Kousei Arima was a child prodigy. His piano playing was perfect, allowing him to easily win competitions around Japan. Until his sickly mother passed away, leaving him traumatized and unable to hear the notes he’s playing. Years later, Arima is pulled back into the realm of music thanks to an energetic female violinist.
We have a classic tsundere on our hands so expect her to beat on our lead for no reason at all. We also have an abusive parent and those scenes are pretty scary to see. She beats her son until he bleeds. This show doesn’t show blood every episode, but when it comes up, it doesn’t shy away. Be well warned.
D-mns and sh-ts are usually the worst this show sees. And it’s not a frequent issue.
We don’t deal with this too much either. Aside from a painfully stereotypical meeting between leads where he “accidentally” takes a picture when her skirt blows up, (because anime) we avoid nudity all together.
There’s some dark talk about suicide and death near the end concerning a character with a terminal disease. Nothing about God(s) or the afterlife though.
This is a show that might have been near perfect if it hadn’t fallen for a few horrendous anime cliches along the way. Our lead is an abuse victim. And the feelings he has towards his abuser are complex, further confused by the fact that she had a painful illness, which may or may not have furthered her violence. As an aside: I do not endorse this as an excuse but simply something that may explain why she became so vicious later in life. An important distinction as this anime almost uses it as a straight up “get out of jail free” card to “clear” the mother from wrong and get the audience to feel sorry for her. This is a position I do not agree with at all and am extremely uncomfortable with. However, I can understand how the victim is confused over this, as most are. Abuse is often layered with love, making it difficult for the victims to seek help and leave the situation.
This is important to note as two aspects of this show made this abuse story increasingly hard to bare. One was the fact that another family member (and many other people) actually witness an episode of the mother’s abuse, to the point of drawing blood. Nothing is done. Everyone in the scene simply watches. The family member even watches with sympathy as the abuser cries after the fact, as if this should make us feel as if her beating of another was simply a sad mistake.
Another painful aspect was our tsundere female lead. She often beats on our abuse victim simply for her own enjoyment/because she has zero control. She often takes out frustration on him, mirroring his mother’s earlier abuse. It hurts to see, especially as the show tries to make it look like typical anime love interest ooze. It’s not. It’s straight up abuse. The fact that this leading lady is also very ill simply complicates matters. While it is true that having a terminal/painful illness can bring out the worst in people at times, the show often used this as a way to excuse this violent behavior, rather than explain where it came from. This is obvious because she has this horrendous behavior even when not feeling sick. It’s typical tsundere trash and I’ve never been more disgusted with this trend as I do in this show. If they had made her a normal character, with her violence only appearing during times of pain and extreme stress, it would have been a more powerful window into the lives of those who fight terminal illnesses. Instead, her illness is a sick play for drama and sympathy towards her abusive behavior, just as it was towards the early mother abuser.
Add all of that sludge to the side story of girl next door falling for the lead and picking up the tsundere role while the usual female is too sick to punch people for no reason. Oh but we should feel sorry for her because falling in love is so very painful and goodness life is so hard and tragic.
If it hasn’t become obvious already, I was not at all a fan of this anime. Which is sad as I truly do believe it might have been a good show without these issues. Abuse is real and what victims feel towards their abusers is not a simple matter, especially when the abuser is a parent. And the trauma felt by artists does impact their work in various ways. If this anime hadn’t felt so compelled to take on every nasty cliche it could find in the female cast, this show could have seriously addressed some really strong topics. As it was, it just felt more like it was blaming victims for “being weak” when they have episodes of trauma and excuses terminal illness patients from all wrong doing because, well, they will die soon so it’s not really their fault.
I will admit that finding out what the “lie” was at the end was nice, as was the unexpected apology by the lead for her behavior. Even so, the way this series handled itself was just painful for me to watch overall.
If drama is your jam, you’ll probably love this. It has great art and the music is wonderful. But if you, like me, have a vendetta against the tsundere trend… skip this. I’m serious. You won’t like this one. I sure didn’t.
Personal rating: Young adult
Official rating: TV14
Production: A – 1 Pictures
Company: Kodansha USA
Official streaming: Crunchyroll