Many moons ago, my mother was a pianist of such talent that she was teaching adults by the age of 14. Pass a few more years along, life dolled out its misfortunes, and ultimately she was left unable to play. For a time when I was younger she encouraged me to follow in her footsteps, but my lack of musical aptitude left me frustrated and I never picked it up. Though more recently I’ve grown a certain fondness for all things piano and have considered trying to once again learn, it’s still a bit of a personal thorn that I have not been able to remove.
Thus, when I stumbled upon Your Lie in April by chance, the series immediately pinged me in a special and unique way that hit remarkably close to home. On the surface, the series is a poignant drama involving a group of talented kids striving to master classical music. Each has a unique and well-developed backstory, particularly that of our primary protagonist, Kousei, who sifts through day to day life as a defunct prodigy. The viewer soon explores the good reasons for his solemnity, which involves a convoluted tale of tragedy, abuse, grief, depression, and inadequacy. Foiling him is the surrealist Kaori, a vibrant violinist striving to make every moment of her life count as if it were her last. Along with Kousei’s two close childhood friends, the story unfolds as a particularly touching coming-of-age tale of romance and dreams, and the premise is established quite early that the story will unfold Kousei’s growth from troubled child to master pianist.
But, like I said, that’s just the superficial face to the story. Far deeper, despite being about a group of 14 year old children, the story of Your Lie in April is a tragic, powerful weave of metaphors about the reaches of the human heart and the fundamental tragedy of life. The layers upon layers of Kousei’s relationship with his mother, Saya, are absolutely wonderful to watch unfold, bereft with a carnality and emotion that extends far beyond Kousei’s own perspective. Their story touches upon the relationship of childhood and parenthood in a beautiful way, highlighting the juxtaposition of flaws and virtues that humanizes and defines parents. Themes of death and sickness drive their tale to a stunning climax, and highlight the complexity many of our close relationships face when presented with grievous adversity. While at first Kousei seems like a whipped puppy scarred by abuse who seems to have developed a sort of Stockholm syndrome, this veneer drops away to reveal a parent-child tale that rivals the marvel of a certain sunflower scene in Clannad.
Further down the rabbit hole are more abstract themes of Kousei’s rise to manhood, driven twofold by his existential void and his longing toward the feminine ideal. The Kaori that Kousei sees and the Kaori that exists as a person are two fundamentally different characters in the show. The former manifests Kousei’s desire for a softness, gentleness, and happiness in his life that he cannot obtain on his own – a fleeting hope to lift his pain and sorrows and give him a desire to live. The latter Kaori is the real human, an imperfect girl struggling with her own despair while always keeping a smiling visage up for others. Behind her character is a conflicted immaturity that, despite appearing strong and powerful, desperately looks for the foil of the masculine ideal in Kousei to lift her burdens.
Writing such a contrasted character duality into a story is an enormously difficult feat, but the authors pull it off here with fantastic success – it allows for an incredibly authentic side of Kousei to be displayed that all young boys struggle with on their path to adulthood. The harmonization of the ideal with the real is a tragic and painful road for Kousei to walk, as it inevitably is for all men, but the journey teaches him to master his pain and step forward toward the future. Similarly, Kousei is written as a duality of a human boy and a masculine ideal, which allows brilliant character and script writing to blossom their tale into a beautiful poetic masterpiece.
The synthesis of all these numerous layers results in a show rich and dripping with emotion, a parallel of bittersweet, solemn, and hopeful tones that sweep together in one single melody. Against all the childish backdrop is a poignant, mature drama with elegant pacing and top-tier character writing. In many ways, the use of the characters as 14 year olds offers a certain “excuse” to keep some childish humor in the mix to avoid the tone getting unintentionally too dark. While the story indeed carries a very somber feel, it also carries one of hope and longing, and the presentation mixes the right amount of light humor to keep the drama from getting lost in itself. The intent of the tears that well up in the viewers eyes is that they be both tears of sadness at the tragedy, but also tears of happiness as the characters overcome and press forward in life.
The particular style of Your Lie in April was not really my thing, but the animation of the musical compositions brought the show a bit above average for me as a whole. These scenes are gorgeously animated with a great deal of artistic detail, and stand out as the visual highlight of the show. Still, the oddity of girls-have-lips-boys-do-not was a little jarring, especially when this was lost in many distance shots. An excessive use of Fullmetal Alchemist style “chibi” scenes was used for much of the comedic relief animation, which sometimes felt a bit too over the top and overplayed.
