Shigatsu wa Kimi no Uso Ep. 4: The ends justify the means

Shigatsu wa Kimi no Uso - 0409

After last week’s debacle, this show can’t get any worse… right?

— Ah, the episode kicks off with a flashback with Kousei’s mom just to remind you that he was a victim of abuse. Then afterwards, we can learn how he’s still a victim of abuse!

— Double dose of Stockholm syndrome too. Why a double dose? Because Kousei has already agreed to go along with Kaori’s whims and desires.

— The dumbest thing about this show is how cute and light-hearted it tries to be. Basically, it’s too stupid to realize its own disgusting nature. Moreover, it’s proud of itself. the anime is proud to abuse Kousei. It just goes to show you that the packaging matters. It matters to viewers more than they would like to admit. Lots of people are charmed by the show’s story because appearances count. Draw everyone in that adorable, shoujo style. Slap bright colors onto everything. Pretend that the abuse is nothing more than slapstick. And if that doesn’t work, have the cute girls turn on the waterworks. C’mon, you wouldn’t disappoint a cute girl, would you? The point is, the content no longer matters! It’s all about the tone and atmosphere of the anime. This feels like an anime I should love… therefore, I love it.

— People have become so accustomed to female anime characters mistreating the male protagonist that everything here is played off as a joke. But can you imagine Kousei doing the same thing to Kaori? It would never happen! Repeatedly throwing a baseball at Kousei’s head means nothing! Repeatedly stalking the guy means nothing! Repeatedly violating the guy’s personal space means nothing! Repeatedly implying that he’s a wimp for not playing the piano means nothing! It’s okay to get physical with guys! They’re bigger, so they should be able to take your punishment! This is not some bullshit, insignificant problem either. Domestic violence is under reported no matter what. Both sexes don’t come forward enough, but while there’s a substantial effort to help battered wives, people just laugh or shake their heads when a husband gets hit. C’mon, be a man! Man up! Play the goddamn piano!

Shigatsu wa Kimi no Uso - 0401

— Haha, Kousei gets hurt some more, but it’s all in good fun! Kaori then picks the guy up by his collar and drags him off. She treats a stray cat better than this. Kousei is literally lower than a cat. He’s just someone for her to fix. He’s just a concept. Who’s the manic pixie dream girl now?

— Tsubaki then stands there in the breeze, and as her clothes sway, she proudly announces that “spring will come.” See, it’s all about setting the right tone. Her words are hollow, but because the scene looks and feels ethereal… you almost want to ignore the fact that she helped Kaori abuse Kousei.

— Kousei is already having flashbacks. He already beating himself up for not practicing a piece he never agreed to do. Sad.

— How dare you ignore the cute girl! More violence! Violence is funny as long as the girl’s the one beating up the guy! She even has the audacity to ask him if he’s calmed down. Baby, I hit you because I care!

— Oh boy, she makes up for it by putting her face close to his. That makes it all okay!

— I don’t want to hear any bullshit about how this is just fiction. Where was that excuse when people were all up-in-arms about Tonari no Kaibutsu-kun? So fuck your fiction. Both stories are shit.

— Kaori: “You’re always looking down. That’s why you’re imprisoned inside that cage of music scores.” Are you trying to psycho-analyze a guy you know nothing about? Why do you think he’s always looking down? But it doesn’t matter. At this point, it doesn’t even matter. Even if he told her he had been abused by his own mother, I don’t think the girl would give a shit. She’d just tell him the man up.

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— This pep talk is hollow, because he’s not doing this by choice. It’s doubly funny because she mentions how he is always listening to the song during lunch break. Gee, I wonder why. She also mentions how the music sheets are always in front of him. Again, I wonder why. Nothing is his choice, but she reframes the entire situation as if he has been in total control. What a joke.

–This exchange:

Kousei: “You’re freedom itself.”
Kaori: “No, I’m not. Music is freedom.”

Hilarious. The show’s practically spitting in our faces now.

— He’s doing her a favor, but she continues to call him names while they’re onstage. Classy.

So proud! So proud of her shitty achievement!

“If he’s gonna quit, I want him to quit on his own terms. It hurts to see him like this.”

Yeah, you go, girl! He’s totally playing on his own terms!

— Kaori’s a bully in real life, and she’s a bully on stage. She dictates everything. Everything has to go her way. She has no real consideration for Kousei. It’s bad enough that he has to perform this piece in front of an entire concert hall without having had any real practice. As a result, you think the girl would try to rein it in. But no, Kaori has no consideration for her partner. She plays normally for a short while, but she eventually returns to her wild self.

