Shigatsu w Kimi no Uso – 05

Shigastu - 0501 Shigastu - 0512 Shigastu - 0514

Just so’s no one can accuse me of burying the headline, I’m dropping it.

For now, at least.  But given how much virtual ink I’ve spilled over Shigatsu’s first four eps, I didn’t think it was right to do so without at least a final summation.

In short, if you’ve read my posts over the past month, there shouldn’t be much of a need for explanation.  All of the stuff I said  – that’s why.  I find myself getting irritated with the show every time it trips one of those switches, and that’s a downward spiral from which there’s rarely an escape.

I’m as bummed at this as I have been over giving up on any series in a long time.  I had such high hopes for Shigatsu – it’s a NoitaminA show and there’s so little new anime this year that really seemed to have potential to be special.  This is a loss that really hurts.  But after five episodes I’ve decided that this series’ worldview is just too fucked up for me.  It’s a bizarro world except one that’s not played for absurdity – all the terrible ideas are great ideas, blame is cast in exactly the wrong places and the worst behavior is glorified as the best.  And it takes that which should be complex and difficult and paints it in darkest black and whitest white.

And it’s not funny – not even remotely.  Which is a problem, as it clearly thinks it is.

I am going to keep watching for now (though I had to regroup a couple of times in order to get through this episode) just in case, miraculously, there’s some kind of depth or even basic common sense in Shigatsu that hasn’t revealed itself yet.  And because for all that I hate about it, in the first two episodes (and even occasionally afterwards) it delivered some of the most powerful moments of the season.  I may even blog about an episode, if that or something similarly unexpected happens – I already have a label for it after all (that’ll teach me to jump the gun).  But for now, I’m done – as depressed as that makes me.

Shigastu - 0502 Shigastu - 0504 Shigastu - 0505
Shigastu - 0506 Shigastu - 0508 Shigastu - 0513


  1. S

    I agree that time is too precious than writing about a series, which causes a lot of irritation. Aside from the awesome music segments, the rest just didn't click the right way for me either.

  2. Z

    When I finished this episode, I sorta knew it would come to this. It's a shame, because the show really does have some really great moments in each episode that hints at what it could've been. The segment with Tsubaki and her senpai this episode was the kind of thing I wanted to see more of; it's too bad the show seems to insist on its unfunny humor and simplistic worldview.

  3. Interestingly, two manga readers I know singled out that scene for the way it was changed in the anime, which effectively edited out a couple of things that seemed to suggest both that Tsubaki knew she was wrong in the way she'd been treating Kousei, and that the mangaka didn't totally approve of her actions. Second-hand info, but interesting if true.

  4. R

    That's very disappointing to hear, as those seem as if they could at least have helped the series steer itself properly a bit. Sometimes, I really wonder what goes into consideration when deciding on what to leave out and keep intact in these adaptations.

  5. D

    I figured this was coming as I watched the episode, and honestly, I feel like calling it quits too. I tried to stay open minded, hoping that those rare moments of depth and subtance would actually come through, that mistakes would be aknowledged and some kind of statement would be made. The thing that really boggled my mind is the flashback scene where all the kids are trying to push Kousei into the river, apparently not knowing that he can't swim. What am I supposed to take from that? That Kousei should adopt the sink or swim mentality to his trauma? That the only support you should expect from your friends is them pushing you over the edge without considering the consequences and hoping it might turn out better rather than worse?

    I'm thinking of either picking up the manga or just waiting until the show wraps up so I can watch it in one sitting, and hopefully it'll somehow make more sense in the grand scheme of things. But right now this is damn near impossible to watch.

  6. That whole river scene was certainly an unwitting metaphor for just how screwed-up the perspective of this series is.

  7. g

    Once again it shows I have similar taste to yours, at last in anime (and I'm glad I found your blog), maybe you're even more patient and mellow in your judgement than me.

    But after this episode I've decided to drop it too (completely). This episode showed every shortcoming of the anime, and unfortunately, they were plain to see because there wasn't any music or competition to cover it up. I was mostly irritated, when I watched it yesterday or rolled my eyes every time when it tried to be "deep and profound" (yeah, profound in its ignorance). And I'm sad too because I've said (even here on your blog) how I wanted to love it. A tremendous potential – completely wasted. It's the worst.

    The whole "trauma thing" would be enough to explore for 22 episodes, because it's a complicated case. And if they wanted to do a romantic comedy, I don't mind, what's the whole tragedy edge for? Middle school's teenager years are complicated enough themselves, they could even leave mother's death (but without abuse), it happens. So now it looks like it can't decide it wants to be a light romantic comedy or a deep and philosophical drama and tries to be both at the same time.

