Ep 22 – Spring Wind

Kousei plays his final performance as he reflects on everyone music has connected him to. Lost in his feelings, he envisions his duet with the person who changed his life forever. As winter draws to a close, he discovers the truth about Kaori.


We’ve reached the end! I found that I had more to say about this one than all the others, but that’s not much of a surprise. So much happens in the final 22 minutes of this series. Some of it can be put into words, and some can’t. I’ve done my best this past month though, because I honestly love this series and was glad for the opportunity to share how amazing it is with others. I hope it’s been fun for everyone who participated, re-watchers and new viewers alike.


Episode Moments

Kaori placing her arms around a child Kousei as he begs for help

Continuing right where the last episode left off, Kousei thinks about what it means to connect with someone, and gives us an emotionally fitting scene. As a younger Kousei begs for help, Kaori reassures him with another “But you have me.” Before her, he was still that little boy, crying for deliverance from the agony his mind created. He had friends, but was alone all the same. She reached him, and reminded him that in all the time he had been playing, he was never alone.

Kousei looking up as he plays

And so Kousei tries to reach her in return. There is some great camera work that conveys that desire of wanting his music to escape the concert hall, until his surroundings take on a different shape. He begs his music to reach her and help her get through whatever is wrong. For the sake of their duet, and everything they shared.

Kaori whispering in Kousei's ear as he carries her back down from the hospital roof

From Kaori’s perspective though, Kousei has already done so much. We see in a flashback that she whispers a quiet “thank you” to him as he’s carrying her back down from the roof. A sentiment that echoes in his ear even in the middle of his performance.

Kaori manifesting in the serene oceanscape in Kousei's mind

Even in his grief Kousei is no longer at the bottom of a deep dark ocean, but instead resting effortlessly atop it. Here, within himself, he finds Kaori once again.

The way this scene looks still amazes me. The quiet stillness of the sky and water, and the pristine clarity of it all. In an show that was so well drawn and animated all throughout, A-1 went all out with for these few minutes. For me it stands as one of the most unforgettable scenes I’ve experienced in anime.

Animated image of Kaori turning to see Kousei, causing him to frown

Kaori, full of life, turns to him and Kousei’s small frown shows that he knows exactly what it means. That tiny change in his expression absolutely crushes me every time I see it. He wanted to reach her, but he knows this will be the last time.

Kaori starts playing with a bright smile on her face.

As painful as this is, seeing her play again is a great sight. Ballade no. 1 isn’t a duet, but what does this crazy violinist care about that? The entire sequence while they play has no dialog, with the two performers’ body language and rich sound instead telling us everything we need to know. Kaori pulls Kousei out of his dour mood once again, luring him into the sheer joy of the moment. She’s there, and they have their duet. In that moment, that’s all that matters.

Animated image of Kaori dancing and plucking her violin

I love this so much. Her playful plucking and the tap of her feet on the water’s surface give this piece a cheerfulness it’s probably never known. Kousei is finally smiling once more as he watches her, and the carefree feeling of it all is just what everyone needed.

A flash of pink brushes off the violin as Kaori plays her last note

I’m sure Kousei might want to play like that forever, but as the song nears its ending the bright day shifts to an orange sunset and finally to night. Kaori plays her last note, and Kousei dreads what follows.

Kaori starting to fade as Kousei begs her to stay

“Pester me for canelés again. Call me just to kill time.” The dialog returns to Kousei begging for more of these trivial moments. Those small things that defined the brief relationship he knew with this girl who changed everything for him. Like anyone losing a loved one, he pleads uselessly against time and fate, wanting more than he’s destined to have. The pain is is almost palpable as he calls out to her “don’t go!”

Kousei starring upwards after his performance ends with tears streaming down his face

As she fades, he pounds out the remaining notes, ending the song with just as much emotion as he started it. Like he did in episode 12 with his mother, Kousei then says his goodbye to Kaori. It’s a goodbye in more than one sense – not only to his friend but the person he relied on to come this far. But after everything he’s been through, he can do it this time without the trauma. Thanks to Kaori, he knows this is where he belongs.

