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!
— 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.
— 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.
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.
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.
— 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!
— 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.