Hey guys, I’m back with the next recap for Kitsune no Koe (Voice of Fox) Episode 4: Wavering Voice! In today’s episode, we explore the pressures that professional singers face during their performances and see how Hu Li struggles to deal with that. So with that, onto the recap!
Okay, so our episode starts with Hu Li having a hilarious dream about him kicking Kong Que off the stage (while wearing his mask) and exposing Kong Que as a fake singer in front of all of Kong Que’s fans which include some of his classmates. As he starts singing “Forbidden Love,” Hu Li’s fox mask falls off, revealing his real identity to the crowd which causes his classmates and the audience members to freak out. Suddenly, Kong Que’s manager comes onto the stage and angrily issues Hu Li with a 10,000,000 yuan fine which incites the audience to come after him with their trash. Screaming, “I’m sorry!,” Hu Li wakes up to find himself in class surrounded by his chuckling and gossiping classmates. As the teacher turns to Hu Li, he tells him to meet in the teacher’s room after class for a lecture, causing a depressed Hu Li to apologize again.
Later during his lunch period, Hu Li is climbing up the staircase to the roof. Complaining about how his teacher’s lectures go on for too long, Hu Li angrily blames SKY for causing him to have that dream. Suddenly, the stairway grows dark and Hu Li imagines himself on that lit up stage from Episode 3 again, surrounded by cheering fans as two giant, ghostly blue hands appear and hug Hu Li from behind. A blue ghostly fox man representing SKY then appears from behind Hu Li’s back and repeats the same words SKY messaged him about how it feels good standing up on the main stage, making Hu Li immediately snap out of his delusion. Regaining his composure, Hu Li sadly wonders if he really does want to stand on stage and sing as he thinks about wanting to experience the thrill of that huge applause again.
Opening the door to the rooftop, Hu Li becomes amazed and astounded by the brilliant sight of Chuyun’s dancing. Realizing that she is being watched, Chuyun tells Hu Li to come out and jokingly calls him a “stalker.” Walking through the door, Hu Li replies that he didn’t want to call out to her as she was concentrating and he didn’t want to disturb her. As Chuyun grabs her water bottle, Hu Li asks why she doesn’t relax during her break times and Chuyun replies that its because she has duty to always give a perfect performance whenever she is on stage and that its because of that, that she doesn’t have any time to waste on relaxing. Hu Li becomes shocked by this declaration.
Later on at the TV Studio, Hu Li is sneaking around to meet up with Kong Que’s team again for the next round of ‘Rising Star of China’ when he spots Ji Hetian speaking with Rocky, the judge of the show. Staring in awe of them, Hu Li gets glomped by the talent agent who tries to recruit him again. Hu Li politely refuses, but when the talent agent gets persistent, Hu Li blind sights him with his cap and runs away, while the talent agent literally gets a prop needle in the butt and flies off in pain. On the‘Rising Star of China’ set, the female host introduces the next pair of performers getting ready to face off. The first one she introduces is naturally Kong Que while the other is Lin Ruijia. In the recording booth, Hu Li is getting ready to sing while watching the broadcast. Suddenly, he has another illusion of SKY who asks him is Kong Que’s song was written by him, but Hu Li shakes it off and puts on his headphones and gets ready to sing. Squeezing his headphones, Hu Li hears SKY saying what a waste it is for him to singing as a ghost singer.
Meanwhile in the sound booth, Kong Que’s manager reflects on their next opponent and remarks that Lin Ruijia will be their most powerful opponent yet. Interested, Su Ran asks why that is the case and Kong Que’s manager informs him that Lin Ruijia that was a finalist for two consecutive years in this competition. Suddenly, the door opens and in walks the sound engineer. Turning to him, Kong Que’s manager remarks that he is strangely late for once. The sound engineer automatically apologizes and gets ready for the performance. Putting on his fox mask, Hu Li is suddenly assailed by another vision of SKY asking if he has ever thought about standing on stage. Gritting his teeth, Hu Li forces himself to concentrate as the song comes on.
