「旅立ち」 (Tabidachi)
“Start Off”

Be careful what you wish for, Tsubaki.

I know I beat this horse dead last time, but before I get going I just want to delineate where I stand on whether or not what Kaori and Tsubaki did to Arima is bullying. Honestly, bullying is a really subjective word; having been bullied most of my own life, I know very well how bullies, even those who aren’t doing so with necessarily malicious intent, rationalize things. “We’re just messing with you, don’t be a baby!” “That doesn’t even hurt,” or even worse, the ones where emotional manipulation is a little sneakier. I’ve had all sorts of experiences up and down the spectrum, from people kicking me, throwing my things away, being hit by sports equipment, being made fun of, called names, and ones where people who said they were my friends were peer pressuring me to be someone I wasn’t if I didn’t want to be abandoned. Why am I saying all this? Because what counts as bullying is different for the victim than the person doing the bullying. Some of the things that have been hurled at me, like exasperated questions as to why I couldn’t just stop crying about my parents’ divorce as a child (the worst one is when people try to force you to stop crying), or people trying to push me out of my comfort zone “for my own good” might have seemed like helpful things, but in reality they made me feel worse. That’s not about not being able to take jokes, or needing to learn how to not get hurt; it’s about being a human being with feelings and real problems. And people like Arima, people like me, have real problems we’re not all ready to face yet. I know for some the scenes with Kaori hitting and pushing Arima aren’t a big deal, but you should ask yourself, why isn’t it a big deal? Why is it treated like a good thing that this boy with mental problems has friends who physically hurt him and also force him to confront very real and deep seated fears before he is ready? Why are we getting this all wrapped up in a cherry blossom package? How would you feel in that situation?

My problem isn’t that Kaori and the others are doing this to Arima. My problem is that the series treats it as a solution to his mental state. Arima isn’t just running away; he has a very real psychological reaction and aversion to playing the piano. He was abused by his mother and is now being abused by his friends. But he’s seeing it as an eye opening experience, as a wonderful gift embodied in Kaori. Why is that a bad thing? It’s bad in that it’s condoning Kaori’s behavior and saying it’s okay to treat people with psychological issues like that, and that the abused can find inspiration in that. It’s just not healthy, and to be honest it’s actually worse in the anime than in the manga because of all the dramatic and technical focus on Kaori (those pretty colors and flair are not helping, A-1). I just hesitate to see this being passed off lightly.

Well, I beat the horse’s corpse to shreds now, so I should probably talk about the episode proper. I liked this episode a whole lot more than the last one, for obvious reasons, and also because I love music (if you don’t why are you here?). I think it’s important to state two things before I get into this in more detail. First, there is no true right or wrong approach to music. It’s all about expression, and no matter how technical or improv you play, it doesn’t ultimately matter as long as you enjoy it and it’s pleasant to listen to for at least one person. Secondly, that doesn’t mean you get a free card to do whatever you want in technical competitions. I’ve already seen some music lovers complaining about how Kaori’s approach to music is pretty disrespectful and simplistic. There’s no doubt that it is, but there’s nothing really wrong with that. What’s the issue is that she’s using platforms like these competitions to do it. If you go to a competition, you’re expecting to showcase your technical skill set, your practice, and your ability. Not your creativity. Its disrespectful to the people who came to watch the former and the people who came to perform seriously. As to simplistic, well, she’s really just doing whatever she wants. Still, for a musician, that’s an important thing to cultivate. You need to really get into your music, and you’re honestly free to reinterpret a piece however you want. Just, not in a competition. It’s kind of understandable that she wants to leave her mark considering the little hints here and there about her health, but still.

I understand that that freedom is what Arima loves in Kaori, but I hesitate to accept that at face value. It’s not an exaggeration to say that he is bound by his mother, in more ways than one. In the flashbacks we have seen that he clearly loved his mother, and that he worked hard for her sake. But we also know that she was abusive and beat him when he didn’t play as she wished, so that he’s become conditioned to playing without any emotion at all. Now that his mother is gone, his psychological trauma only makes that worse. His inability to hear the piano causes him to panic, and his attempts to snap out of it only make the playing sound more forced and out of sync. As a result, he ends up relying even more on technical aspects of playing, which constricts him even further in a spiral out of control. It doesn’t help that in this competition he was essentially forced to play something he hadn’t even had time to practice (this feels more like abuse to me, and could have really screwed him up for life about playing ever again, but I digress). But that, to me, is the essence of what makes this series so compelling. Arima’s condition is stark and difficult, and it makes you want to see him overcome his nightmares and truly grow into the musician he wants to be. That’s why even though the last half is pretty deus ex machina, the episode still hit some very powerful emotional chords.




    1. Umm how about that rebound? He was incredible, it was incredible. This anime is incredible. How about we take a moment to stop picking on the things we dislike about shows, and embrace what was done amazingly well.

      1. I know the protagonist is a bit wimpy, but the flow of the stories make it fit very well. That rebound was glorious. I’m not professionally attuned with classical music; And I have read a few comments saying the music isn’t really played that well; But it was astounding to hear and it really felt like a masterpiece.

        Looking forward to more. One of my favs this season!

      1. Also, can I just add that, as a professional classical musician, I can’t help rolling my eyes when I see yet another anime where the characters whip out a performance WITHOUT rehearsing. At least mention having one rehearsal (and that is already pushing it). No rehearsal is just ridiculous… and I completely simpatize with Arima’s breakdown. Having a history of stage fright myself, I can’t help disliking Kaori and his other friends for pushing him into it… meh.

