「友人A」 (Yūjin A)
“Friend A”

Talk about stunning.

As a hobbyist musician, I’ve always believed in music as something beyond its mathematical and precise components. Yes, we rely on math and rhythm and technical knowledge to understand how to create it, but even the most exact performance can mean nothing if the musician doesn’t put some of themselves in the work. If everyone in the world performed music the exact same way, we would have no genius and personality, and music would be little more than clockwork sounds. Music is just as much emotion and soul as it is practice.

Of course, practice is incredibly important regardless; if you don’t know your piece inside out, how in the world can you embellish it, work with it, lovingly take it apart and see what makes it tick? Kaori couldn’t have performed as she did here if she didn’t know what she was doing. Unfortunately, contests like these aren’t really about showing off style and flair. They’re about the specifics of the piece, about having practiced it to point precision and seeing who can play it best as intended. Personally, I hate that aspect of music; no matter how much I’ve learned a piece, I can never do it as well under the pressure of grading. But that doesn’t mean it’s not important, and it’s pretty much blatant disrespect to the other contestants when someone like Kaori performs with her own style and interpretation.

Art is difficult like that; it is essentially human expression, but people need standards by which to interact with it. Kaori is a brilliant musician, but a contest like this is not the place to demonstrate that. But that also reveals another interesting observation about the nature of art: art is separate from the artist. Though people like the judges might feel downright offended by Kaori, she herself doesn’t really give a damn about following the rules. She does, however, care about how her music is perceived and enjoyed by her audience. It’s a scary thing to be a performer; you want people to love what you do, and it can be really hard to please or express yourself to them. And obviously, Kaori wants to impress some people, though not necessarily the judges.

For Arima, Kaori’s performance is the pivotal moment of his attitude to music. Kaori the individual is one thing; she’s turbulent, a bit full of herself, and temperamental. That’s what makes her who she is, a free-spirited young girl who loves music and just does whatever she wants. It also makes her the musician she is, and this is something Arima especially appreciates. He grew up with the most technical interpretation of music. His mother told him music was worthless unless perfect, and he was severely limited by her instruction. On the other hand, Kaori is all about the freedom and emotion of music, about reaching her audience, and that’s something that leaves an incredible impression on the heart of a broken 14 year old boy. So much so that he already feels the stirrings of attraction, and hates to hurt the eager feelings of a young girl in love.

Musical discourse aside, there’s very little to say about an episode this amazing. The contest is an awe-inspiring scene, not just for Kaori, but also in the way it manages to convey the atmosphere of a theater and the emotions of the audience and musicians. The music is beautiful and Kaori’s performance was without a doubt one of the most beautiful and striking scenes of the season, if not of the year. I’m very pleased with the way the anime is treating the manga, and I can only hope things continue to be this good throughout.




  1. This was a wonderful episode. After reading the manga, i was wondering how they would make the performance of classical music engaging and stunning. I cannot wait for the rest of this season.

  2. They’ve done it again with the beautiful art.

    One thing I love about such stories as compared to other manga or novel adaptations that make greater use of action scenes to tell the story, there seems to be a greater focus on exposition and dialogue. I like how they brought it across in simple terms as well without making it feel too heavy.

    Arima’s greyish memory of his mother and her harshness versus Kaori’s free spirited, colorful interpretation of music is a great use of contrast too – not too much going on but the differences are clearly shown.

    I think I could really get behind this now, with the pending drama coming across since the viewers now know Arima’s feelings towards a certain unpleasant girl. Probably just a step away from picking up the manga and spoiling myself. :p

  3. I thought the contest and Kaori’s performance in particular were incredibly well done. When Kaori first started playing, I asked myself if it was the same song/set piece and then chuckled when that random audience member reflect those same thoughts.

    The music was amazing and I thought the animations of Kaori playing really conveyed how much of herself she was putting into the piece.

    Thus far, I am fully engaged in this story and long to see Kousei’s piano accompaniment to Kaori’s violin. One great thing about an anime adaption of this type of story is being able to experience the music. It is a dimension of the story that just could not be done in manga form.

