「春の中」 (Haru no Naka)
“In Spring”

It’s probably a good thing that I waited for my migraine to go away before tackling this episode.

As a manga reader, I wasn’t surprised with the events of this episode, so there aren’t any sudden misgivings on my end. Still, I was kind of hoping they’d tone some of the material here down, especially concerning Kaori. As much as I really like this series, I never did care much for the way she and Tsubaki treat Arima. There’s a lot of interesting consideration as to why this kind of thing is so widely proliferated in the medium; this is hardly the first time you come upon an abusive friend/love interest in an anime (and this season, Ookami Shoujo is proudly displaying the inverse relationship eeeek) nor is it the first time that a character like that is viewed as a life changing positive force.

I think in one regard, this might be insensitivity about things like bullying and mental disorders. The series is trying to pass off blatant bullying (which Kaori and Tsubaki are doing, make no mistake) as a funny and silly form of friendship and support. In reality, they’d probably be making things 5000% worse for someone like Arima. They seem to be saying that a trauma like his shouldn’t be such a big deal, which is breaking the #1 rule for dealing with mental illness: NEVER belittle someone else’s pain and difficulties. It’s hard to pin this kind of thinking on any one group or media because really it’s everywhere to one extent or another.

In another regard, you could probably say this about a great deal of anime (and plenty of other media), but there’s definitely sexist overtones here. The boys are supposed to be “man enough” not to have their feelings hurt when a girl is beating them up and the girls are shown as selfish and whiny (but that’s okay because they’re cute… NOT). I don’t like it anywhere, and I don’t like it here. I don’t really like Kaori as a person much either because she’s a selfish and somewhat insensitive person. She’s a great musician, yes, but that doesn’t mean she gets to go around bullying someone else. Yes, there’s the flag going up for her visit to the hospital, and there’s another one in that she’s a young middle school girl and middle school kids are… well not so pleasant, but even so, I don’t think it’s healthy to show someone like Kaori as an ideal. Being spirited and spunky doesn’t give one leeway to be a jerk (see Soreseka for a counterexample).

Okay, with that out of the way, was the episode a good one? The parts with Arima working through his problem and playing the piano were great, but there was just too much focus on the girls trying to force him to be Kaori’s accompanist. Rule of thumb: just because you think something is good for someone else, doesn’t mean you get to force them. People can only be helped if they want to be helped. You can try to convince them, but it should include far less kicking and far more gentle understanding.

Of course, they are middle schoolers (*shudder*) and lets face it, once you’re past that stage, the mere mention of what you were is cringeworthy. Hopefully the show chooses to stop trying to force these moments like the manga does.

Note: I’m still down with a mild migraine so please excuse errors and awkward constructions. Let me know if you need me to explain anything.




      1. I would also throw in the less well-known but utterly sublime Radu Lupu, who somehow manages to consistently transcend being faithful to he spirit of the composition and elevates it to what you always thought it should be, in a perfect world. There are versions of him playing the 14 on Youtube.

  1. Having never had any friends with traumas, I honestly can’t understand the issue you bring up with them trying to help Arima to overcome his issues with music. There doesn’t seem anything here that I wouldn’t do if I was in their situation.

    1. The problem is that they’re trying to force him, which is different from trying to motivate him. Kaori decided on her own that he should be her accompanist and then told him he HAD to do it, rather than asking him if he was interested because she needed the help. If he had refused they should have just had a talk about it and she should have tried to convince him that way; of course, if he refused and refused, she shouldn’t have pushed him that far either.

      Even if you go to therapy, you won’t be helped unless you WANT to be helped.

      1. well, motivating with just words or something won’t be enough in Arima’s case. in fact, making him play with her is the first step toward motivating and helping him so that he can do those things on his own with a little help.
        I remember when Hibito (space brothers) had to deal with his own trauma. it’s true that Olga inspired him and everthing. but if she or her dad (Ivan was his name if I am not mistaken) weren’t “forcing” a bit (or more accurate to say “pushing”), Hibito wouldn’t be able to start treating his trauma gradually. so, in order for Arima to start his own healing process, he needs a little push. maybe Tsubaki and Kaori a bit forceful, but it’s necessary. besides, a little “baptism of fire” might be the “shock” that Arima needs in order to understand whether he really wants or not to continue playing, because, as I said in my comment below, the fact he is going to the piano room every day actually proves he hasn’t given up completely on playing.

