How many different narrative threads does KimiUso think it can handle at once?
I’d be lying if I said I’m a little ambivalent about the introduction of Hiroko’s new student, Nagi. We’ve already got plenty of different stories going on in this show right now with most of our mainstay characters in some sort of flux, so to have an entirely new character introduced…well, it both excites me and irritates me. I like Kousei, Tsubaki, Watari, Kaori, Takeshi, and (former Best Girl) Emi quite a lot, so taking more time away from them to spend it on another character makes me wonder if we’re ever going to actually deal with everyone else’s storylines.
Thankfully, KimiUso didn’t pull an Inou Battle this week and did indeed give Tsubaki the screen time her character needed to come to a minor resolution from the events of last episode. Even better, we get to see Tsubaki deal with the reality of her own feelings in a surprisingly clear-headed and mature way. Her childhood, she finally understands, has passed her by. She’s no longer a child and neither is Kousei—both of them are living in a different world from the one they lived in as children.
Tsubaki’s senpai breaking up with her is actually a great reflection on the changes in her life. Despite the clumsiness of his break-up speech, he notes that Tsubaki never seems comfortable at his side. Like her image of Kousei as a child who needs to be supported by her, Tsubaki’s crush on her senpai is a relic of her childhood life. Just as her relationship with Kousei must change with the flow of time, so must her relationship with this boy. And Tsubaki realizes that, by living in the past, she hasn’t merely kept herself from understanding her own feelings—she’s hurt someone else by imposing that same foolish resistance to the present and future on their relationship. These are some big lessons for someone Tsubaki’s age to be learning, but I think we have to give her credit for being willing to learn them.
At this point, Tsubaki’s clearly aware that she’s in love with Kousei—a bittersweet revelation indeed for our poor Best Girl. Knowing that, her scene with Kousei in the music room is both comforting and painful. Even as Tsubaki broods over the way Watari, Kousei, Kaori and the other musicians inspire each other to keep moving forward, she’s unaware that they’re having the same effect on her. Yes, Tsubaki isn’t really as far removed from Kousei as she think she is. They may exist in different spheres of interest, but it’s her inability to push herself into the present moment that has truly separated her from the boy she loves. Now that she’s come this far, now that she’s willing to let her time start moving again…she can see Kousei for what he is and herself for who she is. Who knows if that means she will ever have a chance with him, but at the very least she will be embracing what’s true, not some illusion of the past. Go, Tsubaki, go!
Elsewhere this episode, we have (former Best Girl, soon to reclaim her throne?) Emi playing like someone who has found a brilliant purpose and Takeshi acting as if his entire world has been shaken since the last competition. It’s fascinating, isn’t it—how two people can be affected in such different ways by a single person? Where the new Kousei has inspired Emi, he’s tossed Takeshi into a pit of uncertainty. And yet, it was partially through seeing them playing that he was able to affect them in that way. The ways we human being impact each other are amazing…
Then we come to the new girl, Nagi Aizato, who literally falls into Kousei’s lap (like takeout). General suspicion seems to be that she’s involved with Takeshi in some way, which somewhat alleviates my complaints from the beginning of this post, but she’s still another new character in a show where Kaori is literally dying, Tsubaki is screwing up her courage to truly pursue Kousei, Watari is doing his own thing, and Kousei, Emi, and Takeshi are all chasing their dreams. That’s a lot of characters doing a lot of thing and KimiUso‘s insistence on splitting the narrative in so many directions is starting to work against it.
Honestly, it’s just weird to frame Tsubaki’s dilemma as such an emotionally laced moment when she pining after a boy who’s in love with a girl who is really, really sick. And that’s ignoring the previous internal challenges we seen with Kousei’s own struggle. It’s weird that these challenges, while important to each individual, are being treated with approximately the same emotional weight (110%, if that wasn’t clear) as each other. What is KimiUso actually about? What is it’s true focus? These are questions the show really needs to figure out, because right now we’re just being given emotional vignettes from these characters’ perspectives that at times feel wildly divergent from each other. KimiUso has a lot of stories it wants to tell and I like each of them—I’m just unconvinced that the show’s methods of telling them are wise.
Kaori’s fall at the end of the episode is actually a good example of this—this is the first time we’ve seen her all episode and have only previously heard her voice through a door and over the phone. Besides being poorly animated to the point of diminishing the emotional impact of the scene, it’s just awkward to throw in a scene like this with a character we’ve barely seen in the past few episodes and expect us to be able to emotionally engage. I don’t feel like I know Kaori at all, and with Kousei being unaware of her condition, there’s not really any emotional access point for me in her situation. Risa Taneda (although Ayane Sakura’s Tsubaki is better in my humble opinion) is doing a great job as Kaori, but she can’t carry an entire emotional story on her voice acting alone.
So, yeah, that’s where I stand. I don’t know how much of this plotting/pacing is from the manga and how much has been constructed in the adaptation, but despite the fact that the individual moments (barring the final scene) are generally working well for me emotionally, I’m often left feeling that I’m watching 2-4 different shows in a single episode of KimiUso. It’s not enough to totally wreck my enjoyment of the series, but it’s kind of disappointing to think about how much stronger it could be with some better structure to the writing.
11 thoughts on “Your Lie in April, Episode 15”
But isn’t trying too hard the very hallmark of KimiUso? I agree they’re trying to put ten pounds in an eight pound sack, but the story is finally moving forward at a brisk pace. That in itself is a very pleasant change.
