Ep 4 – The Journey

As they’re whisked off to the music hall, Kousei becomes a nervous wreck about playing again. It’s his first performance in two years,  but Kaori won’t let him back down from this crucial moment.

Image of young Kousei walking alone in the middle of a crowd

Imagine being a little kid and having all these people whisper things about you. He’s already a social outcast because he spends all his time practicing, but things like this made Kousei feel more alone than anything else. It’s no wonder he latched onto his mom, no matter how much she may have traumatized him.

Image of Tsubaki and Watari outside the music hall

He has some pretty dedicated friends though. As they head in, Tsubaki says “Springtime is right around the corner.” I love Watari’s response “uh… did you miss the cherry blossoms?” Tsubaki is, of course, talking about the rebirth of Kousei as a pianist. Maybe she can already sense that faint spark reigniting.

Image of Kaori with her forehead against Kousei's

Bashing his head loud enough to get people to come out of their rooms was pretty silly, but this moment is full of emotion. “Look at me.” She doesn’t want him to worry about the notes or anything else. She has full faith that everything he needs is already with him. He just has to connect with her, and everything will be fine.

I feel a little sorry for Kousei. He is completely powerless against Kaori, because how do you even respond to someone who believes in you that much?

Kaori telling Kousei

You can tell he’s completely swept away. Everything about Kaori captivates him, and she unburdens him to the point where he says “you’re freedom itself.” Her correction says everything about her character in that moment. Kaori wants him to realize she’s not the one that will liberate his trapped heart. The performance will. “Music is freedom.”

Kaori glancing at Kousei right before she speeds up

Just because this is his first time back doesn’t mean it’s going to be easy street. Kaori teases a standard performance for a bit before she decides to amp it up. This crowd needs to remember them, after all, and she’s going to drag Kousei into the spotlight whether he wants to or not.

Image of Saki's ghost watching Kousei

I got a chill when I first saw this. In addition to all the pressure that these performers feel, Kousei has the added burden of his late mother’s expectations. That macabre grin brings back all the pain at once, and makes him question his right to even be there. His playing couldn’t make his mother better, and Kousei is afraid it’s going to doom Kaori’s competition score as well.

Image of Kousei playing underwater

The way they depicted this was really cool. The underwater scene, the notes floating away, and the thudding of the piano keys. He’s lost it, and the feeling of panic feels so much like drowning. Performing in front of people is scary enough, but now he knows he’s screwing it up. Can you imagine being in his place?

Kaori asking Kousei to start playing again after they stop

Kousei stops, the audience quietly judges. Kaori is better off without him, but she’s not going to leave him behind. Her simple request: “Again” pulls him out of his darkness the way she did on the rooftop earlier that day.

She’s relentless, but not in the frightening way his mother was. His mother’s ghost watched eerily from the crowd. Kaori is right there with him, facing the crowd, like she said she would be.

Image of Kousei's mother teaching him to play gently

That moment of kindness triggers another. This is our first glimpse of the nurturing side of Kousei’s mom. The piano doesn’t have to be scary, and the sweet lullaby relaxes him enough to play gently. Notice the blank white space all around with the singular focus on the middle. This seems to be how Kousei’s early memories work, focusing on the singular moment with everything else fading into background.

Kousei laying peacefully on a court with petals all around

Who would have imagined such a serene moment could come out of this tense situation? Kousei daydreams he’s under a bright sky with sakura petals all around. His hands are in the air again, like they were when he was on the floor in the music room. A weird quirk of his, it seems, but he’s completely relaxed and free here.

Image of Kaori on the ground after she collapses

But it’s tragically short lived. As the previous episode hinted on the bus, something is wrong with Kaori and it looks like it finally caught up with her. Leaving viewers with this scene was really cruel, though. How many of you hurried up to watch ep 5 after this?

My song of choice for this episode is Again. It has the tense feeling that we got from the Friend A track yesterday, but it carries a feeling of hope with it too. Like it’s gently asking you to follow, even if things are difficult. The strong singular piano notes are like Kousei’s stressful playing in this episode, but there’s a soft melody all throughout to temper them. Like it’s telling the piano it doesn’t need to be so rough.

That’s what I thought, anyway. After yesterday’s discussion though, maybe I should just have plainpasta write these 😀

This was a crucial episode, so tell me what you think! If you missed a post, catch up on the re watch party here


21 thoughts on “Ep 4 – The Journey

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  1. If there is one word I would use to describe this episode it is shock. There were so many moments in this episode that were both a shock and a thrill. I really loved the way they depicted how Kousei could not hear the notes. First the fading of the notes on te paper, the way the keys of the piano suddenly went underwater: it was both beautiful but very scary and sad as well. My heart broke as I saw him struggling, not wanting to disappoint Kaori. But then the moment in which they just restarted everything: it was so cool, even though Kaori already knew that it would not matter anymore for the win.
    It was such a sweet and kind moment. Just when you seriously wanted to cheer after their performance was done, Kaori fell down and I think my heart skipped a beat. My jaw nearly hit the floor. And ofcourse after seeing this episode I went straight on to part 5. Nobody can take a cliffhanger like that 😊

    Liked by 1 person

    1. It makes you wonder about her motivations, right? The competition or winning didn’t matter. Else she would have gone with a more practiced accompanist or finished her performance without him. What Kaori wanted more than anything was to get Kousei to play, and play in such a way that they get the stunning reaction that her first performance garnered.

