The first thing we see in given is a dark room, with barely a little ray of light entering through an unseen window. A quiet, somber boy picks up a guitar, pats his dog–whose happiness and enthusiasm contrasts both his mood and the atmosphere–and leaves his apartment, keeping his sad gaze down.
He hugs the guitar tightly while he waits for the train, which brings back a dark memory–the same darkness that was present in his own room is here, this time with unnatural light highlighting himself, the empty cans and the legs of an upturned chair on the floor. The darkness both hides and indicates that in this room, there is death.
The guitar we see Mafuyu hold so closely during his first couple of scenes is a cherry 1962 Gibson ES-330. It’s a classy, charmingly beautiful guitar, but not exactly one for beginners. It’s certainly not one with a price that’s easily accessible to a regular high school student. So in the beginning, it sticks out that Mafuyu is rarely seen apart from such a guitar–which would take someone like him so much effort to get–while being so clueless about every aspect of it, to the point that he doesn’t seem to know what brand it is (it’s written on the guitar), or that multiple brands exist.
Without knowing a thing about Mafuyu’s past, the whole thing just doesn’t add up (which is very much Uenoyama’s position). It did test my suspension of belief at first, let me you. However, as more gets slowly revealed, a couple of things get clearer.
It makes sense that he holds on to it as the one thing left behind by a loved one who passed away. His cluelessness says that he never got into it while that someone was alive, and he probably couldn’t bear to really pay attention to it afterward, even as he didn’t separate from it. Besides, the show is not necessarily asking us to absorb the whole situation literally.
This Gibson model comes in four colors: sunburst, cherry, black and natural. Sunburst could’ve gone pretty well with Mafuyu, considering he’s envolved in warm oranges during the opening, but the guitar is cherry. It could have been a simple, superficial aesthetical choice, but what would be the fun in that? After all, we usually visualize the human heart in tones of red. Red is romantic love, red is passion. Red is the guitar that belonged to Mafuyu’s love.
Keeping all this in mind, it wouldn’t be crazy to say that this classy guitar isn’t just an instrument; it’s also the manifestation of Mafuyu’s heart. During that dark flashback that informs us that he has witnessed the death of a loved one, it’s not just in the look of his eyes, it’s also in his fingers pulling at the strings so hard they snap–a visual manifestation of his heart, breaking right in front of our eyes.
Looking at the guitar as Mafuyu’s heart makes his first encounter with Uenoyama take on a whole new meaning. Uenoyama, not quite understanding the importance of either the guitar or of his actions yet, is baffled at Mafuyu’s intense reactions when he changes the broken strings. Still, it’s clear that something big has happened.
As Mafuyu’s love interest, it’s notable that Uenoyama is the one who first fixes the instrument and makes it usable again. It means that, from the moment they meet, Uenoyama is introduced as the one who’s capable to help “fix” (or heal) Mafuyu’s broken heart, to bring it back to life. It’s also his sound what inspires him to want to learn to play the instrument. (If he by himself had that determination before, google and youtube were right there.)
That Mafuyu’s singing a tune has such a profound effect on Uenoyama is perhaps not exactly that comparable to Mafuyu being so touched by Uenoyama playing one (1) chord just to test the new strings (unless you consider it as both “testing their instruments”). It makes plenty of sense from the perspective of touching the other’s heart though, especially because Uenoyama very much touches the representation of Mafuyu’s heart.
Speaking of a guitar meaning something else, there’s a particular shot that really picks my attention, because the composition combined with details like Mafuyu’s blushing face and shy, tentative hand momentarily charge the moment with a double entendre. There’s also the way lighting covers Uenoyama.
In fact, it’s worth mentioning how the light covers Uenoyama and Mafuyu, either alone or together in an otherwise dark (but not really dark) place depending on the situation. It can be there presenting one boy to the other, or covering both when Mafuyu asks if “it can be fixed, and fast” and then shifts to Ueonyama alone when he indeed fixes the guitar “fast.”
The way light covers them can evoke stage lighting (this is also done in more than one key scene featuring the two). It can work foreshadow Uenoyama being the one inviting Mafuyu into his band after the latter shows his vocal chops (it wouldn’t be the only thing that foreshadows it), which does mean he’ll end up on a stage, both facing and under those lights.
It could also be showing us how he becomes a light in Mafuyu’s life–and how the two together can bring light–in a more romantic sense. It wouldn’t be the only time the show mixes things related to the band with romance–Uenoyama does look for advice to invite Mafuyu into the band (again) in dating sites, bless him.
Additional details include the clear retro atmosphere in Mafuyu’s new workplace, which is very in line with the guitar he owns (classy and warm are words I would use to describe both his guitar and the chairs in that place). The guitar that, crucially, he implies used to be owned by the person he is still grieving.
Again, it could be a simple aesthetical choice, but it could also be an interesting way to show how present this person is in Mafuyu’s life. Maybe this person’s taste even leaned towards retro–it kinda has to pick a guitar like this one.
Of course, all this could be the show itself showing some love to that good retro stuff! Going by episode names, three out of four of the songs they are named after (thus far) are modern–Uenoyama also listens to an Arctic Monkeys album in the first episode–but we do have that one oldie. We also have a jukebox, what looks like an old Rolling Stone cover, posters with movies like an older Godzilla, and so on, so.
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