Your Theme in April: Ep 8 – Let it Ring

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.


Intro

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.”

Image of Takeshi at the piano

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.”

Image of a young Kousei playing at his first recital

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

 

7 thoughts on “Your Theme in April: Ep 8 – Let it Ring

Add yours

  1. I always find these kind of rivalries difficult to invest in. In real life, people who define themselves by others, whether they can beat them or not, aren’t likely to find themselves overly fulfilled. Even if they win, what next? A moment of exhilaration and then that empty feeling of being cut adrift from a goal. While it always makes for a reasonable driving motivation in stories, these kinds of characters don’t ever really connect with me and I forget them fairly quickly other than remembering there was that rival character.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Well, I suppose they’re supporting characters for a reason! Everything in this story is about Kousei so it’s no wonder they present his rivals in this manner too, though I can agree that making the rivalry be their entire motivation makes them kind of one dimensional. It’s a good point about supporting characters in general – they feel more like people you can care about if they have some goal beyond surpassing the protagonist.

      Then again, I don’t think we have this problem for Emi because we see from her scenes that beating Kousei isn’t so much the goal as is getting him to play like he used to. Takeshi also sees by the end that he was able to reach new heights because of Kousei. His growth could go on afterward, but that’s his own story and it doesn’t fit into the theme of the anime.

      Liked by 1 person

  2. I love Emi. I think she’s the most fleshed out between the two new characters, but her motivation of wanting to play music that people can feel in their hearts and souls is another thing that I super connect to and seeing her flashbacks from her childhood were super heart warming to me. She hides all of that enthusiasm underneath her cool guise, but anytime she plays you can see how emotional she really is and idk I just really connect with that on a personal level. I think Kousei connecting to it too was a great way to build his character, because it makes him see playing music isn’t all about precision.

    Not a huge fan of the other guy, I find him rather one note throughout the entirety of the show but he is entertaining when he pops up later.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Emi and Kaori are a lot alike, don’t you think? 🙂 I really like what Emi’s character brings to this story too because it provides some context for Kaori’s experience as well, and seeing the parallels they develop is always intriguing to me. Also young Emi was really adorable, and I liked out they contrast her teacher’s approach to what Takeshi’s coach or even Kousei’s mom did.

      I’ve seen Emi described as kind of cliche, like the girl who can’t contain her emotions but I covered cliches with the first post of this event so I liked her all the same. Takeshi has his uses and I’m not sure he’s supposed to be very likable at this point. I kind of felt for him later on but I think I have to agree he’s not as good at getting the viewer invested.

      Liked by 1 person

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