Kousei looking at the envelope which has Kaori's letter

If anyone was doubtful (or maybe in denial), the graveyard scene confirms what happened. Kousei looks honestly surprised to see the letter from Kaori, though. Is it shock over seeing that she left something for him? Honestly, Kousei. Hasn’t she given you enough hints about how she felt?

The black cat sitting in the road where Kaori saw it at the beginning

A long time seems to pass (more than a month from late Feb into April?) until we see Kousei read the letter. This might have more to do with imagery than anything else, but seeing him reconnecting with her in Spring was a nice touch.

This episode comes full circle on a lot of things, and one of them is in this scene. Kousei sees another cat just before he opens the letter, though probably not the same one Kaori chased after. Maybe it’s not a physical cat at all. Do you know what it might mean now?

Once again I really like what the English dub did here. The ADR director has Kaori start the letter with “Hey you.” before correcting herself “I mean, dear Kousei Arima.”

A young Kaori looking at Emi as she cries in the seat beside her

Kaori reveals that she saw Kousei at his first recital. That flood of colors can only mean one thing, and now it’s clear why she pushed him so hard. Just like Emi, she wanted to bring back the Kousei that flooded her heart with feelings that day.

If you look back at Ep 9 when Emi is describing this, you’ll see that Kaori was there too, only wearing blue. That was Emi’s memory though, and Kaori wasn’t a significant part.

Young Kaori jumping up and down asking her dad to buy a violin

She also originally played the piano, and switched to violin just so she could play a duet with Kousei. It makes sense now why she was so emotional when he played Introduction and Rondo Capriccioso with her. It was what she wanted for 9 years, and getting those few moments on stage with Kousei became her life’s work.

Kaori in middle school wearing glasses

How does one go about doing that though? Even attending the same school Kousei always seemed so distant, and Kaori didn’t know how to approach him. In the same way Kousei hesitated as he began to step toward her at the concert hall in episode 2, Kaori stops when she sees Tsubaki run past. Back then, she was just Friend A.

Watercolor image of Kaori running down a pathway

But when she learned her life would be cut short, Kaori decided nothing was get in the way of her making the most of what she had left. She tackled everything she was afraid of or hesitant to do, creating the impulsive girl we knew.

It’s another great scene, accented by starting Kimi wa Wasurerareru no. The track that started this series takes us back to those first moments when we met her.

Kaori holding a finger up to her lips

Then, as she puts it. She told “one single lie.” It was the impetus for this entire series. Her lie in April: “Kaori likes Watari.”

Be honest, how many of you guessed that’s what it was? We all got the sense that she loved Kousei, but learning that she had faked the crush on Watari was surprising for me. All those times she brushed off Watari’s womanizing suddenly make sense.

Flashback of Kousei seeing Kaori on top of the dome playing a Melodica

It was sneaky, and rather unfortunate that Kousei was in the dark the whole time, but as Kaori said, “that one lie brought us together.” It’s why she was so insistent when she called Tsubaki in the first episode, and why she had tears in her eyes when Kousei first saw her. I’m sure on that day her world filled with color too.

Watari standing alone in the classroom looking at a photo of Kaori on his phone

She apologizes to Watari, but he was never the kind of person she could be with. He’ll be okay, I’m sure. He’s Watari, after all. Still, I can’t help but wonder if he wished he had spent more time with Kaori instead of chasing girls. He might not have been sincere enough for her, but there’s no way he’s going to forget her either.

Kaori, overshadowed, watching Kousei and Tsubaki in the hallway

Her apology to Tsubaki was extra poignant too, and I think it’s the one she worried about the most. Everyone knew Tsubaki loved Kousei, except the two of them. The lie was necessary, because there was no other way to get to Tsubaki’s “kid brother.”

