episode 2 - Live in Soul

summary

An airport. Tohma is waiting for the plane to arrive, and when it does he is met by a brown haired man and a guy with long blonde hair and a funny accent. After a moment standing staring at each other, the brown haired man glomps enthusiastically on Tohma, and it emerges that this is Sakuma Ryuichi - the lead singer of Tohma's old band, Nittle Grasper - and the blonde man is his manager, K, and they've just returned from America after three years.

Cut to Bad Luck playing a Nittle Grasper song on stage, with a voice over by Hiro and Shuichi discussing how much Shuichi has always idolised Ryuichi. Just as they are about to start another song, Sakano arrives and shouts at them for not rehearsing their own songs for the upcoming concert. And no sooner does he turn up than ASK appear - who we remember as Bad Luck's rivals in the first episode. The lead singer, Aizawa, then proceeds to ask why Bad Luck are taking up *their* rehearsal time, and says that the support band doesn't matter anyway in a concert. While Shuichi gets mad, Hiro makes a few cutting remarks in reply and pisses off Aizawa. And at this point a rather swish red sports car bursts in through the wall and knocks everyone flying. The woman we saw coming out of Eiri's apartment at the end of episode 1 gets out, drags Shuichi into the car with her, and drives off.

They arrive at a small and terribly fashionable jazz bar, which Mika has closed just so she can have a private conversation with Shuichi. She introduces Shuichi to the bartender as 'Eiri's latest toy', and wonders what he could be thinking taking up with a boy - but doesn't seem too bothered about the idea. She says she wants a favour from Shuichi - if he can persuade Eiri to do something, she can get him support within NG Productions. At this moment Seguchi Tohma walks in, and - after Mika has chewed him out for being late - greets Shuichi warmly, saying he is looking forward to the concert. Shuichi looks a little star struck, and Mika says she will let Shuichi do anything he wants with Tohma (*.*) if he does this favour for her. And it is revealed that she is Tohma's husband and Eiri's brother.

Back at Eiri's apartment, Shuichi tells Eiri off for letting him think Mika was his girlfriend, and then starts asking him about his relationship with his parents. Eiri realises at once that Mika has asked Shuichi to try to persuade him, and when Shuichi begins to urge him to reconcile with them, Eiri asks how much Mika paid him. He says Shuichi has no right to lecture him - since the kiss didn't mean anything to him, and he doesn't go for boys. Shuichi kisses him, and tells him desperately that he turned down the offer from Mika - he was only doing it to help Eiri. And Eiri calls him a liar, and walks out.

Back at the bar, Mika says Shuichi is an idiot for turning down such a good offer, but Tohma says that only shows how serious he is. He says Shuichi is 'an interesting person' and a type that Eiri hasn't had around him much. Mika asks whether this bothers him, but Tohma says as long as Eiri is happy, he doesn't mind, and that he will continue to support Bad Luck.

Meanwhile, Shuichi and Hiro talk, Shuichi asking if it's wrong to try to do something for someone else. Hiro replies that though you may think you're doing it for someone else, you're actually doing it for yourself - but it's not wrong to try. Shuichi resolves just to do his best at the concert the next day. And back at his apartment, Eiri smokes and broods about Shuichi.

In Bad Luck's dressing room at Zepp Tokyo, Hiro is trying to calm down the panicing Sakano, while Shuichi is going scary SD saying they're going to work the crowd up so much ASK won't stand a chance. When they meet ASK in the corridor as they're about to go on stage, Shuichi pretends not to remember them. Out in the audience, Tohma is approached by K and Ryuichi, apparently come to see the concert. Tohma warns Ryuichi not to draw attention to himself, and the lights dim.

