Kido recognizes that Eiko has made some progress, but exhorts her to search for another level of self-awareness. Meanwhile, Nanami’s employer has noticed her after-work activities, and demands that she both stop performing in public and stop associating with Eiko altogether. When the two make use of Kongming’s final gift and chill on the roof of a local skyscraper, Nanami reveals that she is the front woman for Azalea, and tells Eiko the group’s history – how they came together with enthusiasm, and how their inability to earn a living eventually led to their moving under the thumb of a big-time producer who pulled them away from their vision. Eiko reciprocates by outing herself as Azalea’s rival for Summer Sonia, and sings for new new friend, now resolved that, even if she can’t help Nanami at the moment, perhaps her songs can help someone in the same way that she herself has been helped by other musicians.
Fun Fact: Shibuya SKY is a real place.
I feel like this would have been a good opportunity to pull out a song that wasn’t the Maria Diesel cover, though, presumably, the rendition at the end of this episode will serve as proof to Kido that she’s worth his work. I don’t really have an ear for intoning that kind of emotion into existing songs, but the text of the lyrics didn’t seem appropriate to the situation. In that vein, my curiosity has only grown on the subject of how well the average Japanese citizen understands English (the theoretical music audience inside the show, the audience for the show itself in real life, or the audience in real life for music like in the show). Anybody who knows any entirely-(or even majority-)English songs that Japan has produced since the Escaflowne OST is encouraged to share.
I feel like the show does a very good job of making Nanami a sympathetic rival. Her story is populated with a several good lines from both her and her manager Karasawa. A simple reading of their relationship is that she made a deal with the devil, but he’s clearly not evil, per se – his apparent goal is simply to make legitimate money by crafting an act that a lot of people will pay to see. Eiko’s challenge at this point is honing her ability to speak to the hearts of the populace in a way that will capture their attention more than Azalea’s engineers can appeal to the least common denominator.
The most tragic aspect of this arrangement is Nanami’s awareness of the depths of the trap that she’s fallen into. Even having compromised her artistic integrity, how can she quit when an entire building’s worth of people draw their paychecks from the shows they help her put on? By extension: what happens to Azalea if Eiko beats them to the 100,000 likes? The show doesn’t seem to be the type that will throw them to the wolves, so I’m looking forward to a satisfying conclusion to that thread.
The show is overdue for some more variety in its music, but the storytelling is solid (as long as you’re not bothered by chessmaster [xiangqi-master?] Kongming predicting specific interactions days in advance, but, to an extent, that’s part of the show’s charm).