Your Lie in April, Episode 22: Why Look to the Sky?

Warning – plenty of spoilers ahead.  Please watch episode 22 of Your Lie in April before reading this article.

The final episode was Your Lie in April was wonderful – a heartwarming, moving second half joined together with a beautifully animated, wonderfully musical first half to create a memorable finale.  Indeed, it was a tale of two halves, with that inevitable event separating them.  I’ll wax more on the second half in a follow-up post, but first, let’s talk about the first 12 minutes of episode 22.

As Kousei performs his piece, putting all his heart into the performance, he imagines Kaori playing next to him.  It’s a wonderful, happy scene, as we get to see Kaori’s frenetic playing for the first time in many episodes – many months for us as an audience – accompanying an emotional Kousei, who is optimistic that he will play with Kaori once again.

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But in the midst of the performance, as he stares at the image of Kaori in his head, Kousei realizes that she will not survive.  In some “red string of fate” way, he even feels their connection severed, as if Kaori literally died on the surgery table with doctors working over her while Kousei (probably) wins the recital as he plays over the piano keys.  Kaori completes her playing and she slowly fades away into oblivion, as Kousei can do nothing but break down and cry as he finishes his own piece.

Kaori is gone.  The series plays her death in a beautiful, symbolic way with their final song together – a duet instead of a solo and accompaniment.  But perhaps this tender way of letting Kaori go tells us something more.  Maybe it tells us that Kousei must go on, that he will go on, and that Kaori has prepared him so.

Note another sign – the black cat, symbolic of significant people in Kousei’s life who have passed – his mother was the first cat and Kaori the second – returns.  It is clearly visible to Kousei, but mysteriously also disappears as a train passes – it’s there and it isn’t.  Alive and not.  Finite and eternal.

Your Lie in April is telling us that Kousei will make it.  Unlike his younger self, who crumbled under the weight of his mother dying, this Kousei will grow and thrive in the face of loss.  And the grace and love that Kaori showed him will remain with him forever – she asked to live inside of him after all, and Kousei accepted.  But the key is he must live, not stand still or stay crumbled up, looking in his imagination or the sky for a Kaori that is no longer alive.

I’ve made no secret that I see Kaori as a strong Christ figure in this series – right from the start and through ’til the end.  As Kaori leaves a stunned Kousei, Christ left his disciples when he ascended to Heaven (Acts 1:1-10), and they were left, I’m sure, in a state of shock.  If the gospels are any indication, the apostles must have felt like sheep without a shepherd again, desperate to be with their master.  But shortly after Jesus’ ascension, they recovered and began the work of spreading the gospel to the world, even in the face of persecution and death.

Kousei recovered quickly as well, because though he’s devastated, what he knows is this – his time with Kaori changed his entire life, and the life he leads now is because of her, and in a way, as demonstrated by the conversation in his mind as he read Kaori’s letter, for her.  The disciples knew the same.  And we do, too, if we know Christ – for even though he’s not physically present, His is a love that can’t help but change us forever – and make us more than we thought we could be.


6 thoughts on “Your Lie in April, Episode 22: Why Look to the Sky?

  1. First off, I adored the finale. The performance sequence was breathtaking (they obviously saved a lot of their budget and the blew it on this episode :P) and the way Kaori’s death was handled fit perfectly with the tone of the show. One thing I’m curious in knowing your opinion on is Kaori’s “lie in April” (her lying to Watari that she liked him so that she can get in with Kousei and his friends). I personally thought it felt a bit odd, although not particularly out of character for her. One thing I also want to mention is that I loved Kaori’s backstory, it seems Kousei’s piano performance had quite an impact on a lot of the characters.
    P.S. I love your analogy of Kaori’s death to the Ascension, I didn’t think of that at all when watching but it really works.

    1. Thank you for the kind words!

      Yes, it was definitely a wonderful episode! I watched it twice, and I want to go watch it one more time at least.

      I agree that Kaori’s lie was both odd and not entirely out of character – not at all out of character, actually, when we discover more about her background and original reticence at getting to know Kousei. And as one of the other commenters, Bob, mentioned, I think it was a necessary move in terms of the the long arc of the show (in real life, we would say in God’s story of our life) to make Kousei move to the place he needed to be.

  2. Thank you for recommending this series — I stumbled upon an early review here and thought it might be worth a try. The finale was indeed executed flawlessly.

    As for “the lie” — honestly, until this episode, I thought it was something Kousei might have said that Kaori was going to chide him for — I find it credible and in character, albeit self-serving and insensitive. Still, would Kousei have been able to function had he known the truth at the time? Probably not. The “lie” served both to introduce the ill-fated pair as well as protect the true nature of Kaori’s feelings.

    Over on CAA, I wondered aloud if Kaori’s decision to undergo the surgery was in a sense a “suicide-by-scalpel” risk that she gladly took in favor of just slowly dying by degrees. She clearly knew the danger (hence the letter), but like everything else, decided to live life by her own terms.

    When I was in High School, we had an abnormally large cluster of students die from cancer (so much so that health investigators were sent to try to find underlying causes, with no success). Though the trope might seem trite, I do recall (as in the series) all of the kids facing their illness with more courage than I think I would have mustered. As I get older, I watch some of my colleagues grow sick and pass away, yet I get from them more of a sense of fear, regret, and bewilderment than calm acceptance of their fate. I thought the series struck the right tone in both Kaori’s attitude, as well as the attitudes of the survivors. Sure, young people passing away tragically may pack ’em in the theater, but I saw nothing at all exploitative or manipulative about the way this series handled it.

    Once again, thank you for the recommendation.

    1. Bob, thanks for your kind words – and thank you for sharing. I’m glad you enjoyed the series!

      Yeah, the lie caught me off guard – I was thinking along the same lines as you. But it functioned nicely in terms of how it broke Kaori into Kousei’s life, and helped move Kousei along in a way that he might not otherwise have.

      As for your thoughts on the CAA forums – that’s very intriguing, and I’m right with you, as well. It makes a lot of sense in terms of Kaori’s character, and also in the general reaction to her decision to undergo surgery and how quickly, it seems, she passed.

  3. By far and away the best episode of the best series to come out of the winter 2014 season. I was shocked when i read the words “Final Episode” but it was such a beautiful episode i couldn’t help but laugh and cry a little. Absolutely amazing!

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