    2. im not trolling. i dont care about the down votes, ill just speak what i feel about this show. i understand that his friends is much more of an ass than he is but i still cant bear how he agreed to play even without rehearsal and stopped midway after busting his ass with his mind problems thanks to his mom’s ghost, the crazy bitch being an ass non stop, and his friends insensitive pushing.

  1. Agree on all points, it really felt like bullying to me. You can try to help people and sometimes going out of your comfort zone is needed but I don’t think this would be one of these situations in real life. Anywho, while it has its problems it doesn’t really bother me that much and I can very much enjoy it for the music, story and relationships.

    What kinda worries me is how it will progress from now on. You talked about Kaoris health for a moment and I really do hope its not as grave as this episode made me think. She said something like “Let’s go on a journey!” and expressed her wish to be remembered for her music before while they enforced multiple times over the episode how april will be ending soon. Also the series is called “shigatsu wa kimi no uso” (Your lie in april). I really don’t hope she was lying when she said they’d go on a journey together…
    I hope I’m overinterpreting, I’m not ready for any feels (´°̥̥̥̥̥̥̥̥ω°̥̥̥̥̥̥̥̥`)

    1. My take on what the title ‘Your lie in april’ means is that it is to do with her supposedly having a crush on Watari. She knew full well who Friend A would be as she knows who Tsubaki hangs out with so knew she would bring Arima along.

  2. We’re on the same page, Kairi.

    It’s really a shame, because Kousei is an excellent character, and the emotional parts of the show are so well done that I’d describe them as “intoxicating”. Kousei’s grief and “freedom” just feel so right in the moment, yet I can’t help but have a bitter aftertaste given then means they used to bring about this development. It’s just so wrong. This wouldn’t be a positive experience in real life. In fact, it could makes things far worse.

    There are a lot of good and bad ideas floating around here, so my feelings are mixed at this point. To be honest, I’m hoping the anime distances itself from this event soon. If it plays heavily into the plot, I’m not sure what to think of it. Everything else is great, but the core message isn’t being conveyed well thanks to the missteps.

    They do have plenty of time to recover thanks to the length of the anime, thankfully.

  3. this was definitely a very hard episode to stomach, for the good and the bad, especially after your review of the last episode. I admit I didn’t see it last time, but this episode sort of smacked the abuse to the front lines and I am sort of shocked I didn’t realize it. Granted, I still like this show, and it continues to impress on the animation and music fronts, but I’m seeing these characters as a lot more damaged and a lot less “quirky manic pixie dream kids” than I was before. If anything, this show will be interesting to follow just for the inevitable train wreck.

  4. I don’t disagree with anything you said, as a matter of fact, it’s an extremely important and interesting topic to discuss. However, I was moved by this episode, so going into this post I was hoping for something that would emanate the feeling of the episode. Surely the points you bring up are important, but this episode has created a story, an atmosphere, an expression; I’m not sure how to describe it, because this episode was like art in motion and you can never truly explain art, you simply try interpret it.

    I’m certainly interested in your views, but I had hoped that perhaps more focus went into the episode itself and the story, the life, that it’s trying to create.

    1. My intent was to do that, and then before I knew it I’d written a monster. But don’t worry, I don’t intend to point out the same flaws throughout the entire show, just this and the last one mostly hit my concern points. As they did in the manga.

  5. I empathize with you, Kairi, but you’re grossly conflating Arima’s friends’ actions as “abuse” and “bullying”. Context matters, and it’s clear that his friends deeply care for him. In real life, of course therapy sessions would be more conducive and effective to clear up his psychological aversion to playing the piano. But repeated visits to see the therapist wouldn’t be as compelling or interesting for a romantic comedy, especially for an anime series.

    If we’re going to call the actions by Tsubaki’s friends in Shigatsu as “abuse”, what do we make of other comedy series that regularly utilizes comic violence towards both male and female characters? The classic Ranma 1/2 comedy series features Ranma constantly being beaten up by Akane – a double standard of female on male abuse. But nobody is calling for Ranma 1/2 to be burned at the stakes. Gekkan Shoujo Nozaki-kun has a female character constantly beaten up by her male senpai…yet people aren’t condemning the series. On the contrary, viewers find it humorous because it’s a reversal of a trope, not because they condone violence on women.

    Bullying is a problem that needs to be taken seriously, and other anime series like Great Teacher Onizuka or the Hell Girl series have shown the repercussions of bullying. But Shigatsu isn’t any different from other standard comedy anime/manga series that features comic violence by women on men – it utilizes the same double standard trope to highlight Kaori’s free-spirited personality and emphasize the series’ comedic elements. We should not broadly paint all forceful actions as abuse. Otherwise, we are doing a disservice to the actual term itself and its victims.

    Fat Cat Lim
    1. Completely agree. In a medium that is rife with tropes, pandering and suspension of disbelief I hardly think that it is fair to criticize and attack this show in particular when so many others before and without a doubt, so many after it will follow similar plot lines.

      Not to say that bullying and abuse aren’t serious matters, but I hardly think that the creator had the intention to belittle those issues when writing the show, but instead wanted to use the characters’ rash actions to develop the plot further.

    2. I also agree on this view. Why is this show being attacked on this topic when plenty others not just including anime shows the same thing??

