Review: ‘Your Lie in April’
By Eunice Park
Japanese anime follows a former piano prodigy
Your Lie in April, or Shigatsu wa kimi no Uso, is a Japanese anime that follows a former piano prodigy named Arima Kousei who was well known throughout the music community as a “human metronome.”
However, this name was more of a curse than a blessing.
His mother, who was also a well-known pianist, had became ill and began pushing her dreams and wishes upon Kousei as a harsh instructor. Young Kousei sweeps through competitions taking nothing but first place in order to help his mother recover. However, her physical and emotional abuse becomes too much, and he loses his ability to emotionally express himself musically and becomes a “slave to the score.”
Shortly after his mother dies, he competes again. However, in the middle of his performance he has a mental breakdown leaving him deaf to the very notes that he clung to.
Kousei abandons the piano in fear of that day for two years until he meets Miyazono Kaori. They meet when his childhood friend, Sawabe Tsubaki, and sets up a group date for Kaori to meet Watari Ryouta, their friend who’s a soccer star and quite popular with the girls.
Once they gather, they find out that Kaori is a violinist and they head to see her compete at Towa Hall. Her performance leaves Kousei in astonishment because through music she is free in contrast to himself. She breaks all the rules in order to reach the hearts of her audience in a rather hardy way.
Due to his fame, Kaori undoubtedly knew who he was and insists that he play the piano once more. He refuses, but she stubbornly manages to get him to be her accompanist and her next performance.
With much difficulty throughout their performance, Kousei realizes how Kaori has showed him a new world apart from his suffering in music.
Kousei then decides to “go on a journey” just as all the great musicians before him had done.
This series was one that I had anticipated to like, however, I was completely blown out of the water by Naoshi Arakawa’s (the author of the original manga series) writing. Lately, I had lost a lot of faith within the new and evolving anime industry.
Most of the new series that I had began to watch seemed to lack the life and passion that all older series contained. Most lacked proper character development and pacing, and so it was hard to form a heartfelt relationship with the story and it’s characters. However, Your Lie in April has restored my faith.
Firstly, the art and animation is beautifully done by A-1 Pictures. There is so much life within this piece that it’s very hard not to get goosebumps at the storytelling that’s conveyed through the art alone. Every color and every moment is well thought out and immersion for the viewer to completely revel within Kousei’s world. A-1 pays a lot of attention to the details in the eyes giving the characters so much room for expression, and as stated before, liveliness.
Not only is their art used beautifully upon the characters, but also, the instruments in which they play. It’s a very difficult feat to animate playing an instrument, but A-1 studios was able to manage very well. For many of the piano scenes, they used Computer Generated Images, and although I detest the use of it in conjunction with 2-D animation, they skillfully made it very subtle and almost unnoticeable. I have seen other piano related anime use CGI, but it was always very clunky and ugly looking. However, within this series, they were very elegant with the use of it and that is something I don’t see often.
Secondly, the original soundtrack is inevitably just as amazing as the art. Aketagawa Jin, sound director at Magic Capsule, precisely timed some of the most magical moments with the background music to create an awe-inspiring moment of youth. To see the animation and hear the music come to a pinnacle within the emotional story is a real treat to the soul.
In terms of story and character development, I would have to complete the series in order to fully get a grasp upon the director’s true understanding of these two important aspects, but it’s going into a very promising direction. The exposition didn’t feel long and dragged out, yet it wasn’t too brief, allowing the viewer to get to know the character’s beginning stages.
Then as the story is continued, unlike most others, it’s very hard to predict the outcomes of each event. Not to mention that all of the seriousness and drama is balanced with a nice amount of humor and gags. And for some odd and awesome reason, there are a few Peanuts quotes that are featured throughout the dialogue from Snoopy the Dog and Charlie Brown. Although, I do have to say that the foreshadowing might be too obvious for some of the underlying plot and conditions. However, regardless of the obviousness, I still enjoy that twist in my gut.
All in all, my expectations for this series wasn’t very high, but as I continue to watch I feel myself more and more invested into the emotions that are being conveyed by Naoshi Arakawa himself, and his characters. I truly believe that Your Lie in April is, in and of itself, a beautifully composed piece of music.