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Your Lie in April ep12: perhaps there’s light even here

June 13, 2015 1 comment

Well, I ended up taking one heck of an unintended break from this show.  But it all works out for the best, since the previous one was the last for that season.  Now I get to begin anew at a proper point.  Though not much has changed.  Kousei is still traumatized by his mother.  Kaori is still destined to be a sparkling flash in this world.  And the male characters are still being violently physically abused.

This episode pretty much covers the week until the gala.  And a lot of time is covered, though not a ton happens in this one episode.  The main struggle of Kousei versus his trauma is directly addressed in this episode.  Not only is Kaori compelling him to play the piece of music that he most associates with his mother; he also takes time to directly ask his mother’s best friend her thoughts on their relationship.  While I’m somewhat disappointed in her weak answers, she at least doesn’t do anything to make his condition worse.  What matters is that she lets Kousei know that he needs to keep playing and find his own answers.  But I can’t get over how she says that no mother could ever hate their children.  I think world news has proved otherwise.  But the positivity is what matter most.

Looking towards Kaori, what strikes me about her is her generally unwavering attitude towards the “now”.  She has not for a moment stopped pushing Kousei, nor stopped pushing him to play passionately.  And in the end, I think that will be Kousei’s answer to his problems.  A good hint at this comes from Kousei’s accidental dive into a pool and him remembering words that Hiroko had told him.  He has the tools to overcome what he finds to be a handicap.  It could be just as likely that his issue is proof of his talent.  The bottom of the pool he fell into feels just like the sensation he has when he plays and can’t hear his notes.  And to her, it’s an opportunity for him to play the music the way he feels, as opposed to playing it as the sound he produces dictates.  Realistically, that’s bullsh*t to me.  But I see that they’re kinda taking the Beethoven approach to things.  He’ll be seen as a prodigy as a young child, but this strange on-cue deafness of his will have people perceive him as a genius.  I can’t believe I didn’t see this coming before now.

Everything I said is fine, though if things actually played out this way I’d be watching an OVA or movie, not a TV series.  Kaori is the X-factor here, and right when we think the drama is gonna come from Kousei fighting with his own trauma, we’re reminded that there is something far more important going on in the background.  The day of the exhibition, Kaori is absent and completely unavailable.  It’s clear that whatever disease/condition she’s been hiding has claimed her for a time.  And it’s likely a serious issue for her to miss something so personally important.

This whole show, we’ve gotten stronger and clearer hints at her waning health and suspect mortality.  No hint was more clear than her passing out after a performance.  Coupled with talk that strongly avoids speaking of the future, and instead prioritizes emotion, passion and the present more than anything and I’m willing to bet that she’s a character with the reaper’s scythe at her neck.  She lives her life not recklessly or irresponsibly, she lives it as if at any moment someone could pull the plug and her lights would immediately go out.  It’s the same way she plays.  And it makes the introduction of a new, apparently important character named Toshiya a good contrast.

Toshiya is an elementary school prodigy at the violin who is also performing at the gala.  When Hiroko and Kousei attempt to convince him to switch places with them to allow Kaori more time to show up, he staunchly denies them.  Even more than that, he has the courage to berate Kaori not only for her lack of professionalism, but her playing style as well.  It’s all very misplaced, but I was impressed none the less.  It seems like he’ll be a good way to reflect on Kousei’s past life and values.  Toshiya’s been clearly brought up to understand and respect music at a high level to talk the way he does.  And he’s repeating words almost verbatim to what we’ve heard other older, sterner characters say.  I’d like to see if the passion Kaori and Kousei convey through their playing can change this outlook.

In the end, this is a compelling start to the second season of this show.  I’ve been dying to see how Kousei will ultimately overcome his condition, just as much as I’ve been curious to learn what is exactly going on with Kaori.  This episode not only reminds us of those problems, but shoves them in our faces as the appropriately most important aspects of this show.  To do so though, the answers had better be satisfactory.

Further Reading:

Your Lie in April ep11: I lean on my frail emotions for you

Harsh realities are harsh realities until you deal with them.  Then like many things, they fade with time.  Failure, triumph, love, hate, inspiration and regret are all dust that get swept along the river of time.  They’re absorbed and fade way, leaving only memories.  Kousei is chasing something in that river.  Something that too will fade away, leaving only memories.

The biggest thing about this episode is the appearance of Hiroko Seto, a former classmate and close friend to Kousei’s mother.  With her appearance, we get to connect a few more dots in the history of Kousei’s life before the show started.  As the country’s leading pianist, I’m quite surprised to see how little fanfare follows her around.  She just kinda casually hangs out in the concert hall without a peep from her until the very end of the previous episode.  I’m puzzled to learn that Tsubaki didn’t know about her either.  How could someone be such a mystery in plain sight?

It’s clear that she holds some lingering regret in regards to Kousei’s past and career.  We learn it was her that suggested Kousei’s mother teach him to play piano.  She saw his massive potential, and thought it would be a shame to waste.  And after seeing how her friend suffered and abused Kousei, and then seeing how he completely fell apart and away from the piano, she seems to feel guilt over her role in the situation.  All that said, she doesn’t let much of that show in her interactions with Kousei, being very up front and teasing with him.  When later in the episode, Kousei asks her to teach him to play the piano again, she seems not at all hesitant to take on the task.  Perhaps this is her chance to make amends, or to help heal.  The percentage of that healing that will go to either party will be determined later.

