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!
If the series ended at this episode I would have been perfectly ok. I like the true ending but this one was also so perfect, and the Kousei teaching arc isn’t my favorite but we’ll see how I feel about it on a rewatch because rewatching this my feelings towards Saki changed significantly. Seeing her side of things was so sad, and I’m always paying more attention to the themes of how music keep people together in this, but this one hit me especially hard, seeing her have to cope with leaving him, seeing Kousei break down after he played asking Hiroko “Did I reach her?” brought a tear to my eye. Loved the duel meaning there, but of course in this instance, he was talking about his Mom.
Going to get a tad personal here, but I lost my Dad at a really young age. Not because of an illness, but because of a car accident, but it was the same experience of visiting him in the hospital, and over a period of about a year seeing him deteriorate, after coming out of a coma for eight months. I was around 10 when he died, so honestly couldn’t remember when the car accident actually happened that got him into that state, but seeing Saki talking to Hiroko about preparing Kousei, not being able to be with him growing up, it just made me think “Did my Dad think that?” and likewise, when Kousei had his break down, it brought back a lot of feelings I’ve definitely felt over the years, wishing he was here for certain instances in my life, wondering if we’d be watching anime together? Because he was such a nerd. Wondering how our relationship would have grown overall…and like, that’s why I guess I paid more attention to those themes as opposed to the musical ones this time lol, definitely brought a tear to my eye and the fact that YLiA would touch on such mature themes is why I love this show so much.
Sorry for the novel haha, like I said this episode impacted me pretty hard, and I really wasn’t expecting it to.
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First of all, thank you for sharing your story, Crystal. I’m so sorry to hear about what happened to your father. It sounds like it was a difficult experience for all involved, but I’m glad you felt comfortable enough to talk about it now. I hope you continue to remember him fondly, because that feeling you get when you wish he was there is how you keep his memory and the impact of his life on yours strong.
I wouldn’t want anyone to relive a traumatic experience while watching this, but this is the kind of emotional connection I feel YLIA has a way of drawing out. Part of my motivation in exploring these themes is because they’re so very human and a lot of us can relate to the basic feeling they’re trying to convey. Though I have never experienced much of what Kousei has, I felt like I was with him through every step of this story and felt all the pain and joy he did. Sometimes, as in your case, the emotional response is much stronger because you’ve actually been there.
If the last episode wasn’t so beautiful I might agree about this being a fine ending. That feeling of closure he has is just so moving I can’t watch it anymore without tears coming on.
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Exactly, it’s rare for an anime to be such an enriching viewing experience for me, and I love it when that’s the case because like you said it not only let’s people who haven’t gone through such things see what it’s like, but allows people who have to heal, or understand what they went through, why they felt certain ways at any given time, and that’s definitely what this anime does for me all throughout. I think it’s rare to find a show like that, so it’s part of why I love YLiA so much 🙂
Totally agree, I’m anticipating sobbing like a baby at the end of the series, That letter ugh XD
Another beautiful post. See this is why i don’t comment what more could i possibly say. I’m too teary eyed to see my screen well anyways
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You and me both, Irina. It’s enough that you validate how emotionally invested I tend to get with this..!
I love how you were able to uncover that Kousei’s mother’s influence in his life was not entirely negative. The unintended consequences of her actions resulted in Kousei being able to communicate with the audience through his music. Though this begs the question, was it not also his mother’s stern treatment that created Kousei’s reserved nature to begin with? Had his mother, and Kousei’s desire to please her, not been a driving influence in Kousei’s life, would he have been more extroverted and naturally social?
On a complete aside, that ties into this idea of connection, what are your thoughts on the decision to have Kousei’s father be absent throughout this series? Is this done to show how Kousei’s mother was the main influence in his life or was there an even deeper motive behind it?
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Well the episode itself did most of the uncovering, but I’ll take it 🙂
But you draw an interesting parallel between Kousei being naturally reserved and being unable to communicate through music. Saki’s training I think, while not hindering him, never really taught him to be expressive. Playing perfectly wins competitions, and in her mind being able to do that was the priority. If Kousei got to play with Tsubaki and the others more as a child I’m sure he would have been more social, but I can’t say for certain what that would mean for his performances. If Emi’s story is any indication, Kousei was already capable of expressing himself before his mom began forcing him to adhere to the score. Still, if he wasn’t taught to stifle his emotions during the performance I’m sure he would have become a different kind of pianist.
On the topic of Kousei’s father, I don’t much understand his absence other than the writer not knowing how he would fit into the story. His mother’s need to impart these skills on Kousei suggests that he would need to take care of himself, so I have no idea what kind of relationship they might have had. We see someone walking with Kousei in the hospital through flashbacks in episode 14 and I can only assume it’s his father which shows he was around some of the time while Saki was sick. Kousei also mentions in ep 15 that he has his father’s permission to move to attend school in another prefecture so there is some sort of contact. Based on all this it just seems like Arakawa just had no place for Kousei’s dad in his story so he completely sidelines him. Saki’s influence, as you said, had the greatest part in shaping him so the focus went there instead.
Ahhh, remembering what happened in this episode after reading your post got me misty-eyed. Same with reading Crystal’s comment and your response. Wow. Not much else to say other than that.
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It was a very personal story. We get all worked up from things that happen in an anime show but so many people deal with the same or similar feelings all the time.
I think a good message to take away is that tragedy doesn’t have to turn the memories of a loved one into entrapping sadness. Remembering them for what they brought to your life can be liberating too.
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