  8. There's nothing good about any of this – it's all depressing. In a bad season and a bad year, losing a series with the seeming potential of this one is a huge blow.

  9. t

    Hm, I think it's a pretty good season. You have solid series that would be the top game in any other season: Parasyte, Rage of Bahamut, Mushishi (but it's always good). And for shoujo, Akatsuki no Yona is quite decent, even though sometimes it feel too much like a Korean drama. For fanboy stuff you have Fate/Stay Night remade, and second season of PsychoPass, even though I don't really like any of these two franchises.

    I think it's pretty much one of the strongest season in recent year.

  10. J

    I'm not sure I'm ready to call it a bad season but there are so many discouraging signs for the future despite a number of really interesting series coming out…mostly of the fantasy variety, which is a genre anime hasn't really explored as much of late that has made a sudden comeback this season similar to sports anime last year. The problem I think is most anime's seeming inability to hit any character or philosophical note with relative frequency that resonates as particularly plausible and that doesn't come with a myriad of problems in how creators seem to perceive the world and the characters actions that represent said view of the world, be it in a sort of nihilistic otaku culture favoring sense (not this shows problem but a lot of them succumb to this very fast) or in the sense of what constitutes fair/reasonable outcomes for the people involved (sort of this shows problem at times) when they try to do a more modern coming of age teen dramedy type setting and story like this one. Man do the current stock of anime creators, directors and writers just suck overwhelmingly at trying to portrayal people and modern youth problems, pretty much always trying to either sugar coat them or as you say portray everything as kind of black and white with simplistic right and wrong approaches to complex problems. I honestly wish sometimes they wouldn't even attempt it anymore and just stick to trying to do more fantasy type stories or use their imagination more to come up with more unique ideas.

    Like I really think this era of trying to invoke a youth movement or youth culture through anime and otaku culture (at least it feels like it) and make younger viewers feel empowered or inspired needs to come to a close in an awful hurry if and until the time the kind of visionaries that can do these sorts of themes justice without kind of bungling the message come about. Maybe it's the tendency to try to juggle commercial interests and not piss off certain fan types mixing with trying to have more meaningful and youth relevant ideas present in a story, but what happens with the Shigatsu adaptation is surprisingly common IMO. Now something Ping Pong handled it's ideas and youth culture influences and musings kind of fine, but that was also by a director that is said to be one of the few always at the top of his game in Masaaki Yuasa and came from a series where any comedic stylings it had always seemed to be on point. It also never tried to portray anyone as all one thing or all the other, not even Dragon the super competitive and hard line champion.

    In any case I kind of forgive the show for all of this in a way because honestly I never really expected any better as a manga reader and in knowing A-1's tendencies to kind of bungle the intracacies of a source material. If I had to guess some soft directive was handed down from above to try to portray Kaori in a more righteous and show stealing light and to give her more focus with the adaptation (hell on the promo poster and now BD cover she's the one front and center with Kousei kind of behind her and off to the side though not entirely in the background thankfully) ostensibly because she's the more marketable character if they want to have a noitaminA series that makes at least some amount of money back.

  11. s

    In my opinion, no piece of work needs to be philosophical or "out of this world" creative to be good; you just need good writing and characters and it seems like that is something anime is forgetting as of late (although that may be unjust to make such a board statement so soon). Most of the stuff the anime industry adapts nowadays is just the usual self-indulgent LN and manga's, most of which dont tell coherent stories, but rather exist just for escapism, which the anime industry seems to think that's all viewers want. The industry will only improve when it's view of the medium transforms into a much more serious one (and that hopefully profit can be made from really good works both in japan and internationally; hey, space dandy showed that there is some life in the international market).

    Personally, while i think this fall season is better than what it looked like on paper (as i thought might be the case), a lot of series this season is missing that finese of making a really good series through writing, characterization, and animation. shirobako is a good example of a series in my opinion that had potential to be so much better if the series planning, writing, and characterization was better. Psycho pass S2 is a show that while i still think is good, the writing doesnt have the polish i wish it could have. When psycho pass is subtle it's great, when it gets heavy handed, it sort of disappoints me. Both S1 and S2 had those problems. Overall, not many series this season have consistent writing. Heck, in the case of shigatso and its writing, i knew i would have problems with this series the moment i got to know more about the characters and their modus operandi.