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And hey, you can play music any way you like. I don’t care if Kaori wants to improvise. At the same time, however, Kousei has had no practice with her. She’s just demanding that he keep up with her playing style despite having no practice. And again, Kousei is supposed to man up. If he can’t keep up with her, that’s his failing. Not hers. It’s never hers. What? Do you think this is a team or something? Fuck no. She’s in charge. She’s just a free spirit who demands to go wherever she pleases. And how can you even be mad! Look at the audience! They’re completely captivated by the two kids’ performance. The ends justify the means, buddy. That’s why it’s okay to abuse Kousei. The ends justify the means.

— The dude is so fucked up, he literally sees his mother’s ghost in the audience. Uh oh, sounds like someone’s not manning it up enough!

— He’s so fucked up, the notes begin to vanish right off the sheet music. Get it together, man!

— Kousei starts to feel as though he’s drowning. Yo, do I need to beat you until you swim?

— Oh no! How can Kousei fuck this up! I never saw this coming! Oh man, what a loser! He’s letting down such a cute girl! He’s marring her wonderful performance! Like when his mother died, it’s all Kousei’s fault.

— Yep, Kousei is now the bad guy. Everyone in the audience is shit-talking him. But of course, who dragged him here? Who made him perform without any practice? Who insisted that he should quit on his own terms?

— It’s easy to reframe the problem. That’s what storytelling is all about. You take the plot events and you give your own spin on it. It’s just too bad this anime opted to give us such a shitty spin.

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— Kaori had told him at the start of the performance that it’d be okay for them to have a shameful performance onstage. She’s not the one being humiliated, though. Through and through, this is not a partnership. Yes, they both failed, but who gets to look bad? Who gets to have a breakdown onstage? Who gets to shoulder all of the blame? There’s no partnership here whatsoever. The shame is directed all at Kousei.

— It doesn’t matter that Kaori stops. It literally doesn’t matter. First, Kousei arguably tries to stop on his own terms, but she doesn’t allow it. And secondly, it’s not like Kaori stopping her own performance makes her look bad. Sure, she’ll be disqualified or receive a low score. But at the end of the day, everyone will simply blame Kousei. Even worse, everyone will think Kaori is being nice to the guy by interrupting her own performance to bail him out! So this sacrifice is really just self-serving. Nothing Kaori does is a true sacrifice for Kousei’s sake. Nothing. This is not a partnership. This is a dictatorship under the guise of cute, feel-good anime.

— And her words are telling. You still have to play. You still have to. The kid doesn’t get a choice. No one understands him or even tries to. He just has to man up and play.

— Finally, the show is just tasteless. The guy literally has a breakdown on stage, and once again, the anime thinks that the problem can be solved with an inspiring speech from the heroine. Life is not made of speeches. You don’t just stand in front of everybody, say some flowery words, and expect all your problems to be solved. If anything, this makes a mockery of Kousei’s psychological problems. Fuck therapists! Who needs them! Let’s just hire speech makers!

— The performance starts anew. Kousei continues to look bad because he’s still frozen in place. But after looking at her some more, by golly, he can suddenly start playing again! Yep, screw doctors! If you have a problem, you just need to find yourself a cute girl and stare at her!

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— All of a sudden, we see a flashback from when his mom wasn’t in a wheelchair. Oh right, he now has happy memories of their time together, because he manned up. Again, manning up is the key. All your mental traumas can be undone if you simply man up, look at the cute girl, and take the audience’s slings and arrows. And as a result, we can just forget that his mom physically and emotionally abused to the point that he blames himself for her death. He now has a happy memory, and that’s all that matters!

— Then once Kousei comes alive, Kaori gets mad: “Don’t you dare try to steal my thunder!” Selfish through and through.

— The episode ends with a triumphant applause from the audience. The ends justify the means.

— Kaori collapses onstage. She’s probably sick, but who cares? At this point, I have no sympathy for such an abusive person.

