Ep 8 – Let it Ring

Takeshi Aiza and Emi Igawa play their pieces, stunning the audience with their skills. As Kousei watches their individual performances, he comes to learn that both of them have reached these heights in part because of him. 

Image of Takayanagi and Aiza arguing

Takayanagi seems to be aware of Kousei’s strange disability, though he generalizes it to think that he’s just gone deaf. None of that, or the the chance to advance his career, seems to matter to Takeshi. The rival spirit is strong in his single minded focus to crush Kousei.

Image of Takeshi after his performance

Takayanagi also remarks that Kousei is the reason that Takeshi is as strong a performer as he is today. And here Kousei was leaving the concert halls with his head down the whole time. He had no idea what kind of ‘monster’ he was creating.

Image of Takeshi getting giddy about Kousei's praise

Takeshi puts on a tough guy act but he was so thrilled to get a little bit of praise from his rival. Kousei clearly never thought less of his competitors, and it makes you wonder if Takeshi’s aggressive efforts weren’t just to get Kousei to acknowledge him.

Image of Watari looking at the program and Kaori leaning past Tsubaki to see

Watari can’t help himself. He gushes about how cute Emi is, but the funny thing is that Kaori isn’t bothered at all, and leans over to see as well. She would kick Kousei for saying something out of line, but accepts Watari’s behavior. Favoritism or something else?

Image of Emi getting ready before her performance

Emi seems to be a severely inconsistent player, but her coach says she’s been waiting for the right opponent. Takayanagi seems to take offense, but the truth is that both Takeshi and Emi were never really competing against each other, but against Kousei.

Image of Kousei marching like a tin soldier

A humorous moment, but we get a bit more here from Emi’s story than we did with Takeshi. Even at age 6 Kousei had an amazing talent. It was after hearing him that she first got the urge to play herself.

Image of Kousei walking past a judgemental looking crowed

Emi remarks about his performance: “In that moment I felt all the joy of music. He was magical, but he didn’t play like that for long.” Ochiai further considers how Saki molded Kousei to achieve what she never would. Was Saki’s harsh teaching an effort to live vicariously through her son, or was there something more?

Image of the concert hall bathed in autumn colors and leaves

Emi’s piece was Chopin’s Opus 25 no 11 “Winter Wind.” It might be my favorite of Chopin’s Études as it has a really captivating sound to it. Through this performance you see that Emi has strived to play the way Kousei had originally inspired her to. She doesn’t disregard her technical score as much as Kaori does, but she pierces the audience in the exact same way.

Today’s episode featured Again prominently as Emi took the stage, but I wanted to feature the track that plays as she recounts the first day she saw Kousei play. Hoshi wa Yoru Kagayakunda ze (The Stars will Shine at Night) is a soft piano piece accented with a strummed instrument that seems to capture the childlike innocence of that moment.

The scene features a young Kousei before his mother turned him into an impeccable machine, showing him march out comically, knock over the piano stool, and exclaim “I did it!” after finishing his performance. The track likewise sounds like a gentle spring morning compared to the stronger emotions of other ones.

Image of Emi's performance bathed in red and yellow

Kousei remarks about how he can see the colors of Emi’s performance. This pushes the realism aspect of the series again, but given how important color was in earlier episodes, consider what they’re trying to do.

These performances are dazzling for the audience, but there is a certain emotional connection there too. The way the world looks colorful when one falls in love, so too does a performance seem ‘colorful’ to the people who are moved by it.

This doesn’t get revisited a lot, but it’s something to keep in mind for later on.