  12. R

    I was so done two episodes ago. Well, actually I was kinda still on the fence two episodes ago, but I know for a fact I was done after last episodes performance. And that was despite the strong points. This episodes didn't even have those strong points which just reinforces the fact that this series just isn't for me. And I honestly can't understand the people on other sites who agree with this sort of mindset. It's depressing not just for losing a series that seemed to have so much potential, but also because I swear I lose more hope for people in general whenever I read some of the comments that spring up in the debates over this show.

    Maybe I should just live in an isolated blogging bubble in LiA because I'm seriously starting to feel it's the only place (mostly) free from that.

  13. I try not to be depressed about the general state of anime commentary in most places, but let's be honest – you can't separate the decline in anime artistically from the viewpoints of those who watch, comment and purchase. Kairi also dropped Shigatsu over at RC (for reasons along many of the same lines as mine, though she's a manga reader) and some of the comments have been really disgusting.

    I have no desire to be a bubble, though I appreciate that you feel that way about LiA. There's plenty of folks out there pining for better anime and appreciating the ones we get, but the problem is they're not the ones influencing the direction of the industry.

  14. R

    Maybe bubble was the wrong word. LiA is more like a safe haven from the sort of needlessly cruel and toxic comments that seem to pop up in other sites. I mean, there's definitely been disagreements on this site before, especially over the more popular series, but it's never reached the sort of mean spirited and utterly poisonous levels that I see in other places, which seriously means a lot in my opinion. It means that you don't have to worry about people attacking each other and metaphorically trying to rip the other person's throat out because two people on the internet just happened to have different opinions. Like, oh my gosh, how could that possible happen. 😐

    I feel like a lot of the trends I don't like in current anime (chief amongst which is that I feel more series are condoning behaviors and actions that are just plain BAD) is reflected in the current viewer base as well.

    I don't know, maybe I'm wearing rose colored glasses, but I swear the anime community as a whole (not individuals) was nicer in the past.

  15. S

    I paused 15 minutes in and just had this overwhelmingly unsatisfactory feeling of everything. How the episode glossed over the most interesting tidbits. dwelled on bullshit, gave sage advice and philosophy from 14-year olds to 14-year olds and that nothing they would do in this episode would make it better. Actually, the rest of the episode just made it slightly worse.

    Glad you dropped it, reading an analysis of it would just make me upset. I might watch a few more episodes though.

  16. T

    I'm disappointed too Enzo NoitaminA has a special place in heart for animating a lot of great series that needed to get their time to shine (hourou musuko and ayakai bake neko story, and mononoke for example). I was really excited for this series but its sad it didn't live up to my own unrealistic expectations. I guess for now the only shows I have to look forward to is Akatsuki no Yona and Mushishi.

    Also I agree with Rita I'm probably sticking with LiA because its the space I consider safe from the garbage defences I have been reading about this series. In general I find this LiA to be a wonderful place where I can share my thoughts with like-minded people. Thanks Enzo.

  17. Again, I appreciate that. But I hope that's not what LiA is – a bubble where everyone agrees with each other. As far as sharing thoughts without having reactionaries jump down your throat for doing so, yeah – I'm all-in for it being that sort of place.

  18. T

    There is nothing wrong with difference of opinion but I would like it to be constructive as opposed to the garbage bs I have been hearing about in defence of this series and I really dislike how abusive a lot of commenters have been on other bloggers calling out the bs this show is presenting. I agree that having the same opinion the whole time would be boring but I at least I can hope we can be respectful of one another when we disagree.

  19. Make no mistake, when I look at the tone of the commentary at RC (some of it downright Gamergate) and compare it to what I see here, I'm quite proud of this place.

  20. v

    I'm disappointed with how this show came out but I'll probably stick with it until the end. I can still draw some enjoyment from it if I left my brain at the door before watching. For all it's flaws it does have it's moments (though few and fleeting) and I will go on chasing those moments.

    Enzo, I think your mental health will thank you for dropping this show. If I ran an anime blog and had to analyze the details of each episode of this show, I'll probably go bald tearing all my hair off.

  21. m

    I had a feeling you'd drop it around this point. I read the manga for this a while back and recalled enjoying it, particularly Kousei's struggles with reentering the classical world.

    So I was pretty surprised by how badly the anime adaptation exacerbated the manga's flaws. The saccharine sweet colors paint Kaori in a much more idealized light compared to the simple tones of the manga. And the "abuse comedy" takes up way more time and focus than it did in those chibified panels.

    I'm glad to hear you'll keep watching though. The manga, imho, got a lot better when it started shifting its focus onto other side characters. Tsubaki also grows on you a little. Can't say the same for Kaori, though…

    On an off note, Chihayafuru's latest chapters are out. Nothing shocking, but I'll call it a step forward.

