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
Tsubaki is interested in Kousei and always has been– I’m glad this show isn’t shoving it down our throats here especially with that subtle opening scene leading into Kousei and Kaori practicing for the Gala concert. The are young kids all trying to comprehend their feelings even their own and I like how this series doesn’t forget that.
The song that’s chosen, Love’s Sorrow illustrates these Kaori and Kousei quite well. Kaori sees the Love’s Joy piece and shifts her gaze onto Love’s Sorrow because of the inevitable illness that is someday going to take away the music she enjoys so much. Whether she knows it or not she’s helping Kousei immensely here by picking this piece.
A passionately dark composition that represents the numerous punishments and trials Kousei suffered as a child especially with the relationship he had with Saki his mother. Kaori is the light that will pull Kousei out of the darkness or in this case far away from not hearing the notes, sticking to the score but instead finding a sound all for himself.
This is a great start to the second half because we’ve got all these characters lined up for potential– Hiroko is the parental direction he needs right now in order to say goodbye to his mother. Kaori is so spunky I can see where she gets it– the parents are just as lively and working at a pastry shop eludes the entire nature of her family in a matter of minutes! That lively energy is just what the group of friends needs– dramatic turnaround to have him falling in the pool and trace back memories of his mother Saki all the while trying to find a sound that means something to him. A realistic scene of youth that moves towards an impending future for Kaori when she doesn’t show up.
Kousei is more determined than ever before because that look he gives at the very end just shows he’s finally found that something or rather someone to play out to.
OP: “Nanairo Symphony” (七色シンフォニー;Seven-Colored Symphony) by Coala Mode
This is a peaceful song with beautiful visuals that cross over between the time they had as kids to present time. The feathers flowing around illustrates a sense of setting here: it’s spring and music is going to change their friendships forever. This is the first major debut for Coala Mode and the singer doesn’t stretch to far with her voice which is refreshing to hear.
ED: “Orange” (オレンジ) by 7!!
Love the visuals here– really well drawn to see Kaori laying in the ocean as the setting changes! Her crying depicts she’s struggling with her illness and there may be no escape from it. The song is a bit too generic with the overlay of the strings and the drums but Nanae’s voice works really well at getting a dramatic effect across here to illustrate Kaori’s state of mind.
OVERALL IMPRESSION: 8/10
Noitamina sure has picked a very beautiful series to run alongside comedy visual novel series Saenai. The amount of imagery it uses to channel out even the minor characters of this series is animated so well! I say this because that opening sequence was incredibly awesome– Takeshi’s childhood is turned upside and paved the way in becoming a musician because of Kousei’s talent. That beginning scene reminds me a lot of those ‘hero’ sections throughout Ping Pong The Animation last year– funny how there is a parallel between a music romance series and a sports series with its two main characters being portrayed as programmed without emotions. Strong correlation between the two of them! Kousei is seen as unaffected by the emotional state of others while he’s playing music whereas Tsukimoto is viewed by others as automatic when he’s playing a match of pong.
I like how this show reflects even the slightest moments these musicians have that make an impact later on. After Kousei’s profound performance Takeshi realizes he’s on a different level than him– one that isn’t close to what he’s wanted to achieve all this time. I like how there is a shift between what has changed in Kousei to bringing in his mentor Seto Hiroko– she’s funny and is the only other person that has had a solid relationship with Kousei’s mother. Really enjoy these flashback scenes because we are gradually seeing that his mother isn’t all that bad.
The interactions with Ryouta, Tsubaki and Kaori were fantastic– just another point as to how this show can work when it uses middle schoolers at its core. I think another part of this that follow this trend is Kousei’s dissatisfaction with the grown up judges that find his playing distasteful. He’s a youth trying to find himself and we finally get to see him here express his emotions just like Ryouta did crying in the bathroom stall and Tsubaki crying on Kousei’s back. Now only time will tell when Kaori will break down after coming to the adult realization that she’s ill. Speaking of this I think its interesting that Kousei passes out just like Kaori had done previously– wonderful depiction of how much these two are alike even without music.
