Two inevitable collapses happened today–the breakdown of a heartless relationship and the breakdown of a dying child. Where one brings bittersweet progress and growth, the other serves to cement what we’ve known all along, in a way that is hard to face head-on. Shigatsu is not holding off on its emotional story; it shows no signs of stopping anytime soon.
For starters, I am glad that Tsubaki was dumped. Seeing her talk about nothing but Kousei made me feel bad both for her and her senior. Tsubaki is suffering plenty from her self-created mental cage, but Saitou-senpai is patient and tolerant for having to listen to the girl he confessed to talk constantly about not him. Their relationship was one of strain and emptiness rather than anything meaningful. Every gesture was either a mistake or a courtesy of politeness, rather than any sort of passionate emotion. It was, as Kashiwagi would phrase, two individuals who didn’t dislike one another in the end. After all, Saitou-senpai was thankful for Tsubaki to grant his request, but as with Tsubaki’s fleeting emotions, so does Saitou’s patience and attraction fade over time.
I praise Shigatsu for approaching this topic of breakups, since we rarely ever see the topic touched upon in the world of anime. The implied themes of fading emotions and ambiguous feelings are an uncomfortable subject to tackle, but it is a necessary reflection of how a large number of real life relationships work, where the majority of them end in breaking up. However, not every breakup must be this dramatic exit where parties are explicitly at fault–sometimes the drive to stay in the relationship just fades for both parties, where it’s not wrong at all to break off a relationship at that stage.
I do think the rest of Tsubaki’s story after the breakup becomes a little more tiresome and dry though, despite more tears being shed. A little cheesy line that echos the past from Arima, some physical abuse from Tsubaki, and nothing is really resolved between those two. The breakup was a great step forward in getting Tsubaki to know what she wants, to not use Saitou as a distraction from her true emotions, but most likely we will see this standstill between childhood friends for a long time. Thus, we can effectively say that Tsubaki’s chapter is closed for now, even if we do see some of her efforts in the future, since most of those will result in only small developments in the plot.
As that chapter closes, the show’s focus shifts back to struggling musicians. Our suffering Kaori now has a challenger for Kousei’s attention–meet Aizato Nagi (Kayano Ai), another character affected by Kousei’s playing in some shape or form. She isn’t intent on torturing Kousei through water balloons and infiltrating his place of study for just any reason, but exactly why is still up in the air. Is she already connected to one of the existing characters as a little sister, or perhaps she was directly influenced by Kousei during one of his performances? Whatever her reasons, said reasons feed nicely into Nagi’s own set of lies and deception. With Kousei’s fresh insight from his recent performances, the show quickly forces him into passing that knowledge down. Knowing Shigatsu, Kousei’s tutoring of Nagi will involve much more than music and affect more than just those two alone. Even though Kaori is isolated in her own world, she will be affected by Kousei and Nagi’s interactions in some way. Will those effects be entirely negative? I sure hope not–a compounding effect on top of Kaori’s own debilitating disease sure isn’t something I want to see. Now that she’s reaching her own limit in hiding her sorrows, what she doesn’t need right now is for the one person she truly wants to be occupied by something else. Things aren’t looking so hot for Kaori, where it sure doesn’t look like it’ll be getting better soon, but I have hope that Nagi and Kousei will introduce something new to save our poor violinist.