I’m sure I don’t need to explain the symbolism in this shot. You’re all experts now, right?

Kashiwagi talking to Tsubaki outside the school building

The show pauses the letter to fill us in on Tsubaki. She’s as helpless as ever about how to help Kousei, but support character extraordinaire, Kashiwagi, knows what to do. How did she get so smart about relationships?

BL 😐

Kousei smiling softly as he reads the letter

Isn’t it funny how the most trivial moments can be unforgettable? Kousei’s tiny smiles as he reads about all the random things she remembers warms my heart. Life isn’t defined by one big thing. Not by a tiny lie either. It’s everything in between – all the moments that someone else might think nothing of, but are everything to you.

Kousei and Kaori standing in front of each other where she waited for him after school

“Do you think you’ll remember me at all?” Kaori’s the foolish one now for asking. How could Kousei forget her? She might have tried to pull back when she saw how far his feelings had developed, tried to keep from hurting him by leaving in the end, but there was no chance. He fell in love that day in the park, under the full bloom of Spring.

“I love you.” Kaori says it three times but just like Kousei I really felt it when I saw it written on the page like that. Do you get it now, Kousei? You dummy 😥

Tsubaki yelling at Kousei with a blush

It wouldn’t be Tsubaki if she wasn’t kicking and screaming. Still that blush gives her away. Juse like when they were kids, she vows to stay beside Kousei forever. His soft smile in response is just so natural. Tsubaki’s vow doesn’t make it all better. She can’t erase his pain, but it’s something, and Kousei is thankful for her.

A framed photo of young Kaori and her friend, with Kousei looking over his shoulder at them in the background

And just so we don’t finish this series with dry eyes, Kousei remarks “A Spring without you is coming.” We then see Kaori’s favorite photo, taken that day of Kousei’s recital, without him realizing it. It’s found an appropriate home now, sitting on the piano in the music room that held so many of their memories.


Featured Music

The real musical star of this episode is Chopin’s Ballade no. 1, but the track I’m sharing is the second ED Orange. The video I have is from the 7!! Vevo instead of the actual ED, but it’s pretty cool. It features several real life locations that were reproduced in the series, including the bridge, concert hall, and the walkway where Kousei twice found Kaori.

The song is undoubtedly melancholy and fits the tenor of the second half. The lyrics tell the story of a shared past full of innocence that diverges into two paths. It’s a sad thought, but the chorus reassures that nothing between them will change, even as they go on to chase their own dreams. In the end, isn’t that what Kaori wanted for Kousei?


And that’s it for the series. Could you have asked for a better ending? It was painful, and incredibly sad to watch at times, but in terms of content and execution I think it was perfect. Coming full circle with the story, delivering on so many motifs, and leaving Kousei with the strength to keep going even without the person who was so instrumental in bringing him out of his darkness. It really was one of the most beautiful things I’ve watched and it’s one of the many reasons that I’ll never forget this anime.

If you missed any of my posts and want to talk about individual episodes, you can find them all at this link.

Italicized word saying

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16 thoughts on “Ep 22 – Spring Wind

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  1. Ugh so I totally dropped the ball on watching along with this and I feel so bad about it but April got really hectic for me. That being said, the final letter sequence got me sobbing when I first watched it, and reading your recap got me teary eyed and emotional too. Loved reading your thoughts on the series, I…actually need to rewatch it past the first episode XD

    Liked by 1 person

    1. That’s okay Crystal. I figured you were really busy from some of your posts so I didn’t want to bug you about it. I’m glad you came back to read this one though. I would have loved to watch this series with you, so maybe when you have some time you can come back to these posts, or on your own rewatch feature on your blog and we can chat away 🙂

      Also you’re still in the drawing, so keep an eye out for my post on that later this week.

      Liked by 1 person

  2. I made it!! And I’ve been waiting for this! I watched the last two episodes back to back because I knew they bled into one another. This last episode brought on the heavy waterworks. Even after it’s ended the emotional impact of Kousei’s final performance still lingers and causes me to tear up from time to time.