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32 thoughts on “Shigatsu wa Kimi no Uso Ep. 4: The ends justify the means

  1. Anonymous

    Does psychotherapy not exist in Japan or something?
    No, wait. Sorry, that was an ignorant thing to ask. What I really meant to ask was who are these fucking idiots who willy-nilly give characters serious mental issues and immediately think that a cute companion can somehow “cure” these ills through sheer “willpower and love”? If you can call it that whatever Kaori’s doing.
    I know this is a dumb anime, but it’s still insulting nonetheless. Mental illness/scarring isn’t something that will go away after taking some cough syrup and going to bed early. Even if you got an army of supportive loved ones and a good psychiatrist, it’s still a hard fucking battle that could take YEARS to get a hand over. I’m half expecting this show to end with Kosei to be cured and all confident just to wrap it up with a cute neat bow.
    That’s what separates a good writer and the riff-raff that “write” manga and LNs. If you REALLY want to write about someone who has combat PTSD, instead of writing some fantasy bullshit that neatly fit into a book or cour, go talk and observe some actual veterans with PTSD before even touching the keyboard.

    Or better yet, DON’T write about mental illness. You can get good characterization without the almighty sympathy-sucking stigma of mental illness. At this point, this is as ridiculous as the amnesia trope.
    Even worse are those fuck-dumb shows about social awkwardness and how making friend are hard. You know, those shows that use that as a gimmick but are really just a weak-ass front for a generic harem/ecchi show?

    The only show that I’ve watched that really captured the essence of a type of mental illness was Welcome to The NHK. The show strayed to the bizarre and was nonsensical in parts, but it did a pretty good examination of a hikikomori. That might’ve been the case because the writer at the time was a struggling hikikomori, so he kinda knew what was going on. First-hand experience counts for a lot if you want to sell something.

    Reply
  2. mochirochi

    People were up in arms about Tonari no Kaibutsu-kun?

    I’ve given up on people getting proper help for mental issues in animes. A guy or girl will always be the one to solve their problems.

    Reply
    1. E Minor Post author

      People were up in arms about Tonari no Kaibutsu-kun?

      You weren’t there when people raged over Haru’s rapey actions?

      Reply
  3. Anonymous

    “the packaging matters. It matters to viewers more than they would like to admit. Lots of people are charmed by the show’s story because appearances count. Draw everyone in that adorable, shoujo style. Slap bright colors onto everything. Pretend that the abuse is nothing more than slapstick. And if that doesn’t work, have the cute girls turn on the waterworks. C’mon, you wouldn’t disappoint a cute girl, would you? The point is, the content no longer matters! It’s all about the tone and atmosphere of the anime. This feels like an anime I should love… therefore, I love it.”

    Why do you say the most profound criticisms in your first paragraphs? Good God. This kinda thing has been going on for YEARS, and you’re the ONLY blogger that’s really brought this up *slow clap*

    Reply
    1. Flawfinder

      Ironically, that same principle is what caused people to hate Terror in Resonance. It’s beautiful, but it ain’t bubbly. Therefore, we can’t take it seriously and we’ll even call it ethically evil while we’re at it.

      Reply
  4. Flawfinder

    Yeah what annoys me the most about Your Lie in April (and yet compels me to keep up with it for discussion purposes) is that this premise could work if the story had been reworked into something with a little more grit. As the above commenter pointed out, Welcome to the NHK has a very similar premise and we all enjoyed that. Kids on the Slope mixed in the music with the personal problems fine as well.

    If Kousei and Kaori were using each other to run away from their problems, that could work as long as it backfires on them in the future. Hell, maybe it’s revealed later on in the story that she is manipulating him for her own selfish reasons (again, NHK did this too). But even if that’s what happens later, it matters how the story builds up to that reveal. Does it do it well? So far, I’d have to say no.

    I have to be honest though. When the music scenes happen, I’m like John Travolta in Saturday Night Fever, running away from what really matters (not that the work put into animating the actual music scenes don’t matter) because the sound makes it so easy to forget that stuff. Then the sound stops and what I tried to escape from gives me shit.

    Reply
    1. E Minor Post author

      For me, there’s just a certain smugness to the anime… it thinks it’s getting Kousei’s problem right. That irks me. Even mental health professionals wouldn’t dare say they know exactly how to help someone like Kousei.

      Reply
      1. Flawfinder

        Yeah, and if this is all just setup for the anime to reveal later on that they don’t know how to get Kousei’s problem right and it throws him into an even worse condition as a result, it’s pretty lousy setup. Because with the way the show has been cutesy so far, I can’t see how that result wouldn’t be exploitative.

        Reply
  5. anabchamploni

    I found very terrifying that many blogs are founding the show excellent and praising the “character development”. I think I’m gonna have tho see the show myself for found If the maniac pixie girl is just crazy or a simple abusive dictator. But even if she is a really abusive girlfriend love justify everything, right? We learned this in Okami Shoujo.

