It may help to hear the medley when reading.
Kaoru is quick to detach himself. A few indicators here and there cement his theory that Sentaro has gone off the deep end and has fully committed to the horrors of rock and roll. Ritsuko, the love of his life, seems out of his reach by this point. A deep and dark history of friendships and promises broken compels him to assume the worst. He bursts. His heart, once again, aches. However, He thinks it’s for the best. Breaking away hurts, but soon the numbness will set in like it always had, like every time it had for God knows how long. There were times he tried to repair the damage, but was too timid to commit. Seeing Sentaro playing on stage was the last straw. He was ready to break off completely.
Then, out of the blue, a window appears. Sentaro never betrayed him at all. And, since he didn’t betray Kaoru, there was no reason to feel betrayed. It made all his angst feel silly. It made his longing for Ritsuko, in comparison, also feel silly. He feels silly. Not in a funny kind of way, but where one feels so insurmountably stupid for not understanding all along. Kaoru, armed with this realization, must make the obvious decision. Someone finally fulfilled a promise. His share of the damage done must be repaid.
Now’s the time.
But where does he start? Kaoru’s apology runs much deeper than clearing up the misunderstanding between him and Sentaro. That’s because Kaoru called him a traitor. He effectively invalidated all the hardships the pair had gone through together, and in doing so invalidated their friendship. So, in order to gain that friendship back, he needed to form a much more elaborate apology, one that encompassed each and every aspect where he wronged him without due course. Of course, he can’t repair it with a mere lengthy discussion after the festival, hell no. They lived and breathed jazz from the moment they met, so it only makes sense that they make up using jazz.
The first level of Kaoru’s feelings are breached, represented by “My Favorite Things.” The first time he plays the tune, he stops because it was aimed more towards impressing Ritsuko, to relieve her of her regrets for not catching hold of Sentaro sooner. What he didn’t realize was that he was denying Sentaro the opportunity to properly play the damn song with him, as a result of his own misdirected guilt. The next time, it’s Sentaro who proposes to play “My Favorite Things” and that opportunity is also wasted over Kaoru’s insecurities, especially related to his consternation towards rock music and Matsuoka. Both were a product of his ignorance. Both caused him to fret, to worry, to refuse, and, finally, to reject. To apologize for his misunderstandings, he must give Sentaro the proper session he was asking for.
The slight, soft timbre of a cymbal reaches Kaoru’s ears. Sentaro accepts these feelings and joins in. Kaoru can only muster a soft smile at this point. Sentaro has not reciprocated this particular feeling yet.
The apology is far from over. There is hardly satisfaction to come out of this session just yet. Kaoru must give him some more leeway. He needs to open himself more. He must go deeper.
Enter the second part of the medley: “Someday My Prince Will Come.” Kaoru evokes the Bill Evans within him, in appearance and in style. The tone remains sustained, tenuto. It hearkens further into the past, his fleeting and irresponsible feelings towards Ritsuko. The way Sentaro pushes up his hair because he looks slightly like Bill Evans. Memories of days not yet bygone, for the day is still young.
This is as much a message towards Sentaro as it is to Ritsuko. The tune snaps back into reality. Staccato. Love is fleeting. Love is fickle. His feelings for Ritsuko have not changed at all. And, though he has a long way to go in order to completely gain her feelings, he is thankful that he is able to feel this way. He enjoys these adolescent urges with Sentaro and revels in them, the wonders of youth.
His progress into the music is admirable, but there’s something more missing. They’re smiling now. They enjoy each others’ company. They’re running high and they’re running hot. Their music is building towards another level of Kaoru’s extended apology. But what? What more is there to reconcile?
They both know what is to come next. Nay, they know what must come next.
This is the core of Kaoru’s feelings. “Moanin’.” The single most important piece to Kaoru’s and Sentaro’s friendship. The moment the melody hits the keyboard is when Sentaro knows. The one moment where he knows that they’re back together again. This song is the reason why Kaoru picked up jazz. The apology has gone to the bare roots of his soul. There is nothing left to hide anymore. All that is left is two people playing off each other, playing off their strengths, their hardships, their times of hopelessness. The bond they share burns, and it burns bright. Bright enough to attract the human spirit. An inspiration for all others.
“This here,” the anime says, “This is what true friendship looks like. This is what true friendship sounds like. This is what true friendship feels like. Now, bear witness… and listen.”
There is nothing left to discuss. There is nothing that needed to be discussed. All that’s left is the climax, the ending, the outcome that everyone was waiting for. Kaoru faced his mistakes up to this point, and he expressed them in the way that all of us wanted him to do it. Let the music speak for itself. The music did not represent Kaoru’s feelings; the music became Kaoru’s feelings.
And so, as the last high F echoes into the far reaches of the auditorium, so does Kaoru’s remaining doubts and fears. There is nothing left for him, or Sentaro, to be afraid of. They clasp hands and run down the slope. It is as if they are flying, the weight of regret and despair finally let loose into the atmosphere.
He is reborn.