The soundtrack by Masaru Yokoyama is an emotional ride just like this series has been– a complete divergence from his other work this season Rolling Girls! The firefly scene with Kaori and Kousei here is a nice breakaway from all those music performances and sets the stage for these two to evolve their friendship into romance. Fantastic turnaround that even illustrates how much Kousei is growing up and going on a journey with love filling his heart. Her Charlie Brown quote is a large indication that she probably won’t be alive at the end of this series and this was a strong end to its first half! I’m going to miss that opening animation with GOOSEHOUSE’s Hikaru Nara song!
OVERALL IMPRESSION: 8/10
We often get characters like Watari in anime but most of the time its for a comedic effort. With Shigatsu he’s been this overwhelming presence for the group: striving to be better. I hope we get to see more of this side of him in future episodes! What a nice conversation at the beginning here between the lead sports star and music prodigy. Watari is the influential one out of the group but that shifts with this episode more towards Kousei due to his varying performance! Great move to start this out by rushing Chopin’s music.
He’s trying to focus but can’t seem to get a strong performance out. This reflects what Emi and Takashi have worked so hard to get to and its this song being played right in front of them that crumbles any aspirations. So what does Kousei do? Follows in the footsteps of Kaori and stops playing– her gripped at the edge of her seat was proof of how linked these two prodigies are.
The transition from a boy saddened by the loss of his mother into a young man love struck by Kaori. She’s inspiring him to be a better musician– to find his own reason for playing. This episode pointed that out loud and clear what this series truly is at heart– a romance. The beautiful notes that separates the gap between lost and wavering to found and content. Incredible!
I also really like how Kaori’s violin is playing in the background during this. He is slowly starting to play out his emotions through the notes! His mother that he’s been visualizing sitting in the very back of the stage changes from a dark void to a place filled with light depicts his transition from a nervous boy to a headstrong young man with purpose.
OVERALL IMPRESSION: 10/10
These recaps are getting annoying for this series. We’ve already seen Emi’s performance and what does the director do here? Completely change Chopin’s Étude in A minor Op. 25, No. 11 with small guitar riffs and a drum beat. What? This isn’t even part of the performance and yet they throw this in there to emphasize how passionate she is. It would have been nice to leave the piece the way Emi wanted to play it without all the slow rocking effects. The way this was written it was too much and should have at least left this up to the previous episode if they wanted to further develop Emi’s role in this. After the opening sequence now that was a splendid act of anger from Emi. That’s where they should have started this!
Regardless, both Emi and Takashi’s performances built up what we should be expecting with Kousei’s skills. Kaori’s admiration for Kousei really shined through this episode and I like how the foreshadow of her death possibly by the end of this show correlates to Kousei’s mom strongly. The flashbacks while pertained most of the episode ended up familiarizing me with how Kousei relates to his mom.
She hits him, trains him even harder at the piano and what we’re left with is a Kousei up on stage by himself once again with an empty feeling of the loss of his mother never resolved. However this time things are different. He’s met Kaori a musical blessing that could get him out of his rut.
What I really enjoyed previously in this series is the imagery that is used when he’s not able to hear the notes: stuck underwater and feeling abandoned. Powerful because we are gradually getting to see him mature further. This also works out well when we’ve got a confused love struck Tsubaki in the background too! Relieve him of the pain he’s had in his heart all this time as he’s going to change his piano playing away from sheet music into a style all his own. I really like that visual at the end where he’s playing the piano and the sheet music is spotlighted underneath him. Great imagery there. Nice build-up to the performance we will get to see hopefully in the next episode. Let’s see Kousei break the mold here and surprise everyone!
OVERALL IMPRESSION: 7/10
Noitamina this is where you shine. Slice of life and romance anime more notably pointing out josei series. I like this series a lot because its about music and reminds me so much of Nodame Cantabile. Talk about a series I’d love to see come back and finish adapting the manga!
