolve and this proves it so he tells him to go all out and win. Later Tsuchiura talks to Hino at the concert hall. He tells her about how he once entered a junior concour. Except himself, everyone else was from high school. Tsuchiura dazzled the crowd with his finger work, outshining everyone and was confident he could win. But some other guy won and he only received a special prize for participation. Feeling the cruel injustice, ever since that day, he stopped playing in public till the day he stepped in as Hino’s accompanist. That was when he felt the lonely music inside him broadened and because of her, he was able to confront and overcome it. Hino continues to practice and I guess it’s been a long time since the Bodyguards come by to insult her horrible rendition. You could have guessed by now the only way to make them back down. Yup, herald Yunoki. So after they take their leave, Yunoki reverts to his true dark self as he notes how her music has changed but someone else (himself) has yet to change.

Episode 22
Hino perseveres in her practice. The concour members overhear how other students are badmouthing Hino about her awful sound. I know that what they say is nasty but the thing that bugged me was the fact that Hino kept practising outside on the rooftop. This means everyone throughout the school can hear her, right? I mean, why not at least take her practice to one of the music rooms where it is sound proof? She wants the world to hear her cacophony? Can she play well enough before the concour? Well, she only has to play 1 song, right? So all she needs to do is just practice that piece for now. Hihara still hasn’t snap out from his depression mood yet. He is down because he feels he will be the only third year representative after Yunoki leaves for London. Kanazawa advises him to make his own music instead. Hino hears Hihara practising his trumpet and thinks he is the one Yunoki was referring to. Hihara tells Hino his story whereby he was torn between the track club (he likes running) and playing the trumpet and his friend wasn’t happy about his indecisiveness. Eventually he quit the track club and joined the brass brand though his friend continued to run. Hihara supported him by playing his trumpet during his track meet. Though his friend noted he played quite badly, it gave him enough strength to run and end up in second place. Thus Hihara plays a piece for Hino as further encouragement to her. Hino continues to practice late till Kanazawa had to remind her that it’s closing time. He admires her ability to regain back on her feet unlike him as we see short snippets of his past (getting drunk? Girlfriend leaving him?). As Hino leaves school, Yunoki comes by and drags her into his limo (the Bodyguards watching in envy!). He takes her to dinner at a posh restaurant. This is supposedly Yunoki’s ‘last dinner’ in Japan before flying off. He asks if she intends on continuing to play the violin, in which she answers yes and will do her best in the final selection. When she asks him the same thing, he didn’t answer so Hino expresses that she would like him to continue playing his music and not quit (maybe deep down in her heart she wants to be by his side? Nah…). So it has been fun while it lasted because the very next day, Yunoki departs to London. Will he ever return? Time will only tell.

Episode 23
The theme for the final selection as revealed is ‘setting free’. Yunoki’s absence is really affecting all the fan girls. Their gloomy aura is enough to kill. As usual Hino continues to scar the academy with her amateur play. Oops I mean, practice hard. Hehehe… Tsukimori even gives some tips on how to hold and position her violin correctly. After practice, Hino spots a lost camera negatives and returns it to Amou. She is grateful and while putting it away in a cupboard, a box from the top topples down. They see a cassette and play it only to hear a voice of a singing tenor. All of a sudden, Kanazawa rushes into the room (God knows from where) and confiscates the tape, making them not to reveal this to anyone. You might have guessed that he is the voice in that tape (that guy was one a tenor? Sure doesn’t look like it). Tsukimori tells Hamai that he has changed his mind and would like to take up her offer to perform a duet at the charity concert because he has someone he wants a certain person to listen to his play. Hihara and Tsukimori accidentally meet outside Minami Instruments and Tsuchiura spots them (just finish another round of practice). The owner sees Tsukimori and felt he has seen him somewhere before. Then he realized he did. He invites them all in (including Hino) to watch a video tape of young Tsukimori in a violin performance. This was the performance that spurred Tsuchiura to join a concour. Tsukimori isn’t pleased that he has a record of that. I’m sure everyone else finds him cute. Then the owner decides to show videos of Tsuchiura. It’s his turn to protest so it’s ‘revenge’ time for Tsukimori. On their way home, the meet Ousaki and several children handing out flyers for a volunteer concert. The kids are disheartened that no one is taking them. Tsuchiura and Hihara play a duet in order to liven up the mood and attract the people’s attention. Lastly as Tsuchiura walks Hino back, he mentions some violinist composer inspired another pianist to play and hints that she could be his inspiration in this same manner. Hino starts blushing.