All that said, the animation of the violin and piano scenes was very well done and outweighed a lot of the quirks. The series looks okay, but certainly is not up on the list for winning any awards.
Perhaps it’s just my particular luck of the draw, but I’ve stumbled upon several great piano-based soundtracks for dramas lately. Examples would include Your Name, Just Because, and Violet Evergarden, and Your Lie in April certainly sticks with this trend. The musical score for the series itself is fairly limited, but stands rife with beautiful and emotional pieces played at precisely the right times. Between these songs are a host of classical music pieces, each played with subtle differences that audibly capture the intended feel of the dialogue. The repetition hurts the score slightly, but only by a bit.
Importantly, with the classical pieces as a backdrop, the series loads on many flashbacks with writing and voices timed brilliantly to hit the peaks and troughs of the dialogue. The classical music was certainly not written for this particular show, and yet it carries a powerful and emotive weight as if it was. The musicians composing for Your Lie in April nailed the intended feel of the drama perfectly.
Commenting on the characters is difficult, as the show takes all three main cast members and presents them analogously as both human and as metaphor. The fundamental power of the show is that the children are not really children in the truest sense – they are facets of a greater part of human idealism.
Take Kousei’s presentation as a prodigy of untold fame and admiration, for example. While an undoubtedly important aspect of his character from a base level to push the story forward, it acts as a multi-level foil to many of the key character interactions in the story. To Saya, his mother, his prodigy is the core of her belief in revealing the untapped potential of her child, and also the consuming despair she will never live to see come to fruition. To Tsubaki, it’s a manifestation of the masculine ideal that brings her both the greatest joy in life and the greatest pain. To Kaori, it’s a source of existential fulfillment and a dream to push her to aspire toward a brighter tomorrow against the cruelty of life.
I could elaborate for each primary cast member, but the point is made. The deep level of character interplay, writing, and harmonization creates protagonists with a sort of surreal richness that is incredibly rare to see in an artistic medium. Many stories that aim at more somber themes, such as AnoHana, set upon themselves to target a particular theme or two and then try to shape characters and a story around these premises. What Your Lie in April does, instead, is establish a set of characters who are extremely real, and then organically grows a story around them that elegantly and effortlessly taps into its intended themes. This is why, for example, in spite of the coming of age tale being the central theme, the story also plays heavily on the poignancy and tragedy of parenthood. This level of nuance and undertone I would not have observed had I watched this show ten years ago.
The side cast of characters are interesting and functional, but are left intentionally rather undeveloped and plain. While Watari plays an important role in the show, for example, he’s far more a catalyst for events rather than a key player, and the writers knew how to balance his function very well. Several other characters play similar parts in the drama, acting as subtle pushes to keep the pace of the show moving forward with intent. This leaves the supporting cast more abstract, with the writers instead choosing – rightfully so – to focus on the main three. In many cases this level of simplicity in a show irks me and generally results me in docking points, but Your Lie in April handled the balance between primary and secondary characters exceptionally well.
Though it has some quirks and oddities, Your Lie in April is a powerful drama with a sprinkle of romance in the mix that, while important, does not play a particularly central role for a majority of the show. Far more dominant is one of the most realistic and emotive coming of age tales I’ve seen anime pull off yet, saturated with a level of poetry that most series dare not aspire to create. Despite being a few years past this stage in my life myself, it still roused a fair amount of reflection of my own experiences, and also managed to touch on the adult and parental perspectives which are far more relatable to me today.
When viewed as a whole, Your Lie in April is a wonderful, touching drama with a splash of well-written youthful romance. Wrapping it all together is a beautiful harmony of classical and contemporary piano pieces that come across as neither pretentious or clashing with the intended themes. Topped off with one of the most poignant and touching ending episodes I’ve yet to see, this caliber of series is what I watch anime for.
The story is about a guy who quit playing piano, Actually let's be honest it's all about that blonde booty, hell she's even on the front in the MAL cover.
Who the fuck cares about classical music?
Our protagonist encounters a really hot chick who's totally digging him, which means there's only one logical course of action: She's gonna date his fucking best friend. Supposedly he is the biggest player ever but after 15 episodes he still doesn't seem to have reached first base. No worries homeboy at least you're scoring in footba... oh...
Anyways, she abuses our protagonists's sorry ass into playing piano again because she can do whatever the fuck she wants. Because she's hot. Let's be honest, if the heroine looked like this
there's no fucking way Kousei would have started playing again.
