Last week I had my reservations about Uta Koi and its storytelling. This week all those complaints were put to rest by a fantastic second episode. By bringing into focus a single character, these 24 minutes were so much more impactful.
Sadaakira is a boy emperor known to history as a tyrant. The episode somehow manages to encapsulate his growth from an insecure adolescent to an adult that learns to come to terms with his feelings. His story and his romance with Yasuko are the most palpable of the series so far. The chemistry the first installment lacked is here.
A strong theme drew this episode together and gave it the direction the first outing desperately needed. This episode tackled identity, both public and personal, and coming to terms with it. Two halves of Sadaakira are shown, one as the tyrant, the other as the poet. Essentially, we learn both of these parts are the same, stemming from the same doubts. Our judgment of his character came from which lens we framed him.
Yasuko is the audiences avatar in this tale. She has seen both sides of him just like we have. When she learns to reconcile the two, her understanding eventually paves the way for love between her and the former ruler. The pacing of this revalation is pitch perfect and makes for a great chapter
It’s a shame to see so much of the artwork recycled at this point of the series. The small details that gave the settings flair have lost their luster this time around. What I found really odd was the snakes being censored. I understand their shape is reminiscent of a flaccid member of the human anatomy, but seeing them blurred out just took me out of the experience. They unintentionally broke the fourth wall.
While much has improved, I still have my concerns with the series. The voice acting is still sounds unnatural and out of place. Uta Koi has been billed as liberal interpretation of the Ogura Hyakunin Isshu so I don’t see why the script writers are confining themselves to the formalities of proper japanese. The drama and dialogue become incongruent. I can see how this can create difficulties for immersing the viewership once the novelty of its premise has worn off.