Episode 24
Tsukimori gives Hino tickets to the charity concert. While Amou takes pictures of Fuyuumi for her report, Hino confirms that Kanazawa was the voice in the tape (he was trying to sing). But she doesn’t want to bug him anymore after seeing his sad face so she excuses herself. Later Hihara treats Hino to some cake for working hard and later as she is practising, Shimizu comes by to tell her that she isn’t playing according to her music sheet: The music sheet in her heart. He also thanks her because of her, he too has found his own music sheet in his heart. Hino arrives early for the charity concert and meets Tsukimori at the beach feeling the calming wind. As she is the pick up a fragile seashell, he stops her and reminds her to be careful of not injuring her fingers. He notes Hino’s music from the heart makes her music stand out. In the concert hall, Hino is surprised to see her concour pals also being invited to the concert but they were given tickets by Hamai herself and are seated on a different row behind her (what does this tell you?). The performance begins with Hamai on the piano and several other guests performing on stage before Tsukimori’s electrifying finale. Everyone goes backstage to thank Hamai for a wonderful performance and she in turn thanks them for coming and do their best in the final selection. On the way home, Hino says that she is going to play a piece that is just her and hugs Fuyuumi who cheers her on, prompting Hihara to be quite alerted (because he wanted to do that first). Then ignoring the guys, the girls cross the street to have cake. Sorry guys. Looks like she isn’t interested in anything deeper with you guys.

Episode 25
The final selection is today. Hino is running late to school because she overslept (as usual). She bumps into a familiar face on the way. Why, it’s Yunoki! Is this a dream? Not. Yeah, his insults are still there. Apparently he is back for the concour and just went to London to cancel his transfer. Are we supposed to feel relieved? Well, everybody is since it won’t be a really feel good ending if everyone is not around. However disaster strikes Hino again because Mori has injured her hand in a bicycle accident and can’t be her accompanist. Furthermore, Hino is the first one up. Tsuchiura offers to be her replacement but surprisingly it is Shouji who steps in and this time she has truly repented and wants to atone for her mistakes (she tried quitting piano but after seeing Hino’s persistence, she persevere to carry on). Since Hino and Shouji need time to practice, the rest agree on the change of performance order. So Yunoki goes up first, thrilling all the fan girls and reviving them back to life, giving them the meaning of their pitiful existence :p. This is followed by Hihara, Fuyuumi, Shimizu, Tsukimori and Tsuchiura. Each time they go on stage, Hino narrates the change and good that they have brought to her and made her a better person. Like Yunoki made her forgive herself for deceiving, Hihara the first who made her enjoy music, Fuyuumi who isn’t as nervous as before, Shimizu’s seriousness in music and learned a lot from him, Tsukimori for showing her the beauty of the violin, and Tsuchiura for always helping and looking out for her. Finally it’s Hino’s turn as she goes on stage in her school uniform simply because she is going to perform as she is. While she amazes the crowd with her play, she thinks back all the wonderful and painful encounters and memories she had with the violin and dedicates this Ave Maria piece to everyone including Lili who introduced her to the world of music. At the end of the concour, Lili thanks Hino and the latter asserts she will continue playing the violin. Just then on stage, all the concour guys gather as an ensemble and play a song for Hino. The final scene shows everyone helping out the little kids in a school performance.

Episode 26
This OVA episode and takes place after the concours. Hino is taking up violin lessons and while meeting her female friends, she tells them of a special summer camp of 2 days and 3 nights by Seisou’s headmaster with the theme of ‘unique tune’. Of course for Amou and Mio, they would be thinking something more like a summer violin romance for her. This episode mainly sees Hino spending some time with the guys (but feels short of any feeling of a date). Each time expressing their earnest feelings of change that Hino brought to them. For instance the first ‘date’ with Hihara at the windy park (playing a Gavotte duet eventually), getting lost but picked up by Ousaki in his car, Yunoki inviting her to a flower garden and playing a flute solo for her, talking to Kanazawa in the kitchen as she couldn’t sleep (he mentions something about her lonely love life. Probably she’s oblivious because she has too many guys to choose from. Haha! Just kidding), Shimizu performing his cello solo to her at a church, accompanying Tsukimori to the aquarium whereby he was being asked to help heal a stressed dolphin with his violin (gosh! It worked! Even dolphins get cheered up by his music!), and finally Tsuchiura dedicating a piano piece to her at a planetarium via piano that has many famous pianist playing it including Hamai. Other than that, we see the gang having fun at the beach and a night barbeque on the last day of the camp. Hino has found her answer on the theme. That is, the unique tune of each song depends on the moment when it is being played coupled in with several other factors like the place and feelings put into it. Hino plays a song for everyone. I say, she has improved a lot and sounds much better.

