Your Theme in April: Ep 20 – Hand in Hand

With only 2 episodes to go, my April event continues with another theme analysis for you to enjoy. Today’s theme is closely related to the title, and was bound to come up sooner or later.


Intro

Obligatory disclaimer: This post may contain spoilers for episode 20 and earlier. Other readers’ comments in the discussion following this post are not guaranteed to be spoiler free for the overall series.

Kousei continues to avoid confronting Kaori, leading Tsubaki to confront him about how he really feels. Realizing for the first time himself, he resolves to change things only to discover that he might have run out of time.

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.

We had previously explored the role of lies in the narrative and how the characters use them to avoid sorrow. The opposite sentiment can be applied to truth, in its power to render them vulnerable to the pain of uncertainty.


Honesty

With the title of the anime referring to a lie, exploring the role of honesty was inevitable. As I alluded in the analysis of episode 14, one of the primary motivations to mask the truth was to avoid pain. There’s a reason that people say “the truth hurts.” It takes away the sense of control a lie provides, relying instead on the hope that others will respond favorably to it. This is no less applicable for the characters who open up to others in this episode. Though we have yet to see the lie of the show’s namesake come out into the open, the truth of Kousei’s feelings are on prominent display.

This comes up most dramatically right before the mid episode break when Kousei and Tsubaki were talking while hiding out from the sudden rainfall. Interestingly, it’s the buildup of lies from Kousei that finally drives Tsubaki over the edge, as he unknowingly teases her hope that he would ever see her as a girl. Kousei’s admission in response to her questioning is his first explicit admission that he likes Kaori, and it promptly sends Tsubaki into a tirade about how no girl would choose him over Watari. This final lie, considering that Tsubaki had chosen him, gets her to come clean about how she feels as well. Realizing what her words really meant, Tsubaki runs from the embarrassment. Still, she relishes the freedom that the truth provided. Kousei understood that she was a girl, and now it was up to him as to how he would deal with it.

Watercolor image of Tsubaki telling Kousei he has no choice but to love her

Kousei has a similar moment himself when he speaks to Kaori on the phone. His frustration comes from her mixed signals about whether or not he should visit her – in reality the indecisiveness of a girl who doesn’t know if she should hold on or let go. When she tells him again that he doesn’t have to visit her if he doesn’t have time, he soothes her worry by being direct himself. His words end her doubts about whether or not she should try to spare his pain. Kousei has invited it himself, because seeing her is more important to him.

The final example also has to do with Kousei’s admission, though the context and resulting consequences are different. After talking to Kaori, Kousei is no longer afraid to visit the hospital with Watari. It’s here that Kousei takes his boldest step by admitting he likes Kaori to the very person he believes is her boyfriend. The risk of Watari being angry with him shouldn’t be understated, but Watari’s reaction shows just how much Kousei underestimates his friend’s understanding. It’s a short lived but touching moment, considering the distance Kousei had put between himself and Kaori because of his fear of betraying Watari.

Image of Watari standing above Kousei on the stairs up to Koari's hospital room

Of course, the consequences of truth make themselves known in short order. It wasn’t the danger of straining his relationship with his friends that ultimately comes back to bite Kousei after admitting his feelings, but rather the vulnerability he creates in his own heart by realizing that he loves Kaori. When he and Watari see her go into a seizure, his worst fears spring forward without the cushion of the distance he kept from Kaori to hold them back. Every moment when he should have known what they felt floods his mind, and his crushing realization that he discovered the truth too late sends him spiraling into despair.

As painful as it is to see what Kousei goes through at this point, it’s important because realizing and admitting his truth is the catalyst for the final act of the series. Shedding his identity as ‘Friend A’ is important in properly processing what he’s going through, because his lack of clarity about his identity when his mother passed away led to many of the problems he had.


Is honesty worth the pain that might follow? How did Kousei and Tsubaki choosing to be honest so late in the series help or hinder the story in your opinion? Let me know your thoughts about the article or the episode in general, and don’t forget to do today’s quiz!


Your Quiz in April

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10 thoughts on “Your Theme in April: Ep 20 – Hand in Hand

Add yours

  1. I think this was perfectly timed in terms of the character’s and the progress they made. Pacing is something this series got very right with progress happening in a logical and timely manner.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. I’ve kind of always felt this way too. As invested as I got in this story I was tempted to think “urgh, why did it take you this long!” but when looking at the overall series with the clarity I have now I have to agree the timing is perfect.

      Liked by 1 person

  2. This episode is so sad, that ending ugh my heart! I thought the way Tsubaki handled her confession was the clunkyest thing, like why just run off after that haha. I don’t even think Kousei understood it himself, but maybe that’s more because of what he was going through. So I think how Tsubaki handled the truth was a bad way, but Kousei with his directness towards Watari was how you should handle telling someone something – which I thought was also an interesting way to show this theme in the show, as well. Love the scene between Watari and Kousei, but yeah ugh the end of this episode ;_;

    A part of me will always wish this story ends differently, maybe I’ll hunt down fanfiction for said ENDING XD

    Liked by 1 person

    1. It really is. Kousei’s breakdown at the end absolutely kills me, especially set against the images of Kaori’s hand touching his, and him washing them like he’s trying to forget. It’s a very powerful scene.

      Watari made Kousei’s truth easy to process. His smile when he says “I already knew” just melts me. The thing is, he was ready to hear the truth from Kousei, but Kousei wasn’t ready to hear Tsubaki’s. Kind of her fault, but of course she’s still going to be Tsubaki and give him a good kick.

      Resist the urge for another ending, Crystal. You know deep down this story can’t be improved upon!

      Liked by 2 people

  3. The timing of their moments of honesty initially got me a little irritated since it felt like they took way too long. But that’s how life is, isn’t it? Sometimes it takes a while for people to come to terms with things they’d rather deny or hide from. And then that paves the way to more instances of realization and then we all reach Nirvana or something. Just kidding.

    I predict I’m not going to have much to say for these next few episode post, sorry. The ending of YLiA really had me quiet and pensive when I saw it and it seems like I’m about to experience that again.

    Like

    1. It’s another thing that, in real life, is incredibly frustrating to deal with. People wait way too long to be forthright and only after some unnecessary trouble. It’s human nature though, and fostering a relationship where honesty is appreciated and rewarded is a lot harder than, well, not doing that. As you said though, one moment of liberation can sometimes lead to a lot more because getting some deep feelings off your chest can be incredibly cathartic.

      As you probably realize after finishing this post series, I thought these revelations to be very well timed from a story point of view. These moments of truth had to come eventually, but would have irrevocably altered the story if they came sooner.

      Liked by 1 person

      1. Mmm. That’s where the divide between fiction and reality come into play, perhaps.

        In regards to storytelling, these confessions and instances of honesty really did happen at the right times like you said.

        Liked by 1 person

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