Those Snow White Notes
Studio: Shin-Ei Animation
Genre: Music, Drama
The shamisen is not an instrument often seen in modern music anymore – it’s a traditional Japanese instrument and not one in wide usage anymore. For Setsu however, the shamisen is more than just a tradition – it’s the instrument his beloved grandfather played to great acclaim and Setsu himself has played it himself from a young age. After his grandfather’s death, however, he tells Setsu that he cannot play the shamisen anymore – not until he has found his own sound rather than just copying. Grief-stricken, Setsu leaves his rural home and family and sets off for the big city of Tokyo searching for… something even he isn’t sure of right now. Whilst there he ends up meeting a young struggling actress who takes him in and the two struggle on to find their own purposes and meaning.
Those Snow White Notes is a relatively introspective anime, excelling where it focuses on the emotion of the characters. The animation style is very clean and there is an absolutely gorgeous usage of light and colour to accentuate the scenes. Colour-wise the anime tends more towards the more muted tones for the characters but much brighter colours for scenery. The musical score, an important factor given the main subject matter, is the star of the show here – the music of the shamisen when we hear it in particular, absolutely stunning.
Despite the relatively young age of Setsu (he is in high school), this anime has a much more mature feel to it. The remaining cast so far are all adults and the issues of the characters themselves are more realistic and relatable to adults as well. Setsu struggles with his grief and the promise he made to his grandfather, whilst also trying to adjust to living in a busy city he doesn’t know well. Yuna is an incredibly likable character as the actress who takes him in, her own struggles and failures incredibly poignant. Her ultimate decision towards the end of the episode to give up on her dream and move away is an interesting choice also, and it looks like we won’t be seeing much more of her in the series. The closed storyline of her departure really makes this first episode feel more like a mini-movie than a continuing series, but I’m interested to see how Setsu’s story will progress.
Most other music animes out there are about bands and often idol-themed with bloated over-large casts, so this show is a nice change of pace. It’s much more emotional, and more about the central struggle of the characters as they deal with their internal issues and push forward. Given Yuna’s departure, it isn’t afraid to show that not everyone has a happy ending but that not making your dream work doesn’t always equate to something negative. It’s a nice message to take away from the series and looks like it won’t necessarily follow the same kind of storyline as other series that tackle similar themes.
Those Snow White Notes
A beautifully animated and heartfelt first episode for this music themed drama - some great character moments and a stunning soundtrack really make this series leave it's mark.