      The definition of bullying here here has also opened up to the point where all of us here must have done some “bullying” knowingly or unknowingly. And now this is feeling like a bunches of bullies saying bullying is bad.

      I hate to be frank…but this topic of bullying is starting to have a feel of hypocrisy in it.

      1. I don’t cover most of those shows or watch them so I wouldn’t know. Also it’s being attacked because it’s a show trying to take itself seriously.

        And yes, because of societal structures, it’s entirely possible for anyone to have bullied unknowingly. I know I bullied someone as a child, and I bullied my sister too. Ever heard the saying that the abused tend to become abusers? But as I grew up I realized that it was bullying and I thought about how the people I’d bullied felt, and that they probably felt like I did. Unfortunately everyone is so conditioned by societal norms that we rarely really stop and think about how our everyday norms affect individuals. The best you can do it try to empathize and work hard to change when you realize something is problematic.

    3. I think the reason Kairi is focusing on the issue is because the narrative itself is focusing on it, highlighting that Kousei has serious lasting issues due to the emotional abuse that his mother put him through, to the point where he thinks what she did was correct, whilst at the same time being terrified by the sight of her. So when you have those intense, serious scenes and then also have those fluffy scenes where the other characters force him to relive his traumatic experiences, it begs the question whether the author realises just what he is doing – and if I were to place a bet, I’d say he doesn’t.

      I can’t speak for Kairi, but for me the comic violence is not the worst thing. The worst thing is the emotional manipulation masquerading as helpfulness. I think most people could write the violence off as what it is: (poorly done) comedy. And it’s funny that I say all this, because as of right now this is my favourite show of the season – but I can see that possibly changing if the series continues to ignore the wrong messages it is sending. Otherwise, the performance was stunning this episode, and when Kousei saw his mother in the audience it even caught my breath a little. I feel for the boy; I just wish the author, the other characters, and the series itself felt for him as well.

      1. Samu: Kousei’s mother is indeed guilty of emotional manipulation but his friends? Hardly. It’s shown that Kousei still loves the piano and music (as evident by him transcribing music by the piano), which is why his friends are pushing him because they know he won’t be able to move on if he doesn’t address it properly. Drastic actions make for good drama and scenes on screen, but not so much in real life. Accusing the Kousei’s friends of emotional manipulation is somewhat excessive.

        Fat Cat Lim
      2. Yep, just like Samu said. And yeah, his friends are manipulating him: they essentially forced him to play even though he was vehemently against it, and then only agreed because Kaori cried. Whether she meant to cry on purpose or was actually sad was irrelevant (and kind of sexist for both of them, but I digress).

    4. Why Kairi is a hypocrite? Has she told she likes the trope or finds it funny in other manga/anime but not here? For what is worth, she can hate it with burning passion all the same. You don’t know.

      For example, I still, after all these years of reading manga/ watching anime, don’t like it. I don’t hate it anymore, but only because I refuse to be irritated unnecessarily. I’ve accepted it but more as “I can’t do anything about it. It’s an anime/manga thing.”. But I never fully embrace it. I refuse. And I’ve met many people like me. So what now?

      But I would do try explain it. First of all in Gekkan Shoujo Nozaki-kun, people were able to accept it because of whole parody convention and the anime was consistent stylistically therefore it didn’t break suspension of disbelief.

      So why for many isn’t so easy to maintain suspension of disbelief with the bulling in Shigatsu wa Kimi no Uso? Because the contrast and two different narratives about the same thing, and not only in the whole series, but even within an one of episodes. The anime orders me around I should feel two different emotions about the same bulling tactics (beating, pressuring, diminishing sb’s self-esteem) only because it’s presented differently.
      It wants me to feel sympathy towards Arima when he has a panic attack and we see his memories about mother, it’s easy to see: sad music, bleak colours, it didn’t show her whole face (distancing her persona from us) and she’s looming above him, he’s bruised, lonely, crying. Maybe we even should condemn her because: “Look what she did! It’s because of her his world is so sad and grey and he resent a piano now! And she even dared to die on him when he tied to please her so much! That bitch!”.
      At the same time we suppose to feel something good is happening and everybody only wants to help him when his friends doing the same only because he’s in love now, wit cute girl in an addition, there are chibis when the violence is presented and everything is wrapped in a wonderful, intense palette of colours and, of course, cherry blossom! And the most ironic thing, that maybe Kaori is dying too (like his mother), or at last she has vague animu illness, but she’s justified in her doing and this time it’s Arima, who is an ungrateful bitch, because how dare he has a trauma, doesn’t he see that others have worse?!

      1. Nitpicking and caching me in my words, hmm? I just know what the anime, or rather people behind it if you want to me be more precise, wants me to feel but I used a phrase “ordering me around” because its lack of subtlety and doing everything in a forceful manner.
        And this old argument “don’t like, don’t watch” is so annoying. I didn’t know I won’t like it, I just had to try, you know… Actually, it was opposite, everything on a paper looked so good: synopsis and PV, I was sure it is going to be, if not one of AOTY, then at last AOTS for me! Well you could argue I could try the manga but who wants to spoiler themselves? I just wanted very much love it but I can’t, and because I accidentally hyped it myself (I really try not to doing) I’m much more irritated at it. I’m actually on the verge of dropping it but, even after criticising it so much in my comment, I see good things in it too and of course potential is tremendous and I acknowledge it. So I hope now disastrous “healing time” is behind us, it picks up itself and will be better.

