Title: Those Snow White Notes Vol. 3
Author: Marimo Ragawa
Release Date: April 27, 2021
Publisher: Kodansha Comics
After introducing the cast in the last two volumes, Those Snow White Notes Vol. 3 finally ushers in the main attraction. With the Tsugaru Shamisen Club now active, it’s time to prepare for competitions.
However, things aren’t so simple, as most of the group are amateurs at best. And even the most proficient of them, Setsu, isn’t thinking about that. He’s still trapped in the shadow of his grandfather, looking for the sounds that are not there anymore.
Another thing they have to consider is that school competitions aren’t a thing, unlike sports clubs and other instruments. But the extravagant Umeko decides to hold a high school tournament to force her son out of his shell.
Those Snow White Notes Vol. 3 focuses on the club’s training, showing the characters’ efforts to get better and find a final member to complete their team. For that reason, it’s also the most in-depth the series has gone on its subject of the shamisen playing. It explains the history of Jongara Bushi, which they have to learn for the competition and how the scores work.
Without a teacher for them, as their representative doesn’t know anything about the instrument, Setsu must face a leading position. While facing his ghosts, it’s clear how much of a burden this brings him. Not only is he still unable to find a path for himself, dealing with other people and trying to accommodate them is outside his comfort zone.
Though Those Snow White Notes Vol. 3 is less impactful than the previous one, it sets a good base for the next ones. Besides Setsu, the volume shows a little progress for Kaito and Shuri while also introducing the newcomer Rai.
The group as a whole is charismatic and compelling, and there are some interesting developments for each of them. But the characters still have to find their motivations and develop a deeper relationship with the instrument, which is likely to happen in the next volumes. Right now, it feels like they’re just going with the flow.
The volume is also visually appealing, with some pages that make an effort to represent the music’s impact once again. During Setsu’s rendition of Sakura, flower petals represent the gentleness of the song. On the other hand, his aggressive rendition of Shin-Bushi brings forth strong strokes and memories of his. Comedy bits are usual during the whole volume, with good usage of chibi and dramatic faces. Serious moments use framing and an expressive style that seems like it could eventually lead to more emotional moments.
Those Snow White Notes Vol. 3 is an enjoyable ride with some small growth to the charismatic group while also teaching a little about the shamisen playing. However, it is hard not to compare it with the emotional and more impactful volume 2. Despite being entertaining, the proposal of competition still feels only like a gimmick. The series may have a clear goal, but the characters seem to be following the flow right now, which might downplay their efforts down the line.
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