  22. T

    Guardian Enzo, if you don't mind, could I offer a thought experiment on Shigatsu? One interesting thing about Shigatsu that is very rare in anime, is that it parcels out the "trauma" of its characters very very early in the anime, in significant chunks that gives us a very good idea of Kousei's demons. One could say that Shigatsu played it's cards very early. Suppose instead, that Shigatsu did not take this approach, and instead, simply dumped the background of Kousei's drama to an entire flashback episode, towards the end of the season.

    Imagine that Shigatsu decided to play it's cards much much later, like many, many other anime shows that try to write a story around a character with psychological trauma. Namely, rather than shoving the Flashback about why Kousei behaves the way he does, instead, the anime simply shows Kousei's outward actions and responses, while minimizing and omitting any monologue that could give way his trauma. The first hint we get of why Kousei behaves the way he does, is when the musical notes fly away, and he becomes unable to listen to his piano playing.

    In other words, imagine that the anime was written such that we barely know any more about Kousei, than Kaori does. If this is the case, how differently would we be looking at Kousei's actions? How differently would we be looking at Kaori, if we weren't aware of the extent of the abuse Kousei went through at the hands of his mother? In other words, our level of ignorance about Kousei's backstory at this point of time, is say, as high as our level of ignorance of Homura Akemi's motives before the tenth episode off Madoka Magica.

    In this alternate adaptation, imagine it's only later, we get a full flashback episode on Kousei's past, far later in the season. Another analogy to this approach would be Little Busters – we don't know the traumas and demons of Kud, or Haruka for that matter until we know their backstory. ( And had the LB anime decided to take the Shigatsu approach, and show parts of the backstory substantially that we had a fair idea of say, Kud or Komari's trauma, throughout the route episodes, LB would have been very, very different- but that's a separate point altogether now.)

    Back to the thought experiment though: would you still Shigatsu in the same light? Would the gags still be as unfitting? Would Kaori's behavior be as disgusting as it is? Would you sympathize with Kousei sufficiently to see Kaori's behavior as very wrong?

  23. T

    Message split up because of length:

    Because if there's one thing Shigatsu does very, very well, it at least makes Kousei sympathetic to most of the audience. But, in various places like MaL, there are many posters who clearly don't sympathize with Kousei – to them, he is a coward hiding behind "excuses", a Beta, whining wimp in the traditional generic Harem MC mold. I suspect most of these viewers haven't been paying attention to the flashbacks, and haven't tried to understand them. But given those reactions, I'm very curious whether our sympathy with Kousei is actually a product of being aware of Kousei's backstory, so early in the game, and if we know as little as Kaori does, would we still be so outraged at Kaori's actions? I disagree with those charges that Kousei should just "man up" personally- it's just very interesting there's an alternate, antagonistic line of criticism of Shigatsu to the idea that Shigatsu approaches the topic of mental trauma in a very insensitive manner.

    Remember, from Kaori's perspective, she likely doesn't know just how deep Kousei's problems and traumas run , since Kousei hasn't shared it with her; and there's this very strong cultural aversion of sharing your problems with someone else in Japan, if I'm not wrong. Which was why Kousei never said outloud his real reason for not playing in Episode 5 during the bridge scene with Kaori – had that internal voice been verbalized, I think Kaori actually get a clue why Kousei is so reluctant.

    It's fascinating really, that Kaori the deuteragonist is the character being criticized here, and implicitly, Kousei has been a successful protagonist that makes the audience care about Kousei enough, to think that Kaori's ignorant actions are appalling.

  24. Honestly? I think it would change my perception very little. Kaori and Tsubaki would still come as horrible "friends" and quite unlikable characters. And I think it would be pretty obvious through Kousei's behavior that something is very wrong, that Tsubaki and Kaori are going about "helping" in exceedingly stupid and cruel ways, and the series is taking the perspective that they're in the right and he's in the wrong.

  25. g

    Do you mean you assume people, who now criticise show, would think Kousei is a little wimp, who constantly whining and he should stop and people, who are calling him like that now, despite his monologues and flashbacks (or maybe because?), would drop the show, because they couldn't stand him, therefore we are all hypocrites? If we behaved like that, it would prove, ignorance is a bliss, indeed.

    I don't know what others would think but I guess I would stick longer to know his motivations, explanations of his behaviours. In other words I would try to scatter my ignorance on his stance. Because I understand there's a reason he is a main hero, that the anime tries to unfold his story. But probably, long before any explanation would pop up, I would have my own guesses and suspicions and make hypothesis. Because my first question in these kind of situations is always 'why?'. I'm going throughout the life with the question WHY.

