Sound of Love (Part 8) – On Abandon
Although Episode 8 begins to connect all the motifs and themes we’ve been looking at so far, there’s still a key ingredient missing before we should tie all those ideas together. I’ve alluded to it when discussing Romanticism and light and several characters, so now is the perfect time to flesh out the idea of “abandon”. Taki stops practice in order to demonstrate the “abandon and shamelessness” that the band should play the “Moon Crescent Dance” with. Perhaps you can already see the connections to what we’ve discussed before: the pursuit of passion requires reckless abandon. From Kumiko to Hazuki to Aoi, Hibike suggests that a solution to their troubles is to act with abandon.
Even Goto and Riko come to illustrate this idea. We saw before that Goto was reserved when talking about why he loved tuba—a fact we can infer is related to his shyness about dating Riko. This shyness pops up again in Episode 8 when the duo gets embarrassed over their “secret” relationship being talked about publicly. Goto gets slightly distressed when Riko tries to hide the fact they’re dating and—though I wouldn’t call this a strain on their relationship, considering they seem equally shy about it—they misunderstand each other. This is obviously the tiniest of tiny romantic subplots, so it gets a tiny resolution when the pair attends the festival together and Goto acts with a bit of abandon by straightforwardly complimenting Riko. The look on her face tells us this is the first time Goto has been so straightforward, and thus it’s a special progression in their relationship.
Of course, this would be silly to talk about if it only applied to two minor characters. It’d also be silly to paste my previous essays about Kumiko and Reina’s hike here, so I’d recommend checking the following links out so you know what I’m referencing: the hike, Reina’s side, and Kumiko’s side. The short of it is that the hike marks a turning point for Kumiko and her commitment to band—a moment that causes her to live her life with abandon rather than distance. At the start of the episode, Natsuki remarks on how Kumiko is so emotionally “distant” due to her bland statements about the festival. In the simplest terms, Reina eventually brings out some emotion in Kumiko and closes that distance.
We can see a lot of these ideas about abandon and distance in the dialogue itself. Reina says she doesn’t “try to get close to people who don’t interest [her]”, but she is interested in Kumiko and does try to get close to her. Kumiko can kind of relate to this because of her own emotional and social distancing. There are also a lot of references to “losing [one’s] life” for something beautiful, a statement filled with reckless abandon. Reina mentions a desire to “throw everything away”—meaning school and a routine—to pursue whatever interests her. Their entire conversation is colored by these ideas.
Socially and physically, there’s abandon and shamelessness aplenty as well. Reina drops all honorifics and makes Kumiko address her by her first name. In one instant, they close a rather large social gap without reservation. Even if they’ve been classmates since middle school, it’s not as though they were ever friends. Kumiko clearly felt she was less than friends with Reina just the morning before, given her reaction upon accidentally grabbing Reina’s arm. Yet, Kumiko accepts this change of address more willingly than when she first met Hazuki. She appears happy to call Reina by her given name, but was noticeably uncomfortable when Hazuki began calling her “Kumiko”. Even ignoring names, we see lots of abandon in Reina’s actions. She runs her finger down Kumiko’s nose and lips—this being only the second time we ever see the two of them touch. They’re really just doing and saying what feels right in the moment.
My older essays focus a lot on the idea that Reina is already shameless and passionate about her music, and that she brings out that same abandon for music in Kumiko. However, there are areas in which Reina herself doesn’t live with abandon—primarily social ones. Kumiko, being socially and emotionally distant herself, doesn’t exactly bring out social abandon in Reina, but the two of them build a relationship and create an environment in which they can each speak earnestly and casually. There are some great examples of this when Kumiko and Reina are alone in future episodes, such as when they talk about Reina’s love for Taki. Even during the walk, this environment exists to some extent. Reina calls Kumiko a “freak” at one point and giggles at another, two actions we wouldn’t typically expect from her.
Reina leads Kumiko into a world of reckless of abandon, showing her how beautiful and special music can be. In doing so, Reina becomes more comfortable around Kumiko and realizes how reserved she herself had been socially. Her statements about Kumiko’s “terrible personality” suggest she meant to teach Kumiko that shamelessness, but wound up seeing herself in those “terrible” parts of Kumiko’s personality. This hike is truly a moment of self-reflection and personal growth for both Reina and Kumiko. They ask each other questions, they spill out their feelings, and they grow because of it all.
Yet, Hibike isn’t so naïve as to say acting with abandon will always pay off, or will even always be possible. Hazuki serves as an example of that this episode. Although she does pursue Shuichi with abandon, she ultimately doesn’t achieve the results she wants. She follows Midori’s advice to “Fly! Run! Confess!”, but it doesn’t work out the way she wants. As discussed in my essay on Episode 6, Hazuki has to overcome some more challenges and find a new path to pursue shamelessly before she truly finds happiness. Likewise, Aoi represents an inability to act with abandon. Sometimes the path we attempt to follow rejects us, or we find ourselves unable to walk any farther. Aoi has to step off the path of concert band, and she leaves with the hope that she’ll find something else she can pursue with abandon.
So, rather than a fantastical blanket statement like “live with abandon, and you’ll find success/joy”, Hibike shows us that attempting to live with abandon will move us forward. And forward is always the direction to step in. If Goto doesn’t open up to his feelings, his relationship with Riko may never progress. If Hazuki doesn’t confess to Shuichi, she may never be able to find love in someone or something else. If Kumiko and Reina never take their hike, they may never discover how deep their connection goes. As I’ve said before, the path may be a painful one, but Hibike shows us that the only direction worth walking is forward.
Until the next piece, let’s keep walking.