The anime is based on the manga illustrated by Naoshi Arakawa, with the focus on young musicians. The main lead is a child prodigy Kosei Arima who is a genius pianist, but at the age of 12 suffered trauma upon his mother’s death and could not hear the piano pieces while playing. Flanked by two childhood friends, Tsubaki & Watari, he goes through life daily without playing piano in “black & white”.
He begins to see some colours in his life upon meeting a fiery & passionate Kaori, a violinist, who plays unconventionally & “out-of-the box”. Kaori continuously nudges Kosei to face his own demon & perform at all cost. As Kosei finally comes out of his closet, he realises his previous training method which follows strictly to conventional playing is not the only interpretation of a composition.
The series focuses on the issues faced by teenagers – friendship, family love, puppy love. It also explores the teens’ need for social acceptances. More important, the series explores the inspiration brought about from one of their own.
The competitive streak of these teenagers manifests differently. Takeshi treats the perfect Kosei as someone to be defeated, pouring all his efforts to be better than Kosei. His rendition of the piano piece aims to be superior to Kosei’s. On the other hand, Emi, treats Kosei’s music as something to be broken. Her rendition of the piano piece aims to be as different from Kosei’s rendition. Nagi’s admiration for Kosei motivates her to get him as her tutor & provides support for her. Each of the method is right in their own way, suited to the young individual.
Kosei’s experiences explore the topic on the expectations of parents on their children & the dogged pursuit at the expense of the child’s happiness. His mother’s method to instil perfection in Kosei’s training drives him but also pressures him significantly. His mother’s death subsequently results in trauma, which I believe is partly caused by the earlier pressure on the poor child. A child’s innocence in obtaining acceptance from their parents is usually directly linked with complying with all requests from the parents.
Kaori’s character & her own journey with the short life she had, shows the sunshine amidst the adversity of gloomy seasons. Her passion pushes through the barrier Kosei built around himself, finally opening up new explorations. The ending for Kaori is super sad, but I guess she has no regrets and that is what is more important.
In addition, the series also explores Tsubaki’s relationship with Kosei – they grew up together as brother & sister, deepening their family kinship & grows into something deeper. As Tsubaki explores her own feelings towards Kosei, she also gives a chance to her other pursuer.
On a more personal note, the anime provides a re-introduction to piano pieces from the classical era, especially Chopin. Very surprising as in my younger days, I had never liked Chopin’s arrangements but listening to them again now brings a new perspective. That the pieces are really difficult to play and whoever plays them are genius! Hahaha…
The series is actually recommended by Agent S, who has been surprising me with his choices of series. Anime is targeted at a younger crowd, exploring their adventures. But the key themes explored are real and dear to the targeted crowd. For those young at-heart, and for those trying to understand the young at-heart, watch this for an inspiring story of a young pianist child prodigy.
There is also movie version starring Kento Yamazaki, an actor whom I really like (of Alice of Borderland fame). Let me know if you have watched it & the conclusion thereof!