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“The moment his fingers touched the key, my future was decided.”

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This is my first journey through the “100 Days of Anime” Challenge, an ambitious project that I’ll be taking. For the full list of prompts, click here.

“Favorite supporting female anime character?”

Rivalry has always been a strong and common trope in anime, whether you’re racing against each other to “catch them all,” or facing off against a powerhouse school on the court. Rivalries often become fuel for character growth; an obstacle that forces our hero to listen, learn, and eventually overcome. This truth is also very prevalent in real life, igniting our competitive spirit whether it’s in a sport or a spelling bee. In Emi Igawa’s case, it’s the piano, played to reject the very person she looks up to.

But what happens when you lose that rivalry?

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What makes her a great supporting character is the message she brings from her performance. When Emi is first introduced, she is shown to be aloof, almost cold. Yet on the inside, Emi is a big fan girl to Kousei Arima, the hero that got her to play the piano in the first place. Where Kousei plays the piano with methodical perfection, Emi plays with passion and emotion, mimicking Kousei’s earlier performance and commenting how “boring” his playing has become. Her strong will and competitive spirit is soon shattered when Kousei stops playing piano, struggling to keep her position as one of the best pianists around.

And highlighting just how prideful she really is.

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Because Kousei was undoubtedly the best pianist in their group. Losing to him in competitions over and over again meant that they were rivals, right? Unfortunately, Kousei doesn’t even remember her as competition. Not out of disrespect, but his dogged devotion to the piano (and personal matters afterwards). To have your rival not even acknowledge your existence is a stinging insult. An insult that motivates her to absolutely crush Kousei with her spontaneous playstyle – motivation the disappears when Kousei is gone.

Her final moment is a rousing performance, emphasizing all the passion and emotions held back while Kousei was gone: Anger, love, resolve and loneliness. A single wordless message sent from a prideful pianist.

Hear me, notice me.

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