Shifting focus away from Kousei and Kaori we jump right into the performances. I can see this be a tear-jerker of a series in the coming episodes. There is such an emotional side to this episode especially for Takeshi. He’s considered Kousei a rival and wants in every way to surpass him but what will he find at the end once he sees his performance? While director Kyohei Ishiguro is doing a fine job at adapting this from Naoshi Arakawa’s manga and the music is some of the best of the Fall 2014 season and going into the Winter lineup I can see this excelling at being even stronger as it goes on!
If there was one thing I would change here its the talking in front of the performances. Yeah it’s great for telling Takeshi’s and Emi’s own personal feelings but the overall impact here would have been much more incredible if these inner dialogues took place before and after the performances. The imagery where a resolved Emi plays her heart out as autumn is pouring around the stage was spectacular!
Emi’s adorable and I really like how her motivation to step up and achieve her goals of letting her emotions ring through the sounds of her playing is a force to be reckoned with and it was a beautiful performance at the end here! The reactions of the audience brought chills down my spine.
The contrast between Emi and Kaori is much more noticeable now considering how these two are so passionate when they play.
OVERALL IMPRESSION: 8/10
Kousei, Kaori, Tsubaki, Watari– they don’t cry often but when they do it’s quite powerful. Last time we saw Tsubaki go through quite a lot in discovering her feelings for Kousei that it can by and large affect her to the point of losing a baseball game. The womanizing, calmly collected Watari even has his moments– consoling another player after losing the soccer match only in the very next scene crying by himself in the bathroom proved to be very smooth pacing on the episode director’s part in adapting from the source material of the manga.
Great to see such an impact being reflected on him when Kousei thinks of him as cool– loving how much depth the writers have put into creating a dynamic between the lead cast! Kousei falls overs from passing out was a big indication that he has issues with self-identity. He’s not sure where he fits in and the cat in the beginning part of this episode not to mention throughout provided a bit more backstory in how his mother’s aspirations to straighten her son out with the idea that playing the piano should be the only important aspect of his life shows up quite well in his character.
Kaori’s carefree attitude helps push aside the feelings of neglect here– he needs to grow and mature and by having her around influencing his music that we can really see his world opening quite a bit. I love their interactions in this episode as she wants to take care of him and the musical talent he has that lies underneath– it’s in this that slowly illustrates their bond and alternate way of communicating their feelings. Through music.
The first part of this may have dragged along but the second half introduced two fantastic people rather quickly that will drive Kousei’s character out of the realm he is used to– his mother’s teachings and Kaori’s delicate attitude of brushing yourself off and getting back on stage. I had hoped we’d get to see how well Emi and Takeshi would perform considering how dead set they’ve been on desperately wanting Kousei to take notice of their talents– however, Kousei’s fear of playing on stage again and the slow-capturing scene right at the end with Takeshi walking onto the stage more than made up for what we could’ve had here. I want to point out very quickly that it wasn’t just Kousei who was nervous but the director managed to show a few other performers that were shaking, and this is great to see! A genuine view of what these young music performers are going through in their own worlds!
A problem I do have is how the score was written for this episode as I really do hope that the composer uses a different song for the cliffhanger ending because we’ve had this same song in about four previous episodes so far. It sounds amazing and the best piece I’ve heard so far but don’t try to oversell it!
OVERALL IMPRESSION: 9/10
Build ups…if you take what we’ve had this year with series that took students into the realm of japanese anime there are not very many– Selector Infected WIXOSS even with its second half is trying way too hard at being a dark mahou shojo card-game anime [which is one of the big reasons why I dropped beginning half in the first place]. Moving back to Spring 2014, we had an obscurely animated yet authentic view of students trying to each pursue their own goals with pong pushing the story forward. Without question one of the best Noitamina series– Ping Pong The Animation. Noitamina should really develop more slice of life and even josei anime in their timeslot, we’ve had some incredible series in these genres over the last couple of years– Gin no Saji, Natsuyuki Rendezvous and can’t forget about the jazz series Sakamichi no Apollon.
