There are so many little things unique to a culture which lose meaning when viewed by another culture. When Miu sees her sister’s shoes, they might not be a pair Miu’s ever seen before. Rather, the style probably matches what Akiko wears. Seeing shoes by the door can indicate a visiting relative, such as with Akiko, a visiting guest, or even an older brother’s visiting friend (as seen in an episode of Cardcaptor Sakura when Sakura sees Yukito’s shoes at the entrance). A western audience might not understand the culture behind shoes in Japanese households, but I’d like to think someone with no knowledge in it would be able to piece it together quickly and understand what seeing the shoes means for Miu.
The introduction of Akiko for the episode had an overall positive impact. Sure, she was far too carefree in how she acted and what she said, but it gave a chance to see Miu with her older sister. It shows how Miu’s matured within the past year, going back to before the series started, to Akiko’s last visit. I figure it was in the past year as Akiko comments on Miu’s unchanged height.
At the same time, Akiko’s surprised to see Miu’s stuck with the piano lessons. Didn’t Miu tell Mr. Shirakawa she’d been taking lessons for six years? Her prior teacher was shown to have been teaching when Miu was very young. Maybe Akiko figured this would be the year Miu outgrew the piano. If Akiko used to practice with Mr. Shirakawa as her teacher (are their ages far enough apart for that?), then she could have given up on the piano around that age.
For most of the episode, I had the impression Akiko had been fired, which make her shopping spree, and her spending “a whole month’s salary”, seem more reckless than it actually was. Still a reckless thing to do, but not as reckless to do as it would be after losing ones job.
Yuuki talks about how she’s always admired Akiko, which gives the idea that she’s probably met Akiko more than a few times. This suggests she and Miu have been friends for at least a few years.
With no visit between Akiko and Mr. Shirakawa, the latter with an uncharacteristic smile to be seeing Akiko, their past thankfully stays a mystery. The mysteries are one of the things which make a show worth watching. The other parts of using mystery are that the mystery has to be something the viewer wants to learn about, and in turn the characters involved have to engage the viewer. If the viewer doesn’t care about the characters, they may not care about whatever mystery involves the uncared-for characters. There isn’t any interest for me to learn about the two, but I’m still grateful that it’s being kept unknown for the time being.
Things are back on with Takizawa and Yuuki, and he doesn’t look to have any problem with it. There’s really nothing shown to the viewer about them, which nicely fits in as everything in the show being from Miu’s point of view. Miu didn’t know what happened with her sister until her mother explained it. Likewise, the viewer isn’t given enough information to definitively determine her situation. Miu probably doesn’t know anything about her sister and Mr. Shirakawa, so neither does the viewer. It’s not completely Miu’s perspective and view, as there was a prior scene with a lady talking with Mr. Shirakawa about the recital, but there’s no lingering on such scenes.
The backgrounds are still sticking out to me. And Miu’s Japanese voice sounds very fitting after having seen the prior episode in English. Yuuki’s Japanese voice catches me off guard at times, as I’m somehow expecting a more tomboyish voice from her, but that’s not how Tomoko Kawakami’s voice for her is. In this sense, I prefer Zoe Martin’s English dub voice for Yuuki. The only problem is the constan echo her voice suffers, certainly not a fault of Martin.
I have no problem with Akiko’s Japanese voice, but her English voice seems off to me somehow. I think maybe I’ve gotten used to it within the span of the episode, but only just barely. If I had not heard her Japanese voice, or if I watched the episode in English before Japanese, I might like her voice better.
It’s more of the same with Miu’s English voice. Sometimes is almost feels comfortable, then I’m jarred back to it sounding too forced. The voiceover at the next episode preview continues to flow smoothly.
Overall, the interactions with Akiko and Miu made for a good episode. Miu’s always the quiet one, soft-spoken at home, shy and easily embarrasses around others (such as when Yuuki is speaking loudly at the fountain, and when Miu blames the cat if the man passing by thinks she’s weird), always kind and considerate. Miu listens to Yuuki, not speaking much in comparison. With Akiko, it’s the opposite. Miu speaks more, she’s more expressive. I’d say she’s the kind of person you’d see if you really got to know her, but that goes against how she is around Yuuki.
There was one flaw to the episode. Where was Mew? Did I somehow miss seeing her? I guess the only times she’d show up would be during dinner (and the scene with Akiko and her mother begins after Mew would have been given something), or in Miu’s room if Mew sleeps in there. Well, maybe next episode.
Next episode takes the cast to December already. This brings Miu up to the point of decision about whether to play in the recital. I originally figured Akiko would return in time for the recital, but she appeared sooner. She could still make another appearance. And Miu, if she spends time with Takahashi, that could elevate her mood, up her piano playing a notch, and convince her to go ahead with the recital. So, what happens if all that happens, then things don’t work out with Takahashi, say on the day of the recital? Would this series have the ability to go in that direction? Could it really put Miu in that horrible of a situation? Or will Miu be protected from any harm along the way to rediscovering the joy of playing the piano she once held with her?