I am about a week behind on this, was hoping to get this out sooner, but here it is. Noitamina picked out a gem with this series and Psycho-Pass 2: two very different series that one tackles a dystopian cyberpunk city and the other is a genuine story about musical prodigies falling in love.
This might have one of the strongest soundtracks of the Fall season so far! When Kaori thanked Kousei for accompanying her, the piece of music was incredible. Truly breathtaking visuals to match a very beautiful collection of string instruments and piano! With a series of this caliber it does help when the source material sets up quite an emphasis on its plot towards classical music. This might be my favorite episode of Shigatsu as of yet, it certainly delivered quite an emotional ride by using Tsubaki and Watari as major support in order to understand both Kaori and Kousei just a little bit more.
We are presented with this gentle perspective of Kousei when he was a child– briefly we see the bond he shares with Tsubaki. Smart move to put this in here because during the competition performance we see her worried over the fact that Kousei might really like Kaori. Hope to see more of their friendship when they were kids later on, as this can also flesh out Kousei’s issues about his mother even further!
The romance is slowly developing and it isn’t like what we’ve had the past two seasons where it is laid on very heavy– feels quite natural here. Even the scene where Tsubaki hits Kousei and Watari for seeing Kaori’s back just shows how these are middle school kids gradually maturing. A-1 Pictures has done it again with this and produced some great animation with this show– uses a balance of bright and dark tones touched up with fluid animation and very-well designed characters. Very nice to see. I think the main reason why I liked this episode so much is it started off further apart from what the cliffhanger left us in the last episode– Kaori collapsed after her performance.
The first scene after the prologue and opening intro was a slightly energetic visit at the hospital to see Kaori recovering. Now what this has done by shifting away from the competition is focus just a bit more on Tsubaki’s affections towards Kousei or rather her trying to make sense of the feelings that she is holding on to. Heck even her old crush Saito shows up to confess to her and I like how that was just implied by his expression. This was handled extremely well and another way of establishing that these middle-schoolers are gradually growing up.
Shinsekai Yori, one of my favorite anime series had some of the best episodes of 2012 and 2013, but I was surprised to see the director Masashi Ishihama of that do an episode of a romance series here. Sure paid off exceedingly well.
Very cool to scene that opening sequence have a wider importance and impact to the main cast here– Kashiwagi and Tsubaki rekindling childhood memories about Kousei to the kids being so enthusiastic about jumping in the river when its cold. Great foreshadow in the background with that again showed up by the end with Kaori and Kousei: coming around full circle with a different relationship dynamic. Kousei is entranced by Kaori and it will be this bond through music that will take these young kids to new heights.
OVERALL IMPRESSION: 10/10