Shigatsu wa Kimi no Uso 05: Fatally Flawed?

At some point you have to accept that a show just isn’t going to get things right.

I apologize if I’m starting to sound like a broken record but it seems to be the same thing every week with Shigatsu wa Kimi no Uso. The show will tease you with moments of greatness but it continually undermines this by getting so many big things wrong. It’s maddening to watch a show that has such potential squander it with poor choice after poor choice but that seems to be Shigatsu’s MO at this point. It makes it difficult to drop the show but it also makes it difficult to enjoy the show for long.

This episode opened with a scene that served as a good example of the primary problem I have with the show. We see Tsubaki, Ryouta and Kousei playing near a bridge as children. Tsubaki and Ryouta are more than happy to jump into the water. Kousei, as usual, is more timid and cautious. Instead of respecting Kousei’s wishes, Tsubaki just throws him over the railing into the water. Not only is this incredibly disrespectful to Kousei but it’s also an extremely dangerous thing to do. However, the show acknowledges none of this and instead treats this as something that needs to happen for Kousei to stop being such a baby. There’s plenty of debate to be had about the relative merit of playing things safe versus going outside your comfort zone and taking risks but Shigatsu is having none of it. Kousei is wrong and Tsubaki is right, end of story. To make things worse, the activities that Kousei gets forced into tend to be dangerous, either physically or psychologically but none of these risks are ever acknowledged. Sure, things worked out well in the end, but there was also plenty of opportunity for it to go incredibly badly and there’s no indication that the author realizes this.

Back in the present, Kaori is in the hospital in apparently stable condition. I had wondered previously if we would get some kind of acknowledgement that Kaori’s behavior isn’t perfectly acceptable. She’s forced Kousei into an uncomfortable situation against his will and has shown no contrition at all. This episode made things worse as Kaori proceeds to blame Kousei for her collapse and her failed performance. The fact that Kaori and the others have the gall to go this route is bad enough but the fact that this is treated like the right and logical thing to say is almost unforgivable. Again, the author refuses to acknowledge the subtleties and gray areas in these issues and instead falls into the tired “Kaori is right, Kousei is wrong” routine except in this case it’s even more problematic because Kaori is pretty clearly in the wrong. It’s one thing to force Kousei into an uncomfortable performance because you feel like that’s the right thing for him at the time but after he struggles through; he is rewarded with more verbal and physical abuse. It’s painful to watch a show that’s this determined to do terrible things to a boy that’s done nothing wrong and revel in the whole thing.

This episode wasn’t all bad though. When Kousei isn’t being actively attacked the show is actually quite good. The love polygon being set up here is very intriguing. I like the introduction of Saito is an interesting one because it adds another side to Tsubaki. She had been pretty one-dimensional in her apparent doomed love for Kousei thus far but including another love interest for her that tugs her away from Kousei towards a boy she, by her own acknowledgement, should want but isn’t sure if she actually wants. I see a lot of potential in Tsubaki both on this front as well as in her desire to “save” Kousei by letting him return to his passion for music while also slowly realizing that such a return might cause her to lose him to Kaori. Kaori and Kousei’s conversation are also very nice at times. I really liked their initial conversation when Kousei encounters Kaori playing on the bridge near the end of the episode. When the two of them are talking about music in the abstract and staying away from the specifics of their relationship it’s very compelling. If the show could stick to these elements it has the potential to be outstanding.

The second half of the episode was a microcosm of the show as a whole. It started with the introduction of Saito as well as a very nice conversation between Kousei and Ryouta. During this sequence I could feel myself getting back into the show. I find the characters and the base level desires and insecurities very compelling on a fundamental level and when the show makes good use of these it’s great to watch. Unfortunately, I was once again dragged out of my reverie when Kaori went back to physically abusing Kousei which is still a problem and shows no signs of stopping. I have to think that these moments are being used as comedy but they aren’t funny at all and are more cringe-inducing than anything. I’m mostly used to the standard idea in anime that female on male violence is funny but this takes it to an uncomfortable extreme. The third common element of the show found in this sequence was Kaori coercing Kousei into something he doesn’t want to do all the while treating her like she’s doing nothing wrong. It was compounded in this case by Kaori blaming Kousei for her failed performance without even a hint of shame. It was the good, the bad and the ugly of Shigatsu all in a neat ten minute bundle.

So where do we go from here? I think it’s mostly safe to say at this point that Shigatsu isn’t going to be what I want it to be, at least not anytime soon. There’s still enough to like here that I don’t plan on dropping the show, and I have enough to say that I’ll probably keep writing full episodic posts as well. Shigatsu’s an interesting show, even if the interesting thing about it is often the mistakes the show makes. Who knows, maybe Shigatsu will turn things around and surprise me. Even if it doesn’t, it will still serve as a good example of how not to handle delicate issues, even if it isn’t a good show.

This entry was posted in Episodic Commentary, Fall 2014, Shigatsu wa Kimi no Uso' and tagged , , , , . Bookmark the permalink.

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