La Corda D’Oro: Secondo Passo

There was a 2 episode special released around 2 years after the TV series ended. Entitled La Corda D’oro: Secondo Passo, I read that this special is meant to promote the game. This means that it isn’t meant as a promotional ‘appetizer’ for any upcoming anime sequels as it ends just here. Abruptly. So yeah, I guess it’s the producer’s way of saying if you want to know more about the development of the characters and story, please go play the game (there are 3 sequels of the game split by 5 instalments). In this double special episodes, we are introduced to a few more hot looking guys and I somewhat feel it’s like an expansion to Hino’s harem. Something like that I think. Well, this series was meant to target female audiences in the first place, right?

Special Episode 1
The new school term is starting in September. The usual suspects are still there, whether practising their instruments or involve in other club activities like Tsuchiura’s football club. We learn Fuyuumi has joined the orchestra club and Shimizu has grown a little taller. Not only that, he doesn’t talk as drowsy as before. If you’re wondering why the TV series ended without anyone being the winner, then wait no more. Apparently my guess is that the performance was too good that they can’t decide on a winner between Tsukimori, Tsuchiura and Yunoki. Kanazawa explains that there will be a final selection to pick a grand winner and they have to use one of the pieces they played in their previous selections. So why of all times now? You see, Seisou has got a new principal. He is Akihiko Kira and yes, another bishie. This school is getting more and more good looking, doesn’t it? We also learn Yunoki is going to USA to get his MBA (hence stopping music) and this is something he decided himself. Then in Hino’s class, they have got a new blonde cool looking foreigner (as expected) transfer guy, Aoi Kaji. When Kaji spots Hino, he immediately gets excited, goes up to her and holds her hand while ranting how he has come to this school looking for her. Yeah, another ‘rival’ if you know what I mean. Then Hino and the rest of the concour pals get called to the music room. Kira announces that he plans to use them as an ensemble for a port’s 150th anniversary. This would also help raise the academy’s profile. However Kira tells Hino that he DOES NOT NEED Hino in the ensemble as she isn’t up to their level. Everyone is unhappy because it’s like leaving a comrade out. However Kira has the final say on things. Another mean guy from first looks. What else to do but to practice further in the garden. Hino’s music attracts Kaji who notes there is a hint of sadness in it. After learning that she was left out, Kaji thinks that the shock must be the reason why her playing sounds bad (yes, she still has that amateur sound). Hino takes this chance to ask him if they have met before. He replies that he once heard her playing her violin at the park and was captivated by her music (must be during the time when the violin had magic). On the way home, they bump into another hot stud but an unfriendly one, Kiriya Etou. Kaji and Etou seems to know each other as the latter mocks Kaji about quitting violin and that was probably his wisest decision. He goes on to say that Kaji is into Hino just because she plays the violin and that she is wasting her time. Kaji stops him from insulting Hino anymore so he walks away. Next day, Kanazawa supervises the ensemble. Ironically though everyone is good individually, they’re bad when they’re playing together. This is going to take time. And they haven’t got much of it. Though they still can’t accept that Hino has been left out, in a way it is true that her level is below par and do they have the will to lower their performance to match her level? Shimizu notes that they need a viola for the ensemble to sound better. Ousaki meets Hino on the way home and he hands her a flyer about an educational concert for the children. Ousaki spurred to take concours in Vienna, won’t be able to make it so he wants Hino to replace him. Think of it as his gift for her for being left out. Though he doesn’t require her to give an answer now, Hino thinks hard whether she should accept it considering her substandard skill level.