      2. Thank you for defending me gilraen. I do actually dislike this kind of thing most everywhere I see it, but like you I’ve grown to casually ignore my distaste in more comedy oriented shows. The problem is that Shigatsu is more drama than anything, and this kind of comedy just doesn’t work with Arima’s situation.

    5. First I want to address Kairi in this post. Thank you for sharing your story with us as someone who also survived bullying I empathize with your struggle. The examples brought up by other commenters such as Ranma 1/2 and Gekkan Shoujo Nozaki kun are both comedy series that don’t take themselves seriously at all. In the context of this show they are treating Arima trauma seriously and its not cool how its being handled in the show. Yes Arima saw it as a positive experience in the end but it could have traumatized him even more. I’m really trying to like this show but I’m having a hard time buying that this will help him get over his fears and the abuse his mother inflicted on him. I love the music but I’m not enjoying the journey of him getting out of his fears. I might eventually drop this show.

      1. Not at all hoshi, I just felt I needed to really talk about why the scenes bother me personally. You’re right, the slapstick comedy is easier to write off in a full blown comedy, though to be honest, it bothers me there as well. Shigatsu is trying to be a serious drama, and the fact that it’s dealing with a trauma only makes the fact that Arima is being bullied mentally and physically only clouds up the message.

    6. You say:

      In real life, of course therapy sessions would be more conducive and effective to clear up his psychological aversion to playing the piano. But repeated visits to see the therapist wouldn’t be as compelling or interesting for a romantic comedy, especially for an anime series.

      I have to say I actually think it would be nice to see that in a series if not a whole series on that. Woddy Allen has managed to incorporate that into some of his movies, and it makes for a killer opener on a flashback – particularly if we can use that as an excuse to have the therapist hear several versions of some issue to leave us to paint our own final version.

      So I guess I’m saying that the choice by the author and the studio adapting to go this route can’t simply be laid at the feet of “Well, we needed a way to get to that which was interesting”.

  6. Although I’m nowhere near as good as Arima, I feel I’ve been there before. My parents would force me to take part in piano contests, and my first one was equally as disastrous, as I froze mid-performance with stage shock. In Primary School, my friends would sign me up to play for mini concerts in front of the entire yeargroup without my permission, and against my will. However, I wouldn’t describe that as bullying, as ultimately I felt I was able to further my piano playing, even if at times I was forced to exit my comfort zone. The art of performance is something that can only be attained through rigorous trial and testing under the pressure and tension of being observed by a sizeable live audience, and is something to be constantly sharpened or honed in order to maintain. Arima has the skills and abilities, but he has lost this edge, and isn’t a natural showman like Lang Lang. If a great pianist such as Maurizio Pollini were to quit the piano for as long as Arima, I’m sure he would have suffered the same way Arima did, and it would have been unrealistic if Arima had the perfect return performance. I’ve managed to win the last two competitions I’ve taken part in, even though it took me a while to get there. My journey wasn’t without difficulties, as my parents lacked the funds for my piano lessons, so I had to stop for one and a half years, meaning I taught myself Grade 8, which I achieved a distinction for. Life isn’t without frustration, so I praise the Mangaka for realistically depicting failure in performance, rather than sugar coating everything in an attempt to pander towards the audience. For Arima, this most certainly isn’t the end either, just a new beginning. This begs the question, had his friends not done what they did, would Arima have had the opportunity to make a return like this?

  7. I was really waiting for this chapter to be animated and it was brilliant. The not so perfectly played music, the underwater piano, the mother’s ghost, the rebound and the colapse. Everything was wonderfully done. And even though all the bullying part may cause some disconfort, I think that was the idea. We can’t forget this is a shonen, and to make the audience cheer for the MC to overcome his difficulties is one of the goals. And what better way to do it than to make us understand how painful and deep his trauma is? I know there’s other ways to show us that, but I’m also sure that scenes like the one with all the water and no sound made everybody a little desperate for him to succeed. All this bad stuff is happening so when he finally end his journey and overcome it all, we will be as happy and free as he will, because we undestand and care for him now.
    For me, this is really the “Start Off” of everything that will happen to Arima and Kaori.

  8. *Unpopular Opinion*

    It may be bullying, but you’re not a performance artist. I sympathize with Kousei — I went through similar (child prodigy, not piano but cellist) and after one of my friends committed suicide, I stopped playing. I just couldn’t. I stopped for 4 years until my sister pushed and goaded and literally dragged me back into playing — at that time, I was in university, and it was only because of her forceful pushing, I decided to switch degrees back to music.

    Perhaps it’s difficult to think, but performance playing – if you are a musician, artist or performer, you *need* to be pushed. There needs to be a motivation for your art to be achieved. When I stopped playing during the 4 years I felt like I died. I felt like someone had cut off my hands and hung them like butcher’s meat. Everytime I walked past the meat shop I felt like it was my own hands hanging from the wire hooks. I couldn’t eat but I couldn’t play either. And yes, the way it’s portrayed, it’s problematic; but that’s the thing you kinda learn as a performer. You have to divorce your own issues from the stage, and gain a critical distance and then you can make really great art.

    So for me, it’s a bit conflicting. Yes it may be ‘bullying’, but if he wasn’t pushed/bullied – he would have probably killed himself or lost the will to live because he is a musician, and if you don’t play, you die.

    1. I was a performance artist for a while though. I believe that Kousei did indeed need a push, but that this is not the right kind of push. The thing is, the message is being sent that this IS the right kind of push, and that’s very dangerous.