This anime kind of reminded me of Code Geass in the way that we're supposed to believe the protagonist has an exceptional trait (for CG it's intelligence, for this one it's musical talent) while he never actually seems to actually display the talent. You're just supposed to believe it by the gawking audience who keep saying the playing changed midway even though there's not really any difference to be heard and people with overly emotional expressions.
Also I have a hunch that the makers of Naruto are actually involved in this anime because the amount of flashbacks to his mom making him play piano in his youth and hitting him is absolutely unreal. I almost thought this was starting to become a baseball anime instead. It's not like they even made a new scene they re-use the same scene almost everytime. In the beginning it's still pretty good but after 10 episodes this starts becoming so incredibly annoying it's unreal.
Our protagonists story is one of the dumbest ones yet. He can't hear the notes. Except he can. But he can't. Fucking get it? Me neither. Moving the fuck on:
Animation: Blondie is lookin mighty fine, we gotta admit that. childhood friend is like the 7/10 tomboy with a dude haircut so we all know who's gonna win. Honestly our protagonist don't give a fuck about her. The only person he needs in his life is barbie, he said so himself.
Sound: So this is supposed to be a music anime but unlike actual music anime like Kids on the slope or Nodame Cantabile the actual music is really shitty. In fact it's so shit that even in his "solo" performances they throw some background sounds like trumpet and drums in because else it would sound like shit. It's like watching The Big Bang theory with all those epicly annoying guys on the background track laughing all the time even though shit's not even funny. Just turn on the autotune already.
Our main cast consists of big booty bitch and beta boy.
They are both under the illusion that music is life and like to do stupid shit like jumping off bridges. Good example for all the retards that take this shit seriously. Then there's our player boy best friend, which is not the most ordinary siderole, except that he's a total fag himself too. Captain of the football team but his balls aint hittin target.
Oh yeah and there's the semi QT childhood friend who, after our main character actually stops being a super beta fag, suddenly realizes that she always thought he was pretty hot, except she never noticed it up till now. Always remember: you aint shit to these hoes until you're successful.
Aside from that we have a 30 year old milf or whatever who's introduced a bit later in the anime. For supposedly the best pianist in Japan she has a hell of a lot of free time. Then again, I can't imagine the actual best pianist of Japan would still be in Japan, so technically it's correct.
Also we have his "childhood competition". Even though his childhood was literally just 2 years ago. These guy have being practising their asses off ass day errday to wreck his shit, which can only mean one thing:
Well this started pretty good but now it's just starting to enter a circlejerk slump. I really hate the fact that the music is absolute SHIT for a classical anime, even the recording quality sounds bad. They kind of hooked me in with he fact that in like the first few episodes he was too retarded to actually play and he couldn't hear any of the shit, but I can't believe they dragged that out for so damn long.
If you want to hear some actual good piano playing go watch Nodame Cantibille or Sakamichi no Apollon instead. Or if you're just watching for the grills I recommend you to "insert generic harem here".
If it's really all about the short brown and long blonde hairs there's always
Final verdict: 4/10
RE EDIT: WARNING AFTER THIS PART THERE'S GOING TO BE A FUCKTON OF SPOILERS, DON'T READ IF YOU HAVEN'T FINISHED OR DON'T WANT TO.
Alright, after that incredibly bad ending I'm probably saltier than #1 Korean league team GE tigers after losing to the bottom chinese team at IEM Katowice 2k15.
So right after actually giving Tsubaki some character progression, they decide to completely cut her out and focus on our main bitch again. You know what they say: "Don't spend too much time with yo side bitches, but give them a little attention so they don't feel left out"
After about episode 20 all we're seeing is shitty hospital visits and more concerts, everytime he's supposed to do something he's feelin too down because his bitch is in the ICU. Now when he finally gets on stage, she's suddenly right next to him, and starts to play a decent violin duet. And imma be like aight well just bring the happy hollywood ending and he's #1 and we're all done with it AND THEN THAT BITCH SUDDENLY STARTS TO DIE? LOL!
What happened to this hoe talking all day about how strong she was, and how she gonna live to play violin? What happened to this fag nervously breaking down? Did we seriously just watch 20 episodes of his childhood drama just so he can move past that in a magical philosophical piano concert? What the fuck that nigga was tripping on LSD? I bet the reason they never actually showed the results of the competition was because he was on stage as high as fucking Kurt Cobain.
So now that his hoe is dead, let's take a look at things that actually don't fucking matter:
1: His romance. We're half a year further and tombitch still hasn't made a move. Didn't she like, semi confess or some bullshit? I guess that was just to give more unrelated feels again. Let's just forget about it again. As long as no other hoes want him, she doesn't want him either.