This was the conclusion of the little arc revolving around Kousei’s first solo performance since his crumble from grace and his mother’s death two years ago.  And the reactions to it were as scattered as his performance.  One moment, the head judge is berating him in passing, and the next one one of his rivals is screaming at him for a sh*t performance.  But what Kousei is really looking for is Kaori’s reaction.  He just wanted his music to reach her, and that was all.  He didn’t think to stay for the results.  And that would be fair in this situation, knowing he was already disqualified.  But Hiroko convinced him to stay, and it was great learning experience for him.  When the results came out, he saw the happy faces of those few that made it.  And then he saw the far more numerous faces of those facing disappointment and anger at their failure to meet a goal.

In the past, Kousei never stayed for such things.  Those results were a foregone conclusion.  He was above and separate from those around him.  But in the present, we see through this moment, how the moments of failure from his friends tie into everything.  His failure and their’s connects them.  They are connected and closer thanks to this struggle.  He understands the tears of Tsubaki and Ryota more after being around others who sat through the same pressure he did, and performed only to come up short of their goal.  That quick realization made it one of my favorite moments of the show so far.

The show wasn’t all fun and happy moments though.  Your Lie in April has been telegraphing clearly that there is something very wrong with Kaori physically.  Perhaps I’ve watched too many shows with sickly characters who die (i.e. Clannad) to miss the signs.  She’s not long for this world.  It’s this situation that turns a beautiful moment into a bit of a gut punch.  Kousei at the end of the episode goes out and clearly states that it was personality, will and their performance at Towa Hall that carried him through that tough night.  But Kaori states that she won’t always be there to lean on in the future.

Sheesh!  As if her talk about fireflies wasn’t already enough of a sign.

In the end, a pretty good and wonderfully emotional conclusion to this arc.  I look forward to seeing how the two of them progress in the effort to put on another combined performance at Towa Hall.

Further Reading:

Your Lie in April ep10: for the one you love (pt2)

That was amazing!  Emotion from start to finish.

I feel like I’m watching something unique, even after declaring this show a sports anime.  The battles taking place here take place under a similar structure to a shounen or sports series, but with their unique twist of music in a competitive setting.  And even more uniquely, we see Kousei struggling all alone for an extended period of time.

I struggle to find something to say about this episode despite how much I enjoyed it.  In the beginning, we get some inspirational words from Watari and then we see Kousei struggling along and slowly falling apart as his ability to hear his playing begins to fade away again.  And it’s telling to see just how confused all of the audience is at his performance.  Most in the crowd just don’t know what’s going on, while the knowledgeable experts are more puzzled by Kousei’s inconsistency.  Two years ago this would be unfathomable, now Kousei is banging on the keys like a nervous amateur.  The only surprise for me though was when Kousei cold stopped his performance for a moment.

As we learned during the last competition, when you stop your performance, it’s over for you.  You won’t be judged no matter what you do.  So for a moment there was a period of almost mourning from his friends.  But then the beauty starts, and he discovers a proper reason for playing.

I love that he found a moment and a reason to finally play from the heart.  It shows that in the end he’s capable of more than what he previously accomplished.  No matter what anyone else took out of it, it’s clear that Kousei is capable of conquering his fears and failings with Kaori’s help.

Further Reading:

Your Lie in April ep9: for the one you love

I’m certainly not the person to give kids special treatment, but you have to wonder how cruel someone can be to someone who doesn’t even have the basics to survive on their own?  When it comes to performance and entertainment, often you hear stories about how kids are forced to forego their childhoods and become adults long before anyone else.  Kousei’s case is just such an example.  He’s already lived a long hard life.  I hardly find it a surprise that he’d break and stay broken. Read more…

Your Lie in April ep8: let it ring

I didn’t know this was a sport anime, but this really is a sports anime!  How did I not see this before?!  The romancing of the art, the stories that come with every new character that enters the scene, the incredible emphasis on rivalries and inspiration; It’s a freaking sports anime man.  It’s a sports anime filled with shoujo sparkles and musical notes.  And with that perspective, I think I can go into this show with renewed vigor. Read more…

Your Lie in April ep7: perfectly pitiful and practically imperfect

The jealousy and hate is real.  The fear is real.  It’s all too real.  Sometimes the best fiction is reality.  Just show us what actually happens, what we’ve experienced; and we’ll sink into your story.  Have your fictional characters act like us, sound like us.  Do that and it becomes real.  And I can’t think much that’s more universal and real to us than the fear of getting up in front of a crowd and being judged. Read more…

Check-in Station: Your Lie in April ep6 (can you overcome passion, can you wipe away memories?)

I can’t say for what aspect of this show’s development I’m more happy about.  There’s the appearance of new rivalries, the development of one between friends, or how the goals of this show are starting to flesh themselves out more.  Or perhaps, I should be happy for having one genuinely pleasant episode.  The oversappiness continues, but I can’t say I’m not slowly developing an attachment to this show and its characters.  Even as their more base emotions are starting to be confronted in this series.

I’ve enjoyed how Read more…

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