      1. I agree the portrayal could be handled better (so it’s less about being forceful in general, but rather that forceful methods work on *Kousei* but not everyone), but some people do work better with an external push.

    2. If you don’t play, you die? Where does this bollocks attitude come from? I lost my ability to play the piano competitively, and had to give up on performing music live. I sure as hell didn’t die. If anything I mellowed out and found my actual calling in life.

      It’s also clearly established that he WASN’T a “do or die” musician/performer, he was being forced into it by his mother. If he had a decent parent or role model then it’s quite likely he could have happily stopped obsessing over music entirely. But of course, he was forced back into it by his magic pixie dream girl, so all is forgiven.

      1. I think we can agree to disagree. For the years I stopped playing, I literally had no motivation to live and was constantly depressed/suicidal. You mentioned finding another calling, which was your actual calling— and thing is, music is my actual calling. I knew it as a teenage performer, and unlike many of my peers I never had to think about my future or what I wanted to do in life or anything like that, I pretty much knew exactly what I was supposed to do.

        It’s not really confirmed if he’s a ‘do or die’ musician, considering his psychological trauma, he could very well be and that would make the internal conflict much greater. I mean, that’s kind of the reason we’re following this isn’t it?

        Still playing, although now in a professional orchestra!

        For those wondering – no, my parents didn’t brainwash me to play music. If anything, they were strongly against their only child being sent to an unstable career like music. I stopped playing after being in an abusive relationship with a fellow musician, and it took a while before I could separate him-as-person from the music we made and composed. I’m still not quite completely comfortable playing duets that we wrote together, but at least I can still play pleasurably without thinking of him.

  9. Even though you might be right about it being bullying, I think you shouldn’t look at this so objectively as you do. His friend have been with him long enough to know what’s right and wrong, to the point of crying when they see him perform again. There’s also the part of facing your fears to overcome them instead of hiding away as he did up till now. It was obvious to everyone watching the show that he really does want to play the piano. In that regard I think you shouldnt label this as bullying but more like helping Aroma overcome his fears.

    1. His friends have been with him long enough to know what’s right and wrong

      Lol,they just THINK do. Many adults wouldn’t know what’s right for Arima even thought they’d think so seriously can’t expect that out of middle schoolers,friends or not. At their age,they’d probably have to go through a similar situation to really understand what he’s going through.

      But all that is fine of course,since it’s completely NORMAL for them to think that they’re doing what’s best for their friend when in turn it’s the complete opposite. The problem is that show itself doesn’t seem to view it like that,at least not yet.

  10. Kairi,
    I think you’re focusing far too much on the “bullying” aspect of this show, and you’re really starting to ignore the actual substance. Though, as Bobduh from Wrong Every Time states, the two have already progressed significantly in a “romantic” aspect, the true highlight of the show will be seeing Arima break out from under all that water and hear the beauty of his own playing. Also, Kaori is trying to create appreciation for music among people who just try to win to win. I call the latter type “grade-hunters” from my experience in high school, people who don’t care about the music itself, but rather just winning. I think Kaori is a rare bird who breaks out of that shell. All in all, I feel you’re being far too critical of the bullying in and of itself – there was a distinct contrast between the mother who taught him music and the mother who berated him for not getting better. Also, Kaori means it in a positive way, and Arima never exactly told her to stop, either. I realize it is mimicking unfortunate occurrences in your own life, but I think you’re berating the show far too much and not appreciating the better things, like the obviously powerful bonds between the four friends, the breaking out of conventional shells, the revival of suppressed dreams, and the connection between two similar, but obviously different people.

    Christian Schmidt
    1. “…there was a distinct contrast between the mother who taught him music and the mother who berated him for not getting better.”

      Are you familiar with the cycle of abuse? Those calm/nice moments are part of it.

      Also, intention doesn’t automatically excuse your actions. You can do something wrong with good intentions, but that doesn’t make what you did any less wrong.

      I think there’s far too much of a stigma associated with criticizing a show or pointing out its negatives. There’s little point in discussing something in depth if you can only talk about the good parts, or the “easy on the ears” stuff. Sometimes the bad parts need to be pointed out. I personally have a better opinion of Kairi as a blogger for not being afraid to speak up about the negatives.

      That’s not to say dwelling on the negatives is proper either; still, the opposite extreme seems to be what holds true in many circles. Balance is what should be sought.

      1. Actually, I think that ‘nice’ moment was from before his mother even fell ill. Notice the lack of wheelchair and nose tubes? So I think it was the fact that she became terminally ill that scared her and thus made her go…crazy for lack of a better term. It doesn’t make her abusive behaviour excusable, but it’s a sad affair all-round. But I see your point.

      2. @Aki-Chan: You do have a point. It’s possible that she didn’t become abusive until after she fell ill. Though I kinda doubt that would be true from a real-world perspective, it would make more sense narration-wise since it was presented as a good memory.

        Thanks for noting that.

  11. Regardless of whatever the outcome is, I’d have cut ties with “friends” like Kaori or Tsubaki after going through hell from that comp.

    These kind of people makes me sick to my stomach both in real life and fantasy.

    More so, those two didn’t even asked the reason why Arima stopped playing piano to begin with. I mean, are you serious?

  12. I strongly disagree with what is being spoken here. Shit happens. Move on. You can’t mope around all day. Life is harsh and meaningless. The world won’t wait for you to recover. I think they are helping him. I agree with the show and the manga here.

