In this volume, the competition continues and we meet Emi Igawa and Takeshi Aiza who have been waiting for Kosei to return to the stage. We learn that the boy once known as the Human Metronome inspired these other two to take up piano in the first place! Watching a person they admire freeze on stage fuels their intense performances and when Kosei takes the stage, at first he seems ok. But before their eyes, the same freeze happens again. They say in the book that he can’t hear the music so, what does he hear? His deceased mother’s voice berating him for his failures. We learn how abusive she was to Kosei when he was playing as a child and it’s no wonder he freezes when playing.
One thing that annoyed me a little is how Kosei has friends but he never tells anyone that the last thing he told his mother (after she finished beating him with her cane) was he wished she would just die. That’s a pretty damn good reason to not want to play or have flashbacks of how she treated him while he’s playing. So, with people around him completely unaware of what he went through, it seems empty for them to tell him “Oh just believe in yourself! Play for who you want to play for!” It’s much more complicated than that. I hope Kosei at least tells his closest friends, as honestly, it’s none of the judge’s or other competitor’s business. But man, am I ever rooting fo him.