Kousei stands up on stage alone– without Saki or Kaori. Love’s Sorrow is pertinent to Kousei’s growth and I’m glad the episode director here was able to convey this across through tons of flashbacks about Saki with Hiroko and Kousei remembering her. What’s even more powerful is from the very beginning we hadn’t seen her face but now that she’s slowly been the positive influence in his life before she started declining in health we get to see the charm that Saki had.
Hiroko is very much like her– the gentleness and kind sincerity towards Kousei was just a bit of what Kousei had forgotten about his own mother. I was entranced by this entire episode here– the song has shifted away from losing love and resenting every memory that torments Kousei into a sigh of relief of understanding all the things she did for him to become a better pianist. The song transitions from a dark monotone piece that dissatisfies the judges into a gradual heart-warming endeavor of notes rife with emotions all his own for Saki and his determination to ring it loud that he’s an incredible accompanist and that Kaori is even better. What’s more is that he’s slowly realizing it’s more than that– it’s love that’s making him feel this way. Music gave him the chance to feel his heart after it had been lost by the bad memories he held in all this time of his mother.
Love that imagery where the young kid at the end is staring at his mom– the sacrificial acceptance towards her in delivering an emotional performance just as Kousei had done in this episode! Kousei’s become more of an adult after his rendition of Love’s Sorrow and this establishes Tsubaki’s profound realization that she’s been longing for him all this time. Her heart skips a beat proving she’s developed feelings for him so strongly that’s far away from childhood friends that she can’t even fathom right now.
What a nice reversal in order to keep this story grounded by using Kaori’s sudden hospital visit– the very reason she couldn’t be there by his side as the main focus of Kousei’s attention. What an amazing episode and an even more engaging story with a triumphant farewell for Kousei’s mother both musically and visually!
OVERALL IMPRESSION: 9/10