    Needless to say, the cloudy gloomy weather of the SF Bay Area isn’t helping; but I’ve had Ballade on loop for awhile now while at work.

    I’m going to copy/paste a bit from my post on this scene I had awhile ago when I did the 30 Day Anime Challenge:
    I personally found that there were three movements/phases within this piece as per what the animation suggests. The first is in the beginning where Kousei is having a monologue about his past and realizing he wasn’t alone like he thought he was due with the support of his friends, and what he’s realized what music has meant to him. The second is focused on his relationship with Kaori being an important factor in his life, as this segment includes the duet with the violin; this section builds up to the climax of what I found to be the third movement. Third, is realizing that Kaori is gone and this is Kousei’s emotional goodbye in accepting it and this was the best way for him to communicate the pain he’s feeling; he is a musician, a pianist, and Aiza has said what better way to express those emotions than through playing.

    The emotions at the end of the piece run really high; most specifically when Kousei has those piano runs at the end of the piece; they really drove the point home that Kaori was gone during the those final moments in that third movement the animation shows Kaori unraveling into cherry blossoms, another reminder of the spring that she represents.

    This was such a great watch, and a great way to interact with one another! Let’s start Kids on the Slope (I’m making my official announcement today). I specifically wanted to wait till after YLiA to start this one. 🙂 Thanks again for hosting this! 😀

    Liked by 2 people

    1. Gloomy days make this episode that much harder, but I think this episode gets an emotional response no matter what the weather. I think it deserves that much too, with all the work that went into it.

      The Ballade is wonderful, and taking a cue from you I listened to it for a while here also. I see what you mean about those three parts. I think a lot of Chopin can be broken up that way when you think about it. The piece starts off slow, and is a good backdrop for him to ponder the people in his life. The middle section is just so much happier, and represents the brightness that Kaori brought to Kousei’s life. The climax has he sort of manic keystrokes that his Études are known for as Kaori disappears, matching the panic and pain he exudes in that moment and the somber, frustrated goodbye at the end… I really have to hand it to this studio. The choice of music for each performance was original to Arakawa, but Ishiguro I’m guessing was the one who matched the scenes with the Ballade like that. Simply amazing.

      This was a great watch thanks to people like you, Zel. Everyone’s participation made this event what it was and I hope we recapture some of the same magic with Kids on the Slope. I’m excited to start it!

      Liked by 1 person

      1. Indeed. The finale is byfar the best animated episode. It’s just so beautifully animated and matched perfectly with the music. Ah! I could re-watch that last performance over and over. And I agree, no matter the setting I think this scene will always make me feel emotional!

        I hope Kids on the Slope is a good one! My friend already started it and he’s been bugging me to get on it. But I told him for blog purposes I was holding on. When I told him about the YLiA discussions we’d been having he was like “I want in on that!” But unfortunately I told him a little too late. He doesn’t blog at all, so I also wasn’t sure how he’d leave a comment/engage in discussion.

        Ah, yes this morning I was very much emotionally not ready to start the day at work. LOL I watched episode 22 this morning while getting ready for work. Crying as I went; crying in the car also. *sigh* It’s exactly as Michel said in the comment below. The loss of Kaori really hits you! I remember being overwhelmed by this episode the first time. I literally sobbed for the next 30 minutes after it concluded. I can’t wait to own this on blu-ray. I’m sure this show will always make me an emotional mess; but I wouldn’t have it any other way!

        Liked by 1 person

        1. I was on the verge all through this episode. I almost lost it when Kousei frowned a little. But I only cried for a couple minutes after this because I’m a tough guy 😥

          But I was straight up streaming tears by the time the credits ended and I saw the montage with Kaori smiling at the end.

          Your friend could have totally participated if he wanted to. I think wordpress comments supports a bunch of different accounts but I need to double check on that. In any case, he would be able to leave anonymous comments (and still can if he wants).

