When the world becomes dark like the bottom of an endless sea, one young man must find a way to save himself from drowning in the music world and find the light that exists in his heart. That is the premise for a show that brings drama, comedy, and classical music to the forefront for your entertainment. It’s time to take a look at Shigatsu wa Kimi no Uso, or better known as, Your Lie in April.
Kousei Arima is a musical prodigy. Often referred to as the human metronome, he has won several competitions with his God-like piano playing skills. His mother was an extremely strict teacher, but she was also very ill. When she passed away a void opened up in Arima’s heart and he lost the ability to “hear” the notes he was playing, causing him to freeze. One day, a girl named Kaori Miyazono was playing a song in a park and it caught Arima’s attention. Little did he know that Kaori would become the key to rejuvenating his interest in music and pulling him out of the dark abyss he had sunk into.
Your Lie in April is a slice of life show through and through and it has many facets to it and not just the main story of Arima. Every character gets their own story which not only builds their backgrounds and makes them relatable, but their stories also intertwine and affect the main story in some way, shape, or form. The only flaw that this show really has is the back half of its 22 episodes. The show does a wonderful job building up to the halfway point and then the back half kind of drags on just a little bit. While I understand that it is necessary to develop characters, the problem Your Lie in April has is the fact that it spends a bit too much time developing its cast to the point where some of the story points and/or characters go onto the back burner for an episode or two and you wonder what happened to them.
Another little thing the show does is it likes to jump around from episode to episode. One episode can end with a bit of a cliffhanger and then the next episode will start with a flashback that is seemingly unrelated to how the previous episode ended, but later gets tied in or explained. It was a bit weird from a pacing standpoint and I felt some of the story elements could have been arranged a bit better, but it really is a personal preference more so than a minor complaint. The storytelling is still accomplished either way and had I not marathoned this show, I probably would have been a bit lost on a week to week basis. It’s the kind of storytelling where you might have to go back and watch the ending to the previous episode just to make sure you didn’t miss something. That’s how drastic the difference is between some of the episodes, but again… this is probably just my personal preference and I’m just nitpicking.
Oh, and without spoiling anything, yes… this is one of those stories where you need to get the permission slip signed because you’re going on a feels trip.
The characters in this show really shined. There are some trope-style characters here, but they’re not really OBVIOUS like in some of the other shows I’ve seen. It seems that they know the difference between steak and sizzle when it comes to developing their personalities and backstories. So let’s dive in and take a look at them.
Here is our main character and his personality is one we’ve seen a thousand times over. He’s the one who starts out weak and full of self-doubt and has to work to climb that mountain and reach the top. The only thing here with Kousei is the show leaves us with the question of whether or not he really climbed that mountain. While Kousei did grow as a character throughout the show, they never really gave a definitive conclusion as to whether not he completely changed. Even at the end of the final episode, I’m still wondering how Kousei will continue on. I guess it is open to one’s own interpretation, but, still, Kousei was a very relatable main character that we could apply to ourselves for many different reasons and I think he was developed rather well. I’m glad they didn’t do the bandaid solution to his problems and had him continuously suffer pitfalls to show that nothing gets magically fixed… that you actually have to work at it.
She’s Kousei’s childhood friend and next door neighbor. She’s taken on the sister role for Kousei as she’s always looking out for him. Kousei even regards her a such which drums up some romantic tension between the two. Tsubaki is also good a sports and is the captain of the female softball team at school. Her personality has a wide range of emotion to it, but she’s mostly brash, short-tempered, and quick to kick Kousei in the shin.. which she does… A LOT. She does get her own set of trials and tribulations that she has to work through, but despite doing so, she doesn’t really grow much as a character. Out of all the characters, I felt she was the weakest simply because no matter what she goes through, she just seems like the same Tsubaki. I wanted to see some personality change, or at least, some reaction to what she went through. I mean, she does react, but overall, it doesn’t really matter because she’s no different in the end then what she was in the beginning of the show.
…and a toilet seat cover. No, really, if we’re going to compare this show to Clannad, he is Sunohara. He’s the captain of the soccer team and womanizer through and through. Always doing everything for the sake of impressing the girls, he’s also one of Kousei’s childhood friends. While Watari does spend most of this time with his head in the clouds, he plays the role of best friend perfectly. He encourages Kousei when he needs it and when he doesn’t, he brings that light-hearted attitude to the forefront to help lighten the mood. He’s a nicely balanced character that fills the supporting role perfectly.
She’s a friend of Tsubaki’s that Kousei discovered in the park when she was playing a song to help attract pigeons. Yes… you read that right… pigeons.. rats with wings. Kaori is pretty good at playing the violin and she ends up talking Kousei into entering a competition to help bring his drive back. This would be the beginning of Kousei’s long and bumpy path to recovery. Kaori’s personality is also a bit brash as well. She has those tsundere tendencies, but unlike most cliché tsundere characters, she’s not overbearing to the point where you want nothing to do with her. You can actually detect the kindness and intent behind her brashness and even Kousei understands it as well. It’s this mix that makes her a pretty good character. Of course, she is the key to the entire show so going beyond this would put this review right into dangerous spoiler territory.
