Ep 7 – The Shadow Whispers

The competition date approaches, yet Kousei is not sure he’ll be able to play the song the way he wants to. Kaori believes Kousei will succeed if he plays with sincerity, and makes him believe as well. On the day of the competition, Kousei meets a pair of old rivals.

Image of a black cat with green eyes approaching

The cat comes back to taunt Kousei, saying he’s not Chopin and that even if he gets laughed off the stage, it’s better than being abandoned. It seems a strange thing to say, at first, but we do see later that there is a connection with a cat Kousei used to have.

Image of Watari in his soccer uniform crying in the bathroom stall

Watari puts on a brave face in front of the others and his team, but the loss hurts just as much as Tsubaki’s. It’s incredibly rare to see this kind of emotion from him, as it seems he tries to hide his pain as much as possible.

Image of Kousei sitting in a spotlight with a stereo cassette player

Kousei is feeling pressure to succeed now that Tsubaki and Watari lost their games. Notice though that neither they nor Kaori show their pain in front of others. Kousei is the only one who’s almost crippled by the thought of failure where they face it bravely.

Image of a young Kousei standing in his mother's shadow as she takes the cat away

The story Kousei tells about his cat, Chelsea, is pretty sad. Pets don’t know when they’ve done something wrong like that, so for Saki to abandon her somewhere is really cruel. Any risk to her son’s hands won’t be tolerated, though.

Being unable to stop her seems to be what bothers Kousei the most,  and he laments that he’s never been his own person.

Image of Kousei with Kaori on park benches with her first in the air

Kaori easily rattles off some things that are semi-unique about him. It’s not exactly the same question he asked Tsubaki before, but Kaori doesn’t seem to have any trouble answering. Also, compare her statement “You’re not Chopin after all” to what the cat told him. Coming from her, it makes him feel better.

Image of Kaori easing her palm up against Kousei's

How is Kousei not supposed to fall for her when she does things like this? Such simple gestures that ease away his worries, and Peanuts quotes to lighten the mood. She helps him move forward in so many ways that he can’t help but want to do his best for her.

Kaori pointing out that Kousei is number 265 in the program

Kershel 265? That’s a bit of a stretch, Kaori, but the intent is clear. Kousei is even laughing now before he heads into the concert hall.

Image of young Takeshi and Emi. Emi is eating an ice pop

We get a bit of backstory on the rivals, if you can call them that since no one can seem to come close to beating Kousei. They both have wanted to beat him for a long time, but Kousei doesn’t even remember them. Remy, doesn’t this sound a lot like Rei Kiriyama also? Immersed in playing, but disconnected from all the players.

Image of Watari overhearing some kids bashing Kousei in the bathroom

It looks like other kids aren’t so impressed by Kousei either. Essentially people see him as a robot who is no fun to listen to. Kaori seems a little wistful as she explains this, since she’s been trying to get him to play with some heart during his practice.

Takeshi in his practice room telling his coach he doesn't want to go overseas

Takeshi piece, Op 10 no 4, is nicknamed “Torrent.” It has a high difficulty, but that’s to be expected since he won this competition last year. His only reason for entering again this year instead of going to Germany was to have another shot at beating Kousei. At least the rivalry is pretty serious from his side.

Today’s soundtrack choice is Kimi ga Iru (I have you). It was played while Kaori placed her palm up against Kousei’s and is a pretty fitting title for the moment. Kaori’s support has been vital in getting him back on his feet, and Kousei always feels inspired when he thinks about her.

The melody is a simpler version of another popular track from the OST Watashi no Uso. You’ll be able to understand the distinctions after I eventually share that one, but what struck me about this track is the uneven pace. It’s very sad and beautiful sounding, but the notes follow an almost erratic flow. This one is a piano solo, so it may have a lot to do with Kousei’s uncertain playing. It could also be his mood shifting from worried to relaxed again and again.

Image of Kousei walking up the stairs with in a gray shirt with blue letters

I don’t have a theme to watch out for this week, but I wanted to point out that Kousei is wearing one of the prizes I have for this event. His “No Life is Enough” shirt is a good piece of low-key fan wear that doesn’t come off as geeky but people who love this show will still recognize it.

Although you might get everyone else asking you what in the world it means. I couldn’t really tell you. I’m not sure if it was ever explained by this anime’s staff either.

