If you’ve come this far with Your Lie in April, now might be your last chance to turn back. That’s the feeling I get. We’re standing on the edge of the precipice of the deepest valley this show has yet looked into and, well, it looks to be pretty dark there at the bottom. And I’m really not just talking about Kaori’s frightening final line of the episode, but about the whole direction of the show.
I don’t think it’s by chance that we’ve transitioned from an episode where Tsubaki finally pushed herself to move beyond the time of her frozen childhood into an episode where both Kousei and Kaori wish for time to stop. On one hand, despite the fact that we barely see Tsubaki at all this episode (an undesirable effect of the multiple storylines I complained about last week), this just serves to emphasize how out of sync she is with Kousei. For 15 episodes she’s been mired in stasis while Kousei has pushed ahead and now that she’s taken the plunge to move forward, Kousei is getting set to grind to another stop due to Kaori’s (rapidly, it seems) deteriorating condition.
The curious thing there is that there is still stuff pushing Kousei to move forward, both narratively and on a character level. I’m afraid I might have come off a little more unhappy about Nagi’s role in the show than I intended last week because I did then and do now, even more, think she brings a fantastic new facet to the whole drama of Kousei’s life. Having one more character narrative slapped up against Kousei’s, particularly one where we’ve got someone seeking a change from the way things have always been for her, serves to further accentuate movement around Kousei—and Nagi as a character is great for Kousei’s growth as a person.
It’s both heartbreaking and heartwarming to hear Hiroko reflect on her desire for Kousei’s happiness (who she, touching, calls her son this episode). Heartwarming in that it’s a beautiful, kind sentiment…and heartbreaking in that we know pain is on the horizon for him. And, perhaps also heartbreaking because her strategy is one that, for the time being, seems to be working. Nagi’s kind of a pain right, now, but I really like the set-up we got for her this episode. Like, a lot.
Nagi’s volatile, kind of nasty, stuck-up, and generally a brat, but I like in spite of, or perhaps because of, all that. She’s kind of unbelievably perceptive and self-aware for her age (an anime convention I’ve come to accept almost unequivocally), but she’s also transparent and very much influenced by her emotions. Despite the fact that her core drama is essentially a recast version of the rote “notice me onii-chan” variety, KimiUso visuals again did a lot of the heavy lifting in endearing her to me. In a way, Nagi’s quest to be acknowledged by her superstar brother is just a different iteration Kaori’s quest to be remembered. In particular, her conversation with Kousei on the steps of the shrine made evident that she’s a character who’s in search of something, but not so caught up in herself as to miss some obvious truths.
Nagi hates Kousei because her brother is obsessed with defeating him and is on a quest to “destroy” Kousei —whatever that means. Even so, and even if her honesty was only a “game” to win Kousei’s trust (and her internal monologue questioning why she was spilling her guts kind of decries that angle), she’s still confessing some big stuff…and coming to understand Kousei better, too. Heck, you could almost see Nagi’s struggle as a reflection of Kousei’s battle to please his mother. And she wants someone to drive away that feeling of obligation. Honestly, that line really resonated with me. Feeling trapped by a responsibility you didn’t ask for, even if it derives of your own feelings, hurt.
Between Hiroko and Koharu’s apparently natural tendencies to capture people in their loving natures, I don’t think Nagi will really be able to go through with her plan to “destroy” Kousei in the end. In fact, I think she’ll be a valuable ally for him in the coming days of pain—someone to pull him out of himself and his grief, someone who might call him to grow far better than Hiroko, Tsubaki, or Watari could.
On the Kaori side of the story, we finally got a chance to actually spend some time with her, as does Kousei. And we got to see more emotion from her this episode than we have in many, many episodes. It’s a good thing, too—in my opinion, KimiUso has delayed far too long in humanizing Kaori. She’s dying, that much is painfully clear, and we’re going to be expected to feel it when she does. The more faultlines we see in her, the better, because the more real she becomes. Part of this is, of course, a function of Kousei’s rose-tinted view of Kaori, but even short shots like seeing Kaori in the doctor’s office with her parents do a lot for helping us to realize that yes, she’s less than an angel and no more than a girl.
A scared girl. A desperate girl. A girl clinging to what little she has left in life the best she can. A girl grappling with the finitude of her own existence and trying to make sure she’s leaving a mark somewhere, anywhere. With someone. And now we’ve returned to where we started this post—on the impermanence and fluidity of time. Time stops for no one; Tsubaki’s understood that. And, I think, Kaori instinctively understands it, too. Understands it so well that it hurts. Knows it so deeply that she’s approaching the point of pushing her own desires on to Kousei without regard for his own feelings. It’s a mistake. It’s really good for us to see. But I hope she doesn’t end up in bitterness.
Where will all this leave Kousei?
Battered. In pain. Not as the happy pianist Hiroko hopes he can be. But there are an array of people around him ready to support him, although some of them are going to need supporting themselves. It seems I’m always ending these posts with my hopes for the future of the show these days, and so I guess I’ll continue the trend here: I desperately hope the impact of Kaori’s death on Tsubaki and even Watari doesn’t get glossed over just to focus on Kousei. There are shockwaves coming—who knows how far down into this valley we’ll get tipped.