    Reply
  6. Pia

    This anime just keep getting worse, It would be really hilarious if Kousei blames himself for Kaori’s sudden fainting, like when he blamed himself for his mother death.
    “I pushed her too hard and that’s why she fainted, I knew I would be a terrible accompanist, its all my fault” lol

    Reply
  7. rebiawatkins

    About the mental health thing, @appropriant tweeted some interesting things regarding mental health issues in Japan and how it is treated differently/not taken as seriously there: “A notable thing about Japanese-style therapy is heirarchy. Patients seem to be told what to do instead of being helped into their own choice”.

    Honestly, I’m as offended as everyone else at the way Kousei’s friends abuse him and their extreme insensitivity towards his trauma issues. I don’t agree with it, but I can still enjoy this show. I think it’s because I see it more as a story about Kousei and his friends and a part of his life’s journey than as an endorsement of abuse and insensitivity.

    The thing is, humans aren’t perfect and do a lot of bad/mean things, so I won’t discredit the show just because people are doing bad things. If the narrative becomes too incoherent, or it becomes exceedingly clear that the narrative is positively endorsing Kaori’s behavior, then I will discredit the show. For now that isn’t a message that I’m clearly getting, and the show has so much that it could possibly explain, like Kaori’s background for instance. Learning more about her wouldn’t justify her actions, but it would explain her motivations which is all I need

    Reply
    1. Anonymous

      That makes sense. Putting the mental issues aside in this show is just hard to to though as even if you do that, Magic pixie girl is STILL using him. It’s not spelled out but I’m pretty sure she knows he likes her and is using that to further her own ends. The thing is the story doesn’t address that at all, like that’s just “ok”. Not to mention the attempt to NTR the MC at the start of the show. Totally unnecessary

      Reply
    2. E Minor Post author

      The thing is, humans aren’t perfect and do a lot of bad/mean things, so I won’t discredit the show just because people are doing bad things.

      My issue isn’t about people doing bad things. It’s about the anime framing those bad things in a positive light.

      Reply
  8. Anonymous

    “Tonari no Kaibutsu-kun’s story is shit”

    I still think its better than this show though, I’ve only seen like the first few eps but I like it a lot more than the first few eps of this madness.. The only mental illness thing there is that the lead heroine is an introvert, but that’s presented to you in a somewhat subtle way.

    it definitely isn’t the same abuse that is plaguing this show.

    as for the rest of the story, Ill just have to pick it back up. At least the MC has there some balls though and isn’t some whiny weak boring kid.

    Reply
    1. E Minor Post author

      The only mental illness thing there is that the lead heroine is an introvert, but that’s presented to you in a somewhat subtle way.

      Haru might not have an illness, but he had his own issues that could have used professional attention.

      Reply
  9. Degel

    First of all let me tell you that I arrived here by mistake, but for some reason i felt like reading your arguments about this series.
    According to everything you have written so far it seems that you feel the need of bashing this series for “the abusive behavior” it displays towards men. Perhaps the issue here is not the series, but instead the psychological investment you have made in this series regarding how it’s wrong instead of really trying to understand the psychology behind the characters. I would really understand if you are pouring your own issues in here, but if that’s the case you could really understand that not everything is bad, or everything is good, but instead realize that every aspect in life has both of them, no matter how black the past may seem, it really isn’t that way, and that precisely is the main point of the series. Don’t get me wrong, I’m not saying it’s perfect, but there’s more in it than you are conveying in your review

    Reply
    1. E Minor Post author

      Perhaps the issue here is not the series, but instead the psychological investment you have made in this series

      I write about everything, so you can’t really judge my character based on a series of posts on one show. I speak just as much on how women get abused and exploited in stories. Nevertheless, that is not relevant here, and I find it pretty spurious of you to suggest what you’re suggesting from just from one post.

      no matter how black the past may seem, it really isn’t that way, and that precisely is the main point of the series.

      And I’d say that is the problem with the show. I don’t want to see the good in Kousei’s past. He was abused. Let’s stop whitewashing abuse in some misguided attempt to be fair and balanced.

      Reply
      1. anabchamploni

        Try to make one person who suffered any kind of abuse see the bright side of the life is one of the worst things you can do because you are basically discrediting his/her suffering. Yes, you want to cheer up the person, yes, maybe you have the best intentions in the world but that is not correct the way for begin the process of healing. The first step is to recognize the abuse, and many victims are not able to see this and blame themselves for what happened. Basically, if Kaori were a therapist her license would be suspended a long time ago by any ethical council.

