Third verse, same as the first.
It’s been three full weeks since the last episode of Shigatsu but it’s remarkable how little has changed in that time. The good news is that means the show is still incredibly pretty. The bad news is it also means I have serious issues with how the show goes about its business. As usual these issues center on Kaori and her behavior towards Kousei. This episode immediately started off on the wrong foot as we saw the return of the terrible comic violence which has never been funny at all. I was hoping that as the show got into the meat of its plot we would leave the violence behind and focus on the actual plot instead. Instead the show seems determined to double down on the violence.
Aside from the violence, the show also seems like they’re going full speed ahead with Kaori’s terminal illness. The episode was thick with hints that Kaori’s future might not be as long as others think, especially the scene with the fireworks at the pool. I feel like there’s potential for a really touching story about a girl who was given a death sentence but used it as an opportunity to live life to the fullest. Kaori certainly has the lust for enjoying life that you’d expect from somebody who doesn’t have much time left, but unfortunately the other aspects of her personality preclude her from gaining any sympathy points from me. If only a few parts of her were modified slightly or de-emphasized she would have a really compelling story to tell but instead KimiUso is emphasizing these aspects much to the show’s detriment.
The other thing that bothered me about this episode was that it felt like we’re retreading on ground we’ve covered already. This is the third time we’ve seen Kousei about to perform in front of a crowd after being forced into it by Kaori. First she guilts him into performing with her by crying, then she demands that he participate in a competition and now she asks him to accompany her yet again only for her to ditch him and leave him to perform all alone. I know the show is trying to frame it as opportunities for growth for Kousei even though it just comes off as bullying to me.
The problem is that despite all these opportunities for growth, I’m not sure what progress we’re actually making here. Each of the past two performances it’s appeared that Kousei has figured something out and is getting over his issues but as soon as the performance ends Kousei is back to his old self with all the same issues. I’ll give him credit for stepping up and going on stage alone here which he probably wouldn’t have done previously, but that’s minimal progress and the mechanics of it don’t quite work right for me. It feels like the show is trying to have its cake and eat it too when Kousei is actually able to give a beautiful performance in the moment but then suddenly that progress is taken back as soon as the event is over.
That said, the episode wasn’t a total loss. I really liked the scene where Kousei and Hiroko talk about his mother and what music means to him. This is the kind of calm, reflective moment I’m looking for out of this episode. I want to see Kousei actually go through the process of coming to terms with his mother’s death, what she meant to him, and what he wants to do with music going forward. For my money, the best way for him to do that is not to get forced into more performances by Kaori but instead to actually reflect on how he feels about his mother and get himself in a good mental state before he is thrown into the fire.
Aside from that one scene with Hiroko, I thought the scene with Emi at the event was pretty funny. I like Emi a lot and not just because she’s voiced by Hayami Saori (although that helps). I feel like her personality and relationship with Kousei put her in a much better position to push him forward than Kaori and that the show would work much better if she filled that role instead. Really I find most of the side characters including Hiroko, Emi and Takeshi to be more compelling than the main quartet outside of Kousei. I don’t know if it’s because the author wrote them up later or what but they’re just more interesting to me than the main crew.
In the end, the New Year’s break offered KimiUso an opportunity to adjust its course and get the show back on track and after the first episode of the second half it seems like that’s not about to happen. I expect the show will continue to frustrate me because of how pretty it looks, how beautiful the music is and all the good parts of the story where Kousei isn’t being bullied or abused. But until the awful comic violence and Kaori’s continued bullying to away, I can’t see a path to success for this show.