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.
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.
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.
“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.