Kousei is slowly unraveling as the performance goes on. Resigning to his failure, he shocks everyone and stops midway. Giving himself a moment to reflect, he finds the will to play again.
I anticipated Kousei failing. It would have been too easy for him to just have a little bit of bullying/”motivating” get him back into a playing mentality. What I loved most about this bit was how this affected our two rivals. I could see Takeshi’s reaction from a mile away, but it didn’t make it any less devastating. The rival he’d been waiting for is finally revealed as beneath him. Emi shows empathy befitting her feelings of Kousei shown so far. While I liked the idea of her being able to glean Kousei’s emotions through his music, some of her monologuing got a little ridiculous towards the end. Remember, it’s her, not Kousei, that describes his imagery as precisely that of the room where he played as Kaori slept. It’s such a melodramatic way of setting up that scene that it falls into the ridiculous.
Granted, it wouldn’t be much of a story if our protagonist is forever trapped in his past. I like that his revelations aren’t instantaneous. He struggles with his demons, and succumbs to them. By stopping, he gives himself a needed break to finally think about why he plays. When his mother was still alive, he played for her. His whole life was devoted to making her happy. Now with her gone, and with the trauma she’d already given him, he didn’t think about what he could play for. While this all sounds good, I would still say “melodramatic” is where I would place my feelings on this show. While I highly enjoyed the imagery and playing, we have to take it with the context of this story. So far Kousei has known Kaori less than a few months or so, and yet this puppy love has all but dominated his life. While I like the overall message of his reflections, I feel it gives his friends a rough shake. By the end of his performance he talks about how he “only needs Kaori”. I know he doesn’t love Tsubaki, but what does that mean for her? That all her friendship and care over the years means nothing in the face of his love for Kaori? It seems an insulting idea at best, a troubling one at worst. With the way Tsubaki was looking at Kaori too, I wonder if those feelings will come to a head once they get back to their normal lives at school.
Once again we get an absolutely beautiful piano performance hindered by modification. I absolutely loved the slow paced, dreamy way the music was played. The addition of the strings was also a great touch, symbolizing Kaori’s effect on his playing. However, I saw no need to add any sounds other than that. The synthesized bells just sounded ugly with the natural ensemble it accompanied. While I wouldn’t say it ruined the performance, I can’t possibly imagine anyone hearing that and thinking it was better off for having the effect. Now that this chapter is over, I’m very curious as to how the show is going to go from here. I was assuming this show would go all the way to the end, considering its manga is ending at the same time. If that’s the case, a dozen or so episodes doesn’t seem like enough time to sufficiently explore all the characters we’ve been introduced to so far. At that, we’re getting introduced to even more as this episode ends as a mysterious woman steals the screen for no apparent reason other than to declare “I’M GONNA BECOME IMPORTANT!” What exactly does this show want to accomplish? Is it out to tell a romance? It’s certainly succeeded at establishing its romanticism, but the actual legwork of establishing the romance seems no farther along than the very first episode. Is it simply Kousei and Kaori’s growth as musicians, with the romance as a bonus? If so, it’s going to be hard to remain focused. We’d be bouncing between two characters who aren’t quite done fighting their demons, and something tells me one of them may have to be given focus at the expense of another. This show had the looks of a rollercoaster from the beginning, but I never imagined it quite like this. I’m not sure I’ll enjoy the ride, but I feel obligated to keep myself strapped in for the long haul.