I’m going to post a fair warning here: this review will not be spoiler free. It would be ridiculously hard to give this episode a proper review without discussing the events that transpire, so if you haven’t watched the episode yet then I wouldn’t read past this first paragraph. Is this episode worth watching? Yes. Is there much to worry about in terms of content? No; if you’ve watched until this point, then there won’t be anything worse than what you’ve already seen. Now go, watch the episode, and then come back and read my thoughts. Or stay. Your choice. But from here on out I’m not holding back.
The final episode picks up right where the previous one left off: Kousei is in the middle of his recital, and Kaori is on the operating table. Most—if not all—of the first half is devoted to Kousei’s recital, interspersed with scenes of Kaori in the operating room. Of course, this portion of the episode also serves as a montage of all the people who have influenced Kousei along his journey up until this point, along with Kousei’s internal monologue. The flashes to the operating room during these scenes are always white-knuckle moments, especially as the camera focuses on the heart monitor. Kaori passing away in this episode is almost a given, with the primary question being whether it will happen on the operating table or sometime later in the episode. As we come to find out, it happens on the operating table.
I don’t know whether it’s a good thing or a bad thing that we don’t actually see Kaori die. In fact, it’s not even fully confirmed until Kousei’s performance is over and he’s standing at Kaori’s grave site with her parents. During the performance itself, we see Kousei off in his own world, where Kaori appears and gives him that second duet he always wanted. Whether this is meant to be some kind of spiritual event wherein he performs with Kaori’s soul, or if it’s just something that happens in his head, is not explained; however, it is clear that he is acutely aware that Kaori has passed away, so it may be meant as a literal scene. As for the competition, we never do find out the results, which is fitting in the long run, as it never was really about Kousei winning, but rather the impact that all these people had on Kousei’s life up until this point.
When I first saw this turn of events, I was content with it, but then the second half of the episode came. Much of this portion shows the seasons changing after Kaori’s passing, while Kousei reads a letter that Kaori had written to him prior to her death. We hear her words posthumously read over these scenes, and it’s the first real glimpse we’ve gotten into the person of Kaori Miyazono throughout this whole series. What’s worse is the fact that I actually had to stop and finish this portion of the episode later, which meant that, on my way to the gym, I had time to think about it, and the more I thought about it the more I felt it wasn’t fair. Kousei is just now finding out about Kaori’s true feelings, her true motivations, and the lie she told (presumably in April). It felt more and more unfair the more I thought about it.
But life isn’t fair.
Your Lie In April may have some fantastic elements, such as the conveyance of images through music and a seemingly spiritual duet at Kaori’s passing, but it is also painfully realistic in a lot of ways. It would have been nice to see Kaori live through the surgery and play a duet with Kousei, followed by the two falling in love. Perhaps the series could have ended without actually showing Kaori’s death, leaving the viewers with the hopes that she could somehow survive, or at the very least having her die after the performance and after everyone’s true feelings were out on the table. That would have been more of an ideal ending, but the painful reality is that such a story isn’t realistic. People die with things unaccomplished. They die before we have the chance to know them as well as we’d like. They die in ways that are anticlimactic, such as during an operation while someone plays the piano. That’s the reality of life, and Your Lie In April doesn’t shy away from that. Kaori is presented with a terminal illness, and the show sees that to the end.
Perhaps the most painful thing about Kaori’s letter is the fact that it reveals how little both Kousei and the viewer knew about her. It’s a fact that doesn’t really hit home without some thought. Sure, she was a major player during the first half of the series, with her presence (though not her impact) diminishing once she is hospitalized, but we didn’t know much about her. We were given enough information so that she didn’t just feel like a plot point, but we never knew much about who Kaori Miyazono was. There was no real “viewer privilege” that the main character lacked. What he knew, we knew. So, in a sense, we share in Kousei’s pain of finding out how woefully lacking we were in our knowledge. Granted, the author of this series could easily make a side story that tells us more about Kaori, but hopefully he won’t, as that would destroy the beauty of this scene.
I’m sitting here at almost a page and a half of text—the longest review of a single episode I’ve ever written—and yet I still don’t feel like I’ve done it justice. There is just so much in that letter and in this episode that moved me. Additionally, as I watched, there was the tension of knowing that the episode was drawing ever closer to its close, and therefore to the end of Kousei’s story. But I wanted to know more. I wanted to know what was going to happen to him. What about Tsubaki? She certainly shows up quite a bit in the second half of this episode. While her name definitely comes up in Kaori’s letter, and her role in Kousei’s life is certainly explained, nothing is forced. This much is left to the fans’ imaginations, which is ultimately a good thing, I think. After all, Kousei is still getting over the death of the girl he loves, so to put him with Tsubaki at the end would feel rushed and forced.