      2. that little force you mentioned, is perhaps the help of others to climb over the Wall of Trauma. But then it is his choice if he succeed and jump over the Wall, or just go back behind his Wall

        the others are trying to push him into the right Door. But it is still his decision to go through

    2. Funny thing, because I’ve red all comments, especially paying attention to these, which said about Kousei’s need to be pushed little into the music world again and what’s friends are for and should do. But in the end… did it really work? No! Them chasing him, score sheets everywhere, constant nagging only made him guarded, he was nowhere near giving in. What moved him were her tears. What changed his mind was her showing a weakness, her fear & sadness. That’s what he could understand. That’s what connects them (except tremendous love for music). Not her happy-go-lucky acts, not her bossiness, not her self-righteous attitude towards his trauma but a genuine ask for his help, the need for HIM – it’s what changed his mind, so maybe at the end, despite bullying showed as a comedy, it was a lesson about asking properly for help.

  2. This isn’t what I was expecting to talk about the most, but as someone who was previously in a situation similar to Kousei’s, I think I have a bit of room to talk. Had I not, I wouldn’t bother trying, because it’s not possible to fully understand what someone has gone through unless you have yourself. You can empathize, but full understanding is something you don’t have; this is why, generally speaking, it’s good for someone who has already been through the same situation to help someone going through difficulty.

    I don’t approve of bullying, period. I also agree that anime and media in general tends to have a double standard toward men with problems as well. “Get over it.” “Man up.” This isn’t always the best way to handle it, and abuse certainly isn’t; again, as you said, it often makes it that much worse. It causes the person in pain to resent those trying to help them; subtlety is important. There’s nothing wrong with giving someone a push, or even telling them to get over it in certain contexts (the key being whether you actually understand their problem and know that that is what they need). Yelling or speaking abusively (tone and timing are key) aren’t okay.

    Despite all of this, I feel like this is one of the few cases in anime where the pushing is more justified. Kousei is introverted and depressed. He views his life as empty and/or meaningless; he has no future. His inability to hear the piano is indeed a coping mechanism (not literal- I was going to note this before Kairi lampshaded it). He doesn’t want to play because of what happened with his mother, and that’s understandable. Still, he needs to move on or let go. That sounds harsh, but can anyone else who’s going through this or who has gone through this disagree? He’s not even living! It’s a horrible place to be.

    The problem here is that such a person is unlikely to change on their own. There needs to be an outside stimulus. Hanging around the right kind of people- in his case, cheery, outgoing people- is a good first step. The first half of the episode illustrated this brilliantly. Under a little gentle pressure and some cute faces, Kousei played the piano and even seemed to be enjoying himself… at least, until he realized that’s exactly what was happening. He has an attachment to his grief which he doesn’t want to let go of. However, the situation as a whole was a good one. It was a little piece of evidence that, hey, you can still have fun.

    The latter half overly exaggerated it. I would have preferred to see a more gentle handling of Kousei’s problem throughout the series. (We DO have two seasons, after all.) Even if the narrative requires him to play right now, I think it could have been brought about in a better manner. I do think it’s a bit more forgivable since we’re dealing with middle school students, yet… Well, I don’t know, maybe I’d like to see them act more mature than they reasonably should be. Fiction doesn’t always benefit from mimicking reality.

    As an aside, Kairi’s English lines were quite good. It surprised me.

    Kairi as a person is another matter. She seems almost bi-polar at this point. I know tsunderes are supposed to “swap”, but this is on an entirely different level from my perspective. I’m actually wondering if she has mental problems herself. I don’t know if the hospital problems are related to her brain or hormones, but that would help explain some of her mood swings, I think. One doesn’t go from happy to angry to crying to normal all within a few minutes (not a normal person, at least). I get the feeling there’s more too Kairi. Perhaps there is real depth to her actions and she isn’t just a clone. I really do hope so. This is a beautiful series that’s already shown it’s capable of giving us depth; whether it will or not will determine if this is an above average series or an excellent series.