          I hope you get a good deal on the blu-rays sometime. Watch the audio commentary if you do! the ADR director has Max Mittelman and the cast talking about episodes 1 and 22. And of course, the bloopers reel 😛

          Like

  3. It’s over. I can’t believe it, and this is the second time this week that I am pretty much at a loss for words. The first time was in the real world, and the incredibly sad news we both read yesterday on Cain’s blog. The second time is today, on animated series, that is for me not an animated series anymore. I don’t even know what to call it. I do know that it is something that I am not ever going to forget in my life, and of which I already know, that this will not be the last time that I have watched this.

    Where to start?
    Well….I can honestly say I was in denial. I did not want Kaori to die. I had hopes, very high hopes that she would maybe get one other moment together with Kousei. But when the scene on the graveyard came into view, it hit me: she’s gone. And it hit me so hard. Really, a shock just went straight to my heart. It is incredible to me, that you have come to care so much about a character in an Anime series. I have never, ever had that happen to me before. I cried at Grave of the Fireflies, but even that pales when compared to this. Kaori just felt like a real living, breathing person, if that makes any sense. To finally have it confirmed that she is really gone, I just get sad again when thinking about it.

    That scene:
    The scene on stage, with Kousei’s final duet with Kaori….it is without a doubt, the most beautiful thing that I have ever been a witness to in an animeseries, and it is not something I will ever forget. The beauty of the animation, the music, everything in that scene is perfect and flawless. If there is even a single person on this planet, who does not feel any emotion at that scene, that person should let himself get checked out. I am so in awe if it, that even though it was difficult to watch, I might even watch it again later tonight. I can’t get it out of my head.

    Tsubaki:
    and then ofcourse we have Tsubaki: the faithful friend, with the unanswered love. But even though her love at this moment still goes unanswered, she will always be there for Kousei. Because she doesn’t want lose him out of her life. It is painful….and it is something I can relate to so much. I myself am in love with a lady, who is my best friend, but it will never be more than friendship. It saddens me, it hurts even, but I would not ever want to lose her out of my life. So I continue to provide support…just like Tsubaki does. And that scene where she mentions that to him, was for me very powerful, and sad at the same time. But wow, how much strength does Tsubaki have…to continue onwards, and remain a true friend: incredible.

    Final thoughts:
    This must really be a record, I don’t think I have ever written this long a response to anything ever since I started blogging, so sorry for that. But this series deserves it, but you deserve it most of all. I can’t thank you enough for taking me through this fantastic rollercoaster of emotions for the past few weeks. It has been fun and very emotional at the same time. I would not have wanted to miss this for the world. For now, it is goodbye and farewell, but ofcourse I won’t be gone, and continue to read all of your future posts 😊

    Liked by 2 people

    1. Reading Cain’s post on the eve of posting this made me really hesitate to post. What we experience watching a show can’t compare to that kind of pain, but I posted it anyway because this event was more than just me, and I wanted everyone to be able to share in this without my personal feelings getting in the way. I had thought about asking him to talk about Hikaru Nara in a ‘Striking the Right Note’ post, but I don’t know if I can ask him to watch this anime at this time. Maybe someday.

      Our feelings have mirrored each others all through this, and it made watching with you feel like I was reliving it for the first time again. I also wanted Kaori to live so much, and for a short time after finishing this I couldn’t accept what happened. She really did feel so real, and I was so invested I wanted so badly for her to find happiness with Kousei. I had to really think about Kousei and his situation to understand why it had to be like this. When I took the time to absorb it, this became a perfect ending for me.

      That scene will live on forever. I pretty much disregard whenever someone says negative things about A-1 Pictures simply because of that scene. I’m not surprised you can’t stop thinking about it. I’m still thinking about it 1 year after the fact and not because I just wrote about it 😛

      You resonated more with Tsubaki than I realized. I mentioned before that a lot of people don’t like her, but you surely understand how difficult her position is. For having the strength to stick by Kousei I love her character. You always seemed to me like a great friend. You continue to support this person you love because they’re important to you. I think you’re just as strong as Tsubaki. Keep being a good friend, but don’t compromise yourself. Surely your friend doesn’t want that.

