Hey there, everyone! Welcome back! I hope all of you enjoyed your weekend. For today, we are going to be covering another exciting episode of Kitsune no Koe (Voice of Fox) Episode 3: The Dark Stage! So, let’s get on with the recap, shall we!?
Okay, so the episode begins with Hu Li working part-time at a storage warehouse, where everyone there are loading containers with various props and costumes into a bunch of trucks. As the hinks about how the ‘Rising Star of China’ competition is starting later that day, Hu Li worries about how to sneak into the studio without SKY or the TV staff noticing him. Noticing a chance, Hu Li sneaks aboard one of the trucks and hides among the cargo while the truck doors close on him. Roughly an hour later, the TV crew is unpacking the cargo and taking it to the props room. As two of the workers pick up a huge box, one of the workers comments on how heavy the box is. Placing the box on the trolley, it is revealed that Hu Li has hidden himself in the box and as he is riding along in the box, Hu Li arrogantly smirks to himself and thinks about how SKY would never think that he would sneak in like this.
Meanwhile in the main competition venue for the ‘Rising Star of China’ competition, the audience is waiting for the show to begin, when the lights dim and the opening ceremony gets underway with the audience being greeted by one of the judges, ‘Rocky’ on a huge screen. Firing up the fan girls in the arena, Rocky summons the chosen competitors onto the platform and all of the competitors in Kong Que, Yuki and Love Seasons appear from behind the screen and walk onto the stage. As they are cheered and applauded by the audience, Rocky then excitedly declares the start of the ‘Rising Star of China’ competition. After the video broadcast, the host then appears on the stage and introduces the contestants on a huge panel screen before introducing the champion, Ji Hetian, who also comes out (much to Kong Que’s ire) and takes his place on the stage. Taking the microphone, Ji Hetian greets the crowd and expresses his wish for all of the contestants to sing to the best of their ability before giving it back to the host who revs up the crowd by asking if the champion is going to win for the fourth time or will a new winner take the stage, they’ll just have to wait to find out!
Meanwhile in the props room, Hu Li manages to break free of the box he is hiding in and steps out of it to take a look around the room, wondering where he is. Spotting the mannequins, Hu Li comments on how creepy the room is. Suddenly, Hu Li hears a rattling sound and turns around and spots a cage. Taking a closer look at the cage, Hu Li is startled to find that there is a live crocodile in it and reels back in fright, loudly asking what a crocodile is doing in this room. All of a sudden, Hu Li hears the sound of people approaching and looks around trying to find a place to hide when he spots the crocodile costume on a rack and comes up with an sneaky idea.
When the TV work crew open the prop room, Hu Li cries out that the crocodile has escaped and runs past the TV crew in a crocodile outfit. However, one of the work crew spots Hu Li’s normal clothes sticking out and realizes that he is an intruder and tries to pull on the costume’s tail to pull him to the ground. However, Hu Li escapes from the costume and makes a mad dash for the recording booth. Back on the stage, the host announces the rules for the tournament and introduces the judges including Rocky. Standing up, Rocky happily asks the contenders to let him hear their soul in their performances. Meanwhile, inside the recording booth, Su Ran and Kong Que’s manager are wondering where Hu Li is. As the manager complains that she asked him to come in early that day, Su Ran gets a call from Hu Li who is hiding behind some boxes in some unknown corridor and picking it up, asks where Hu Li is. Hiding from the security guards, Hu Li whispers that he got lost, doesn’t know where he is and he’s got security scrambling after him because they think he is an intruder. Suddenly, Hu Li gets spotted by a security, so he ends the call and runs away. In the booth, Su Ran tells the manager that the phone call got cut.
Back on stage, Love Seasons is performing while Kong Que is impatiently waiting back stage for his turn. Suddenly, Kong Que gets a call from his manager who informs him of Hu Li’s situation. Upset, Kong Que shouts and almost blurts out their secret, but luckily no one hears him. Whispering, Kong Que replies that it is almost his turn, but the manager asks that he stall even for a minute and ends the call. Closing his phone, Kong Que angrily curses Hu Li when one of the TV staff approaches him and tells him that it is his turn to go on standby now. The TV staff member then pushes him to the standby spot, despite Kong Que’s pleas to stop. At the same time, the host is introducing a duet identical twin team named ‘Double Planet’ onto the stage as well as Kong Que. When it gets to Kong Que’s turn, nervously gets on stage.
Meanwhile, in another part of the studio, Hu Li is still running away from the guards when he comes to a stop and realizes that he doesn’t know where he is. Meanwhile, Su Ran is hastily searching for Hu Li on the security camera feed which he has hacked. Turning to the sound engineer next to him, he flusteredly asks why he is so calm and the sound engineer calmly explains that he is simply just a sound engineer. Ending her phone call, the manager replies that she can’t get through to Hu Li. Back in the corridors, two of the security guards meet up and reply that they can’t find the intruder as a line of girls passes by them. Suddenly, a strawberry-blonde~ish haired girl walks by and the guard notices her.
Going up to the girl, the girl who is revealed to be a disguised Hu Li is being stared at by the guard. So, Hu Li girlishly calls the guard a “pervert” in a cute tone, causing the guard to apologize to he. Sneaking into a side corridor, a disguised Hu Li tries to make a phone call when the talent scout from Episode 1 appears again and tries to recruit him/her. As Hu Li tries to escape from him, a guard appears so Hu Li cleverly takes the opportunity to scream and fake that he is being attacked by a “Groper” causing the guard to step in and arrest the Groper. However, as Hu Li goes to escape from the pair, the talent scout pulls on his arm and causes him to fall, knocking off his wig at the same time and getting noticed by the pair.
