We move on from the last episode’s theme to something cute but not exactly easier to deal with. Read on for my take on episode 7’s strongest motif.
Kousei is running out of time to prepare for his competition. He has been practicing nonstop, but isn’t any closer to knowing how to express the piece he wants to play. His old doubts return to haunt him, and his inner voice in the form of a black cat taunts his failure.
I covered episode 7 in last year’s event at this link (new window). Have a look for the a recap and my take on important moments.
Today I’ll focus on the cat Kousei sees in this episode and what it represents in his life, both from a physical and psychological perspective.
Standard warning: The below post may have spoilers for episode 7. Also, while I will answer your comments according to whether you have seen the series or not, there is no guarantee about other users’ comments!
The Yellow Eyed Cat
The image of a cat is present with this anime from the first minute of the show, and in every episode which the opening, Hikaru Nara, precedes. Their presence reoccurs frequently over the course of the series in both physical and symbolic forms, but there are a few differences between the cats we see. The yellow eyed cat that Kousei encounters in this episode is the one most representative of the feelings he struggles with.
Right off the bat we see the cat taunting him about how unprepared he is. It isn’t a malicious approach, as it tells him that no one expects him to be Beethoven, or to be able to express the piece as its composer Chopin did. It feeds him these excuses while also giving voice to his fears: Not hearing his notes, being laughed off the stage, disappointing himself and others. All this can happen, but it’s better than being abandoned.
The connection to abandonment comes when Kousei encounters the cat in person with Kaori, and explains to her about another cat, Chelsea, he had when he was younger. She was a playful animal that Kousei clearly loved, but was thrown out by his mother after she injured Kousei’s precious hand. One of the few remaining memories Kousei has of his mother is the harrowing experience of her taking Chelsea away.
Kousei doubles over with sickness when he sees the cat because of the feelings of guilt it invokes. He was powerless to stop his mother when she took Chelsea away, not even daring to raise a word of objection. Kousei’s young life was so controlled by her that it didn’t cross his mind to try to stick up for himself or something that he loved. This leads directly into another problem he deals with – a lack of identity.
Robot. Saki’s puppet. Human metronome. Friend A. Kousei has always just been whatever other people define him as. The cat’s repeated questions of “Who are you?” and “Where are you” are purposely designed to prey on this insecurity of his. The fact that these doubts take on a separate form is itself representative of how even his faults are not a part of his self identity, or something he can own and control.
Kaori, ever the inspiration, has become the answer to getting past a lot of these issues. He’s not Beethoven or Chopin, but she lets him know it’s enough for Kousei to be himself. By the episode’s end we see that her words left him comfortable enough to tell the cat that he’s okay with not having all the answers right now. Still, the cat’s warning, “She will be there,” gives him pause. The “she” it refers to is Kousei’s mother; the source of all of his trauma, and a pain that he can’t get over so easily.
What did you think about the cat when it first appeared, and what did it mean to you? Do you feel there was any other purpose behind giving Kousei’s doubts a ‘character’? The other competitors are introduced in this episode as well, so if this is your first time watching let me know what you think of them.
Also, there have only been a few people playing the quiz, so if you are interested in the giveaway make sure you participate to increase your chances. All the quizzes are open until May 1, and you can catch up on the previous posts for this event here.