With Shigatsu wa Kimi no Uso, it is fairly solid anime on all fronts– the animation is strikingly beautiful courtesy of A-1 Pictures, a magnificient soundtrack by Arakawa Under The Bridge’s Masaru Yokoyama and an intriguing love story centered around musicians. Sure takes me back to the days of Nodame Cantabile! Couldn’t have asked for a better series to air alongside science-fiction cyberpunk series Psycho-Pass 2!
We’ve been shown Kaori and Kousei’s musical abilities, both of their own weaknesses– her illness and his fear of moving forward in his passion for the piano without a mother around. Powerful writing and I really like how Kaori gently drives Kousei to perform and rediscover his music style in an entirely different way without notes on the page. Her delicate nurturing behavior towards the piano screamed how passionate she is in helping Kousei perform– loved when Tsubaki noticed her next door and in Kousei’s clothes– the build-up that we needed for this episode’s focus on her.
The counterbalance here is Tsubaki in that she doesn’t want to accept that she has loved him all this time and it takes another girl and their connection to music to understand this and that they are miles apart from any sort of childhood relationship they had. At least this is what I took from her fired up during baseball practice and listening to his piano playing next door. Asking out Saito just proves how strongly she cares for Kousei in tons of ways she never thought imaginable– the diner scene between her and Saito emphasized this greatly! It’s scenes like this and Kousei listening to music with Kaori in the second half of this episode that makes this show really deliver!
I also enjoyed how we’re shown the childhood segments between Tsubaki and Kousei– it’s a formula that the story has developed from the very start and the very end of an episode illustrating how some emotions can remain the same after so many years have gone by. Tsubaki after having lost the game and carried home by Kousei as she slowly begins to cry her heart out led to some amazing results in their friendship accompanied by the best piece of music I’ve heard so far in this series!
OVERALL IMPRESSION: 10/10
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
Director Kyohei Ishiguro surprised me here with an understated romance series between middle-school aged kids and classical music, it’s strange to see this as he wrote a few episodes for C3 and the Amagami series. This episode sure quite an impression on me of how well he was able to control the emotional levels of these characters. Speaking more so on Kaori and Kousei than the others as we’re finally getting into understanding Kousei’s past as well as Kaori’s drive to be remembered for her style of playing here!
The production values for this anime must be ridiculously high and I can’t wait to see what the Blu-rays look like for this! A-1 Pictures has used a rather large budget for their series this past year– Gin no Saji, Aldnoah.Zero, heck even Sword Art Online II had very pretty visuals but this was not only faithful to the manga but provided some wonderful color tones that gives the story such life. What made me think of this was the concert scene that was so prevalent this episode: Kousei trying his hardest at playing to hear the notes while stuck in an abyss, Kaori’s violin playing, even the minor characters movements throughout were so fluid in animation!
This wasn’t even the best part as this episode touched on Kousei’s fear to get back in the world of music after his mother’s death, and when he finally decides to play it’s sink or swim! He is gradually realizing that he is caring for Kaori here through her ability to play the violin, and this was established throughout their competition scene amazingly well! Nodame Cantabile had a similar style– which I admit was one of the best aspects of that series that I loved so much.
Noitamina is delivering again with a beautiful series with some very engaging and funny fantastic leads. Kousei reminds me a lot of how Kaoru Mishima was in Sakamichi no Apollon— they both have timid personalities. On the other side of this is Kaori, a young girl that speaks her mind when she wants to, and is brash in her behavior which impacts the musical performances we’ve seen so far. Her disregard for the rules of competition were blatantly overstated here but when Kousei broke out of his shell this resulted in an entrancing battle between soloists vying for affection for each other! Powerful stuff, and that ending must be foreshadow for what is to come, can’t wait to see what happens next!
OVERALL IMPRESSION: 10/10