Typical shonen series build up a protagonist until he is able to overcome an obstacle, at which point he may be able to save everyone, often at great risk and sacrifice. Even though friends and mentors help along the way, the hero always has something within him, and it’s ultimately through determination, skill, and talent that he brings out his true potential. But in Your Lie in April, the formula isn’t quite the same. Kaori Miyazono is no mere helper along the way – she is the grace that instead of bringing out the best in Kousei Arima, changes him forever. It’s not the inner Kousei that comes out – he’s a new person entirely.
In episode 18, Kousei and Nagi perform their duet for the world to hear, and more importantly in the case of Kousei, for Kaori to witness. When he confronts Kaori later, she tearfully has to admit that he’s done what she had closed her heart to – that he brought warmth back into her life and again made her dreams come alive.
Although it may feel as much, this storyline is no attempt at showing a relationship coming full circle – it’s more than that. When Kousei comes to Kaori to demonstrate grace to her, it isn’t a high emotional point built upon her first loving him. Kaori is never the focus of the show – for all her personality, she remains a bit unreal and detached. Kousei is squarely and plainly in focus – it is his story, not her’s; she doesn’t even share it with him. But more than being Kousei’s tale, the series is about the way of grace, of a love that is powerful and rushing and undeserved. Not only does it change the person for the better, it is also something that, when received, compels the transformed to give it back, not out of some mystical cyclical reasoning or because of guilt or legalism, but in a response made purely out of love.
We experience little moments of grace all the time – a hug from a mother who should be angry with us; a phone call from a friend who we were supposed to call instead; an extra M&M at the bottom of the bag! These little moments bring us glimmers of happiness, and in turn, we sometimes pass on the love without any great intent.
Kousei has been pounded by a measure of grace so great that, like a tidal wave, it has washed him away, leaving in its wake something unrecognizable, even to the musicians who once competed against him. When such ferocious love hits us, it can take time for us to turn ourselves upright, but once we do, if we comprehend what has happened to us, the reaction we give is almost universal – it’s to rain love back upon the giver. And in doing so, our love becomes a language of it’s own, much like music, conveying a feeling, a devotion, that as Kousei tells us, words could never do.