  26. T

    Hmm, but the fact that Kousei's behavior makes it so clear that something is very wrong is an impressive testament to the quality of characterization, at least as put into Arima.(and yes, the teenagers are insensitive argument doesn't fly, because firstly, it's a gross generalization, and secondly, it stands at odds with Teenagers philosophizing among themselves with ideas far beyond what you'd expect from their age groupas Episode 4 did).

    Here's something that troubles me though – can Japanese anime, especially today ever hope to tackle Mental Trauma in a sensitive and well written manner? There's kind of a culture stereotype that I am sure you are aware of in the West, that the Japanese treat those with Mental Conditions or Trauma with shocking contempt. I have two questions: Firstly, is this stereotype accurate, from your experiences in Tokyo? Secondly, if those stereotypes are accurate, is Shigatsu's implicit contempt for it's protagonist problem, perhaps a product of that culture stereotype?

    Even if this stereotype is false, I think Shigatsu is a toxic ambassador of Japanese culture as taken from it's fiction, since it only serves to perpetuate the stereotype of Japanese incompetence, ignorance, discrimination and contempt of the mental conditions and injuries. Perhaps, like Shirobako or WUG or Watamoe, it shines a light into a place many Japanese are uncomfortable to discuss about, but in it's effort not to drive away it's domestic viewer-base by compromising, it unfortunately comes off as extremely offensive to many non-Japanese.

  27. T

    "Do you mean you assume people, who now criticise show,"

    No, I don't think so, at least, I don't think there's an overlap (or at least, not a very substantial overlap) between the two sets of critics, but many SoL haters, Moe Haters, Rom-com haters and harem haters would be way, way more active at attacking Arima Kousei. I do think many of the current critics would either stick around for Arima's backstory, may pick up that Arima does have some issues of an unknown nature, and I suspect many of the gags would be way less offensive. For me, plastering the music sheets all over the room turns from gag rom-com comedy, to outright low and despicable once I learnt Arima Kousei backstory of abuse.

  28. g


    I give you example. I watch currently Natsume Yuujinchou (half of 4th season now). And when from the start we know main hero, Natsume Takashi, is lonely and the simplest reason we could give it's because he sees things other people can't see, but it's not whole truth. We, through the whole 4 seasons, get to know reasons, why Natsume is who he is in the present.

    For the first two seasons we get to know Natsume mainly through Yokais' stories, so we start to understand him indirectly at first, when he's helping them we hear his thoughts, opinions and feelings about various topics covered by each Yokai's story, at the end of each episode Natsume formulates his final conclusion about what happened and what it means for him

    Later there are added heavier interactions with humans (his new family and friends or even antagonists). It's very important because many times Natsume experiences the interaction, which feels right and is good, for the first time in his life. The present is a time when he has a good experiences interacting with yokais and humans both and he simply connects. I have to tell I've cried many times watching the anime but very often I cried the hardest when he had various good experiences for the first time, because it means all his previous ones were bad and wrong.

    Natsume's past is showed in bits and pieces all over 4 seasons. We see sometimes vital informations very late, sometimes it's a merely confirmation of our suspicions or it's opposite – a surprise we couldn't deduct no matter what. I don't want to write examples because accidental spoilers, man. Maybe somebody will want to watch it. What's important some vital informations are withhold for us, yet it hasn't changed my opinion or feelings for the matters.

    As I've said earlier we could just formulate the simply conclusion it's yokais' fault because other people can't see it. But the real reason is a lack of understanding and many times there wasn't even a good will and any trying. Because what if… we assume yokais can be a metaphor for everything we can experience but we can't show any proof of its existence. Can we, literally, show somebody our mental illness or depression or various fears or even some mere hurt feelings? No, we can't (maybe if you have always by your side MRI scans of your brain) and we have to trust others about things they can't show us.

  29. g

    That RC's Kairi, a manga reader, dropped it because of the abuse toward the MC initially made me think they really altered some stuff from the manga. When I read it though, all those abuse scenes are still there. She mentioned in her post that she was put off by the BGM and effects used during these abusive scenes, but they were still happening in the manga either way.

    I think maybe it's more natural to ignore/look past problems we might have with a manga because it's easier to kind of brush past a panel than it is to ignore something given several seconds of screen time, with voices behind the actions.

    I'm going to keep watching, because there was probably enough good stuff in the manga to make her look past this ugliness we see now. But I can 100% understand someone dropping it. I hope things get better for Kousei soon.

  30. I agree – it is easier to just blow by that stuff in a manga.

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