    1. This is the sicking kind of attitude that makes people hide mental illness! Feeling clinically depressed? Get over it! Suffering from Post Traumatic Stress Disorder? Get over it! :S

  13. Ok so let’s talk about the episode…..

    I’m pretty sure everyone will agree that Arima was going to stop playing. It was bound to happen. Not even Kaori and her pre-performance mood boosters could stop him from figuratively drowning.




    I was anxious during this entire episode. I wanted to see the duet…but then i didn’t want to see it. As Arima started pounding the keys, my hands clenched and starting cheering him on in my head. When he finally stopped and kept looking down at the keys i was literally shouting at my monitor “LOOK UP AT HER!” When Kaori stopped as well, i initially thought that was the end of the performance. I’m glad i was wrong.

    “We got this. I know we do.”

    And from there…I just kind of sat back and watched Arima gather himself. I was impressed to see him “overcome” his deaf ears by imagining the sounds after hearing the music and seeing the music all week. I wasn’t expecting him to get it down just yet. If he suddenly just stopped himself from pounding the keys and overplaying Kaori, i’d have called shenanigans. That would have been boring.

    Two extra things that i’d like the manga readers to clarify for me…if you would, please.


    During this scene, was the woman who was talking to Arima, his mother? If so, HOLY COW. Why the drastic change from serene, to downright scary?


    Is this ever explained? If it is, then no need to explain. Hopefully we learn about it soon.

    The second question pertains to that moment where Arima and Kaori’s eyes meet during the second go at the song. Does Tsubaki react the way she did, having her “Oh no” moment, because of something she realizes during the performance? Is it something that she’ll later regret? I got the feeling that she sees the way Arima and Kaori look at each other and realizes that Kaori and Arima could be a thing. Tsubaki being the childhood friend AND having given Kaori the “OK” that she was ONLY a big sister last week, is she going to be eating her words? I don’t know if i can handle that. T-T

  14. While being given a push can help, it varies from person to person (even people suffering from the same type of issue won’t respond the same way to the same attempts) and can depend on what the push is and how far that push goes.

    Here, Arima just gets thrown right back into the thick of things, like a person who is afraid of the water simply being picked up by others and tossed into the deep end of a pool with the thought that that person will quickly get used to it and get over that fear without even considering the other possibilities like making things worse ranging from the person never being willing to even try to swim again to the person possibly panicking and drowning.

    All too often people make light of psychological issues, not willing to consider something a real “problem” unless the person in question is a raving lunatic or something.

    I myself suffered really deep depression and anxiety in high school (and still take medication for today) and being told by those who just didn’t (bother to try to) understand that I was “being selfish”, “just wanted attention”, to “get over myself”, and such as if my issues were something that could be cured overnight. Even now, I can’t really perform certain jobs that require a lot of interaction with people (cash register, front desk stuff, a lot of phone talk, etc.) simply because my anxiety would make me freeze up, barely able to think or speak, and even sick to my stomach.

    If people were to just force me to do such jobs with the idea that it’ll make things better, all it would do for me is make things far worse.

  15. This show is probably my favorite show with FSN:UBW. It has been quite a long time I haven’t had any great show like this one because of the friendship bond, the OSTs, the animation and overall it brings a lot of emotions to the audience. I just think it is a bit ridiculous to focus on the bullying aspect than the show itself. I understand very well the reasoning of u guys but for disliking it I think you guys are dramatizing over quite a bit. Like man, at least focus on her mother for abusing him than talking about his friends “bullying” him lol.

    This show is about how the MC is going to rebound himself, comedy, osts, friendship, passion, dream, drama (health issues,love wtv) than THE BULLYING aspect.
    This is an anime, haven’t u guys all seen tsundere forcing the MC everytime? You guys should get used it. Just enjoy the ride instead being so sensitive over little things.
    I rarely post anything on RandomC even when Omni was around, but I just thought giving up my opinion this time.

    1. I think it’s being taken more seriously because the context in which these things are happening aren’t as goofy as your usual tsundere violence. That said, it isn’t changing my experience with this anime. I’m sure the author didn’t have the intention of making it come off as psychological bully’ing rather than the aforementioned ‘trope’.

    2. To quote a previous post in response to a similar statement…


      There’s a difference when the show is a comedy and doesn’t take itself seriously and when the show is clearly going for drama and has a more ‘realistic’ tone, though.”

      1. There’s a difference when the show is a comedy and doesn’t take itself seriously and when the show is clearly going for drama and has a more ‘realistic’ tone, though.”

        Or maybe the exaggerated comedy is there because the show would be too darned heavy otherwise? I’m sorry, I really appreciate the comedic moments…even if only because I usually watch this show straight after Psycho-Pass…

      2. Not really the point of the post. The point is that there have been people here and at other places who try to equate the more serious, dramatic, and realistic style of “bullying” being talked about here to the purposely over-the-top comedic style of “bullying” in more comedy-oriented series’ in an attempt to justify that bullying being done in the more serious series, basically saying they’re the same thing and that we shouldn’t care so much about it happening.

        They’re far from the same thing and to say they are shows how little such people (are trying to) understand the issue other people have with it.

  16. I agree with the author. I used to have friends that kept pushing me out of comfort zone with such words like man up or don’t be such an emo. I don’t see them any more and I’m much happier and saving more money. Trying to help people with trauma may have good intentions, but ultimately have worse side effects.