2: THE RESULTS OF HIS FUCKING COMPETITION? Seriously, this was supposed to get him into his school or not. This is what he practiced for all the time, and they didn't even show the results? It's like they're saying "Hah, our fanbase is so fucking stupid, they won't even notice the plot is missing".
3: What the fuck is Watari doing with his life (though let's be honest he hasn't mattered for the entire show)
4: The anime ends in March. Seriously? If your cuntstudio would have waited just two fucking weeks, it could have had at least a little sentimental meaning, but nah. Gotta get that $$$ quick
5: He's not sad about his hoe dying? First she's his everything but now she's dead he visits her grave with a smile. SHE IS ALWAYS WITH ME IN MY MEMORIES :333<333
6: The music in his actual play. What the fuck was that ending piece? It sounded like something you hear in the circus not a tragic romance. And the violin didn't even fit in well. I mean listen to this shit WITHOUT watching the video...
7: Why the fuck did she quit piano and started playing violin? Aren't duets a thing anymore?
8: Animation quality. Holy shit I get it, you are out of your fucking money and want to cashgrab ASAP, but couldn't you have figured that out before animating 10 episodes of useless child drama we all got after seeing it for the 2nd time?
-actual footage from final episode, timestamp 20:09
What have we learnt from this?
Stop trying to pull out random plottwists in the name of "drama". It's fucking retarded if your whole anime is focused on one fucking girl and you just kill her off in the end in a sad attempt to grab some feels of your Moe fanbase. What happened to our story? WHAT HAPPENED TO CONSEQUENCES??? IS THIS GOLDEN TIME ALL OVER AGAIN?
Talking about trying to grab feels, what was with that music on the final song? That was the best you could do? attempt of "getting some feels?" I can perform something better on my melocida. And I'm a fucking drummer.
I am sad that they decided to end the anime on this note. Not because his bitch is dead, but because in confirmation to everything I said before, his bitch is, apparently, the ONLY thing that matters. The anime starts with her and ends with her. Even our main character's future is not important anymore.
And in case you haven't figured it out yet by canales she means dick.
The most forced love triangle ever occurs when a depressed pianist with mommy issues named Kousei suddenly meets a girl who flips his life upside down. Which occurs when he sees her standing on a playground playing a Melodica concerto with a bunch of 3 year olds as doves/pigeons fly around them (no joke). Of course, musician-man's childhood friend, Sawabe (or Tsundere-chan for short), says this doesn't bother her since musician-san is just her "little brother". Obviously, this is a stance that will not last for long. Love-interest-girl turns out to be a violin prodigy called Kaori. She's bubbly, full of energy, and less dumb than she looks. She also starts throwing out death flags left right and centre like she's working in a flag-making-sweatshop by episode 3. Then there's Meaningless Protagonist Foil 1, Ryouta, who has a personality comparable to a four-kilo brick of sawdust and just wants girls to like him or something. Oh, and all the characters are below high school age, in case you're wondering, so don't expect any sort of rational thoughts or actions.
Anyways, Kousei and Kaori start hanging out and playing music. Really good music. They go to music competitions and play for fun, ignoring the ire of the judges who want to keep things traditional. Oh yeah, at these competitions there's some girl who also plays piano in order to show her long-lasting love for Kousei after she heard him at a concert blah blah blah zzzz
So yeah, Kousei can't hear when he plays the piano anymore because he has the hugest mommy issues and sees her disapproving ghost ever since he told her off for beating him with a cane and she went and died of cancer. Her ghost magically takes away his ability to hear music, but only at the most important parts of the piece. When this happens he travels to the underwater spirit realm and battles his inner demons blah blah. Flashbacks like this occur every episode and invariably end with him being beaten by his wheelchair-bound mom or seeing her demonic smile or something. These scenes reuse certain clips a LOT.
Kousei falls for Kaori, but she decides not to tell him of her obviously imminent death and instead hands him off to childhood friend 1, Tsundere-chan, who likes him. Too bad he doesn't like her. Or DOES HE. Along the way Kousei learns the secret to playing music, which is to suck it up and play music. Solid deduction, 10/10.
Oh, and every single time something sad or touching or remotely deep happens, the director cuts to slapstick chibi comedy like a deranged two year old with ADHD. This is probably the worst part of the show, because any semblance of good writing is washed away by tides of revulsion at this forced attempt to lighten the mood.