As Kong Que starts performing on stage, Hu Li begins singing. During the song though, Hu Li is harassed by the vision of SKY again who questions his worth and his desire to receive a huge applause again. The sudden shock of SKY’s question forces Hu Li to lose his concentration and his voice wavers a bit. Backstage, Lin Ruijia who is drinking some water immediately notices the waver and questions whether Kong Que is nervous. Smiling, Lin Ruijia becomes confident that his win is in the bag. After Kong Que’s performance is over, the audience is cheering on Kong Que while Rocky looks mysteriously perturbed and disappointed by it. Backstage, Lin Ruijia’s manager is asking him in a pleading manner if his voice is alright and Lin reassures him that he is alright before taking another gulp of water. In the recording booth, Hu Li is disappointed by his performance, while Chuyun, who is watching the performance with the other Love Season members from Love Season’s green room simply calls Kong Que, “Pathetic.” for his bad performance.
A little later, after Lin Ruijia has sung, the host announces the scores tallied from both the judges and the contestants’ votes. With a score of 82 -75, Kong Que wins the round. As Kong Que celebrates, Lin Ruijia is incredibly disappointed as he gets lowered underneath the stage. In his mind, Kong Que angrily thinks that he told Hu Li to not get a score beneath 90. Backstage, Hu Li watches the result from one of the monitors and is shocked to discover that Kong Que won. Suddenly hearing the sound of someone collapsing, Hu Li turns around and sees that Lin Ruijia has collapsed with his manager next to him. Barely audible, Lin Ruijia hoarsely vents his frustrations about how much blood, sweat and tears, he put in to trying to defeat Ji Hetian and how he didn’t want this to happen to him. Helping Lin up, Lin’s manager helps Lin move in order to take him to the hospital.
Watching the display, Hu Li remembers Chuyun’s words to him about how it is the duty of a singer to put in a perfect performance for the audience. Remembering that Kong Que puts in the same effort as them, Hu Li recalls the day when he first saw Kong Que in the flesh. In the flashback, Hu Li has just finished his meeting with President Kim and is walking back home while staring at Kong Que’s photo. Scoffing at President Kim’s words that Kong Que would be the more popular one on stage between Hu Li and Kong Que, Hu Li suddenly overhears a dance instructor praising Kong Que. Approaching the room where Kong Que is practicing in, Hu Li peeks through a gap in the door and watches as the instructor compliments Kong Que and ends the training session.
Saying goodbye politely with a “See you tomorrow,” Kong Que waits for the instructor to leave before returning to doing some more training by himself, impressing Hu Li. Back in the present, Kong Que is waving to his fans as the fans scream out his name, as Hu Li laments that he doesn’t put in the same level of effort as the other performers and quietly walks away back to the green room. Back in the green room, Kong Que angrily yells at Hu Li for earning him an 82 instead of an above 90, arguing that it was the worst score in his career. Hu Li argues back that they managed to win so who cares about the score, which causes Kong Que to boastfully rebut that they didn’t win because of Hu Li’s singing, but because of his “beauty” (while making a dramatic pose like a peacock.) Sweat-dropping with everyone else, Hu Li smiles and decides to let the issue of standing on the stage go for today and gets ready to leave.
As Hu Li exits the green room with Kong Que, though, Chuyun spots the pair from a distance and walks up to Hu Li asking him why he is with Kong Que. Panicking, Hu Li nervously responds that he is here to deliver some flowers to Kong Que as part of his part-time job while Kong Que’s manager and Su Ran hide themselves in the green room. Taking the opportunity to greet her, Kong Que comes up to Chuyun and congratulates her and Love Seasons on their victory today. Chuyun thanks Kong Que back, but then decides to ask Kong Que about whether he knows Night Fox because his songs are incredibly similar to his (while shifting her gaze to Hu Li in a knowing way). Answering her, Kong Que denies knowing about Night Fox and remarks that if they are similar then his songs are probably more wonderful. Kong Que then flirts with her a little, but Chuyun dismisses him and walks away while telling Hu Li that he should probably get going now before a security guard finds him. Hu Li just sighs in grief.
Later that night at Star Entertainment, President Kim is in his office meeting with the sound engineer and going over the results of the contest. While President Kim admits that what happened to Lin Ruijia was a miserable way to win, he also admits (in an implicating manner) that they were very lucky that they managed to win. The sound engineer agrees and in a flashback, it is revealed that the sound engineer engineered the black out by calling a collaborator to turn off the stage lights and that he was also the one who ruined Lin Ruijia’s voice by spiking his water with a weird powder. After the flashback, President Kim dismisses the sound engineer and lets him leave the room. As the sound engineer leaves, President Kim gets up from his chair and stares out at the scenery of the city. Staring at it, he thinks to himself about how the music world once rejected him and how he is going to take control of it now.
