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.
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.