Characters look all right. Backgrounds are often pretty nice. The motion can be pretty rough and there are obvious attempts to save on budget by cutting to crudely-drawn chibi "humor" every time anything remotely interesting happens so that they don't have to animate another five seconds of tears running down someone's face. These inserts are barely animated. A lot of the show is still shots actually. Wait, is this even an animation?
Still, there are a couple nice still shots which carry some emotional weight. Good job I guess.
This one is tough. The score during musical performances is actually really good at times, reinterpreting classical piano and violin pieces in interesting ways to let the characters express themselves through music (since God knows it won't be happening through the plot).
However, they often cut these performances short to show some awful inner monologue about whether Kousei's mom loves him and/or is coming for him Grudge-style. They also sometimes add on extra instruments for no discernible reason. This is extremely irritating, as the piano score is one of the only redeeming qualities this show has. It's no Kids on the Slope, Cowboy Bebop, or Samurai Champloo, but it does have its brilliant moments before it's silenced so that we can contemplate moms hitting children or something.
I think I adequately described them in the plot section, but here goes.
Kousei is a whiny kid who eventually grows up through the power of love and music so that he can have his heart shattered again by the exact same situation that did it before.
Kaori is a wild, bubbly girl who doesn't care about anything except lying to her friends about the fact that she's going to die on them pretty much immediately, ruining Kousei's heart.
There's girl-next-door Sawabe, who TOTALLY DOESN'T LIKE KOUSEI HE'S DEFINITELY JUST A LITTLE BROTHER (WINK WINK NUDGE NUDGE).
There's Ryouta, who basically just acts as a foil for Kousei, who in turn thinks he's dating Kaori for literally no reason. He likes girls I think.
There's random piano girl and random piano guy who both want to impress Kousei because apparently he was good at piano as a kid, as we find out through about one hundred flashbacks to the same piano competition.
Despite their tropiness, the characters actually start to grow on you during the series. They go from awful to decent. That's about all I can say about them.
Honestly, this show had promise for the first couple episodes. The music was good and it seemed like it was going to be a slice of life romance with some tragedy thrown in. Then suddenly the plot became swamped in a veritable deluge of death flags as the show tried to turn on the serious feels.
However, the incredibly sudden changes in tone from tear-jerking drama to mindless still-frame slapstick completely ruined the series. And as if that wasn't enough, the plot decided to drive itself into the ground with the most contrived events to ensure that it could set the audience up for MAXIMUM FEELS. Instead, it comes across as forced. If you haven't ever seen an anime that focuses heavily on drama, maybe you'll fall for its tricks, but if you've seen your fair share already I'd be surprised if any of the events in this series shock you.
If you want some sad slice-of-life, watch Clannad, or Angel Beats or something. If you want good music, check out Sakamichi no Apollon or Cowboy Bebop, or Samurai Champloo, or any other anime with a good OST. Don't bother with this one. Seriously, it isn't worth your time.
FINAL SCORE: 5/10
I started watching this series having in mind some kawaii anime with cute music, something I needed after binge watching Tokyo Ghoul without censorship. Oh how wrong I was.
After the first chapter I got addicted. The story revolves around Arima, a piano prodigy that loses his abilities to play the piano after his mother dies. This is just the tip of the iceberg tho, and I believe it shows a very ugly side of classical music (I've known people with similar stories) after every flashback of Arima's childhood. The animation is funny and pleasant, it's perfect in combination with the music and story in general.
What can I say, I'm in love with this anime. So in love that I'm writting a review even if english isn't my main language. Please, watch it, you'll not regret it a bit.
I can't say I like this series. The storyline was cliched, and you already know what is going to happen halfway through the series. I thought it was going to be good, after all it was very much hyped when it first came out. But, the hype was definitely for nothing. I really really did not like this anime. Give it to me when I was 15, maybe I'd watch it over and over again and it'll make it to my top anime list, but not this time around.
I find it hard to relate to the characters, which is very not like me. I did not find Kaori likeable, so when her fate was determined, I didn't feel anything at all. I did like Kousei's character development though. Getting over your fear and letting go of the past is not easy at all, and I'm glad that he did push through till the end.
Music was amazing. As a lover of classical music, I enjoyed this aspect of the anime. It was very well done and was definitely a pleasure listening to the pieces they played.
Overall, I would not watch this again. This storyline feels like it was written by a starry-eyed teenager. It was not a feel good anime, neither was it a "feel" anime for me. If you like it, good for you, just was not my cup of tea.