Tsubaki Sawabe and Arima Kousei have been friends since childhood, and also next door neighbors, and have been enjoying their high school life with their friend Ryota Watari. Tsubaki excels at baseball and is aiming for the Triple Crown, and Watari is the soccer team’s captain but also spends most of his time going out with every cute girl he possibly can. Neither of them compare to Kousei’s talent as a pianist though as he was trained since he was a young child to be a concert pianist. His mother beat and abused him until he was perfect, he avoided any sort of injury. He was the best pianist in Tokyo until his mother passed away, now he hasn’t touched a piano in several years. Tsubaki gets a request to set her friend up with Watari and wants Kousei to go out with them all to ease any dead silence as her friend is also a musician. Tsubaki’s friend, Kaori Miyazono, is actually a talented violinist and their first encounter doesn’t go well. Despite the bad first impression, Tsubaki reminds Kousei that his entire purpose is just to be “Friend A” for Ryota to make a good impression and help him out on their first time out.
After all the first time introductions are done, they all have to run to the nearby Music Hall as Kaori is supposed to be playing a spot in the music competition being held there. Once she leaves, they go to take their seats and Kousei starts to remember when he was always playing here, and everyone in the crowd starts to whisper about him in passing. Despite his discomfort, Kousei starts paying attention to the musicians and starts to forget anything else happening around him. After a bit Kaori is finally up to the stage and starts playing something completely out of set from every other violinist, most of the audience can’t even tell if it’s the same song at all, except for Kousei and the judges. She brings the set piece to life and shows everyone what kind of personality she has with her music and completely stuns Kousei and everyone in the hall. After the competition, they meet Kaori outside and as someone is letting her know that scores will be posted soon and she says not to bother with her because she doesn’t care about placing, she was obviously just there to have fun.
This series hit my Top 5 Anime for the year because of how amazingly well done the story and delivery of everything was. All the right emphasis on all the right moments lead to a truly engaging story about music and youth. I don’t watch a lot of anime about sports or music or high school activities in general, but this is the second series I’ve seen that truly surpassed its confines and could bring anyone into its story. Aside from the story, though, the biggest draw for me was actually the music during the entire series. From it’s opening, to the scores during the show and straight through to the ending songs, the music brings it all to life. I actually downloaded the opening theme and listened to it to and from work several times because I couldn’t get it out of my head. Every week I would wait for it to air on Crunchyroll and wait a bit longer for it to be available on mobile devices just so I could watch it during my lunch break. I’m not sure if it’ll ever happen, but I hope that A-1 Pictures and Aniplex America will deliver another season of this show to us, as it left off the series on an unfinished note.