A lot has changed about Kousei’s life, as evidenced by a theme from episode 19. My April event is nearing its end, and these final posts will apply more to the series overall.
Obligatory disclaimer: This post may contain spoilers for episode 19 and earlier. Other readers’ comments in the discussion following this post are not guaranteed to be spoiler free for the overall series.
Spurred on by Kousei’s request, Kaori requests to undergo a risky surgery that might give her a chance to play another duet with him. Tsubaki tries to change her opinions and support Kousei’s musical ambitions. At the preliminaries of the Eastern Japan Piano Competition, Takeshi and Emi find common ground with Kousei.
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.
As close as we are to the end, the story is closing some of the character arcs we’ve seen a well as some ideas that were presented early on. Kousei’s lack of passion at the start of the series had him doubting he could inspire anyone, but he has come a long way since then.
The first episode of this series featured a notion that falling in love makes the world look more colorful. Delivered by Tsubaki, the quote has a romantic tenor but the core idea behind it is the sense of passion that love invokes, and how it changes the way the person looks at the everyday mundane things in their lives. Right after hearing the quote Kousei told Tsubaki he didn’t think he could inspire a change in anyone like that, but he understood the quote’s merit when he first saw Kaori in the park. From that moment she filled his world with color, helping him overcome many of the problems he suffered.
The Kousei we see at this point in the series can hear his notes, can play from his heart, and has shown his ability to invoke passion in others. His request to Kaori at the end of the last episode would have been nothing more than words without this last point. Kaori’s illness had sapped the willpower out of her, but by giving her the same wake up call that she had once given him, his radiance inspires her to give her all as well. Kaori’s choice to undergo surgery and physical therapy lifts her spirits again, and her father makes it a point to tell Kousei directly that he’s the cause of it.
In a much more subdued case, Tsubaki starts to turn around from her position that music was taking Kousei away from her. Her complaint that Kousei’s eyes weren’t sparkling at the beginning became a nagging worry when his passion turned toward things that didn’t involve her. But she realizes deep down how important music is for Kousei; how much he loves it, and how much she loves seeing him thrive. Though Kashiwagi had to prod her into it once again, she takes food to him and cuts his hair so he looks good for the competition. She’s still jealous of the bond he has with Kaori, but the drive he has toward music can no longer be seen as a negative thing by Tsubaki.
The final example is laid out by Takeshi’s monologue during his prelim performance. Kousei’s relation to his inspiration to play was covered before, but it’s in this episode that he begins to appreciate the byproduct of his journey. Having rivals that can keep pace with him and pushing himself to be the best have been a transformative experience for the perpetually restless Takeshi. He acknowledges that he has Kousei to thank for that – not as an abstract ideal that he tries to live up to, but as a pianist who faces the same experiences on his own journey.
In considering all the previous talk about reaching the audience and shining like a star, Kousei is becoming what Kaori had said and hoped he would be. He has yet to realize all the ways he has brought color into peoples’ lives, but this point is covered in the coming episodes. While much of this one is built to close the thread of his rivals’ involvement in the story, it was nice to see it composed in a way that echoes one of the fundamental themes of the show.
How do you feel about this theme? Does the change in Kousei from the beginning until now make you feel any differently about him? Let me know your thoughts on this, or the episode in general, in the comments.
And don’t forget to complete today’s quiz!