That’s all I had today, now tell me what you think! If you missed a post, catch up on the re-watch party here


18 thoughts on “Ep 7 – The Shadow Whispers

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  1. I knew the cat woud be back. When I first saw that, I knew there would be something more to it. I did not know it would be such a heartbreaking back story though. At the moment I really hated his mother, really, really badly. The introduction of his rivals was interesting as well. I had not even realised that he would have rivals. Those two characters seem cool though, and I am looking forward to seeing more backstory about them. Even though Kaori is not featured a lot in this episode, she did play another very important part, and the thing she did with her hands was so beautiful that I really watched in complete awe and silence. I wonder if she is even aware of what she is doing, and how it affects Kousei. This was another great episode! 😀

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Ugh, yes. As a cat dad myself, I hated what Saki did to Kousei and Chelsea. Mothers are kind of scary that way – if they believe what they are doing is good for their child, they’ll do it even if it hurts the child a little.

      You’ll definitely get more of Takeshi and Emi, so it’s good you like them so far. They’re not bad as far as antagonists go.

      Kaori is a pretty smart girl. I don’t think she’s so naive as to think her actions won’t affect him, but Kousei is so mired down by self doubt and fear that she probably thinks he will need to work through those before he’s capable of feeling anything else.

      I’m glad you’re enjoying this so far. It’s been great having you along and I have a big smile on my face when I read your comments.

      Liked by 1 person

  2. I really wish Kousei’s friends had a bit more screen time in this anime. In these early episodes they get their moments and it is enough, but I just keep thinking how much more I’d like to know about them. Still, Kaori is awesome all the way through this.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. As someone who has seen this, you know how brief a look we get at some of the friends. It really would be nice to have more, but at least Tsubaki’s story is oft-visited through this.

      It’s pretty hard to compete with Kaori though. She steals the spotlight every time.

      Liked by 1 person

  3. Poor Watari. My dashing prince, please don’t cry ;__;

    Well, geez, the cat. A sad story for sure.

    That’s the problem with geniuses you know? They never acknowledge you blah blah. But uh yeah it does remind me of Rei even more.

    I liked how Kaori gave a (brief) explanation that sort of underlines why Kousei’s playing, which follows what’s written on the sheets to the note, is highly regarded by the judges. The older generation are more stubborn about this and probably think Chopin had it right when he claimed that pianists should follow what’s written like what you mentioned in your episode 6 post. Meanwhile the younger generation wants to branch out. They’re more individualistic and wants to out their own spin on things. Well, that’s the feeling I got.

    These new set of panelists may not be able to live up to Bored Judge and that frightens me.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Don’t worry Remy, he’ll be okay. He’s Watari, after all. ^_~

      Very astute observation on the generational differences. This isn’t explored a whole lot in the series, but told from the kids’ point of view you can guess that the stuffy old peoples’ way isn’t painted in the best light. Isn’t that the usual gap between older and younger generations though? Older ones want things to stay the same, and younger ones want to branch out and explore, so they can define things for themselves.

      For an étude though, the whole point is kind of to play it the way it’s written. Chopin still could have taken it easy on poor Liszt for making a nocturne more interesting.

      I’m sorry to say that none of these panelists are as good as Bored Judge. They’re all a bit more like geezer judge, giving competitors hell for disgracing the score/stage.

      Liked by 1 person

      1. That’s a relief to hear. Phew!

        Wahaha I didn’t say anything they didn’t already told us. But yeah it seems to pop up often enough in shows where there are classical music competitions.
        Go forth, the younger generation!
        Ah I see. Well, Liszt was trying to do Chopin a solid. Chopin sure as heck was arrogant.
        Awwwwww darn. I guess we needed more weak foils to Best Judge. Also allows the new Arima to clash and stand out?


  4. My health has meant that I have fallen very much behind! I do plan to watch the whole series if I can and will see what I can do regarding catching up a little, but if not you’ll just get my delayed thoughts on each post. Getting online to post my thoughts has been a bit difficult.

    So the cat seems to have some physical basis. I was thinking the cat was just an embodiment of Kousei’s fear/uncertainty but it seems there was a real cat in the picture at some point. It was sad hearing about Saki taking away the cat because it hurt Kousei’s hands.

    It was also interesting seeing some of the past from the perspective of Kousei’s rivals. He was so focused on playing well that winning or losing didn’t even matter to him, but for them he was really standing in their way. I wonder if they’ll come to acknowledge each other now that Kousei’s situation has changed so much.

    Standouts: The mentioned dichotomy between the older judges preferring tradition and the younger players wanting to branch out a bit. It’s an eternal theme, dating back in text as far as I can find, but it seems like as people age they grow to appreciate stability more. It will be interesting to see how it’s touched upon in this series.

    The ‘No Life Is Enough’ T-shirt. You mentioned it as well but also said that there was no explanation for it, which is a bit disappointing. If I had to guess it would be something about how there are so many things that we can do that no life is sufficient to try them all and that we should seize the opportunities available to us. This seems to tie in thematically with the series. Of course, English logos on T-shirts in Japan don’t always make much sense, so it may just be words put together that sounded kind of cool.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. 😦

      I’m sorry to hear about your health. As much as I have missed your participation in these posts it upsets me more to know that this was the reason. I hope it’s nothing serious and you can be back to ship-shape soon? Don’t worry about trying to keep up with this if it’s troublesome. I’ll be here to chat whenever you do manage to catch up.

      Maybe I’ll skip another day before moving on to ep 12 and do something else today instead. That’ll give you a little time?

      I hate to think of animals being abandoned, but I suppose it was a strong enough point to show Saki’s seriousness. As if hitting Kousei wasn’t enough.

      We’ll certainly get some more on these rivals. They’re important characters in the story and their perspective kind of matters for the overall message, so they definitely won’t be ignored.

      As a minor spoiler, we won’t get a whole lot on the generational difference. The judges, expectantly, never change in their views. They live in a world of rules and metrics because how else can you really objectively judge? The kids are part of another world though, and while there is some drama there isn’t too much clashing.

      I like your description of the shirt. It’s a little uncharacteristic for Kousei at this point though, and the cynic in me tends to think it’s random English. Still, your take on it does work for the series and I’ll happily espouse it. Remember this explanation if you win and need to explain the shirt to your friends 😉

      Liked by 1 person

      1. I suffer from a(n as yet undiagnosed) chronic illness (my doctor thinks I don’t meet the diagnostic criteria for Chronic Fatigue but that’s something that people tend to know enough about to use as a reference), and it’s become a fact of life for me. I’m normally pretty low energy, but occasionally I can go through periods of being extremely low energy to the point where simple stuff like hopping online can be a challenge. I’ve been feeling a bit worse than normal lately with several ‘bad days’ and less than normal ‘okay days’. It’s a fact of life for me, and while it’s not always easy, I’ve learnt to adjust a bit. There’s no need to wait up for me! It’s always interesting to see what catches people’s eye, but I figure that we can do that at our leisure.

        Saki seems to be very earnest about wanting Kousei to be the best at piano. It’s interesting because in spite of seeing all the things which we perceive as being cruel, the series still manages to give the impression that she just wanted the best for her child but didn’t have the best way of expressing it, especially knowing that she had a limited time span to spend with her son. I think that this is a struggle that many parents face, though hopefully not in this dramatic way!

        I’ll definitely save up my ‘super deep’ explanation if I win the t-shirt and people ask me about it! 🙂

        Liked by 1 person

  5. btw, Im trying to catch up asap because I want to be present when everyone witnesses my absolute favorite scene of the entire series. Final performance!

    Yas! The competitors make their appearance! ❤ I really loved the fact that they had thought of him as a rival despite the fact that he disappeared for sometime, and that they're excited to see him back in action even if it their intent is not pure.

    Dang, Watari and Tsubaki both lose their respective sports. And Watari is a perfect team captain. Keeping it together despite the hurt of the loss. You're right it's rare to see him express such emotions. A recent review of this said that Watari and Tsubaki were really flat characters…just these last few episodes just showed me that they are not.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Eeee that last performance is amazing. If you want to try to figure out a pace for yourself, I’ll probably post episode 22 on April 26th. I hope you can make it! I might be convinced to do another break though, if that helps?

      That might be one of the more popular posts too, considering it’s the finale and people may want to talk more.

      Watari I might understand people saying that about. Tsubaki no, not at all. She’s nuanced in many ways, and you see it relatively quickly too.

      Liked by 1 person

      1. Yes last performance is probably my favorite anime scene of all time! I can watch that scene over and over! I can’t find that particular duet anywhere online anymore! It used to be on YouTube! But it disappeared 😦 okay April 26 hm? I’ll keep note. I should be able to catch up! 😀 this is fun. I wish I had been more present for it though! *sigh*

        Liked by 1 person

        1. Yeah I remember they had a lot of stuff for this on youtube that isn’t there anymore. All the more incentive for you to get the discs! I actually watched that earlier today while I was trying to pick out OST tracks, and… yeah :*(

          It’s super fun having you along too. I’ll talk about this series as much as you want though, so no worries.

          Liked by 1 person

          1. D’awww I too would be okay with lengthy discussions of YLiA! 😀 wait, are the performances on the DISCS!? omg, I NEED IT NOW….I’m gonna splurge on the blu-rays with my refund. bahahahaha im terrible. lol.


        2. Erm, I think I may have been unclear. The performances are in the episodes, and the episodes are on the discs? Yeah, that’s what I meant 😛

          They don’t have individual performances on discs. I was just saying to get them so you’ll always have those pieces at your fingertips. Sumimasen!

          Liked by 1 person

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