      But yes, that end scene was a shock. The first time I watched this I was at a 2 episode/day pace. After this ending though I skipped the ED theme on Netflix and just went right to ep 5 😀

      No one could be blamed for missing the hints that lead up to this point. Her getting teary as she played the melodica, the hospital bus stop, and getting tired running up the stairs. There was always some problem but they were never obvious. Now we wonder just how long she’s been dealing with this.

      Liked by 1 person

      1. With every new episode that I watch, I am getting more worried about this. I do have to say that it is really hard to stick to only one episode each day. I am seriously getting the urge to bingewatch this, which I am not going to do. I don’t want to go through it too fast, and I also want to give this series the respect it deserves.
        As for Kaori’s motivations, I do think they are definitely pure. The way she manages to get Kousei to play is nothing short of amazing. It was simply an amazing moment. But honestly this show is full of moments like those 😊

        Liked by 1 person

        1. You have the discipline of a Zen master, my friend. That said, I think there are some episodes later on that will be too tempting to wait on. I won’t blame you if you want to watch ahead a little. As I said at the start of this, people should feel free watch at their own pace.

          I think I can only do one episode post a day, though. They are already taking more time than I expected, and I probably can’t sustain a faster pace. Hopefully I’m not going too slowly for you 🙂

          Liked by 1 person

          1. Haha, not at all. I myself am also keeping it at one episode a day (although with the weekend coming up, I might expand that to two episodes 😊). But yeah, as mentioned I don’t want to go through it too fast. This is one of those series that you wish that could go on forever 😀

            Liked by 1 person

  2. I loved the performance. The visuals used to depict the panic and fear were absolutely perfect. I loved how drawn out the sequence was as it really made the audience feel every moment of Kousei’s anxiety. Of course Kaori shining through most of the episode only makes that final image all the more distressing. Yeah, this show is definitely playing on the audiences’ emotions but it does it so well.
    Thanks for sharing and looking forward to episode 5.

    Liked by 2 people

    1. I think this is an amazing observation. They could have made the scene probably a minute shorter, but they keep it this long on purpose so that the viewer really gets a sense of the discomfort. It’s a really clever way to guide the viewer into the intended mindset. Kaori’s encouragement afterward is then that much more effective.

      All throughout this show I feel like they try to put the viewer in the character’s shoes. Even though I pointed this out in my series review, it looks like it happens without my being entirely aware of it.

      Liked by 1 person

  3. The performance here was amazing! I have Introduction and Rondo Capriccioso stuck in my head now! I think that the depiction of Kousei’s overwhelming anxiety was really great; the amount of time we see him with water deadening the sound and making him unable to see or hear the notes really emphasised his uncomfortable and paralysing situation. I’m also interested to see exactly what is happening with Kaori; it definitely takes discipline to watch this series one episode at a time. It’s quite obvious that she’s got some personal things going on in her life which we haven’t seen yet.

    Today’s track you’ve shared Again is also really lovely and I think really captures the sense of overcoming anxiety through encouragement/togetherness. I’d agree that the piano/keyboard melody is probably representative of Kousei. It seems like thinking of Kousei as keyboard and Kaori as strings during these tracks may be quite illuminating! Of note, there’s a percussion instrument which starts up fairly early in the piece and has a syncopated (uneven) quality to it. It kind of feels a bit like an anxious heartbeat. If you pay attention though, you’ll hear that while it swells up and is almost the only instrument we hear at about 0:45, it’s gradually hidden by the other instruments and dies off around 2:05. To me it feels like the anxious heartbeat slowly calms down and is replaced by serenity. The additional instruments joining in gradually increase in volume, although they still maintain a steady tempo, and die off at the end. It seems to be representative of Kousei feeling anxious in spite of encouragement, but the overwhelming vitality and encouragement of Kaori gradually calm his heart until he feels capable of trying again.

    Standouts: We see Kousei’s mother in full colour for the first time. I also think it’s the first time that we see her smiling. It seems like in spite of the difficult time she gave Kousei that he can still think of some memories in a positive light.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. I loooove Introduction and Rondo Capriccioso, but I think a big part of that is because of something that happens later on. We’ll come back to that.

      Some of these story elements do encourage you to rush through, but I think doing so causes viewers to miss out on some of these little things we’re catching. As I’m illustrating with these posts there are so many amazing moments and I encourage everyone to take the time to process them so we can fully appreciate what this show offers.

