This week finally reveals the accident that put Hu Li’s mother in a coma and gave him the ‘burn’ on his face. I know that is supposed to be a scar but honestly it mostly looks like a tattoo or poorly applied make-up. Anyway, for the first time I really felt they rushed over what should have been a fairly emotional note in the story. And it is no wonder. Given they also crammed Kong Que’s angst-ridden back story into the same episode.
Now both of these things are important given Hu Li has to overcome his tragedy if he’s actually going to take to the stage and that Kong Que is getting involved in some scheme with his father that is sure to be bad news. However, given the build up, the rushed through delivery, while serviceable and getting the idea across, wasn’t exactly getting the emotional impact across with it. Which is a real shame given so far Voice of Fox has done a relatively good job at building up and conveying emotional moments despite its short run time.
Yet if you think they were stopping there, think again. They also crammed in an interview with Chuyun where she essentially gets fans back on board despite her knowing about Hu Li. This enrages her group member, who is more or less just consumed with jealousy at this point and has some really poor reasoning skills, and so a rumour is started on social media that Chuyun is going to go solo. In the midst of the social media fallout from that Hu Li receives a call from Chuyun and then the episode ends.
It’s a lot for an eleven minute episode and a lot of the nuances don’t quite hit their mark this week. That said, I’m fully on board with this story at this point given the build up so far so I’m just hoping this isn’t a sign that they are going to self-destruct in a rush to get to the end.
Even as Hu Li thinks it is all over, a surprise is headed his way when Hetian challenges him in the finals. Caught by this surprising announcement, Hu Li is taken even further by surprise when he is literally carried away in a sack. Once again the drama of this show is slightly ill-balanced against its more humorous moments and Hu Li getting rolled out of the hospital and knocked silly in the process wasn’t exactly the best this show has had to offer, even if it did transition us smoothly to the next part of the show.
We’ve finally been given a motive for Sky’s actions as well as the reasons for certain other characters acting suspicious. The one thing we don’t have is clear confirmation as to who Sky is, though the suspect list is pretty low at this point in time so I’m kind of thinking my earlier thoughts are correct. I’d happily be proven wrong but I’m pretty sure we’re out of time for another twist in this story.
However, in order to take up Hetian’s challenge, Hu Li is going to have to get over his sense of inferiority and that idea that he doesn’t deserve to be on the stage or live his dreams. It might seem pretty straight forward but Sky was not the only ghost haunting Hu Li and a lot of the drama that has unfolded has been entirely of his own sub-conscious-es making. I’m hoping he does get over it because Voice of Fox has taken me on an emotional ride and I really want Hu Li to have his moment even if he doesn’t win.
That said, Hu Li isn’t the only character with ghosts to face. Kong Que is coming to terms with the fact that it was he who needed Hu Li and that without a ghost singer, he might as well be a ghost, and he isn’t taking it well. It certainly sets up a rocky future and I’m thinking this isn’t the last we’re going to see of the now dumped idol.
Still, the preview for next week looks like it is going to delve into the past of these characters and I’m hoping that then clears the way for a final run to the end with more singing and less angst. Not so much because the drama hasn’t been fun, but more that I’m ready for these characters to get a little bit of happiness and want them to get a happily ever after. Or at least an ever after.
Tsurune took a turn this week with the team heading to their first competition. This shook up some of the characters, forced others to face things they’d sooner forget, and the pressure most definitely pushed other characters over the edge. While this is certainly good for ongoing character development, it most definitely damaged the calm feeling the anime has portrayed up until now. That isn’t to say it suddenly dove into full competitive sports anime mode, because it definitely retained its languid story feeling, but it definitely constructed tension and awkward moments for the characters and the audience to endure.
And that’s really a solid move. While it isn’t the feeling Tsurune has been giving us up until now, what it does is force the audience to realise just how much they’ve come to love these characters in six short episodes, and to love the dynamic they’ve built in their dojo. Leaving it and facing the other schools, being exposed to the mocking of the twins, the pressure of competition and unpleasant memories was hard on the team and the audience.
The twins are an interesting addition to the cast of the show as they’ve really been the only source of real contention between characters outside of Onogi. It is hard to really dislike them, but so far they’ve acted pretty bratty and have generally been deliberately unpleasant. It was fun to note that the person most riled up by their antagonism was Onogi and realistically Onogi’s character is going through some growth right at the moment so the tension is just pushing that along. Or pushing him to self-destruct. I guess we’ll see which.
However, the highlight meeting of the episode was Shu and Minato. In typical Tsurune fashion, and in a way that pointed out that no matter how different this episode felt it is very much the same show we’ve watched all along, this meeting was ultimately a very low key affair. Few words were exchanged and the meaning of a lot of the meeting is yet to be fully realised by the audience, but there’s certainly plenty to consider.
I’m really looking forward to next week when the team event is on. As much as there were some uncomfortable moments watching this week, it was a feeling I enjoyed because it just spoke of how much I’ve come to care for these characters.
Last week saw the dramatic conclusion of Hu Li’s career as a ghost singer when his presence was revealed live on TV. This week, idol fans do what they do best in this sort of media (and unfortunately occasionally in real life), they went a little crazy. Threatening to beat him up, stalking him on social media, and generally being as unpleasant as humanly possible, Hu Li is driven into a corner thick and fast.
