Your Theme in April: Ep 18 – Hearts Come Together

Your lie in April brings us a tried and true motif with this episode that still somehow feels inspiring. There are only four posts left for this event, so read on to enjoy another theme analysis while you can.


Intro

Obligatory disclaimer: This post may contain spoilers for episode 18 and earlier. Other readers’ comments in the discussion following this post are not guaranteed to be spoiler free for the overall series.

Kousei’s appearance turns heads as he and Nagi put on a memorable performance for her school festival. Though Kaori can’t be there, Watari makes sure Kousei’s message to her gets through. When Kousei sees Kaori at the hospital again, he asks for a request.

I covered this episode during last year’s event in this post (new window). Have a look for an episode recap and my take on some of the key moments.

This series has shown its characters working through a number of challenges, but this one stands out for how the theme is presented. Nagi might call it a cliché, but finding the strength to keep going is one of the most prevalent concepts in anime for a reason.


Not Giving Up

The cornerstone of every shounen anime, maintaining the will to fight or standing up in the face of a challenge is almost a requirement for those types of stories. You can expect that the hero will never give up in the face of adversity, or shrink away from a challenge. This theme works because people get excited to see a comeback, or inherently feel inspired when a character shows courage. Your lie in April is no different, though its thoughtful storytelling allows it to use even such formulaic tropes to great effect.

The entire premise behind Kousei’s involvement at Nagi’s school festival was to motivate Kaori, who had seemingly given up on recovering and rejoining her friends. But Kaori wouldn’t be the only one challenged by the performance he took part in that day. When the sound of the notes didn’t satisfy Kousei’s heart, even Nagi was challenged to step up her game (going back to yesterday’s theme, Kousei amps it up like Kaori did during their duet). Despite the hours they put into practicing, Kousei saw the growth opportunity for Nagi and pushed her to elevate her capabilities.

Kousei looking like he has dark energy coming off him as he plays

Nagi, like a true anime hero, accepts and overcomes his challenge to remarkable effect. The resulting sound leaves the audience awed by her ability, including her brother, Takeshi. In addition to questioning his lack of inspiration, he’s challenged by his friend to match the passion with which his own younger sister could play. A brief scene from episode 15 showed Takeshi visibly angry after an inspired performance from Emi. When she, Nagi, and even Kousei can play with such heart, why can’t he? He goes backstage to make his intention to beat Kousei known (and threaten him to stay away from his little sister), showing Nagi a glimpse of the inspired pianist he used to be.

The intended target of Kousei’s plan is seen during his performance, clearly affected by what she was hearing. When he meets Kaori in the hospital she calls him cruel, but Kousei is willing to be that if it means keeping her form falling into despair. For everything Kaori had done for him and helped him experience, the very question she asked him, “Can you just forget it?” hits her hard. In making her hear his performance and asking her this question, he’s challenging her to do more than just play one more duet with him – he’s asking her not to give up on everything they shared, or on the person he was able to become because of her.

Kaori looking up from her seat at Kousei with tears in her eyes

“The air is chilly, as dry as can be. The laundered sheets lend a gentleness to my surroundings. Such a cruel boy. Telling me to dream one more time. I thought I was satisfied because my dream had come true, and I told myself it was enough. Yet here you are, watering this wilting heart again.” Set against such imagery and pathos, even one of the most well trod anime themes finds emotional resonance.


This event is nearing its end, so make sure you’re getting all the entries you can. Play today’s quiz, and catch up on any posts you missed under this link. Even if you missed a post the day of, you can still get participation credit until May 1.


Your Quiz in April

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7 thoughts on “Your Theme in April: Ep 18 – Hearts Come Together

Add yours

  1. I’ve definitely written this down to watch again. Your poll has made it clear it has been too long and my memory for some of the small details has been lost. Still, I loved this episode and this performance. I’m kind of sad because I know your next couple of posts are going to break my heart all over again, but I’ve had so much fun following along this April.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. I guess today’s question isn’t that easy if the episode isn’t fresh on your mind. Sorry about that. But yes, the little details really make this show, and I always get value out of a rewatch

      One of the good things about my posts this year is that they’re looking at themes and not necessarily a recap, so the next couple of posts aren’t too depressing.

      But I break my own heart sometimes going through my episode notes, so…

      Liked by 1 person

    1. Well, your opinion isn’t unpopular. So many shows go back to it because it is such a longstanding and effective favorite in storytelling.

      Though I think I’ve heard Naruto yell “Not giving up is my ninja way” enough to last a lifetime.

      Like

  2. Kousei is so great in this episode! I totally agree with everything you said: It’s o nice to see Kousei’s growth because of the short time he spent with Kaori, and that performance he and Nagi did was fab. Can’t get enough of the piano work in this show, it’s so good 🙂

    Still think Takeshi is one dimensional, but I never picked up on the fact he needs to find a reason for playing that isn’t just “I must beat my rival”. One thing I’ll dock this anime points for is the constant return to the “You pervert!” trope. I always cringe when it happens lol. So close to the end of the show, I’m readying my tissues.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. I really enjoyed the performance because choosing to do a waltz meant they both had a chance to shine. They’re a lot of fun to listen to.

      Episode 19 (tomorrow) is the end of Takeshi’s story so if you don’t like him much after that you don’t really have to deal with him again 😛 I won’t say he gets a convincingly strong story but it makes me see him as a little less one-dimensional.

      I think half the time I’m watching this show, my wife is watching my face to see if I’m crying. I can keep the waterworks under control most of the time but I’m 100% dying inside during those emotional scenes.

      Liked by 2 people

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