Meanwhile, in another part of the city, Hu Li is walking home while cursing Chuyun for revealing his secret website, “Night Fox,” to Kong Que, when he suddenly gets another text from SKY asking if Hu Li was distracted during the performance. Infuriated, Hu Li (in a imaginary gear space) summons the ghostly SKY and demands to know why SKY is trying to unnerve him. SKY replies that he is just speaking on behalf of Hu Li’s real desires. This upsets Hu Li even more, who angrily shouts that he is not going to let SKY mess with his mind anymore, nor is he going to stand on the stage. SKY replies that this is disappointing, so he suggests that he should out Hu Li now, which causes Hu Li to angrily glare at him more.
Okay, so impressions. While the episode itself was pretty well done at building up the suspense of the SKY mystery, it was pretty low-keyed compared to the other episodes even though the comedy elements were hilarious (especially that needle in the butt scene). There wasn’t much singing in it, so I can’t really comment on the music, but I though that the animation was reasonably well done. Regarding the main theme of this episode, which is about putting effort into a performance, I thought that the writers did a really good job with the themes and the thematic elements. Hu Li’s indecisiveness and hesitation during the performance because he was distracted by SKY’s words did hinder his performance. But I like to think that Hu Li does privately practice his singing and while I do agree that performers should do their best to give the best performance possible, I don’t really think that they should aim for a perfect performance.
To be honest, there is no such thing as a perfect performance, as there is always going to be some flaw in it and like Shoujo Kageki Revue Starlight mentions, “Stage shows are constantly evolving” because without these flaws there is nothing to improve on. To also quote Karen Aijo from Shoujo Kageki,“A performance can only happen once. Everything burns away in that moment….. It’s lovely and irreplaceable because it all burns away in a flash.” Over-focusing on perfection, regardless of whether its on a technical or a performance level can sometimes ruin the performance by making it appear less fun and if an audience cannot enjoy it, then its going to be a terrible performance.
Getting back to characterizations, I thought that this episode did a really good job at exploring the relationships of the characters. We got to see the sort-of friendship between Kong Que and Hu Li, the relationship between Hu Li and Chuyun and learned more about Lin Ruijia and we also now understand why Hu Li tolerates Kong Que’s (how should I put it…..?) narcissism, I guess. Basically, Hu Li really respects Kong Que because he knows that despite all of his bragging and insults, Kong Que actually has a strong work ethic and works really hard, despite the fact that he can’t sing and has to rely on a Ghost Singer. Hu Li can’t really stand Kong Que, but puts up with him regardless, because he knows that Kong Que has some good inside him.
With Hu Li’s relationship with Chuyun, well it’s made more apparent that they are close and Hu Li also respects Chuyun for her own work ethic about giving perfect performances. But, I just can’t stand the fact that she practically busted Hu Li’s secret about NIGHT FOX in front of the few people who shouldn’t know about it. I get that she is trying to help Hu Li in some awkward way, but the way she goes about it is rather terrible. Rather than directly confronting Hu Li about it, her choices are inevitably going to end up hurting Hu Li more, rather than helping him. It also shows that she is indeed naive and ignorant in some ways about the entertainment world, society itself and more particularly about how her words and actions affect others. To put it simply, she’s bad at socializing and reading people. Lin Ruijia though pleasantly surprised me. When I first saw him in Episode 1, I thought he was one of those arrogant princely types, but to my surprise, this episode shows that he is not that. While he is definitely confident, he is not arrogant, but is instead a very hard worker who is determined to be Ji Hetian, even though he lost. I was also right in the previous episode when I thought that Star Entertainment and the sound engineer created the black out as a back-up plan, despite getting it wrong about how they did it, and I just didn’t like that they sent Lin Ruijia to the hospital by spiking his drink so that he would lose his voice during the performance.
So, overall, this was a pretty good episode. It wasn’t the best, but viewers and fans will enjoy it.