Not a whole lot this week as it was mostly performance, but let me know what you think! If you missed a post, catch up on the re-watch party here

11 thoughts on “Ep 8 – Let it Ring

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  1. Well, I got my wish from the last episode: we get to see and hear more about the backstory from the rivals. The fun aspect of this, was the fact that they are both human beings,and I thought after the first encounter with them, they would be people I was going to dislike. But I really don’t dislike them at all. In fact I thought both their backgrounds were really interesting, and it was simply not possible for me to hate them at this point. It’s funny that you mentioned the way Kaori acted after Watari’s droom act (for lack of a better term lol). That was exactly what was going through my mind as well: she doesn’t care one bit about his behaviour at all. At least not in the way one would expect a girl in love to act after seeing an act like that. This was a very interesting development, but not totally unexpected 😊
    Both performances from the rivals were stunning,and left me breathless. I’m really looking forward to what Kousei’s performance is going to be like (or is dread a better word for that 😀😀). All in all, this series just keep getting better and better 😉

    Liked by 2 people

    1. In many other anime based around competition rivals are often pretty unlikable, but I think this is kind of how rivals should be. They put all their effort into beating each other, but at the end of the day they know how much work the other person had to put in to reach that level and they appreciate that the other person pushes them to be better themselves. Kousei was missing that latter part, as the only one pushing him was Saki.

      This is where I started to really question Kaori. I’ll try to point out more about her thoughts regarding Watari, but keep an eye out yourself too as you should find some interesting things.

      “Torrent” and “Winter Wind” are very pleasant pieces, much nicer to listen to than “Wrong Note” which Kousei plans to play, bu Kousei’s piece has a very beautiful middle section too, so the next couple episodes will hopefully be very enjoyable for you from the performance standpoint.

      Kousei has been practicing this song hard, so he should have it down, but this wouldn’t be a drama if his technical aptitude was the only thing he had to worry about 😉

      Liked by 1 person

  2. Man, is Takayanagi an arrogant prick. I can see why the other judges were calling him shallow. He only praises Takeshi and all his compliments seem to be subtly aimed at himself.

    It almost feels like pianists have to be forceful and dynamic in order to have any sort of impact. Lovely and relaxing sounds seemingly won’t cut it.

    Liked by 2 people

    1. Lol, Remy. It looks like Takayanagi struck you exactly as he was meant to. In a way I kind of like his addition here. He’s a good example of what a serious coach can do, and even if he’s a bit self congratulatory, a teacher’s pride is his students’ accomplishment.

      It’s funny you should mention that. Do you remember Kousei’s vision of his mother during Kaori’s performance? “Touch the keys gently, like you would touch a baby.” It’s not always force that gets across, but putting emotion into the piece.

      Liked by 2 people

      1. Haha I suppose so. And at least he was pushing for Takeshi to go abroad where he would get more exposure. It’s always a tricky business – the whole student passing the teacher thing.

        Mmm that is true. I just thought along those lines because Emi started the piece really softly, which led Takayanagi to dismiss her playing as lovely but inadequate. And as if she had heard his remarks, she started playing with impact… and emotion. Kousei also managed to play “Wrong Note” without overbesring force so it seems like that line of thinking was incorrect.

        Liked by 1 person

        1. Mm hmm. It’s hard to pick up for anyone who isn’t well versed in these performances (who am I kidding – I’m not) but those first 4 simple measures were pretty standard. I love how they depicted her starting that 5th measure though. As you said, it was like she heard him and was all ORAAAAA!

          Liked by 1 person

  3. This episode seemed to have mostly focused on the rival pianists. It’s interesting to see some of their motivations and how Kousei’s past shaped their present. Takeshi seems to be the competitive type and having a seemingly unbeatable rival pushed him to achieve new heights, whereas Emi was moved by the way Kousei’s music made her feel. Emi seems to be a very feelings oriented person in general, both with the teachers talking about how she can be very off and on, and also how she thinks about how she’s playing well because she’s ‘having a good hair day’, and ‘her clothes are nice’. That seemed a very limited mindset, I have to keep reminding myself that these characters are 14 or thereabouts and I can’t expect them to necessarily react in adult ways (besides not even all adults are necessarily mature, and we’ve all got different emotional strengths and weaknesses). It’s interesting how different people can get different motivations to achieve essentially the same goals.