  4. I didn’t see Kaori’s spin on the music as rebelliousness. I think it’s more about expressing herself and showcasing the beauty of music rather than the “rules”; after all, all music was originally inspired and soulful. Rules and precise criticism of technique rob music of its soul and degrade it into pressure and perfectionism. There is no fun in this form of competition; the whole spirit is twisted into a negative, of which Kousei is the product. I’m not saying there’s anything wrong with excellence of technique, but such a focus on it is entirely missing the point. Still, Kaori’s seems to seek acceptance deep down, as shown by her trembling when asking Kousei about her performance.

    The music itself was beautiful. It was one of a few violin pieces I’ve heard that I enjoyed.

    Kousei’s development in this episode was brilliant. They captured the personality of a depressed introvert so well! His his almost poetic dramatization of everything fits very well, as does his attention to detail and consciousness of others. We definitely don’t have a self-insert protagonist right here. At this point, I think I’m looking forward to his development even more than the romance.

    The art/animation was so-so overall; it was great at some points and terrible at others. Still, how can I complain about this when the story is being executed so well?

    It really was a great episode. Now if only they would drop the cliché comedy…

    1. In ways, some of the things talked about reflected such things you said; How the competition was otherwise completely boring to much of the audience, how it was nothing but the same drawling of the same music piece over and over again. There was no feeling in the competitors’ playing. It was all completely monotonous, repetitive, and rehearsed with no individuality, like each person was just a drone doing the same type of programmed function, and that was really what the more hard-lined judges were looking at rather than how the music touched them.

      As you said, technique is also important to ensure you don’t make any careless mistakes (like how the previous player was off from the pianist slightly), but Kaori technically didn’t make any mistakes in terms of the piece itself. It was still the same piece being played, just not played in the usual, rigid, traditional fashion everyone was expecting, so her technique was top notch or even better in order to play it in such a different way and sound so good doing so.

  5. This was a great episode and I very much enjoyed the segment with Kaori playing it was brilliant not really on a technical level but, in a more of a soulful way. I myself like to play the guitar I am not much into classical but, I sure can appreciate it. I really can’t wait to see the MC and her play together they will create something beautiful.

    Now to the relationships. I can already see the drama forming in this love square and their are some aspects in which I have criticisms. I don’t like how once again I see the childhood friend getting shafted I have seen this so many times. The MC and Kaori do seem like they were made for each other in a lot of ways so I would like to see more of the MC’s best friend to see why she likes him. All I have seen so far is a pretty nice dude that is good with the ladies. This is supposed to have 22 episodes so I am sure it will all get fleshed out. Overall I can’t wait to see more.

  6. Man, this season. Usually we’d be lucky if we got to see one series with the type of animation that gives you goosebumps, and this season we have at least two.

    I also love how this uplifts the source material. If they continue with this level throughout the season, I think it just might be my favorite anime of the year.

  7. 2nd episode and I am already so engrossed in this show that it’s practically killing me to wait another week for it.
    Suddenly I have the most ridiculous urge to pick up playing trumpet and euphonium again >.>
    Seriously…I love this show. Thursday’s can’t come fast enough .

  8. I don’t want to come off as an elite music connoisseur and hater, but Kaori’s rendition of Beethoven’s Violin Sonata 9 was pretty bad. In fact, the way they orchestrated (ha) the entire episode really irked me, basing the entire premise off a misrepresentation of the actual song. The entire sonata is actually 35 minutes long, and what Kaori played and what the other violinists were depicted playing were entirely different parts of the piece (the other violinists played the slow parts while Kaori got the presto portion). Then they took out all dynamic contrast and pumped up the speed, so that in comparison to the slow parts the episode creates the illusion that Kaori is “making the song hers” when in actuality she’s just playing it really badly.

    This kind of white lie really makes me angry as a musician and an enjoyer of classical music.

