It’s not what it looks like! I swear!
— “See, I’m pissed. So I’m going to prove it.” Oh good, I’m glad he’s pissed. I’m glad he’s standing up for something. It’s just too bad that it comes halfway through the series, and the person that he’s standing up to is a little boy….
— Plus, he’s not just standing up for himself. He’s also defending Kaori. I’m not being sarcastic. Friends should defend friends. Friends probably shouldn’t hit their friends. You know what I’m talking about.
— Anyway, it’s performance time, so you know what that means. It’s more unnecessary thoughts from the audience, because an adaptation can’t be ass’d to adapt to a new medium.
— “So powerful!”
— Plus, we’re now on the warpath to redeem Kousei’s abusive mom. How is that accomplished? Well, Kousei still can’t hear the actual notes, but it’s okay! According to his tutor, this is a blessing in disguise! He can instead hear the notes… in his kokoro. Yeah, right here, bastards. And in his physically and emotionally abused kokoro, dude can feel his mother’s love!
— Look, in a different context, this would be fine. Few people are 100% abusive, and I’m sure Kousei’s mom had moments when she was a kind and loving parent. A complete portrait of the woman would show all sides of her character. But therein lies the problem: we haven’t even completed painting one side of her character, and yet, we’re already moving on. The thing is, the story has never truly taken Kousei’s mother’s behavior to task. Instead, just last week, Kousei felt guilty for trying to forget his mother. Hiroko was even like, “Uh, she was happy to see you stand up and scream at her in front of everyone in pubic! Yeah, being forced to air out your trauma to the entire world is totally healthy and cool!” The whole thing was just fucking ludicrous.
The point is, this was the very same woman that beat Kousei so hard, it drew blood. This was the same woman who essentially isolated him from his childhood friends because he had to play, play, and play the piano some more. Then we saw his female friends bully Kousei into playing the piano again, the story is tacitly approving of his mother’s ultimate goal. It’s okay to bully someone into doing what you want… just so long as you don’t abuse said someone in a serious way. In particular, physical abuse is okay if you pretend it’s just slapstick. That’s the only part that the story has truly condemned. So that’s my beef with this current attempt to paint the lady in a softer, kinder light. She has never really had to pay for her crimes, and now, you want me to think of her as a loving mother? No chance.
— His playing style changed! I literally just heard it, but let me confirm it!
— Slack-jawed individuals sitting in the audience in complete awe… but hey, at least this part is an example of showing and not telling. I’m just impressed that they all have their mouths opened about the same distance. That’s some dedication.
— We see a flashback that directly involves what I was just talking about. Hiroko yells at Saki for abusing Kousei, but the latter replies, “I do know that… But…” No, there’s no fucking buts here. You don’t get a “But…” Especially not when it involves beating your kid. Still, the excuses come out anyway. According to Saki, she’s running out of time. Uh, am I supposed to take pity on her or something? Like is that supposed to justify anything? But Hiroko’s face and voice softens when she hears that, so I guess so.
— Then in a later scene, Hiroko apologizes to Kousei, because she blames herself for even suggesting that he learns the piano! Saki couldn’t help herself, man. A terminal patient’s just gotta abuse. We can’t condemn mothers! We gotta praise them! It’s really Hiroko’s fault for spotting his talent in the first place! So she does what any responsible adult who sees an abused child would do and goes, “…I have no business being by his side.” Fan-fucking-tastic.
— Hiroko: “That son of ours is about to bid you a last farewell.” So when the ghost of his mother smiled in that episode, it didn’t count, right? But this time, we’re playing for all the marbles!
— And now, the story wants to convince me that Saki abused Kousei because she was afraid he wouldn’t be able to survive without her. Yep. Yeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeep.
— Why did she always play “Love’s Sorrow?” “I play it so you’ll get used to sorrow.” W-who the fuck says that? To a little kid, even?
— So the performance is over, and Kousei thinks “Sayonara” to his mother by the end of it. Let’s see if it’s really true this time.
— Well, it won’t stop us from talking about Saki, that’s for sure. Kousei is now crying as he asks Hiroko whether or not his performance had reached his mom. Meh. Again, it’s fine to reflect on the positives that his mom had contributed to Kousei’s life. But the show also hasn’t reflected on what she had done to her own son. I don’t think you can properly grow as a person without seeing both sides. I think it’s irresponsible to think otherwise. Case in point, Kousei often gets pushed around by his friends, because he’s been conditioned to it by his mother. He’s so used to this sort of treatment that he doesn’t even see it as being a problem. But to be fair, a lot of the show’s viewers don’t see the problem here either simply because the presentation has such a strong influence on how we perceive the narrative.
— Kousei is now sobbing super hard, so most people will probably see this as a sad moment. I feel nothing, though. I just think the story’s messed up.
— Awkward crying ensues. Awkward because I don’t think Kousei has been healed whatsoever. Just brainwashed into thanking his mom. Sure, she abused him, but hey, piano has helped him make friends and, uh, learn emotions and shit. Net gain! Just had to have your own mother beat the shit out of you. All you other jerks with cool moms probably don’t have friends like I do!
— Apparently, Kousei inspired the little kid. Good for him, I guess. I’ll just never believe for a second that some kid would say something like that.
— He wouldn’t have the guts. He’s never had the guts.
— Kousei tells Tsubaki he was hoping she would praise him, but he smiles and walks away when he sees that it’s not coming. Isn’t that sad? He’s accepted how Tsubaki would treat him. And even though he actually reminds her to say something nice, she still remains speechless. I don’t care if you’re in love with the guy or whatever. It’s not hard to say, “You did good.” Don’t be pretentious. A compliment is not hard.
— Anyway, as a pair of adults talk about how Kousei’s growth is spurred by sorrow, he rushes to the hospital to see Kaori. It’s not even foreshadowing at this point. One of the ladies literally says that he’ll have to lose someone to keep moving forward. The show probably thinks all brilliant musicians are tortured souls or something.