Special Episode 2
Hihara, Shimizu and Fuyuumi are just available to practice since the rest have other duties to shoulder. Tsuchiura isn’t happy that his football mates are playing defensive but they feel that he shouldn’t injure his fingers. Ousaki bumps into Kaji and they talk about Hino. He asks Kaji if he wants to join the ensemble but he replies he has given up playing music. Then Kaji asks Tsuchiura about the drastic change in Hino’s level but the pianist himself doesn’t know the real reason and though she planned to quit at one point, she never gave up and soldiered on because of her love for the violin. This thought him a valuable lesson to not run away and to face things head on. Later Kaji wanders around and spots a viola and plays it. This catches Hino’s attention as she comments how lovely his play is but he looks troubled (he doesn’t want her to hear him play?). Kaji tells his past how he was close friends with Ousaki but was overwhelmed by the latter’s talent. Then when he saw young Tsukimori at a concour, he lost hope and gave up playing the violin and ventured into the viola secretly. Kaji notes that Hino’s music is heart warming and can feel her passion for it. Hino also thinks Kaji loves music but his sad expression doesn’t seem to indicate it like as though he is really troubled by something. Then Kaji hears Tsukimori’s practice and realize he was that kid at the concour. Tsukimori advises him that techniques aren’t enough to move people’s heart. You need a person’s heart to do so. Coincidentally, I don’t know who this Etou guy really is because he just keeps popping up at places and doesn’t hesitate to mock Kaji. But this time Kaji is more confident (why not? After going around getting pep talk from the pros). I guess he borrowed lines he learned from others like how he won’t run away and that technique isn’t everything. Soon they hear Hino’s practice in the woods and head there (even the ensemble takes a break to go watch her). After realizing her handsome harem is watching her, she says that she isn’t scared to go on stage now and accepts Ousaki’s offer to play at the educational concert. Likewise, Kaji requests to join the ensemble as he can play the viola. Sure everyone has no qualms about it. Now we just need to convince Kira to let him in. Don’t worry, Kanazawa will do the persuasion. Hino gets a surprise as Kaji drops to his knees and kisses her hand as thanks. Must be a real shocker for the other guys, eh? If that isn’t embarrassing enough, Amou snaps a shot of this romantic deed. Imagine what will happen if this scoop gets out. Get the evidence back! The day of the ensemble’s performance arrives and everyone including Kaji (minus Hino of course) plays exceptionally well. Then it is Hino’s turn to play for her part. Though the episode just ends here, I later find out that there are extra scenes in which we see Hino in action and other footage not shown are those Hino talked to the other guys for advice after feeling down for being left out of the ensemble. Other than that, it isn’t anything much.

Music Is The Food To The Soul
So the usual life goes on in the end. I guess this whole series revolves around the development of the characters. Everyone has their own set of problems. Even seemingly perfect ones or those at the top aren’t flawless to begin with. We see how much Hino changed from someone who wasn’t interested in music and doesn’t even have any background training in it, to someone who loves playing the violin. Just like in real life, we may not like doing certain things at first but after going through with it, it’s either you get the hang of it and accept it or it scars you for the rest of your life. Hino’s perseverance of never giving up is her strong point. At first she was too reliant on the magic violin for her performance but that eventually became her stumbling block. It was like she was contended in the comfort zone of its magic till she realized that she lost it forever. As proven, she can do well on her own. Just that she needs to put in more effort than before. Though it may take years for her to reach the same level as her peers. Hmm… This may be trivial but for Hino’s mood, it’s either she is cheery or depressed for a streak of the time. It’s all part of the process of learning to appreciate music and her violin.

As for the other guys, it was nice to see that they have their own issues and inner demons to deal with. Call it fate or coincidence, their meeting with Hino definitely changed their lives and outlook of the future. It made them look at a different perspective, confront their fears and take the necessary action to move forward. For example, Tsukimori isn’t as cold and unfriendly he was at the beginning, Fuyuumi no longer a nerve-wreck and exudes some confidence and Tsuchiura does not hate nor fear playing in public anymore. All these life changing moments are all thanks to Hino. It was nice to see the past of some of the main characters and thankfully it didn’t drag to several episodes. However I wished that they could have also explored Shimizu and Fuyuumi’s past too. Unless there is nothing much to be told about them.

For the romance part, there are many moments that Hino and the guys have come into close contact or at least scenes that show they may have hit off something. Each of the guys have their fair share of screen time and moment with Hino so I suppose it is just fair for those who are fans of certain pairings. In the end of course, Hino herself is oblivious to the feelings of the guys around her. Her love for the violin comes first. She’s sure got a bunch of colourful guys flanking her. From nice ones to mean ones. Speaking of which, Tsukimori as we know is the aloof kind. But he is not as ‘dangerous’ as Yunoki because he does not hide his emotions. Tsukimori’s natural character can be seen all over his surface but Yunoki is less obvious.