Bad Luck aren't exactly warmly welcomed when they first come onto stage, and Shuichi tries to placate the audience. K comments that Shuichi reminds him a little of Ryuichi, and Shuichi announces their new song, 'The Rage Beat'. But just as he is about to begin singing, he spots Eiri at the back of the auditorium, and seems to go into a trance - or looking at it another way, gets a major attack of stage fright. The audience starts to get restless, Sakano starts panicing, and K et al look confused. And at this moment Ryuichi stands up, and starts singing the Nittle Grasper song we heard earlier very slowly. The audience goes quiet as he walks up on stage, and then erupts into screams as Ryuichi introduces himself, and encourages Shuichi to sing. 'The Rage Beat' gets its first performance, with Ryuichi adding impromptu backing vocals. At the back of the hall, Tohma goes and talks to Eiri - who promptly brushes him off and walks off.

After the concert, Sakano thanks Tohma for bringing Ryuichi to the concert, since everything went well because of him, but Tohma says it was Ryuichi's own decision to sing. Sakano then tentatively asks about Bad Luck - and Tohma replies that they still aren't good enough. Meanwhile in a taxi K and Ryuichi discuss the concert, Ryuichi saying he wants to sing with Shuichi again. And back at Eiri's apartment, Shuichi asks why Eiri came to the concert, saying he doesn't understand him. Eiri asks Shuichi just what he wants from him - and serious smoochies ensue.

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comments

Pretty cool ep this one. EvilBastard!Yuki still very much in evidence, but then that's hardly news. Something that's really struck me since I've started watching this series with special reference to Tohma is how much of a total bastard Eiri is to Tohma virtually all the time. Tohma doesn't seem to mind it, but the scene where Eiri gave him the brush off in this ep is utterly typical.

The antipathy between ASK and Bad Luck is building up nicely - you rather suspected in episode one when Bad Luck were their unknown support band from within the same company that there'd be rivalry. Aizawa makes a nice villain for the next few eps - he has just enough sympathetic moments (like in this ep when he looked almost distraught at Ryuichi helping Bad Luck) to make his villainous moments more interesting. I wish we had got to see more of ASK in the anime, they seem pretty cool - the guy with blonde hair (Ma-kun?? Something along those lines) especially seems rather a sweetie.

I adore what they did with Mika's character in this episode. Far from being the traditional 'woman scorned' we thought we saw in the first episode, she's shown as sister rather than girlfriend, and as manipulative, intelligent and efficient. A pretty good match for Tohma, and it seems pretty clear to me that she adores him. I don't know exactly what to make of the scene in the bar when she won't allow Shuichi to shake hands with Tohma - I'm inclined to think there's an element of possessiveness involved. It's an interesting relationship.

A nice point with the music that I didn't quite notice the first time I saw this was that the Nittle Grasper song Ryuichi sings solo at the concert is the same one as Bad Luck were practising near the beginning of the episode - 'Sleepless Beauty'. And, I might add, the one Nittle Grasper perform on TV later on in the series (and perform a lot better than Bad Luck, IMNSHO). Their greatest hit, I suspect... Another nice little continuity point is that when we get a shot of the queue at Zepp Tokyo, we see the girl who tells Shuichi she was at the concert in about episode 5. Nice.

favourite lines and scenes

I absolutely adore the scene in the bar when Tohma and Mika are discussing Shuichi. The way that Tohma doesn't show any antipathy towards Shuichi even though the boy is apparently with Eiri - indeed seems more admiring of him. From scenes like this I genuinely think Tohma doesn't mind who Eiri is with - so long as it doesn't hurt him, and doesn't get too serious. I also love the way Mika is so concerned about how Tohma feels about the situation, asking whether it bothers him - I think this shows that there's really no romantic love between them (or at least not from Tohma towards Mika), but Mika is a good enough friend to him that she doesn't want him hurt by the man he's really in love with. Nice piece of characterisation. And on an almost entirely unrelated point - my God, how much was Tohma drinking here?! That weren't lemonade in that glass.

I also loved the opening scene at the airport - the tense atmosphere, the anonymous dark glasses - the flying hyperactive Ryuichi glomp. *giggles* Bless. Ryuichi scares me a lot in some parts of the series, but just here I think he's fantastic.