Nervously laughing, Hu Li runs away from the pair as the guard tries to give chase while the talent tries to hold the guard back. As Hu Li runs off, the talent scout screams out that he is not a Groper which causes Hu Li to reply that he had to go somewhere. Back on stage, Kong Que is trying to stall for time by explaining about his favorite special juice blend when the host gets a buzz from the producer telling her to hurry it up because Kong Que is taking too long, so the host cuts the interview short and asks that Kong Que perform his song now. A spotlight then appears and Kong Que strikes a charming pose while mentally freaking out, asking if Hu Li still isn’t here yet.
Inside the booth, the manager starts panicking and asks if they found Hu Li yet, but Su Ran replies that he hasn’t. At the same time, back stage, Hu Li is still lost and wonders where he is. Suddenly, the music starts up as the crowd cheers Kong Que on. As Kong Que starts dancing, Kong Que is mentally freaking out and wondering what he should do. Inside the booth, the manager is freaking out as Su Ran madly taps the keys on his laptop trying to find Hu Li. Backstage, Hu Li starts panicking because the performance has already begun while Kong Que is still mentally panicking on the stage as he dances. As the verse part of the song is about to begin, suddenly the lights go out and there is a power outage. As the manager and Su Ran are wondering what happened in the booth, the sound engineer fiddles with something in his pocket (heavily implying that he is responsible for the lights going out – a contingency plan maybe?). Inside the main venue, the audience is wondering what is going on too. Taking his chance, Kong Que decides to sneak off the stage, when he hears Hu Li’s voice. Turning around, he is both surprised and relieved to see Hu Li standing on a corner of the stage, singing his song without the music. As Hu Li’s singing fills the stage, the audience decides to light up their glow sticks, Kong Que starts dancing in case the audience sees him.
Backstage, the TV crew are trying to work out the problem with the lights when the other competitors start hearing the singing and start enjoying the song too. A couple of minutes later, Hu Li finishes his song and the audience starts applauding and cheering him on, thinking that Kong Que is the one singing. Their cheers get so loud, that it soon overwhelms Hu Li and knocks him to the ground. Sensing that the lights are about to turn back on, Kong Que signals Hu Li to get out. So Hu Li jumps through a gap underneath the stage as the light turns on, while Kong Que greets the audience. As Kong Que happily waves to the audience though, he silently thinks about how he is going to murder Hu Li’s ass when he gets back to his dressing room later. Underneath the stage, an exhausted Hu Li smiles at his good luck that he found himself underneath the stage and begins to fall asleep. Suddenly, Hu Li wakes up to a beep and looks at his phone to see that he has surprisingly gotten another mysterious text from his stalker SKY who asks him if he felt good singing on stage. Angry, Hu Li starts looking around for the stalker and loudly wonders if he was watching him. Hu Li then hears another beep from his phone and sees another message from SKY asking if he has ever thought about wanting to stand in front of a stage. Concerned, Hu Li silently wonders what SKY’s main goal is.
Okay, so the first round of the Rising Star of China competition is here! We got to meet our competitors and even meet our judge, Rocky. With this the competition is underway now and things are going to get tougher for both Hu Li and Kong Que. Overall, this episode was very similar to one of the early chapters in the manhua (comics). But, I’ll try not to draw on any comparisons between them because I want this to be more focused on the anime and I don’t want to reveal spoilers. However, I still don’t think that this will end the same way as the manhua (considering that it is still ongoing) and that maybe we’ll have an original anime ending instead. At the very least, I definitely do not want an open-ended ending for this show!
Getting back to the episode, Episode 3 was a very fun, comedic, suspenseful and thrilling episode. In terms of animation, plot and writing, this was a very straightforward episode with regards to pure plot. The story had a set flow which I thought was paced nicely and transitioned well. The episode could have been better in some areas like animation, where certain scenes looked a bit off in terms of line drawing. But, otherwise, it was pretty good. The writing staff really did a wonderful job on setting up the thrilling mood and pace of the ‘will he, won’t he’ question on whether Hu Li will make it to the recording booth or stage on time and we got to see a few foreshadowings that not everything is right with the music world and that there subtle manipulations at work, especially with the sound engineer who clearly turned off the stage lights as part of President Kim’s contingency plan and of course with the stalker arc. The comedy elements of this episode were very funny and seeing Hu Li in a dress and crying out “Pervert!” in a girlish voice was hilarious.
Character-wise, well, we kind of did and kind of didn’t get to learn much about the characters. What we did learn was that Hu Li is afraid of Crocodiles and that Kong Que definitely does not deal well with high-tense situations (especially when it comes to stalling for time)! There are also hints that the sound engineer and Ji Hetian are not completely on the level. They both seem suspicious and Ji Hetian may be not be as charming as he acts on stage, he’s got some kind of angle which can be seen from that smirk while Hu Li was singing. This episode also once again reminds us about how godly Kengo Kawanishi’s singing voice is! The deep richness of his voice matched with the ‘A Capella’ rendition of “Forbidden Love” which he had performed really created a moving performance which touched even me and was probably even more incredible than when he had done it the first time with music in the first episode. As for the little snippet we got of Love Season’s song, the overall singing was nice, but the tone of it was basically your standard pop song, soft, gentle and cheerful which is kind of good and bad, music-wise. It was good music-wise because the instrumental music and dancing was nice. However, I’m not really sure why, but, I don’t really think Chuyun and the other band members get along on some level like the song wasn’t very sincere. Although I could just be imagining things.
So overall, this was a really nice episode! There were some elements that were good and some bad, but those will probably be fixed when the blu-rays come out. But, this was a really funny and exciting episode and I hope that you all will enjoy it!