    In any case, I was able to enjoy the episode overall. The missteps were present, but the first part more than makes up for it, for me.

    Please forgive any grammar/spelling errors or typos. I’m not proofreading this time.

      1. Hahaha don’t worry. xD At first I was like, yeah I have issues but I’m clinically depressed not bipolar pfffft.

        I’m okay, I just had a rough week at school, it was midterms week and I had so much to do I barely slept in days. The migraine is starting to dissipate but it was really bad yesterday @_@

  3. Honestly, Kaori should’ve just asked for his help the way she did on the roof from the very beginning. But as with every show, this show is attempting to entertain the populace and I think the forceful Kaori symbolizes what a lot of guys would like to have happen to them. Guys wish they had an amazing talent hidden away (a premise for tons of anime) and that a pretty girl would come along and bring it out of them. A huge part of anime is vicariously experiencing the world that it’s depicting right? Well what guy wouldn’t want a pretty girl chasing him around school, giving him all sorts of attention. In the end, what gets Arima to do it is when he realizes that it’s not just something she’s telling him to do, but something she WANTS him to do, or at least that was my interpretation.

    My other interpretation of the “bullying” is that the anime was trying to nail, repeatedly, the point that Arima really does have a fear of playing the piano. It’s not a trivial issue, where he’d simply start playing again at the first instance of a pretty girl asking him to. It also emphasizes his new-found love in that he would be willing to play the piano if it meant a chance at being with Kaori; as shown when he quoted Watari. I honestly believe that the anime didn’t consider the possibility that it would be seen as bullying, or at least they were turning a blind eye to it; but perhaps that’s just wishful thinking on my part.

  4. My take is that Arima clearly wants to and still does play piano, which Kaori and Tsubaki see, but he can’t take that step forward to be passionate about it again. That is of course partly because of the very real past trauma he has, but the story presents it more as needing a reason to play or not play.

    I think the show has done a good job of showing that Arima is at the point where he is ready to move forward from his past, so I don’t feel like the pushing from his friends is too over the top. That’s not to say the set up is perfect, it’s just that they kind of skipped the interim time and development he would have had to have gone through to get over that initial trauma to get where he is now.

  5. Completely with you on this one, O-Kairi. Yes, the comedy is unfunny and has always been unfunny, and there was more of it this time. And yes, the “comic” violence against Kousei is not only unfunny but discordant and even offensive. But those aren’t the main problems with this ep – that’s the way the female characters go about “helping” Kousei.

    I really hope we don’t see a blanket endorsement of this behavior in the coming episodes, because if we do it would be impossible to take anything Shigatsu does remotely seriously.

  6. I agree that forcing someone to something isn’t “helping” and might have bad consequences instead of the desirable result. but sometimes, people need a little push. for some people and some situations, if you really wanna help them, you need to push them toward it. it’s true for everyone, every age. and it’s definitely true for 14-aged teenagers who aren’t fully developed and aren’t sure what they want do. besides, going in the wrong path at this stage of life, might turn as best experience ever for them.
    that being said, we are talking about Arima. the fact he is going to the piano room every day proves that he hasn’t given up completely on playing or the piano. Arima says “no” to Kaori because: (a) he can’t play normally and it scares him everytime he plays. (b) he doesn’t want to ruin Kaori’s performance. yet, this isn’t Arima who has given up completely because his decision is final. that’s way he need a push. and actually, the two of them are forcing but they see their friend’s pain. Kaori saw and heard what Arima felt while playing in the cafe. and Tsubaki is his childhood friend. they might be forcing, but it’s not for selfish reasons (maybe Kaori a little but since we don’t really know, leave that aside). and if it turns out forcing is wrong, then maybe it’s for the best and Arima will completely give up playing piano.