As far as any complaints and criticisms go, I still hold to the idea that Emi and Takeshi are horribly underutilized in the show, especially when Kousei credits them for part of his growth. The show could have done more with these rivals, and their almost complete absence from this episode really feels unfair. Then again, Watari doesn’t get much screentime or resolution at all, despite being one of Kousei’s two closest friends. Outside of that, it is really hard for me to find much to criticize in this episode.
I have previously compared Your Lie In April to a piece of music, and the comparison still holds here. Much like the final note in a song, the end of the show hangs in the air with a definitive conclusion. The journey is over—at least, the piece that we were allowed to be a part of, for more stories could inevitably be written about Kousei’s life. After all, he is getting ready to enter another spring, a spring without Kaori. Where will his life go from here? What challenges will he face? How will Kaori’s memory affect the rest of his life? We will probably never know the answers to these questions, but we can still ponder them and reflect on the impact that one single person can have.
A Christian Perspective:
Oh boy, I could say even more here, and this review has already gone on long enough! Well, first things first, there are a few issues that Christians may have with this episode. The first, of course, is the potential “spiritual duet” that Kousei plays with Kaori. It’s never officially stated that Kousei actually played with Kaori’s spirit, but it certainly is clear that he knew in that moment that Kaori had passed away. Later on, Kashiwagi encourages Tsubaki to listen to her heart, which is not sound advice, and Kashiwagi is revealed to be into Boys’ Love.
Beyond that, there are many positive elements that Christians can draw from this episode. Rather than go into exquisite detail (because I fear I may have lost some people by now), I will simplify what I have to say and also link you to another very good write-up about this episode.
First up is the idea of building one another up. “Therefore encourage one another and build each other up, just as in fact you are doing.” (1 Thessalonians 5:11) The penultimate point in this episode is how Kousei only reached the place he’s at because he was surrounded by people who built him up—people who wanted him to succeed and thus poured into him, or else people who challenged him in some way, shape, or form, to grow. The same is true of spiritual growth. It is easy to become apathetic and not want to do the hard work that goes into learning more about God and growing spiritually, so we need people who can encourage us past our lethargy, our weaknesses, and whatever else stands in our way.
Secondly, there is the idea of selfless love that Kaori displays. It is not a perfect display, because it is in some ways selfish, as well. Allow me to explain. We find out that Kaori only pretended to like Watari to get close to Kousei. This is selfish. True, Watari is a womanizer who plays the field, but that doesn’t make using him any less wrong. The flip side, though, is that Kaori didn’t want to approach Tsubaki and ask to be set up with Kousei because she was well aware of Tsubaki’s feelings for Kousei, and she knew it wouldn’t be fair to take Kousei away when she herself was dying and wouldn’t be around for long. While her solution was selfish, her motivation was selfless, putting aside her own happiness in her limited time on Earth out of respect for Tsubaki’s feelings. This brings to mind what Paul wrote in Romans 14: 13-21, where he talks about not doing things that might make your brother stumble, despite the fact that you feel no conviction about it yourself. The point is that you sacrifice your own personal satisfaction and gratification for the benefit of another, much like Kaori did here.
The final point I want to make is in regards to Tsubaki’s final statements to Kousei before the episode ends. In essence, she tells Kousei that she will always be there for him, no matter what. We know that this comes from a place of love, because we’ve seen her love for Kousei revealed throughout the series. We don’t know how Kousei will ultimately respond to this love—the most we get is a smile—yet it’s hard to imagine not responding positively to this kind of love. After all, isn’t this the kind of thing we all want? Someone who will love us despite ourselves? How could we not fall in love with someone who would love us so completely? Yet many of us don’t. For no matter how much Tsubaki may love Kousei, it can’t compare to the love God has for us, and yet so many of us turn our backs on Him. Some do it permanently, making a lifestyle out of it, but even those of us who profess Jesus’ name tend to make mistakes, and sometimes we even turn our backs on Him. There are, of course, discussions on salvation that could be had here—If you turn your back, were you really saved to begin with? Does the length of time you’ve turned your back determine whether you were actually saved? Have you lost your salvation then?–but that is far from the purpose of this section, and far more advanced than I am equipped to handle. The point is that people will turn their backs on something so complete and fulfilling.
With all of that said, I will finally let you go, but not before linking to another very well written article on this episode. Check out what Charles from Beneath the Tangles had to say .
Language: 1 “h*ck”, 1 “go to h*ll”
Alcohol/Drug Use: None
Violence: Tsubaki kicks Kousei in the shin
Blood/Gore: Some blood is shown on surgical instruments and gauze/cotton balls
Other: It is at least suggested that Kousei plays a duet with a deceased person; Kaori talks about not taking her regrets with her into heaven; Kashiwagi is revealed to be into Boys’ Love; Kashiwagi tells Tsubaki to listen to her heart; Seto describes Kousei’s playing as sensual
*All screenshots taken from: http://www.crunchyroll.com/your-lie-in-april/episode-22-spring-wind-668305