      And don’t ever worry about long comments. This is what makes it all worthwhile for me. To be able to share everything I’m feeling with another person and in return know what they feel too. Most of all I’m glad you had fun. That’s what enjoying something with another person is all about. I’l have another post for this event regarding prizes, so don’t go away yet (I know you keep coming back anyway 🙂 )

      Liked by 1 person

      1. Thank you very much for these incredibly kind words. I am again speechless.
        Cain’s pain is something I can’t even imagine, it is one of the reasons why I mentioned it in this comment, because it really hit me yesterday. You did make the right decision by posting this one. Even though it was a tough decision to make, it was the right thing to do I believe.
        Yes it was truly one of the best endings I have ever seen for an anime series, but then again, this entire series has been the best anime I have ever seen period 😊
        Yes Tsubaki was the character I could relate to the most, because I have pretty much been living with her pain/sadness these past few weeks. I never told her my real feelings, because I already know she doesn’t feel that way about me (I know this because she mentioned off hand one time when we went out to a movie that she wanted to go as a friends). But I don’t want to lose her as a friend of for things to become awkward so I keep quiet about it. And she has had a really tough time the past few weeks, so I can’t help but be supportive to her. But it is ok, really 😊
        Yes, I had more than fun: it was truly amazing. I hope to have a post up for the series as a whole tomorrow, but I really want to hit the right note for it, if you pardon the pun lol 😂 Haha, I am not going anywhere at all. Your blog has always been a great read, so definitely don’t worry about that 😊

        Like

  4. I didn’t watch this anime, not with you guys and not before,but I did diligently follow every post. Even with the diminished experience, I’m tearing up here. This certainly seems like a beautiful story. I’m still not sure if I’ll ever watch it. Probably not but still, thanks for holding this rewatch party.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Ah, I wish you had watched with us D, but thank you for reading along with the posts regardless. You could say this is a pretty powerful series if you got teary just from reading my recaps. Watching and experiencing all of it together, especially coupled with the music, is a whole different level.

      I’m glad I could entertain nonetheless. Thanks again for following!

      Liked by 1 person

  5. I had never bawled my eyes out in an anime before this one. The note Kaori left behind saying “I love you” to Kosei and the very end were the scenes that really made me cry.
    Orange is one of my favorite anime endings in the world! I can listen to it, like, twelve times a day and still tear up every time.
    Grew review on this episode! It was a lot of fun reading your posts on these episodes! 😀

    Liked by 1 person

    1. I’m with you on that one. I don’t think I had as much emotional investment with any anime before this. Kaori’s note, learning about that whole journey over the course of a few minutes, it really packed a lot of feeling into it. You’ve got to be pretty cold not to react to that.

      Orange will probably always hold up for me. It’s a great song, and I still feel the tears welling up sometimes. But I hold it in because I don’t want people pulling up beside me in the car thinking I’m crying. I have an image to maintain. 😥

      Thanks a lot for joining us on this. I’m glad you enjoyed it as well!

      Liked by 1 person

  6. Ah, what an ending. It really hits ya in the feels.

    Seems like my inklings about Kaori seeing Kousei’s first performance were correct, yay! The namesake of the show caught me off-guard as a whole, though.

    I’m glad you hosted this watching party!

    Like

    1. Lol yeah I had to stop you when you started going down that line of thought, because otherwise you would have unraveled this ending way too prematurely!

      I almost forgot about what the title meant as we got further into the show. I figured it was always something like her lying about being ok, or Kousei lying about her not being his type near the beginning. Using the setup behind their first meeting was really interesting, I think. Not brilliant, but nice all the same.

      I’m glad you enjoyed the party, Remy! You ended up winning a prize too, so I’ll email you about it.

      Like

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