— The start of the episode reminds us that Takeshi passed up a trip overseas just to compete against Kousei, and after a week, I still can’t believe his parents and his tutor would allow him to make such an outrageous decision. Besides, why would you bother to compete against someone who hasn’t been in the scene for the past two years? Kousei is just that big of a deal, I guess.
— Not only that, this is a storm in a teacup. We’re not talking about Mozart vs. Salieri. We’re not talking about a rivalry between two individuals at the top of their field. These are just kids. They’re just kids in a junior competition. In ten years, they’ll look back and laugh at how dramatic they were. This is like getting worked up over a high school prom… actually, it’s even worse, since they’re just in junior high! I, too, won a lot of competitions as a kid. I don’t even care about them anymore. Those trophies are just collecting dust in a closet, because I was a kid competing against kids.
— I gotta admit, however, that these episodes are pretty easy to watch. I mean, he’s just playing the piano. What is there to say?
— Well, the cliches are pretty fucking hilarious:
“Confronting the music with sincerity. A strong will enabling him to stand up to his fears.”
“Could this be the same piano?”
“Will you let me chase you down like a mirage again?”
Oh, for the love of God… I even like the idea of Kousei inspiring Takeshi to take the piano seriously. Having a rival makes you focus and stay on point. Great. That’s fantastic. No problems there. I can even relate. The show, however, just can’t stop spouting these pretentious-as-fuck lines — the same lines that I have quoted above. Give me a break.
— People compare the music performances to Nodame Cantabile, and I don’t think that’s really fair. For one, Nodame Cantabile came out in 2007. Yeah, that was seven years ago. Not only that, those performance scenes involved an entire orchestra. This is just one person playing the piano.
— Look! Takeshi even has fangirls! But of course, what fangirl can resist such a golden-haired pianist?
— Takeshi’s tutor even adds, “A rival is a special thing. All the more so for adolescent boys.” The emphasis is mine. Really now, dude? Really?
— What does it even mean for a pianist to have an imposing presence? The dialogue slays me.
— Even back then, all the kids ever did was glare at Kousei. They can’t even be assed to look at the camera.
— Next up is Emi, and the pre-game narrative is that she’s been struggling lately. Y’see, she’s a girl, so she’s temperamental and emotional! Even the weather can affect her! Ugh. And it’s all Kousei’s fault too! He disappeared for two years, so her motivation to compete went with him!
— But before Emi can start playing, Takeshi’s asshole tutor has one more comment to make: “Today, [Takeshi will] destroy Arima, and head overseas.” Man, even the adults are immature in this anime. Holy shit, you’re talking about a kid in middle school. Let’s try not to destroy children.
— It’s not like Emi’s tutor is any better: “We women are combative creatures. Do you understand?” Such petty adults. No wonder the kids are rotten.
— Apparently, Emi saw Kousei’s first public performance ever. How young were they back then? Like five? Six? Nevertheless, his itty-bitty performance moved her so much, she bawled her eyes out. More importantly, it made her want to become a pianist too. And look at her now. She’s a total pianist.
— But you want to know what’s really sad? She understands what his mother had put him through! Basically, Emi has a better understanding of Kousei’s problems than any of his actual friends! Of course, this is because she has a thing for him, but so does Tsubaki, so what’s her sorry excuse? In fact, I don’t know whether to applaud Emi’s insightful nature or feel even more sorry for Kousei.
— This soundtrack, though. It’s like they’re about to save the universe or something. But instead, Emi’s just getting ready to play the piano.
— Of course, Ryota’s entranced by her beauty as well. I wonder if the guy will ever make a decision, or will his eyes wander until they inevitably get him into trouble?
— Honestly, I think wearing a crimson-red dress for such a performance is a bit tacky. You’re detracting from your very own performance.
— More pretentious lines!
“Like a stormy sea, the waves of her emotions are surging unsteadily.”
“Let it all out with a bang! Let your feelings reach them!”
— Emi: “I’ve been playing the piano all this time in order to reject Kousei Arima.” You’re 14! What kid thinks like this?
— Her performance is so passionate, you can feel the colors of her emotions. The entire concert hall is then literally bathed in a red and yellow filter. Haha, very subtle. About as subtle as these performances.
— What strikes me is that there’s neither grace nor gentleness here. Both characters harbor strong feelings about this day — about Kousei’s sudden reappearance — so they just hammer away at the poor instrument.
— So y’know, I would love for Kousei to come out and play a soft, delicate piece just to serve as a contrast, but I’ve already forgotten what he intends to play. Plus, this probably wouldn’t impress the judges. In any case, we won’t get to hear his performance until next week. And seeing as how it’s his first competition in two years, it’ll likely be a disaster.
— One last laugh for the road.