[Two] Hospital Flowers

Spoiler warning for this one too, folks. This’ll contain massive spoilers for A-1 pictures’ 2014 anime Shigatsu wa Kimi no Uso, or Your Lie in April. So leave now (and come back later) if you haven’t completed the show or plan to watch it.

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I’ve always hated hospitals. For most, the hospital is a temporary place of healing for life’s more serious bumps and bruises. Those that come here usually don’t stay long, this place is just one pit stop on their long journey. But what about the people that stay, the ones that return time and time again to this “temporary” home for the broken. What about them?

This year I re-watched Shigatsu wa Kimi no Uso. This show was one of my favorites back in 2014 and just like with Sakura-sou, I wanted to see if it held up with other good shows that I’ve watched since then. My impressions of it are still very good. The problems I had with it in my initial viewing remained the same, but I still felt that it was more enjoyable than many other series that I’ve watched since then.

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Shigatsu turns out to be one of those shows that manages to be even better the second time around. The way that the show handles the feelings of characters like Kaori and Kousei is exceptional.

Kaori, as we find out, is afflicted by a permanent disease – something that she has had to deal with for most of her life. She knows that she doesn’t have much time left and decides to use that time to realize her dreams – and she does. By the end of the series she’s done what she’s always wanted to do, but not without some bumps in the road.

Shigatsu does a very good job in displaying Kaori’s perspective and circumstance. Episode five featured the first indication of Kaori’s disease. She faints after her performance in episode four and is admitted to the hospital some time afterwards. In this episode, Tsubaki, Watari, and Kousei come to visit, without Kaori’s knowledge. One close up shot to Kaori’s eyes shows her true surprise to their arrival. In subsequent shots in which she explains what happened her eyes are obscured. She lies to her friends about the extent of her circumstance and then redirects the conversation to be about Kousei’s practice. For a young person with a permanent ailment, the stigma of their situation is heavy enough without being the center of attention in a conversation.

The show makes a point to present Kaori in two different lights. The first of which is the dazzling, vibrant, star-like Kaori who is free of her shackles. These scenes almost exclusively take place outside of the hospital. This was how she was presented in her introduction in episode one. In these scenes, her disease is far off from our minds and all that Kousei and the audience can see in front of them is Kaori in all her brilliance. In other scenes however, Kaori’s colors have faded. In many of these scenes she retains her upbeat and bright personality, but we can tell that something isn’t quite right. We literally see her differently.

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As the series progresses, Kaori spends less and less time with her friends and family. She is confined to her hospital room where the light can’t quite reach. The reality of her situation has enveloped her almost completely to the point where she starts to lash out at Kousei, mirroring the actions of Kousei’s mother. The hospital room in which she is imprisoned becomes a constant reminder of her condition and her inevitable conclusion. Fortunately for her, she has people willing to pull her out.

Kaori’s story ends on a bittersweet note. Upon gaining new strength from Kousei’s performance, she decides to undergo a risky surgery to cure her ailment. Rather than withering away, she chooses to try and live, no matter the risk. Kaori shows us that one can overcome the weight of her disease and move forward in life. Even though the series ends with her death, it goes to show that her struggles and refusal to give in to her disease had a lasting effect on the people around her.

Shigatsu tells us that people are not hospital flowers, destined to wilt and wither away. We struggle as hard as we can, no matter how unseemly or futile it may be so that we can move forward.

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