He’s one of Kousei’s rivals. He is a prodigy himself who has also won several competitions, but his goal wasn’t to become famous, but rather, defeat Arima in competition. Despite being a rival, he also supportive of Kousei and even looked up to him as a hero of his. He reminds me a lot of Fukuda from Bakuman. He’s all about the competition, but he is also supportive of Kousei as he wants to see the best drawn out of him.
Female Takeshi. She’s also a childhood rival of Kousei and she, too, wants to see Kousei at his best, but the only thing that sets Takeshi and Emi apart is that Emi secretly loves Kousei and just can’t express it. I don’t really consider that a spoiler because the show touches upon this plot point for maybe an episode or two and then it’s completely forgotten. I would have liked to see this played out more, but I guess it just had no place in the grand scheme of things. Even though it’s not completely flesh out, it is touched upon just enough to add depth to the Emi character and make it a small impact on the overall story.
She’s the younger sister of Takeshi and is also a child prodigy. Seriously, what is in the water in that town? Every person walking the street has God-tier piano playing abilities! She’s also out to destroy Arima in ways that only a child can think of because.. well… she is one.
She’s Kousei’s mother’s friend who is also a really good pianist. She’s the one who suggested that Kousei should learn the piano and later becomes his mentor and instructor. She also has a pretty bad track record with students who have their hearts destroyed…
Art, Animation, & Sound
The artwork here is hit or miss. When we’re looking at the characters just interacting normally, the art and animation is okay, but when we see the performances, this is when the art gets kicked into really high gear. The CG used on the pianos, the reflections off of them, the lightning, and the super fluid animation of the hands not only hitting the notes, but hitting them ACCURATELY in tune with the music being played is just simply masterful. The only gripe is that the budget seemed so inconsistent from episode to episode. You can definitely tell where the money was spent… most of it on the final episode.
Seriously.. OH MY GOD… the animation on episode 22 was just jaw dropping levels of amazing.
That CG Piano…
I couldn’t get used to the character designs. It’s very rare to see details given to the mouth/lips region, but this show does so either by coloring in the lips or adding shadows to them. After having seen so many animes where the lips aren’t present and the mouth is a single black line, it was really, really awkward. I fully understand that it’s not the show’s fault at all because we have been conditioned to see anime characters in a certain light so when a shows tries to break that mold it just seems out of place.
Another thing that just didn’t look right were tears. Yes, there is a LOT of crying in this show and the tears just looked so unnatural. They looked like big blobs of water rather than the typical streams we’re used to seeing. Probably just another nitpick of mine, but it did distract me from the emotion that the show was trying to convey because it just looked so out of place. I guess another way to spin this is that the show had its own style going for it, which I can appreciate, because it tried to break away from conventional character design. Whether or not that actually worked I guess will be on a person to person opinion. For me, it just wasn’t working.
The OST… WOW. If you are a fan of classical music… mainly Chopin, then I would recommend this OST to you… or better yet, don’t listen to the OST.. just go to YouTube and search for Chopin. However, you could tell they put in the work for this show when it comes to using classical pieces. Either someone is a genius in the audio engineering department or they found recordings to help make these characters look like gods on the piano. Even when there were errors in the performances, somebody had to go in and recreate that just for that split second moment in the show. That takes talent and dedication and my hats off to the sound department in that regards.
Other than that, the OST was pretty decent. It was a lot of background music that served its purpose and helped convey the emotions of each scene. Nothing was out of place and it was pleasant to listen to.
The opening song “Hikaru Nara” by Goose House is just AMAZING. Starting off as something light-hearted that you think you’ve heard a thousand times before, it transitions into a powerful and emotional chorus. I was REALLY disappointed when this song was replaced with the second opening of “Nanairo Symphony” by Coala Mode. After the powerful first opening, this opening paled in comparison big time. Hell, the song itself wasn’t even that good and I was highly disappointed with it. Both endings, however, were also amazing. I would recommend picking them up. “Kirameki” by wacci is the first ending and “Orange” by 7!! Is the second ending. I loved the second ending more than the first as it had a more somber and emotional feel to it.
I took a look at this series based off of a few people recommending it to me and I’m glad that they did as this show wasn’t the best romantic drama I’ve seen, but it was in no way, shape, or form bad. Great character development, multiple plot lines driving the main story forward, and plenty of emotion to warrant breaking out the box of tissues. While the second half of the show did suffer in the pacing department, it was used to further develop characters and actually make you care about them.
Give this show a try. It probably won’t make you cry like Clannad or Angel Beats, but it’s still a great show if you’re into that style of drama.
Overall Rating: 8/10
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Until next time,
Your Lie in April
A Fantastic Emotional Journey
With great characters and an emotional story, this is a show that should leave you satisfied... especially if you're into classical music.