Another plus point of this anime is the many short musical pieces that we get to hear and enjoy. You could say that they are music to your ears. But since I am not a classical music buff, they all sound good to me even if some of them played badly, I can’t tell the difference unless like Hino obviously play out of tune. When I first heard the opening theme, Brand New Breeze, I thought it was Celine Dion singing! Well, at least it reminded me of her singing style. Actually sung by Kanon and she made a short cameo appearance in the anime. Yeah, one of the guests at Hamai’s charity concert. As for the ending theme, it felt like a ballad sung by a boy band. It is entitled Crescendo by Stella Quintet. As for the voice acting, I have no qualms that they fit their characters and their personality. However there is 1 exception. I do not find Kaji’s voice to be fitting. He may be a nice guy but the way he sounded was like as though he is a kind of weak person! His soft -spoken nature as though he is tired or something. Definitely his voice doesn’t match his looks. But a surprise one was Shimizu’s voice actor. I found out he is voiced by Jun Fukuyama (Lelouch in Code Geass). I never expected that guy to do a sleepy falsetto for Shimizu and it was quite a shocking departure from his usual roles. Kudos for that.

Something about the concour still bothers me. Firstly, it is the format of how the participants are chosen. I thought that there will be a fair chance for all Music Department students to enter the concour in some sort of elimination selection. But no, the participants were already handpicked. And I suppose the principal could also see fairies so the reason why Hino got picked was by this fact even though her skills sucked at first. Then, if Tsuchiura can be recommended to participate after the concour has started, wouldn’t it be fair too that the other students who still hold interest may plead to join so? And if there are 4 selections and the first 3 were just rankings that have no effect in the sense that there is no elimination or some sort of points system, doesn’t it feel that the earlier concours are like just for testing? What about the themes for the selection? I may not be familiar in this line of music but I don’t see how the themes are related to the pieces they choose. To me, it is abstract that if I just think about it that it fits the theme, it could have been any tune. In the end, there is no explanation if the participants’ piece fit the theme or they go off tangent. So really, this theme thing is kinda redundant, don’t you think?

Sometimes the judges’ consistency baffles me. For instance if the participants need a piano accompanist for their piece (unless the participant plays the piano), how come there was one time they allowed Yunoki to perform his flute solo? Maybe the piece doesn’t require a piano accompaniment? What about Hino turning up in her normal school uniform in the final selection? Aren’t they strict about elegance of one’s appearance as well? And I thought this concour was supposed to be intra-school competition. Seriously, there were no other participants other than those of Seisou. Does Tsukimori’s win mean he will represent the school? Not sure. As for Lili, I am still wondering his intention of making the magic violin and what did he want Hino to test it for. I know it’s to spread the love of music but over centuries, you’d think he would have at least perfected it. Then it also puzzles me when he can’t fix it with his magic or replace another one (maybe it’ll take centuries). And is Lili the only fairy in the academy? I thought somewhere in the series, we’re going to see that other participants have their own fairies to aid them too (sorry, just fresh from watching Yumeiro Patissiere), but nope, it is their own hard work that got them this far.

As already said that the drawing and art of the characters cater to lots of good looking people. However I do notice at times that there is a drop in quality and though it may not be obvious, if you take a closer look, sometimes the character do lack the details or look just plain weird. As for the part whereby the participants are performing and the audience are supposed to close their eyes and visualize how the piece brings out certain emotions. Well, there is nothing exaggerating (like getting blown into outer space) and the most is that they’ll be transported to a tranquil location, that’s all. My favourite part of the series is Lili’s One Point Classic segment right after the ending credits. Here, Lili will enlighten little pieces of information about musical instruments, famous composers and musical terms and process before asking viewers a quiz relating to it. It was interesting to try and guess the answer and you only have so much time till the next episode preview finishes and after that Lili will display the answer. I may not get even half correct but at least I got some right and I am proud of it! Hey, not bad for a guy who has minimal knowledge in music. Erm… I don’t think I should be proud of that.

So yeah, I am not fully interested in classical music but if I hear any attractive and popular ones I would still stop and listen to it. Just like in some parts of the world, sports (or football if you’re crazy and obsessed about it) unite the people around the world. Music is no different and in addition soothes the soul in many ways, a universal language for peace. Music is not about thinking, it’s about feeling. Of course to excel well in music, starting at a young age is vital because practice makes perfect. Hey, now come to think of it, perhaps the reason why I still suck at playing piano after all these years is because I don’t have a fairy to grant me a magical one. Hah. A lame excuse to cover my laziness. Time to take out the piano sheet and start studying them again. Oh damn it. I already lost interest. How to be good like that? Just keep wishing that a fairy would grant me one.

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