  17. I used to be in a drama club in school and I also have low self-esteem. My personality doesn’t go well with the “norm” and I used to be ostracised because many around me find me annoying.
    But that aside, something in me just rages when I see Tsubaki and Kaori forcing Arima to perform. I’ve been onstage before and I know exactly how the pressure feels like whether or not your have a “problem”. It’s definitely not easy to perform in front of an audience. And if you screwed up on stage like Arima did with his kind of issues I wouldn’t be surprised if you’d literally break down. I think Arima should have been crushed more than he already is if this was real.
    That’s why I think that the story is taking Arima’s issues to lightly. “Oh, your trauma prevents you from playing? Let’s restart from the beginning.” I know this is just a story but it just doesn’t feel right to me. There’s just no way a trauma like that can be solved like that, that’s bullying! Never underestimate how brutal it can feel when you screw up on stage and you hear people criticising you. And to make it worse, you were forced to perform by someone who knows that you won’t be able to perform well. Maybe Kaori didn’t intend to hurt Arima but the damage is done.
    I feel that this is an unintended trigger for some of us and the writer/mangaka didn’t mean to make us all feel this way. I mean, yeah it is just a story but people are going to watch it, so why be insensitive for the sake of plot progression?

  18. The bullying…it’s a bit of a grey area here, isn’t it. The attitude of Kaori and Tsubaki seem to belittle his trauma, but at the same time, I’m pretty sure that’s not what they were intending to do. In Kaori’s case, I think she has a very full-on personality type…even if she knows about Kousei in the music world, she doesn’t know him as the person, so while her violence is not funny or excusable, it makes sense in that way as she’s just approaching one aspect of him. But Tsubaki is a more difficult one to figure out. She, too is a bit full-on, but she has the knowledge of why Kousei is affected to the extent that he is, so its harder to explain her involvement away. But I’m thinking that maybe she’s at the end of her rope, in a way? As in, she can’t stand to see her childhood friend/love like this and doesn’t know what else to do, so she’s just grabbing at anything that seems like it will help? Desperation makes people do extreme things sometimes, no?
    I should point out that I’m not condoning their actions-they really could have made things worse-but I think combining their age with these factors make it actually make sense…in the context. That, and it shouldn’t have been portrayed in such a comedic way. If those moments had been more in sync with the more serious feel of the rest of the show, it would have worked.

  19. I’ve read the manga released so far but stopped watching the anime after episode 3, not because its bad, its really good actually and quite faithful to the manga.
    Pretty much for the same reasons that disturbed you in the previous episode, I honestly find it annoying and disturbing (though personally I wouldn’t go as far as to call it bullying) when “friends” push you to the edge to do things they think are good for you but fail to understand why you can’t, the balance between being helpful and unsensitive here is totally broken.
    Well, you’ve pretty much said enough on this.

    Do you know about a manga called “Tetsugaku Letra”?
    It does cover very similar themes but in a much better way, I think you’ll like it a lot!

    Nice Tea
    1. Yes, Tetsugaku Letra! Somebody reads it! Wonderful manga. I would like to see the anime, because dance and flamenco music. Unfortunately, they would have to use an other art style, because in the manga it’s too ethereal for an anime.
      But you’re right. the same topics and themes, yet execution is much better.

  20. whoa, after watching this episode, I got really disturbed. And after reading your post, I totally agree with you, Kairi.

    I just came from a long depression recently, traumatized with what happened to me and to my family, and I really hate it when people around me would push me into doing something THEY thought would be good for me. It’s like they’re pushing themselves to you and their opinions and what they think is right instead of empathizing with the person and, maybe, helping in another way. But not like this. I felt like saying, “You shit! You don’t even understand me!” (sorry) For me, all in all, it’s not them who’s gonna pull me out of a depression/trauma, but it’s me. I have the choice to stand up again or not. Yes, I understand that we need a push, but not like this. Nope.
    Well, that’s my own opinion and some people might not agree, though it’s okay.
    I understand that we all have different ways of handling a situation.

    But enough with my personal life. What I can say about the episode itself is that, as usual, the art was amazing, the music was amazing of course, and I still kinda appreciate it that it can evoke emotions in me, and I guess sometimes it’s better to have an anime that really creates discussion, whether good or bad, than just having the same usual stuff we comment about an anime. (though I really wish they remove the slapstick blood jokes.
    Not funny.)
    Still, I will watch this stunning anime till the end.

    Anyway, great post, Kairi. Keep it up!

  21. …there’s a lot of emotion floating about both this post and the comments thread. Let’s change perspective a bit, shall we?

    Let me preface this by saying that I’m no psychiatrist. Everything I mention here is from my own experience with providing counseling and from various materials that I’ve read. Therefore if there are any medical professionals around, feel free to correct me.

    With that out of the way – a lot of therapy is, in fact, making use of emotional and mental manipulation techniques to achieve changes in the patient’s mental state. Fundamentally, it’s extremely difficult to impossible to help someone who doesn’t want to be helped – therefore, the first step in most counseling tends to be to manipulate the patient into truly wanting to be helped.

