“Come on, let’s go on a journey.” – Miyazono Kaori
Overall. Wow, what an emotionally intense episode after the setup in Episode 3. My palms started sweating and I almost cried when Kousei struggled and finally gave up on playing in the middle. It was the sort of thing you knew was coming, yet couldn’t help but be swept up in the moment anyways. Episode 4 was the like the epiphany that finally sparks after two years of struggle. We got our long-awaited Kaori-Kousei duet, Kousei’s return to the limelight, and a semi-success in overcoming his trauma. This is just a beginning for Kousei—technically he still can’t hear his own notes—but it seems to be the beginning of the end for Kaori. These two are polar opposites. Kousei is trapped while Kaori is free. Kousei is monotone while Kaori is colorful. Kousei is timid while Kaori is bold. It makes sense then that as Kousei waxes, Kaori wanes. People, “April will be ending soon.”
Practice is for the weak. Ignoring the opening song, the first two scenes in Episode 4 goes from this—“Practice 7-8 Hours A Day; Everything Needs To Be Perfect”—to this—“Practice Is For The Weak. We’re Going to Freaking Dominate!!!” Man, talk about mixed messages…. All joking aside though, this type of opening is so Shigatsu-esque. After one week, I had almost forgotten that everything about Shigatsu’s creation is rich and beautiful, and that is reflected in the anime’s abundant use of “literary” devices. Metaphors, juxtapositions, personification, etc. just jump out at you from. every. single. frame. Who knew high school English class would be so handy?
The Arima Kousei Bleeding Out Show. The one thing I don’t really “get” about Shigatsu (and by “get” I mean “appreciate”) is why the mangaka chooses to make Kousei bleed a puddle as his comedic device. I would actually rather take panty shots humor over this (even though I don’t really understand why panty shots are humorous) because I think the blood humor is completely backfiring on my end. I have an instinctual adverse reaction to seeing it. Shigatsu isn’t a shounen/action manga where this sort of thing happens all the time and characters have miraculous healing powers…. it’s a music anime, damn it, and this “violent humor” feels out of place. Or maybe I’m too sensitive. Eh.
Take No Prisoners. Yeah no kidding, Kaori goes straight for the kill. She is literally in your face, and then she literally knocks some sense into your head. No wishy washy business from this madam.
Journeys and Immortality. Kaori starts off by quoting Mozart: “Go on a journey – a man away from home need feel no shame.” Then Arima compares Kaori to “a journey with no clear destination.” Next, the deadly duo took the audience on a musical journey, where they proved it’s not about the end result but about, well, the journey to get there. Finally, Kousei narrates that he’s going on a journey (right before Kaori’s dramatic ending). In fact, all of Shigatsu is about Kousei’s journey to become a wholesome person again, how he discovers love and music, and how those two combine to become his love for music
Kousei: “You [Kaori] are freedom.”
Kaori: “Music is freedom.”
As Kaori establishes herself (inadvertently or not) as music in Kousei’s mind, even if she didn’t live in the hearts of her audience forever, she will at least live in Kousei’s heart forever. When she passes (which I am convinced will happen), she will have her “immortality.”
At last, music for Kousei will stop being associated with the painful, chained love for his mother to being associated with his blooming, freeing love for Kaori.
A Moment of Silence (pun intended) is needed to appreciate the sheer artistry of Kousei’s descent into darkness midway through his performance. I don’t think any anime has ever animated the mental breakdown process so well. Most mental breakdowns feature either the mad dude screaming his head off (i.e. Light from Death Note) or mad dude psychoanalyzing himself to death via dramatic monologue but Shigatsu just ups the ante with the prettiest mental breakdown ever. Whoosh, we have the piano getting flooded, keys bubbling under the water, piano sounds dulling as he speeds up his playing and music notes flying off their pages. This scene made me sweat and freeze at the same time as I felt tortured alongside Kousei. I have never experienced such an intense physical reaction while watching an anime. It’s pretty incredible.
Nobody’s Born Evil. We finally have a scene of Kousei’s loving mother who first taught him the piano, proving that she’s not just an evil abusive woman who likes to torture her son for fun. This makes sense, as Kousei is surprisingly loyal to the memory of his mother and his flashbacks are tainted with an undertone of guilt, which would not be the case if he feels that she’s unjustifiably cruel. Likely, her illness has driven her to become someone despicable, and Kousei faced the full force of her despair. Happy to see this confirmed and hopefully, we’ll learn more about the back history here in the next few episodes.
Scores are for the weak. Any good pianist should just memorize their pieces anyways. Duh. And do it with some intense eye action that traces the constellations of the stars.
The Girl Next Door trope strikes without fail as Tsubaki realizes during the competition what pushing Kousei to take up the piano again really means. It means that two people with similar interests and respect for each other just got the excuse to spend a lot of time together. As opposed to Kousei spending time with Tsubaki, who actually has a lot more in common with Watari. Well, too late girl. There’s no second chances in life. At this point, Kaori has pretty much captured Kousei and you have no chance, older sister.
Harry Potter Ripoff. “Death is but the next great adventure.” – Albus Dumbledore.
Near the end of Episode 4.
Kousei: “April will be ending soon.”
“I’ll be going on a journey.”
(to the hospital)
Cue to the beginning of Episode 4.
Tsubaki: “Spring will be here soon.”
Watari: “Huh? It’s almost May, when the cherry blossoms scatter.”
It’s ending but beginning at the same time.
So we will also end at the beginning. 😀