At the opening of the series, Kanade gets a mysterious letter after her violin concert that reads “is this where you meet your limit?” This letter implies that her musical ability is not up to the standards the writer expects of her, and it bothers her. However, she does not tell anyone about it, including her childhood friend Kyoya. Soon after, she and Kyoya pay a visit to Ritsu, their other childhood friend (who is also Kyoya’s brother) who left their hometown before high school so he could study music more seriously at Seisou Academy. After a concert at Seisou, it is announced that there will be a national competition for ensemble performance. Ritsu, who is the president of the orchestra club at Seisou, convinces Kanade and Kyoya, who are both talented violinists, to study at his school and play in their ensemble.
The exposition of this series is conveyed very effectively; necessary backstory is delivered in a fast-paced, yet mostly believable manner. However, Ritsu suddenly asking his friends to join the academy just to help with the competition seems to be a bit of a cheap move to tie the plot together. After all, he attends a school with a strong music department…I would think there would be better violinists already there. Added to the way he acted a bit cold towards Kanade and Kyoya at the start of the episode, his character seems a bit wishy-washy, and I do not think that was the intention. Other than that, the characters definitely have realistic personalities, and are not one-dimensional like characters can often be. However, considering that the series revolves around an orchestra competition, I think it would be more interesting if the three protagonists played different instruments. Instead, they are all violinists, and “violin superstar” animes are so overdone. I have never seen what the huge appeal with this sub-genre is anyway, and I love music. However, the characters are really passionate about winning the large-scale competition, so that keeps it exciting.