  7. I think what Kaori did was well within her character. I would be surprised if she became sensitive and had a more subtle approach towards Arima because that would be not her at all. Being kids I think the approach they did was what a kid would do. You wouldn’t expect kids to have a thought process of adults on how you deal with trauma. I also think that they have a feeling that Arima really wants to play but is stuck and that he only needs a little push.

  8. Well,IF the show is well-aware of how forceful Kaori & Tsubaki come across and uses that to it’s advantage then I can see the character interactions(which haven’t been very good so far tbh) benefiting along with the characters themselves. But that’s something we’ll find out eventually,maybe even in the next episode with Kaori & Kousei’s performance. Shigatsu wants us to take Kousei’s trauma seriously and we want to do just that,but it has to take itself seriously. It presented said trauma well enough but it also has address it properly.

    The abuse slapstick comedy need’s to be seriously toned down as well(I’d rather it didn’t exist here in the first place but we all know that’s not gonna happen).

  9. I found a tragic Plot inside of this World of Music and overcame old Traumas. But, i keep it a secret. Because i would not ruin the mood here. A world full of Music and Dreams. But, what if the body cannot keep up?

  10. Well i’ll admit i didn’t see any bullying in this episode. Now that all this has been brought up…i see the episode in a different light. I’m definitely not saying that anything you said was wrong, Kairi, but i had just interpreted the episode differently at first glance. Allow me to explain.

    What i saw during my first viewing of the episode was Tsubaki taking the reigns from Kaori and making sure that Arima would know that they both want him to play. When Kaori expressed concern over using such methods, Tsubaki assured her that it was okay before getting off the bus. Peer pressure. If i were to label any “bully”, it would be Tsubaki with Kaori being dragged behind her as she creates chaos.

    However, Kaori wasn’t concerned until later in the episode. In the beginning, Kaori names Arima as her accompanist. Arima, who all young musicians look up to, gives Kaori the short and sweet tale of why he can’t play the piano. More specifically, what happens when he plays and not why.

    Kaori of course doubts Arima’s problems by recalling what he was doing in the cafe. “What kind of excuse is that?”, “Are you being serious?”, “You can play like that with kids but you say you can’t play at all?”, “Are you lying?”, are all questions that would go through my head if i were Kaori. Hence, the kicking and “did you try this?” part which i think at this point is one of Kaori’s “quirks”. I actually believe at this point, she’s approaching Arima’s problem as a fellow musician with enormous expectations of him, rather than approaching it as a friend.

    This also is all based on the assumption that Kaori doesn’t know Arima’s mom passed away and is a definite factor as to the reason why he can’t hear himself play. Tsubaki and Arima keep referring to that day as “it”. So i’m curious if Kaori actually knows what happened. If she doesn’t, then i can understand why she was pushy in the park. It wasn’t until after she talked to Tsubaki during class did she start to ask herself if what she was doing was right. In the end, she took Tsubaki’s words to heart and made one last push on the roof. I also think that the hospital visit pushed Kaori over the edge and made her desperate for Arima’s support.

    And now backtrack to this week’s post. I see how Tsubaki and Kaori can come off a bit strong. The park (“just get over it”-which i also believe to be complete BS. When men who show emotion are depicted as weak, and the girls that belittle them are cute about it, i heavily sigh.), the music playing during passing periods, the music sheets EVERYWHERE, and finally the rooftop scene at the end (I really think Tsubaki is the ring leader and got Watari involved because of Kaori). I definitely can see the link between these scenes and all of the characters bullying Arima into something that he’d rather not do.

    The duality that exists here is extremely interesting.

    Assuming Kaori doesn’t know about Arima’s mother, Watari and Tsubaki should definitely know. They both know fully well why he can’t play and how much her death has affected him. But because they know how much he is suffering they want to get him going again. To save him from his endless dark ocean in which he resides. Being friends with someone for a long time has its benefits. You can get away with things that other people wouldn’t dare do to you. Precisely why Arima doesn’t get angry at Tsubaki (all things considered, Arima was pretty chill this episode). Kaori had just met Arima and she expressed concern that Tsubaki’s methods may be too aggressive.