        Reply
        1. Tassadarassadar

          That’s why she isn’t a therapist. She is just a kid unable to think too far ahead. She is selfish, immature, and tries to do what she wants actually happen without thinking of the consequences. Like most kids of her age.

        2. E Minor Post author

          The problem is not the girl herself. The problem is the anime framing her actions as correct.

  10. Mira

    Your post perfectly uncovers the repulsive nature of this show. I’ve never really gone out of my way to call an anime ‘repulsive’ but there’s something about how this series chooses to treat Kousei as a concept rather than a person that really irks me. especially when it’s supposed to be about people helping other people.

    The point is, the content no longer matters! It’s all about the tone and atmosphere of the anime. This feels like an anime I should love… therefore, I love it.

    Ah, anime viewer’s stockholm syndrome. I think people feel like they’re obliged to like KimiUso. Knowing how much effort is put into the presentation pretty muchs you feel like you HAVE to like it. You can’t criticize it because look at how much work they put into it!

    Reply
    1. E Minor Post author

      You can’t criticize it because look at how much work they put into it!

      Sad thing is, I haven’t said a single thing about the people who like this show. And yet, most of the people who have disagreed with me so far have felt the need to attack me as a person. Pretty funny.

      Reply
  11. Mary Vanucchi

    You know, I can’t help but think that my younger self would love this series, like happened with Kaibutsu-kun – I mean, the package, the music and the teen drama feel like such a great combination for my tastes! But as I am now, all this problematic abusive stuff gets in the way of my enjoyment of this show. It’s not something I can brush off completely.

    At least I can always look for the pretty performance scenes in Youtube, I guess.

    Reply
  12. s0liloquy

    I tried to give a fair chance to this anime but I can’t. The dynamic between the seriousness and humour is clumsily executed as it is. I would liked this anime a bit more if it tried to quit putting Kaori in the positive light. instead of character with real depth, she seems to be more of a plot device in fact all of Arima’s friends seem to be there for the sake of the story. The last anime of this kind I’ve seen that successfully portrays what the main character sees the heroine through the rose-tinted glass is Yojouhan Shinwa Taikei.

    And I can’t agree more in regards to the presentation of the anime. We already have several cases of this, number of anime fans defending the certain ones to the point of absurdness despite its number of flaws.

    Reply
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  14. Goat Jesus (@TrueGoatJesus)

    I’m having a lot of fun with this show and can relate to this topic heavily even from the perspective that my parents are harsh. You’re tearing something apart that has a lot to do with preference with comedy/common tropes in anime. I’d like to see a show have some kind of comedic value than be grim dark all the time. Whether or not you feel it works is up to you, I don’t think it’s as jarring as say Akame ga Kill. But I can see the position that it is. Of course there’s manipulative stuff. A lot of things are. But your arguments circulate and are redundant. This was really “ranty” and really seems like you aren’t viewing this show from a fair perspective.

    Are you actually taking common tropes seriously? Really? Even I wouldn’t go that far and I pride myself on being critical. Just because comedy slapstick is included does not mean it should be taken seriously. Look at FMA Brotherhood for example–Edward gets beat up by Winry. Are you implying secretly they have this sick twisted relationship where he’s just being reminded about his past traumas? He did after all go through having his arms torn off and she even whips him with his OWN metal arm.

    You even bashed the drowning scene. But honestly, being on stage–that scene captured what it’s like perfectly despite being predictable conceptually. You don’t even give credit where it’s due.

    It’s too early to judge things like lack of self awareness with the main characters relationship with Kaori. It’s too early to judge whether or not the show is going to encourage escapism in terms of hiding behind positive perceptions of his mother. This show is actually trying to pull some cards that show potential for the future.

    Reply
    1. E Minor Post author

      This was really “ranty” and really seems like you aren’t viewing this show from a fair perspective.

      Of course it’s ranty. It’s a rant. Fair or not is a silly thing to say. We all have our biases. You see where people come from, then you take their arguments with a grain of salt.

      Are you actually taking common tropes seriously?

      I’ve explained my reasoning in previous posts. I don’t feel like rehashing them. Besides, slapstick that involves one character beating on another is the lowest form of humor always.

      Reply
  15. Z

    Good job man

    I couldn’t stand it and dropped it 3 eps away from the last ep

    And the only reason I even ever picked it up was because I was forced to watch this garbage with plebs

    Reply

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