My event for the month of April continues with Your lie in April episode 8. Read on for today’s theme and another fun quiz.
The Maihou competition starts to heat up as Kousei’s most notable rivals play their performances. Both of these pianists have a history with Kousei but he seems to have been entirely unaware of it. The audience and Kousei alike are stunned by what they hear, and for the first time Kousei is realizes the level of the talent that had been building around him.
I covered this episode for last year’s event in this post (new window). Go ahead and check it out for my take on some key moments, and feel free to engage in discussion about the episode on that post or this one.
With the heavier focus on the other pianists in this episode, I thought it appropriate to look at what inspires people to play or pursue a talent, and where rivalries fit into the goals and dreams they set for themselves.
Same standard warning applies: The below post may have spoilers for episode 8. I will answer your comments according to whether or not you have seen the series, but there is no guarantee about other readers’ comments!
Rivalry and Inspiration
One could argue that the point of a competition, at least among the participants, is to test yourself against others of worthy skill. Whereas a recital or gala might be purely to showcase talent, a contest urges its competitors to push themselves as far as they can go for the coveted title of being the best.
Of course, not everyone’s reasons for entering a competition are the same. We saw at the end of the last episode that Takeshi turns down a chance to increase his international exposure just so he can compete against Kousei at the Maihou – a competition he has already won before. His coach, Akira Takyanagi, sees this as a foolish move but he understands his pupil’s motivation all the same. Takeshi is currently the top young pianist in Japan, but he’s never beaten Kousei, and so entering this competition fires him up more than a trip overseas ever could. Takyanagi thus silently thanks Kousei during Takeshi’s performance, stating “Just by existing, you inspired Takeshi Aiza to be the best he can be.”
Emi on the other hand has a very different motivation, though it’s tied to the exact same cause. She has always been present in the competitive scene but her results were too inconsistent to make her stand out. Madame Ochiai’s statement that “her only worthy foe was nowhere to be found” is at once a shot against her rival Takyanagi as well as an admission that Emi could only excel in the face of a challenge from Kousei Arima. Her dazzling performance, which left even Kousei struck, is a testament to that fact. But rather than wanting to match Kousei’s technical skill, she wants to push him to reproduce the magical sound that moved her to tears as a child.
Even with the heavier focus on these new characters, we see how this story is still very centered around Kousei. When we compare his reason for playing the piano, basically forced into mechanical perfection by his mother, the contrast Takeshi and Emi are meant to provide is clear. They both pursue the piano because they were inspired by him and what he could do (albeit at different stages of his time with the piano) and strive to catch up to or surpass him. Emi said it best when recalling the first performance of his that she saw: “Four minutes of him at the keys. That’s what made me a pianist.”
For Kousei, whose head has been perpetually down until Kaori demanded “Look at me” back in episode 4, there was no understanding of what moved his peers to do the things they did. Takeshi and Emi had already found answers for the questions that Kaori posed to Kousei a couple of episodes back. “How do you want to play this piece? Who are you playing it for?” Takeshi and Emi’s coaches couldn’t’ push them to excellence the way Kousei’s presence does, but the only inspiration Kousei has ever had was his mother’s slave driving.
With the introduction of these characters and a return to the competitive environment, Kousei’s and the series as a whole begin to grow from this point; presenting a growing focus on the people connected to Kousei through his performances.
What do you think about Takeshi and Emi’s motivations? Does the narrative being focused on Kousei make them seem less important? Let me know your thoughts in the comments and catch up on any posts you might have missed here.
Your Quiz in April