    For now i’ll talk specifically about Tsubaki. Yes, Watari was involved but only in the end.

    Should Tsubaki’s actions even be considered bullying? Or is it something that should be taken positively? Hasn’t she made it clear that it’s painful to see her “hopeless little brother” struggle to begin living again after “it” happened? So isn’t she just trying to help? Isn’t that selfish of her to push such a tall order onto him? But at the same time, doesn’t Arima need a push? Wouldn’t it be great if Arima did get better? There’s good and bad here. It all depends on how you look at it.

    While having your weakness exploited over and over by the same people is bad, living with an enormous amount of guilt, sorrow, anguish and being unable to overcome it alone is just as bad. Living with yesterday’s effects is no way to live and sometimes overcoming obstacles like that require outside help.

    1. I also do not really see any bullying here….bullying is usually with malice and there is really non of that here.
      Tsubaki and Kaori may be more forceful that most people feel but given how long Arima’s time has stopped due to his trauma(5 to 6 years?), I am sure whatever gentle methods to push him forward has been tried. As his friend, letting him submerged in his sorrow and trauma for another 6 years and maybe more or take this chance and try something stronger to push him forward, I will definitely take the 2nd choice.

  11. Even though I know the intent of this review wasn’t to make me feel completely awful for enjoying this episode, I ended up feeling exactly that. But more so because I simply went along with the “abuse” because it is such a social norm in anime and media in general, and accompanied with cute animation and light music, I guess you could say I was totally fooled by it. Granted, I am still enjoying the hell out of this show and I really do like the four leads, but I guess now I just need to start thinking more analytically about certain things even if they are packaged in a nice blonde cherry blossom shaped box.

    1. I’m sorry for making you feel awful, but I’m glad you understand more or less what I’m trying to say. I also really like the show, but it’s just upsetting that this kind of depiction is taken so lightheartedly. When you really get down to it, Kaori and Tsubaki had good intentions but they went about it in such away that they could have seriously hurt Arima (in more than one way). And that’s not an okay thing to paint over in pastel colors.

      1. It can be really difficult to not be blind sided by the media you consume and love, but you can still enjoy it while seeing that some parts of it aren’t exactly up to code.

    2. If it makes you feel better, there is a fine line between bullying and an intervention, and on which side this episode falls for you is likely to be subjective. On my part, I enjoyed the episode too, but I can see where Kairi is coming from. However, my understanding of mental disorders (if you want to call Arima’s problems that) is that it’s still very much a relatively opaque field, and appropriate responses vary on a case by case basis. Is what Arima needs just a hard push? I suppose we’ll see.

    3. There’s some critics who try to suck the fun out of anything.

      The same lot usually go around insisting on “trigger warnings” on literature or dissecting any form of entertainment that doesn’t tick off their pet boxes on social justice or racism or bullying.

      Just ignore them!

  12. It is pretty ironic that the way this anime treats the girl punching and kicking a guy is humourous gesture given that he is already traumatic from his mother’s psychological abuse. Wonder if this series is going to address that. And Arima’s friends I’m afraid do a lot of assuming on their parts like they read his mind. As far as I can tell, he is pretty introverted to tell what he’s really thinking.

  13. I don’t quite understand the problems everyone is having with the forcing scenes. Normally anime comedy is not funny to me at all. Humorous violence is normally not that funny. But I was legitimately laughing out loud at most of these scenes. As for Kaori, there are two kinds of people with insecurities. One covers them up by being loud and fun (I’m theorizing Kaori is one of these) The other stays in the background, and uses excuses to justify his inability to get out there (Kousei). So I think she’s not bi-polar, just really good at keeping up the act as a brash happy go lucky girl until she’s not

  14. I don’t know I’m the only one but I thought this episode was well done. The “forced” moments were more like an exaggerated way for him to do the performance, all of those scenes were funny for me but people seem to look it as a bully. I don’t know if you guys were too serious about this but I thought this episode deeply touched me and has great laughable moments.