    In this context, consider Amami’s case – at the beginning of the story, he is in a state where he functions perfectly well as a human being, able to pursue education and employment with no apparent problem. Except, of course, for his psychosomatic affliction that happens at some point whenever he plays the piano… which would, probably, be unfortunate, but no problem, if he didn’t also very obviously continue to show a strong attachment to the piano. By doing so, then, Arima is effectively putting himself in psychological limbo – where he clearly has a deep-rooted psychological issue that prevents him from playing the piano, yet shows no desire to either confront said issue or to give up the piano altogether. This is the situation which Tsubaki, presumably, has observed from up close for years now, and despite what have probably been repeated attempts at gentle persuasion, has failed to get Arima to either want help with or to help himself. To be fair, she has likely never presented the option for him to distance himself from the piano altogether – this is likely due to her own like for his music. When Kaori presents the option, Tsubaki thus leaps at the opportunity to break the status quo – most likely without properly considering the ramifications, but given the context of having spent years seeing Arima do that to himself, probably not unusual.

    The second point of order is where I see many people conflate Tsubaki and Kaori’s actions with ‘stop crying’/’get over it’/et cetera, et cetera. There is a difference. Most of the statements/actions I’ve seen raised in this post and comments section are degrading utterances. What I’ve seen in these episodes does not fall under this category, although one might argue that some of Kaori’s actions are borderline. There is a world of difference between pushing someone because ‘you’re useless if you can’t do this’ and because ‘I know you can do this’. People can tell this difference, if you’re speaking out of your own exasperation and frustration or if you’re speaking out of belief and trust. It follows naturally that reactions to the two different types differ incredibly.

    It is true, however, that the end result could have been not good for Arima. Requiring a performance under such extreme time constraint, in a competition setting, was most definitely a high-stress situation, especially for someone who’s only just (finally) accepted that he wants help. This much is, more or less, on Tsubaki and Kaori’s heads… but frankly speaking isn’t something I would expect people their age, especially not ones without an interest in psychology and with Tsubaki’s long years beside the situation and Kaori’s own preoccupations to think about. It is, however, worth considering Kaori’s show of support and solidarity when she stopped her performance. This is not the action of a thoughtless individual, although she likely is a bit short on forethought.

    And finally, do consider one thing – if it had indeed gone badly for Arima… in all likelihood it would also have scarred both Tsubaki and Kaori as well. Yes, they probably hadn’t thought out properly how it might affect Arima… and equally hadn’t thought out how that outcome would affect them. They’re not professional therapists, after all. They’re teenage kids.

    1. You expressed my thoughts on the episode much more articulately than I could have ever done. I more or less agree with what you have just said, but could have never worded it like this. Although, as it happens, I do have an interest in psychology-I’m in my first year of studying the subject at university.Anyway, thanks for putting this out here.

    2. I don’t think the problem was the talk before the performance: That was gold, as far as I’m concerned. Most of this is a carry-over from the last episode. The way they got him here in the first place cheapens the comeback and leaves a sour aftertaste, at least for me.

      I’m actually hoping this unfortunate narrative situation can be ignored more in the next episode, but it’ll depend on how the plot moves forward from here.

  22. Eh, I guess I didn’t take it that seriously. I just enjoyed the episode. I have some problems myself, like extreme shyness and people expecting me to just snap out of it and be more extroverted, but I would be happy to have friends encouraging me like them. They really seem to believe in the guy and look what happened? He made some amazing music that’s far more interesting than the crap his mom forced him to play.

  23. As someone who’s read the manga, I will say that Show Spoiler ▼

  24. All this discussion, the points that is brought, I have to say… that I’m agree with those. But I’ll try to be subtle and avoid the word “bullying” as in my dictionary, “bullying” is an abusive act with a negative intention (I could be wrong though). Kaori and Tsubaki has…. “good reason”… to “force” Kousei to play piano.

    It has been stated that some part of Arima Kousei is actually still longing to play piano again. It is just that his past trauma blocked him from it. So it’s like something that you’d still want to grasp, but then there is this big iron wall blocking you and making you scared. Kaori and Tsubaki tried to destroy that wall, in a wrong way. I mean, you can’t just force Kousei abusively to break through the wall (except, of course, if he was the other “Arima” #ifyouknowwhatimean). And Tsubaki, at least as a friend, she should know damn well about Kousei’s trauma.

    I won’t rant about Kaori as it has already been stated by above. But when I try to see it from other side, some questions appear; Why would Kaori gone so far to force Kousei play piano? Who is he to her? If it is Tsubaki, I may see a little “reasoning”. But Kaori? The girl just barely know Kousei simply as a “prodigy that all people in their generation know”. Why the force to someone you barely know?. The story has taken a dangerous and risky route, but I think there’re still something that needs to be uncovered. Even as manga reader, answers to the questions above still remain unanswered.

    Oh, a little present from me as a manga reader:
    Show Spoiler ▼

    Show Spoiler ▼

    And that, friends, is my two cents. I could be wrong, as it is seen from my perspective. You can tell me which part I was wrong or missing, and we’ll discuss about that. 🙂

  25. Yes, you all are totally right! But… musicians are some sort of different people. Is not like a different kind of race, is just that they are… different.

    I don’t know how say this, but I meet several musicians, and all of them have something beyond normal. They are are human, yes, but on a different level. An extreme, very extreme level.

    They have discipline and passion. Two things that can sound like contradiction, but not for them. They can be incredibly harsh, crude, but passionate, tender, sensitive. I love music, and musicians, and I learned to accept them the way they are, different from us. And also I learned to accept the fact that most of they are extreme people. Beautiful ones from early age.

    Non sense? Yes, you go it!

    For my beloved friends, Ireri and Cristina, I’ll follow this series. Believe me, is real!


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