You can get subtitles here.
Do not read unless you’ve watched the episode or you don’t mind being spoiled.
When you gather a motley crew of musicians each with their own agenda and a potential mystery as the backdrop, you get Quartet. I’d be first to admit that it’s not for everybody. It is dialogue heavy and may seem to beat around the bush for a while but there’s always a hidden, profound meaning in the rigmarole that packs a punch when you realize what they’re trying to convey. It is character driven sprinkled with clever humor and subtle performances at its best. Of course, it’s largely thanks to the brilliant Sakamoto Yuji and the wonderful cast for bringing this script to life.
All 4 characters have something to hide. If anything, this is a perfect example of “never judge a book by its cover”. It may seem formulaic in the beginning because the first 4 episodes are dedicated to reveal the secrets these characters kept so well hidden. However I’m still hooked because I care about these characters and would love to see how this progresses. It’s also fascinating because they don’t divulge everything to everyone.
For example, in episode 2, Beppu only reveals to Maki alone that he’s in love with her (though Suzume with her convenient I-can-sleep-anywhere spy tactic grants her access to these little secrets). In episode 3, Suzume shows her most vulnerable side to Maki as she grapples with her past and to a certain extent, Beppu (that kiss gotta count for something). Then in episode 4, while everyone knows about Iemori’s ex-wife and son, he reveals his true intention only to Suzume. At this point, it’s working towards Suzume’s advantage because she’s taking money on the side from Maki’s mother-in-law to find out what happened to her missing son. Currently, Suzume holds the most information out of the four.
Out of the first 4 episodes, if I were to rate my interests based on the individual character’s backstory, it’d be something like this: Suzume>Maki>Iemori>Beppu. Nothing against Beppu but I couldn’t care less about his complex relationship with the female colleague though his frank feelings for Maki is sort of cute.
Now that everyone’s secrets are laid out bare for the audience, this is where it should be even more exciting. The thing with this show is, there are so many layers just waiting to be peeled one by one in each episode!
Besides focusing on the characters’ secrets, we get to see some real world struggles for musicians trying to catch a break. Beppu’s brother, out of good intention (still questionable), tries to land Doughnuts Hole a gig on a bigger stage. However, it is clear that they’re not taken seriously as musicians but rather, to support another famous pianist and entertain the crowd by dressing up.
This is the harsh reality and sometimes no matter how hard you work, it goes unnoticed. Sometimes you just have to swallow pride and go with the flow. You come out stronger.
It isn’t until the scene where they play on the streets that I truly appreciate this episode for the message it’s trying to deliver. That pure bliss of watching their crowd, no matter how small the audience is, when they see their smile and know they’re enjoying the performance, that’s what’s important for them. And once again, out of nowhere, I am touched (just like in ep3).
I thought that scene where Arisu shamelessly interrogates Maki with Suzume trying to interrupt every few seconds to detract suspicion is hella intense. It reminds me of the first episode when Suzume did the same, albeit with more class and caution. Arisu may not be a better spy than Suzume but she’s constantly shrouded by this ambiguity and with those fake empty smiles, I never can decipher her true intention. Although her spying is shortlived, she’s still a character to look out for.
The best moment for me is none other than Maki finding out Suzume has been spying on her. That long silence and facial expression from both of them are powerful and sad at the same time. Maki feeling betrayed for all the kindness she had shown Suzume. Suzume ashamed for lying to Maki and betraying their budding friendship.
So onto the biggest question of all.
WHAT HAPPENED TO MAKI’S HUSBAND?
The mounting suspense sends a clear notion from first episode that something terrible may have happened to her husband. To be honest, I was quite disappointed that he’s still very much alive. Even though it’s predictable if they go along with the theory of Maki killing him, I expected more. I did feel somewhat cheated. But I’m still curious and the next episode seems to be quite a melodramatic one as we explore Maki and her husband’s dying relationship.
Onto the next episode!