  15. So the Blonde girl is using the best friend to get close to the piano guy? And the Blonde girl asked the the childhood friend point blank. “Do you like him?” The childhood friend said no, she cannot come crying when Arima start going for the blonde girl.

    At please the best guy friend know that the Blonde could help heal his friend and is taking a step back. But seriously. That’s childhood fried just gave the blonde the “Okay” pass.

    1. My hypothesis is that Kaori and Watari may be in cahoots. I never really got the feeling that Kaori likes Watari. I also feel like her waiting for “Watari” to walk home with was a ploy as well to hang out with Arima. Watari also has the vibe of being interested in Tsubaki, so it wouldn’t surprise me if they were actually working together to get with the ones they are actually interested in.

  16. I still don’t really like Kaori, but I still get why she’s supposed to be the cat’s meow in Arima’s eyes. I get this odd feeling that Kaori’s cheerful attitude isn’t a complete representation of herself, but more of what she wants to or feels like she should be. She did say that she wanted her music to be played so that people could remember her. Mixed with that obvious hospital flag, we know something is going south for our little miss sunshine.

    Regardless, this show is still really beautiful. I’m glad there are more studios (other than KyoAni who always show up) willing to put the time into making shows look amazing.

  17. As someone who majored in psychology, I agree with you Kairi that this forceful way of making Kousei(?) her accompanist is not the best way to make him play. I like the music aspect and Kousei’s possible development, but I don’t like how Kousei is surrounded by people who seem to push him around a lot. If there is one thing that is perfectly natural to someone being forced to open up, it’s resistance. One of the qualities I’d been taught psychotherapists should have is empathy. By having empathy, the client will gradually feel unthreatened, unhesitant. And in this case, Kaori and the others don’t empathize with what Kousei feels/experiences. They only think of the end in sight, the goals they want to accomplish. There’s a process in this, and I guess the show somehow blames this forcefulness on their immaturity, their impulsiveness. And then they’ll learn to not “belittle his pain…” after making him play again.
    It’s really troubling that this is what happens, that this almost always happen. But not everyone is a psychologist/therapist or an empathizer of sorts. Still, a lack of deliberation and treading carefully can be irksome.

  18. What a great way to cap off an evening of entertainment. I’m glad I picked this one up. I agree that the “motivation” was a little over the top though. Like you said they really should have toned it down.

  19. From reading the most recent chapters of the manga, my perceptions of the earlier chapters have changed. Without spoiling anything – IMO, the best way to view Shigatsu is as an anime of multiple flawed teenagers trying to grow up or find their paths, not just as “Arima getting over his trama and playing the piano again”.

    Kaori and Tsubaki (Tsubaki, especially!) are noted to be very imperfect people, and the manga does – indeed – acknowledge this.

  20. that force ur friends may do is their attitude to show u their help and their willing to make u happy even its tough enough …. but later u will realize that they did the best for u ^^


  21. Different anime means a different scene, a different flow of action,,, etc… by that, the person watching it will have a differrent feeling, impact, etc… to him/her, depending on the person if he/she will feel excited, awkward, angry, etc…
    In each episode your view that anime will gradually change depending to how it was constructed..
    So, for me in the first episode I was feeling excited because I was expecting something to happen to the main character which is Kousei to transform to the way I want but I was disappointed when I watch the next episode that they make Kousei personality in such a way that without the forcefull action of those around him, he will be still clinging to his trauma, especially where Kaori said to Kousei in the first episode that she is waiting for Watari and just said that he will be the substitute because watari isn’t there……….. For me, in that situation Kousei shouldn’t have agree with it because in their first meeting it was shown completely on how Kaori treated Kousei in an opposite way the way she treated Watari, which means that the forcefull act of Kaori shouldn’t have work to Kousei because of that but as I said a while ago, where in about his personlity which allowed such situation to work…
    In other words we interpret situations in a different way because we imagine ourself if we where in there position, which mean different view means a different personality and thinking of course….
    And because of my personality and thinking this anime not good… but I can say that it help me reminds me if what personality I have…


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