      Every time I read one of your posts now I have to go back and listen to the track a few times to hear for myself what you’re talking about. It seems fairly indicative now that Kousei is the piano in these tracks and Kaori the strings. I also noticed the percussion beat before, but thinking of it as a heartbeat now opens my eyes (ears?) to much more with the feelings this track tries to evoke. It is ever present throughout because, as you said, that anxiety doesn’t does disappear, but when it cuts out around 2:08 it’s just the soft piano notes, calm and carefree. Ahh, I love this track even more now.

      Excellent standout point. Not only do we see her in color, but with a good bit of the pink that permeates the rest of this series – representing the gentle beauty of a nurturing Spring. She’s a mother, after all. Kousei’s entire childhood wasn’t a militaristic drill.

      Also, take note throughout this show that we almost never see Saki Arima’s eyes. Peoples’ eyes are masked a lot in this series, which has a whole lot of possible meanings, but no one more so than Saki. It’s like we’re being shown her superficial emotion (anger, bitterness, calm, gentleness) without seeing the person beneath. I think this is an important part of how Kousei sees his mother.

      Liked by 1 person

      1. “I loooove Introduction and Rondo Capriccioso, but I think a big part of that is because of something that happens later on. We’ll come back to that.”

        I can’t wait! There certainly seems like there will be lots of surprises ahead.

        I noticed that we had never seen Saki’s eyes up until this point but I didn’t know that this would continue. Eyes are obviously a big way of expressing a character’s subtle emotions and feelings, and I think that not seeing hers shows that we’re really just seeing Kouhei’s memories of his mother as opposed to actually seeing her and watching her experiences.

        Liked by 1 person

        1. That could be the case as well. So far, Saki is a memory, not a defined character. What I believe her appearances in this episode point out is that her relationship with Kousei was more multifaceted than it first appeared.

          Liked by 1 person

  4. I’m rather fond of the other judge who doesn’t have a stick up his butt regarding how classical music should be played. Then again, his competition only invokes the old geezer…

    It looks like this episode is when Tsubaki realized something about Kousei and Kaori. They can both encourage each other. Tsubaki has never been able to support him in the same way Kaori is doing during this performance. She doesn’t really have a place in their world. Heck, now it’s almost like she’s Friend A since she’s sitting in the (dark) seats while she watches Kaori and Kousei perform in the light.

    I am tempted to go onto to episode 5, but I need to get some blogging done before work haha. Such shrewd emotional manipulation!

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Bored judge is my favorite one by far. He’s been seeing so many standard performances that he eagerly perks up when something spicier comes along. I wonder if the guy is on the verge of a mid life crisis, actually.

      Remy, your powers of observation are amazing. This episode gives a tiny hint of what Tsubaki is thinking during this performance, but taken in the context of her placement with her co-stars in the spotlight, her role is starting to take shape as well. This is indeed the nascent Friend S we’re seeing, which episode 5 and 6 examine a lot further.

      Emotional manipulation is a complaint I hear tossed around in this series a lot. Is it manipulation, though, if it’s the point of the story? 😛 Your lie in April is told almost entirely from Kousei’s point of view. I think it only makes sense that we’re made to feel the way he does as much as possible.

      Liked by 1 person

      1. He might be! It’s always a shame when your own job is boring. But I hope he isn’t going through one.

        Wahaha thank you. I just end up focusing on characters as a shipper all the time and you gave us a heads up in regards to the lighting. Looking forward to the next episodes.

        Mmm…I’m not really sold on the whole emotional manipulation thing in general. Just wanted to throw that phrase out there to test the waters. I guess I was just bummed that it ended on a cliffhanger but that is standard fare for all types of media. It also means I’m getting more invested in the show maybe!

        Liked by 1 person

        1. Can’t blame you as this was a mean cliffhanger. They could have used a few scenes from the next episode at the end of this one to make things a little more tolerable but still keep the uncertainty intended to draw the viewer’s interest. But this is how chapter 8 of the manga ended, so there we are. =/

          Liked by 1 person

  5. I forgot how powerful that scene of them playing together was. The despair that Kousei was fighting as he tried to hear himself playing sinking into the depths of the sea. Ah, yennooooo this rewatch has me convinced. I need to buy the DVD’s. Also, did Tsubaki just realize something between Kousei and Kaori in that one moment?? oh that cliffhanger I forgot about it already. lol.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. It was an incredible scene – one of the best in this series. Everything about it from establishing how torturous it actually is for him to play to the way Kaori pulls that magical performance out of him was fantastic.

      If it’s the DVDs you are after you can get them at a very reasonable price. They don’t have the english dub though, and I know that doesn’t matter for most people but I love this dub. It’s the blu-rays that’ll run you the equivalent of a car loan installment.

      Tsubaki did indeed catch something in that moment. The smile from Kousei, and the warm glance back at him from Kaori. Anyone who saw that would think they had something special.

      Liked by 1 person

      1. I like the english dub as well! I’ve been saving up for the fanime convention coming in may; so I’ll pick it up there, or online if i find that it’s cheaper. I have a feeling I should just buy it online. And with a tax refund on the way I could possibly spare a bit of it to splurge on this one..it’d be worth it. LOL.

        Liked by 1 person

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