One of the most important themes of Your lie in April comes to light as Kousei recalls memories of his mother. Read on to see what I picked out from episode 13.
Obligatory disclaimer: This post may contain spoilers for episode 13 and earlier. Other readers’ comments in the discussion following the post are not guaranteed to be spoiler free for the overall series.
Kousei goes onto the stage without Kaori to perform their duet, replacing his part with Rachmaninoff’s arrangement of Love’s Sorrow from memory. As he plays the song, memories of his relationship with his mother flood his mind. As Kousei bids farewell to one sorrow, he is confronted with another.
I covered this episode for last year’s event in this post (opens in a new window). Check it out if you need a recap or are interested in my take on the episode’s key moments.
The theme I wanted to talk about in this episode is the same one that I pointed out at the end of the recap post. The concept of connecting to others through music is presented so strongly here that it’s hard to find another one to talk about.
A big part of Your lie in April is the relationship that forms between the performer and the audience. It was explored as early as episode 2 when Kaori stunned the entire concert hall with how she played Mozart’s Kreutzer, and again when we were introduced to Emi and her desire for her feelings to resonate in the audience’s hearts. Both these girls were keenly aware that the effects of their music don’t end when they complete their piece, and Emi’s admission that a single performance from a six year old Kousei turned her into a pianist shows that it can have far reaching effects.
But for Kousei this has always been a struggle. Having only ever played to please his mother, Kousei never felt connected to anyone else through his performances. This began to change during the Maihou competition when his thoughts of Kaori were what enabled him to restart his piece and play with his heart. Left to play without her now, he tries to do the same thing by focusing his anger over Miike’s dismissive words of his absent partner. Still unable to hear his notes, yet aware of how they feel, he knows this isn’t how the song is supposed to sound.
Kousei’s solution shows a drastic change in his understanding of the piano’s role in his life. Rachmaninoff’s Liebeslied was his lullaby, gently ingrained into his heart by his mother when she was healthier and happier. By recalling this connection with her, he is able to recreate her exact sound, filling the hall with the loving affection that his mother played the song with. The tenderness with which she taught him how to play at first comes flooding back to him, and the memories of her return. The ghost, he admits, was his own mental construct. In its place, he remembers the woman who made it possible for him to be where he is.
Thanks to his mother, Kousei was able to use the piano to create connections with people. The audiences he amazed with his music; his rivals, Takeshi and Emi; his inspiration, Kaori; and of course Saki herself. His childhood was difficult, and largely because of her held many moments of pain and regret. Still, she was his mother and only wanted the best for him. Her existence as a pianist, as a mother, and as a dying woman was all coming to an end and she had to resort to extreme measures to prepare Kousei for a life without her.
I remarked on this in my episode 13 post last year, but that moment when Saki answers Kousei about why she always plays “Love’s Sorrow” is an apt scene to symbolize his moment of understanding. Sitting in the wheelchair with her eyes obscured as we have always seen her, she leans forward to pick Kousei up, revealing tear filled eyes, and tells him she plays so he get used to sorrow. His memory of Saki as a vengeful spectre is replaced by the loving caretaker she tried to be. Only by playing her song could Kousei reconcile the two and connect to a person who had an unyielding love for him.
This episode hits me hard because of the magnitude of what Kousei feels, but how did it affect you? Was there any other theme you felt was strongly expressed? How does Tsubaki’s reaction strike you? Let me know what you think in the comments and remember to do today’s quiz!