And does the company who hired him do anything resembling damage control? Yep. They fire him, charge him for damages, fire the actual performer too (and I’m guessing he’s the board of director’s son or something from that exchange), and pretty much hang them out to dry. But that’s cool. They have a plan. Hu Li will be desperate for money so he’ll come back and write music for them again.
Of course, that’s assuming he doesn’t take a header off the roof and as we return to where the series began you seriously wonder if he will or not. What I liked was that he wasn’t feeling excessively sorry for himself. It was more he felt like he was causing trouble for those around him, including his friend Chuyun, and he had run out of options to improve the situation. So while it might be accused of melodrama, Voice of Fox feels like its built up to this moment sufficiently to carry the scene.
And then, because it isn’t the end just yet, Sky sends Hu Li another message (why Hu Li keeps talking to Sky or paying him any attention is beyond me at this point). Of course, this is where the episode ends leaving us wanting the next part of the story as they intended and I don’t really know that this is needed at this juncture. I’m hooked. I don’t need these to be continued baited endings to keep me coming back.
Still, this one remains one of my surprise hits for the season and while it may not be able to go toe to toe with some more notable titles, it remains fairly impressive for what it is.
Contrary to my expectations that Kakeru would attempt to leave the team or quit running again, Run With The Wind has taken a different path. It seems the track meet has served only to light a fire underneath him and make him incredibly impatient. He wants to train harder, improve sooner,and he’s become even more critical of his less experienced and able team-mates driving tension through the roof.
While Kakeru might be on a path to self-destruction, and it certainly seems that way with an ominous near miss with a cyclist because he’s got tunnel vision, excessively driving his body and not letting his muscles rest, and even the pan down to Haiji’s leg where we know he has an interesting scar that has yet to be fully explained, the writing is more or less on the wall unless somehow Kakeru manages to turn things around I suspect it isn’t going to end well for him. Then again, if Kakeru actually sustains a major injury that more or less ends Haiji’s dream of Hakone so I suspect the power of teamwork, or maybe one of his teammates finally having enough of his dribble and punching him, may solve the problem (or at least I hope so because while Run With The Wind might be 23 episodes, I don’t want to get to the half-way point without this being resolved).
But let’s look at those teammates. For once, Haiji didn’t do a single actual obnoxious thing for the whole episode. It isn’t enough to make me forget that he essentially coerced all of these guys into the situation so everything, including Kakeru’s potential crash-and-burn is ultimately his fault. Kakeru had abandoned running and Haiji was the one who talked (and more or less bribed and threatened) him back into competing. So any fallout there is going to be laid on Haiji.
However, the rest of the team are now fully on board. Some to the point where they are also driving themselves too hard and others are just now not resisting Haiji’s drive and training. With no more attempts to escape being a part of the team, the dynamic has shifted into one of concern for key members.
Still, as always the MVP is Prince. Tired of being asked to run outdoors, particularly when it might rain, he begins to look for a treadmill. In his words, if he has to run, he’d like to be able to read manga while he’s doing it. Prince is golden and every scene he is in is just perfect.If you have no other interest in Run With The Wind (which would be a shame because it is very good), you should definitely check it out for Prince.
There was a moment somewhere during episode 6 of Voice of Fox, and it probably came close to the end of the episode where the titular ‘trap’ was revealed where I realised just how into this anime I actually am. Yes, there have been coincidences and silly moments peppered along the trail, but at its core, Voice of Fox has been driving to this climatic moment since episode 1 and it delivered it with an emotional weight some other anime series couldn’t have mustered even with twenty minute episodes by season’s end.
Six episodes of barely over ten minutes each and several moments lost entirely to comedy (which has mostly worked in an eye-rolling kind of manner) and singing (which has been glorious and can we please have more). In just the time left, Voice of Fox (or Kitsune no Koe) has made me love Hu Li and feel dearly for his predicament. We still don’t even know the full story behind said predicament but we know enough to care, and boy has this anime made me care.
With the fake out reveal of Sky, Hu Li’s desperation, and then the final reveal this week, all beautifully rounded out by the devastating silence and then isolated sound of the fox mask hitting the floor, every part of this episode did exactly what it needed to in order to carry the audience to that moment. It genuinely hurt to watch and the desperation to give Hu Li a hug was very real as was the desire for the next episode right now.
This is an anime that hasn’t gotten anywhere near enough attention this season. I’m not saying it will work for everyone. It is idol focused, it is a short form anime, the animation isn’t amazing and the story is hardly a work of art, but it is a seriously competent effort and what it has delivered has been consistently good and right now I’m really feeling that last episode.
Hopefully the conclusion can be as good as the build up to this moment was because so far Voice of Fox has managed to be a surprising delight.
The final group of the second round have their go and of course Koshiyama ends up paired with the girl (who is actually a guy) from the arcade who really is just a jerk. There’s no other way to describe someone who treats others with that much disdain. Really, really wishing, that his team leader had actually sent him home after that round.
Despite really hating that character, the quiz was still fun and because of the format of needing two people to buzz in I was actually hearing enough of most of the questions to guess an answer which was entertaining. The outcome of the round is pretty much what you would expect at this point in the season, but I’m just not sure adding that character was a good idea. The characters so far have been relatively benign and then adding one truly irritating individual to the mix does not seem like a good plan.
I guess it did mix things up a bit, but this was probably my least favourite episode so far of this show.
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