Kousei has confessed I think, though neither realize it yet. He adores Kaori and is deeply attached to her, but I’m not sure it’s love.
It’s true—this wouldn’t be KimiUso if it wasn’t try to do way more than it’s actually capable of doing. And it is true that I prefer this to stasis—I just think there’s plenty they could be doing with the characters they have. Why spend time on an entirely new character?
You think perhaps Kousei idolizes/idealizes Kaori more than he actually loves her?
Not idolizes/idealizes, adores and is attached. That’s not just semantic nitpicking. She’s his muse and his partner in ways Tsubaki can never be… But “he’s seeing the world in color” because she’s reawakened his love for his mother and his music and erased his self loathing. Not because he’s in love with her.
At least that’s how I’m starting to see it.
This felt like a transition episode to me, putting the various pieces in place in preparation for the endgame (only 7 episodes left!). Tsubaki’s learning some valuable lessons but still not ready to give up hope on Kousei, he’s laying the groundwork for his own future but also badly worried about Kaori, her condition is deteriorating, and Kousei’s fellow competitors are still out there, preparing their own paths and anticipating his next move. It was all good stuff that still has me eager to see how it’s all going to shake out, but I also have the same criticism that you did – this episode was once again a non-stop emotional barrage from start to finish with almost no variation in tone and mood no matter whose story we were following. First we’ll pile on the Tsubaki angst! Now let’s pile on the Kousei angst! Now let’s pile on the Kaori angst! In-between we’ll have Emi challenging Kousei’s shadow and Takeshi kicking trash cans – more angst! Bring it on! Angst! Angst! Angst! The only part of this episode that was even the least-bit lighthearted was our intro to Nagi, and even with her they had to have her play her piano piece in “super-aggressive” mode.
Also, these writers really need to take some lessons from Toradora on how to do effective crying scenes. These characters have turned on the waterworks so many times in the last 4-5 episodes that I think I’m pretty much numb to it at this point. They need to impose an immediate moratorium on all crying for at least 3 episodes, and then the next time it is necessary for a character to cry again they need to lay the groundwork properly to make sure it resonates with us. Although, parenthetically, it also didn’t help that I watched this immediately after episode 4 of KanColle, which ended with a crying scene of its own that was FAR more emotionally impactful than any of KimiUso’s three or four crying scenes this week (or however many it was…I lost count).
Nagi, BTW, is Takeshi’s little sister. They mentioned that in the press release when they announced that Ai Kayano (Menma from AnoHana) would be doing her voice. One more new character doesn’t bother me at all…and at least she was actually introduced properly instead of just suddenly showing up out of nowhere like Tsubaki’s freckled friend whose name I still can’t remember. I’ll even forgive them for recycling the “take-out food” joke from Kanon. I’m actually very curious about what kind of teacher Kousei will be and if putting him in his mother’s shoes (so to speak) trying to train a talented student will help his recovery process at all. Plus, if him teaching Nagi helps to bridge the gap between the Takeshi/Emi subplots and the main storyline, that would be even better. We’ll see. I’m starting to feel like there’s a good setup in place here for “KimiUso 2,” with Kousei, Emi, and Takeshi (maybe Kaori if she ever makes it out of the hospital alive) all attending the same music high school and him giving Nagi lessons during weekend visits home or something.
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Yeah, as you say, there’s a lot of good, interesting stuff going on—but KimiUso’s utter lack of nuance or subtlety forces the viewer to modulate their emotional engagement, rather than giving them clues on which situation is more important.
The fact that KimiUso essentially wants us to believe that all of them are important…it’s just too much. There are no subplots in this show, just a bunch of plots. Contrasted with something like Monogatari’s extremely subjective presentations, KimiUso is like getting hit with a shovel constantly.
I do like Kousei being Nagi’s teacher, though—I think it adds some nice potential for growth to his character arc in a way that will make him less needy.
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It’s hard to have a debate when we all agree, “I love this show, but DAYUM does it drive me crazy”.
Thing’s going on very fast in the anime, that’s all I can say. It’s pretty hard to get yourself immersed in the story with such a fluctuating pace. Saving budget, that’s probably what A-1 does this time. The animation in Kaori’s falling scene proved that. It’s painful to watch, that scene. It’s painful cos seeing one of my fav character in the show get another death flag, and cos the animation was pretty poor. Dunno, A-1 might want to save all the budget for the concerts and the final scene.
Aizato Nagi is a pretty important character. Her story is very important to the development of the sub-plot.
From my understanding, budget is far less a constraint on getting good animation than scheduling. A-1 Pictures has probably with scheduling things stuff pretty consistently and, while I don’t remember seeing anything that indicated this week had major problems, I wouldn’t be out of the ordinary for them to flub one small scene at the end of an episode. Stupid, of course, with it being kind of an important.
I’ll be interested in seeing where things go with Nagi-chan! She’s pretty cute, which helps. ^_^
A-1 has five series airing right now (KimiUso, 7 Deadly Sins, Saekano, Magic Kaito, and Idolmaster) with three more in the pipeline for spring – maybe it got sloppy because they ran out of staff!
And Aldnoah.Zero 2. One doesn’t simply single out A.Z 2.
And we both forgot Fairy Tail, so make that seven.