As much as I feel that Your Lie in April (Shigatsu wa Kimi no Osu) is a joy to watch, there are portions of each episode that make me cringe, in a way that the show means us to. In episode nine, there were a lot of these moments as Arima took the stage and saw all the demons of his past, and in particular a moment from his childhood in which his mom abused him horribly, to the point of bloodshed.
The episode start innocuously enough, though. We see the remainder of Emi’s wonderful performance, before Arima makes his way to the stage. And as he approaches the piano, and even into his performance, flashbacks from Arima’s youth flood his mind and eventually overwhelm him. In particular, we see that despite Arima’s loving attempts to help heal his mom through music, she responds by beating him severely with her cane in front of a host of people in the lobby of a concert hall. He stands up to his mother after this, and soon afterwards, she passes away, which is perhaps a large part of the reason Arima carries such guilt and pain with him.
Although there was much think about in this episode, my mind kept drifting back to the mother. Because Arima is a good kid and because there are such light touches to the series, I think I keep expecting to see redeeming qualities in her, but as each episode passes, further and further does she move toward the Gendo Ikari “parent of the year” path.
Until this episode, I felt a lot of empathy toward her character. Although she pushes Arima very hard, you see that perhaps she was once kind, but had become blinded and twisted by the bitterness laid upon her through a disability. Her heart must have once been in the right place, right?
But after this episode, in which we now see the daily physical reminders of her abuse (bruises) as well as the violent, bloody beating she lays upon Arima, it’s hard to feel any type of compassion toward her any more.
And this episode also made me think that, even worse, there are people just like Arima’s mom. There are people who are even worse.
So what are we to think about such people? The obvious answer is to treat them with disdain. Once a child is injured, there’s a switch that seems to flip on – kindness and rehabilitation take a backseat to the alternative of detention and punishment. These kinds of people surely cannot be forgiven.
And yet, the gospel message teaches us otherwise. I think we often think of God forgiving us personally, and, in practical terms, we don’t always consider ourselves so bad. In fact, we’re downright good compared to Arima’s mom, and beautiful compared to pedophiles and murderers. But it’s not the “good” that Christ came for – He came for all of us, even people like Arima’s mom.
He would offer forgiveness to her, too. But would we?
And the answer to that – whether we could forgive a woman who brutally abuses a young boy for years – reveals a whole lot about God’s heart, and just as much about our own.