    1. The choice to show slower and faster portions of the song are for dramatic effect; the manga after all has no sound, so the anime chose to increase the juxtaposition of the more “precise” players to Kaori by using dynamism. They weren’t going to show us all of the contestants’ full performance anyway, one is longer than the episode itself. It’s just an adaptation decision, not a lie; you are supposed to understand the context. As to whether she’s playing “badly” or not, that’s an opinion and again, does have a lot to do with the way we as humans perceive and interact with art. Some of us believe in playing perfectly, others in playing with more style and emotion. I grew up with classical music all my life, did ballet, took music for many years and sang in choir, and I found Kaori’s performance quite beautiful nonetheless. I’m sure others who prefer the stricter approach will disagree. It’s part of the nature of art and art criticism.

    2. I guess that was her point. To play badly within calculated eyes yet sound pleasant for those who just appreciate what they hear. It is indeed quite rude to the judges and the contestants. She comes out mocking them somehow.

      It does bring to mind though…What if contests become like this? More of interpretation than precision? Many would dispute, of course.

      1. It’s hard to have an objective competition based on interpretation over accuracy, especially with judges. The competition works because there are standards, the music score and technical ability, to judge against, otherwise it turns into a popularity contest. Arima says it himself that Kaori’s performance would be fine for a recital or concert, but the requirements for a competition are different.

        They’ll get to it later, but Kaori has her reasons for playing the way she does.

      1. While her performance was passionate and really enjoying herself but I must say there is time and place to do your own interpretation of the classic music. And even if it is anime, I’d appreciate it if they tone down that Manic Pixie Dream Girl trope.

    3. Are we only allowed to “copy” Original Music from famous old classic musicians, that are long dead? Or are we allowed to give this Music our own piece of heart? Sure, in this case it was only a “play accuracy” concert. But what say against someone, to “transport” the Music into Today?

      Music is alive. It is alive in your Heart, in your Mind, in your Soul. Should not Life allow things to evolve. Is it not against Life itself, if we stand still in the Future to play things from the Past?

      The Music was awesome, but the time and place was wrong. But that was not her intension from the start. She just wanted to reach the audiences heart. And see Own them. That matters for now

    4. I found you, Kazama-sensei…..

      Just gonna put this out there: There was a LOT of dynamic contrast in what she was playing. Maybe even more compared to the original.

      I’ve had a go at a few of these competitions and while there is a set piece, there are usually different sections that you have a choice of playing (at least that’s how it was for me). If the piece AND section were set, then….YOU GO KAORI! My teachers would always encourage us to stress dynamics, change the bowing, stress any and all tempo changes and make it into a piece that you love to play. If there is an accompaniment, the pianist plays WITH you, and isn’t there to manage tempo (while it definitely helps). Kaori is the one in charge here. She played Kaori’s Kreutzer very well, but not Beethoven’s Kreutzer and this is where there is a divide. This is exactly why Kazama started raging. I for one, like Kaori’s version better.

      I can see this white lie theory, and i don’t like it. The people coming to these competitions are usually family/friends of the musicians in the competition and most of the time, the friends have NEVER heard the song. If the musician practices nothing but the part they’ve chosen to play at home, of course it’ll be a surprise to the family when another musician plays a different section of the same piece. But since the audience as a whole doesn’t know that, they’re all thinking “That was a different song, right? That was amazing!” People won’t remember you for what you did. They’ll remember you for how you made them feel. Kaori left everyone in that audience with a happy memory they will remember forever. To call that a lie is just rude.

      As a musician, I thought it was well done. It paid proper homage to Beethoven and definitely brought something new to the classical scene. Honestly, while it’s nice to play the classics and it certainly is a good thing to grow up enjoying it, tweaking an oldie and making it into something new but still retaining the essence of the original is something that i think every orchestra member should do. There are no more “great composers” (although Yanni is pretty damn good. Not to mention fabulous with that stache) and we do ourselves a disservice by comparing our work to men’s work from centuries long gone.

