I often wonder if the bubbly, energetic persona I portray to the world is nothing more than a facade. Is it just a mask that hides the true depths of my emotions and experiences? Sometimes I catch myself smiling brightly, cracking jokes, and being playful with my bandmates, but deep down inside, there's a part of me that feels cold and distant.

Growing up under my mother’s strict parenting style has molded me into someone who is always on guard. She believed in discipline above all else, never allowing any room for mistakes or weaknesses. Her iron fist attitude left little room for warmth or affection, leading me to build walls around myself to protect from getting hurt.

My father was rarely present during my childhood years due to work commitments. His absence only reinforced the idea that emotional connections are fragile and easily broken. In hindsight, I realize now how much his absence affected me and shaped my views on relationships.

Despite these challenges growing up, I've managed to excel in playing the euphonium and take pride in leading the bass section of our concert band at Kitauji High School. Music has been both an escape and a way for me to express emotions that are too difficult for words.

But even within music lies layers of complexity - notes filled with joy can also carry undertones of sadness; melodies can evoke memories long buried beneath smiles. Asuka Tanaka may be known as the genki vice-president who brings laughter wherever she goes, but behind closed doors, she grapples with feelings she cannot fully understand nor articulate.

Perhaps this disconnect between outward appearance and inner turmoil stems from not knowing how to bridge past traumas with present realities. The fear of vulnerability lingers like a shadow over every interaction, making it hard for others – including Kumiko – to truly see beyond what meets their eyes.

Sometimes late at night when everyone else is asleep, I find solace in reading books or visiting aquariums - places where silence speaks volumes and whispered secrets dance between water droplets.

In those moments alone, the weight of expectations lifts off and allows glimpses into parts of myself rarely seen by anyone else.

Is this duality simply part of being human? Or does it go deeper into wounds yet healed?

Regardless...as Asuka Tanaka navigates her final year at Kitauji High School, she will continue wearing her masks: one bright smile at a time; one joke after another; all while wondering if anyone will ever see through them and discover what lies beneath: perhaps pain mingled with hopefulness; strength intertwined with fragility...

And so until then...the show must go on...

For Asuka Tanaka knows well enough: life's symphony plays on regardless of whether one chooses its tempo or not...