“Two of a Kind”
For the emotional roller coaster that Shigatsu is, seeing certain characters in constant wet-face dilutes the ride as a whole. For instance, take today’s instance of Kaori crying on the way back from shopping, whilst riding (illegally) in tandem with Kousei. The waterworks flow and Kousei narrates that he didn’t ask Kaori why she was crying. This is supposed to be a key scene that highlights the Kaori and Kousei’s reluctance to be direct, but after seeing a crying scene in literally every single episode since episode 12, the effect has largely worn off in a tragedy of diminishing returns. After all, why did Kousei not mention this the various other times he’s witnessed Kaori crying? What significance does this crying scene have over the others to warrant such a statement? There’s probably an answer out there, but it’s not an emotionally convincing one (correct me if I’m wrong). I don’t imagine the show fixing this behaviour any time soon, but at this rate, the real hard-hitting scenes that’ll come at the end of the series could very well become ‘diluted’ because of this trend. I consider my emotions to be easily swayed in anime, but lines have to be drawn. It’s understandable that Kaori is surely going through a lot during this period, but from a storytelling perspective, saturation isn’t always the best way to reach out to an audience.
On the flip side, there are other things that Shigatsu does well, even if those ‘things’ might be prolonged and repetitive. As I mentioned in previous weeks, it’s clear that Kousei is trying with all his might to deny what’s happening to Kaori. He’s not oblivious in the slightest, but because he fears what he suspects, he plays along with Kaori’s lie still, even if that lie is pretty much in shambles at this point. For us, it’s easy to see what the truth is here regarding Kaori–she isn’t ever waiting for Watari, she is afraid Kousei will forget about her, and she’s clearly going to die. However, for Kousei, acknowledging these truths has larger implications for what he has to accept, a hard pill to swallow. While the crying has tired on me, the continuous use of slapstick and the indirect dance with language bothers me less so because it creates this uneasy veil; it is a veil that most of the characters feel is false. However, said veil fell apart for Kousei though as this episode closes up, as Kaori reaches the bottom of her pit of despair and asks for a double/lovers suicide. For Kousei beyond this point, there is no denying what the truth is, even if Kaori may backtrack on her words later. It was a statement loaded both with acknowledgement of Kousei’s true role and Kaori’s own despair, as she fears the worst of fading away from this world.
Meanwhile, for our newcomer Nagi, it looks like things aren’t going well for her either. Though on surface, she seeks revenge for her brother and inflict as much negativity on Kousei, those reasons are at core fairly childish and surface level, hiding the real issues that Nagi is dealing with. We can see hints of this as she constantly makes up reasons for why she can’t keep up with the standards set by Kousei and Hiroko. Her hands are too small, those standards are impossible, or it provides no assistance for Nagi to ‘win’. Of all the child characters we’ve seen thus far, Nagi is on par with Kousei for making such excuses relating to the piano. Even though she says she despises incompetency, she is already hinting that she struggles to deal with her own self-perceived incompetency. Much like Arima and his self-imposed perception of Kaori’s true feelings, so too does Nagi struggle for the attention of her own brother Takeshi and most likely, her own rough playing. I look forward to seeing how Nagi will resolve her own problems, since it’ll most likely turn into another monologue of musical passion, one of the things that Shigatsu executes amazingly well; it’s all good to see Kaori’s pain, but ultimately the thrill of the on-stage character growth and performance is what many of us are here to stay and see.