    5. As someone with relatively little contact with classical music, I had goosebumps watching the performance. Whether it was good or bad is beyond my ability to interpret, but regardless it the episode stunning for me.

  9. I really hope Kaori’s piece is on the soundtrack, because it’s definitely one of the best pieces of music I’ve heard all year.
    My only annoyance thus far is how obvious things will pan out, relationship wise. The opening kind of spoils that, in my opinion. Of course, I haven’t read the manga, so I could be completely wrong.

  10. This episode was absolutely amazing and I am in love with this anime, as well as Kaori. Words can’t describe how I felt during this episode from the performance all the way until the ending encounter. Being Friend A is entirely relatable for me, and some of his monologues definitely hit home. Watari also seems to be able to spout words of wisdom, and love haha.

    Fall season has not let me down. This is running for AOTS for me, fighting off FS/N as well. FS/N is absolutely brilliant, but these slice of life kinds of anime are my thing.

  11. GOOSEBUMPS. As a former musician (viola for 10 years woot!) hearing her tune her instrument and then own the piece like she did simply put me in a state of awe. Pretty sure my eyes twinkled like Arima’s.

    I was surprised they animated her movements so well. It wasn’t perfect but it sure as hell was WAY better than anything i’ve seen before in a musical anime. Kaori is definitely cute, and her completely opposite way of thinking compared to Arima (when it comes to performances and music in general) is going to set sparks off eventually. I’m going to absolutely love it when the two finally come together and play a duet like the OP. Consider my hopes raised.

    I do feel extremely bad for Kaori as the guy she likes is off doing his own thing with other girls. It’s all good! Friend A is going to end being #1….i hope. Well i guess we all hope. But what about the short haired beauty Tsubaki!??!

    I’m not entirely sure what’s going on between Tsubaki and Arima as my childhood friend love detector is definitely going off. I positive this show is going to be full of feels as there is the chance of a love triangle developing. and love triangles suck. stupid geometry.

    I dislike Kazama-sensei already. I understand she didn’t play it to composers exact style (at a competition no less)…but music isn’t about conforming to what’s been written in the past. It’s about expressing yourself through the medium given to you and paving the way towards something completely different and new. And sometimes, a remix is better than the original.

    TL;DR – GOOSEBUMPS during Kaori’s performance. Tsubaki/Kaori/Arima love triangle? Watari needs to get his shit together. Cannot wait for a duet….

    1. i’m surprised to hear that from a musician. you must not have played in many formal events/competitions then.

      the rules of the event like the one in this episode quite often explicitly specify that they want a purely technical performance. ‘what music is meant to be’ etc etc is irrelevant when you choose to willingly take part in an event which specifically stipulates only technical performance. personalisation and interpretation can easily be done in other events that favour and encourage it, or in a setting away from formal competitions.

      personalising a piece in a technical competetition is like taking a car to a motorcycle race. it can still complete the task required, but goes against the nature of the event.

      1. Exactly this. I didn’t play in many formal competitions as it just wasn’t my thing. Dressing up all fancy (while i looked damn good in a tuxedo w/ a flared lapel), it was very uptight environment and you would frowned upon if there was any sort of deviation. As a group, i believe that everyone should be doing the same thing. Otherwise you’re the odd one out and all eyes are on you. However when it comes to solo performances…i want to believe there is room for interpretation.

        While Kaori could have picked a better place to do this, if she’s not interested in the awards and just there for the music, i can’t hold that against her.

  12. Why am I getting White Album 2 Vibes from this? Why?! Childhood friend was dumb for introduced blonde to the guy she like. NTR. Best friend is playing the Good guy card but really likes the blonde being noble like that guy from Video girl Ai. Main Character seem be attached to an already taken girl.

    My heart…

  13. Was good, I like it – except the love triangle (?) which seems rather artifically plotted to generate drama/angst.

    A complaint – most people who play an instrument seriously knows about the difference between recitation and interpretation. Having played in events like the competition portrayed, I know that the rules quite often deliberately specify that they’re looking purely a technical performance of the piece(s) required, without any personal interpretation (or even if not in rules, it is made known to the musicians participating).