    Kaori being unbothered by Watari’s behaviour is definitely interesting. It could mean that she has the perspective that because she likes Watari, she wants him to be happy even if that’s not with her (a perspective not often seen in media, and more grounded than I’d expect from the average 14-year-old, but Kaori has proven herself to very much not be average), or it may mean that she’s more preoccupied with something else or her feelings have started to change.

    I think that the central section of Hoshi wa Yoru Kagayakunda ze (starting about 0:52) with the repeated triplets (a triplet is where three notes are played one beat, most notes are played in divisions of two like halves and quarters) builds a sense of intertia and warmth which may mirror Emi’s feelings in watching Kousei play. The piece overall has a number of repeated refrains which give it a very comforting tone, like you may get from hearing an enjoyable performance. It seems to be a good match for the scene and of course we here the frequently present piano in the score. I don’t know that in this case it’s supposed to mirror Kousei’s feelings so much as the feelings of hearing piano music full of emotion. Of course this is just me guessing!

    Standouts: The use of colour to denote Emi’s feelings in the performance. I think that this is a great way of translating a musical performance into visual language so the viewer has another way of understanding the information. Colour definitely seems to be a really big part of this series overall.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. I somehow missed this earlier today, but I blame it on you living in Australia and posting when I’m dead to the world.

      I think Emi realized herself that those small things aren’t what’s affecting her performance right after she thought it. Her inconsistency to me sounded like superstition at first. How everything had to be just so, even if it didn’t have a tangible effect on the way she played. After this episode it sounds like her emotions are just such a huge part of her performance that it can be thrown off if something is bothering her. You’re right, they don’t have the mental maturity of an adult, and I think Emi most of all represents the radical mood shifts that kids just coming into adolescence go through.

      Wanting people to be happy is certainly part of Kaori’s character. There’s many possible explanations, and her maturity is definitely part of it. What I wanted to get across with that comment is to make viewers think about how she feels about her place with Watari.

      Oh how dearly I have missed your musical analysis. I see what you’re saying about the triplets clearly, and I think you’re right it’s the inertia of Emi’s building feelings as she becomes overwhelmed by what she’s experiencing. This track is used again, though sparingly, but as its first appearance I think it’s meant to convey that sense of serenity and wonder that the audience felt hearing Kousei before he became mechanical.

      They went heavier with the pairing of color and emotion than they do with other performances, and I think it was to make the point without belaboring it later. Indeed, color is a vital part of this anime’s story. Whether it’s vibrant or muted, it’s always telling you something.

      Liked by 1 person

  4. Okay, I’m back!! 😀 Finished Escaflowne, and am determined to get some episodes done with Your Lie in April before we start off on the Kids on the Slope watch-a-long! 😀

    i forgot how much I like Aiza’s character; but then again I’m pretty partial to blondies. I love the childhood flashbacks of the two competitors and how they viewed Kousei-this meek little boy; but to them he represented much more. Aiza was inspired and wanted to be like him and then also surpass him.

    I also like Emi’s little smirk she has..is it because she’s excited to have Kousei back to compete against, since apparently no one is good enough. LOL a the scene with emi crying as kid watching Kousei’s performance-that was a nice hint ;D

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Mm hmm, nice hint indeed 😀

      I liked Aiza too, but man that character design. I understand he’s supposed to be something of a hotheaded troublemaker, but with everything else in this series so grounded I was really thrown off by the Goku hair. Fortunately they treated his character seriously enough that it wasn’t too much of a distraction going forward.

      Emi’s pleasure over having Kousei back was echoed in the conversation between Takayanagi and Ochiai too. Neiether Emi or Takeshi thought the other was worth competing against. Even as Takeshi took first in so many competitions, Emi was waiting to compete against the kid that stole her heart with his first recital.

      Also I’m super excited about Kids on the Slope!

      Liked by 1 person

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