    Kaori seems to deliberately go against the type of event that competition is for no apparent reason. There are other musical events such as recitals, etc where personal interpretation is favoured and encouraged – where she could have personalised the piece like she does.

    Seems rather illogical and artificial.

  14. Nicely animated.

    The praise here seems a little over the top though.. it’s a well-animated music-oriented anime. Are there really so few of them that it deserves such effusive praise after just 2 episodes.

    It MAY end up being absolutely amazing, but at present it is just ‘good’ (and not without flaws).

    1. Me thinks, that the praise here is for the Violin piece that play in the Present. Not an Anime that “Oh, wow. She/He can play a Classic Music very accurate, like a Master!”, in truth he or she just copied this Music 1:1. But this music here understand the piece, the music player put his own heart into this and bend and stretch the notes to create a new piece

      So this new intrepartion of this Classic title, is what make this “Aha, WoW, Segoui!” effect

      and the comments here, made me curious to watch… no to hear this Part (now 5 times in a row) myself

    2. I kind of feel exactly the same way about everything you said. I mean to me this was just a pretty soild episode albeit kind of on the cheap aside from that one scene they wanted you to clearly pay the most attention too. I don’t really see much cause for leaping out of my chair to applaud the show for anything in particular right now though, I just don’t have any particular reason to be attached to it enough yet to do so.

      John Hunt
    3. Yep agreed with the sentiment. Typical Noitamina productions began with the premiere that feels unexplored and promising that it will blossom into another head turner like Youjohan Shinwa Taikei. I’m just very cautious approaching it. Particularly a lot of romance anime sort of falls into the same trap of love triangle drama or one character overstaying his welcome like in Natsuyuki Rendezvous. This season already has a lot of anime I’m looking forward to so watching it, I’m not as enthusiastic as the other people.

  15. a bit full of herself

    I don’t know; I lean more towards false bravado myself. The scene after that, where she steps away from the guy she’s ostensibly there to date to get the opinion of the one person there who understands what she just did and her bundled up nervousness and prodding in getting an answer is very telling. Also, the need to psyche herself up before the concert. It’s hard to read though because she seems confident/capable in what she does but she’s also intensely worried that no one will like it. I get the feeling that rejection is incredibly scary for her so she double’s down on the ego.

    I back that by saying I think Kaori knows exactly who Arima is. That entire theatre did; she’d have to have been completely secluded from that world to not.

    I’d also say from that conversation at the end that she knows exactly what Watari is as well. There’s a lot implied in the writing, character positioning and camera work in that closing scene.

    In different hands, I could see a take on this story where the childhood friend wants her neighbour to find the joy in music and return to being who he was, his best friend wants him to get out of his hell jar and join the living again, and the girl who’s willing to play along with them because she found her equal long ago and wants to drag him back in from the cold to be that again.

    We’re going to get an equally sentimental, but otherwise normal, love triangle show aren’t we?

  16. I really like they the way they’re handling this adaptation. Especially all the little touches and close ups. When they show Arima’s and Kaori’s hands shaking, so good. Also glad they are trying to be realistic when they play the instruments. Nothing gets on my nerves more than when the motions don’t match the music at all.

  17. I Watched this episode over and over again. Because the episode is just that stunning.
    And made me curious what part kaori played the music differently?
    And i am immediately go to youtube to listen the original song of “Piano Sonata No.9 – Kreutzer”.

    After repeatedly listening the anime version and the original version. I can say that kaori indeed playing the music differently, there is some part of the original version left out on her performance. It’s like she played the music however she wish. And that’s why i can understand why some of the judge feel so angry and offended by kaori action.

    But, to me kaori way of playing is indeed more interesting than the original. Well, to me this anime is indeed the most stunning anime i have seen. It’s so good and interesting, and the music is just gorgeous. I can’t wait for next week 😀


Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *