We’re going to go a little bit out of order this time around. There was a show that I had finished before I saw this one, but because it’ll take a while to assess fully, I’ll put this one out first. Today, we’re diving into classical music and Shigatsu wa Kimi no Uso: Your Lie in April.
The Story: Kousei Arima was nothing short of a child prodigy. No one had ever seen anyone with such a mastery over the piano as he did at a young age. His knowledge and mastery of the score was unparalleled, and he won competition after competition. However, such fame was sure to bring gossip and jealousy. “The human metronome,” some called him. Others, “a puppet”, controlled by his abusive mother, herself an accomplished pianist. Even his friends grew slightly alienated from him as the piano began to consume Kousei’s life, preventing him from going out with friends or participate in any activities, lest he hurt his hands. Everything was going well for Kousei, more or less, until his mother died, he lost the ability to hear his own playing, and had to stop.
Many years later, Kousei, now a middle-schooler, is living a simple life and has put his piano playing days behind him. But that all changes when he’s asked to help his friend ask someone out a date. That was the day his whole world changes.
Your Life in April is a drama. Its aim is to get you attached to the characters, emotionally invested in the story it tells, and, with luck, make you cry by the end. Many of the characters wrestle with some internal struggle, which can play out in multiple ways, some of which work, some don’t, mainly because they are just too subtle to pick up. By the time you recognize the drama, it’s often too late. However, for struggles you do see, they play out beautifully. While the main focus is Kousei’s relationship with music and this new person, Kaori, there are other subplots and backstories running as well. Music isn’t the key focus; it’s instead a plot device, a means of exploring Kousei’s friends and their lives as well as his relationship with his mother. How the show deals with these themes is incredibly well done. It was able to present the theme in a easily understandable, yet creative, way. GRArkada described the show as “a work of art,” and it deals with some of its darker motifs in the same way you might expect a picture to.
However, that’s as far as the praise goes. While the story is solid and fulfilling, Your Lie in April struggled with pacing issues. Halfway through, Kousei resolves the conflict that plagued him from the beginning. From there, the show is unsure of where to go. It tries to fall back on another plot that it set up, but even that was poorly executed. The second half honestly reminded me a bit of filler episodes; there’s nothing left for the anime to expand upon. What it did expand on felt lacking and could’ve been delivered more smoothly had more development happened in the first half.Furthermore, while the overall tone of the show was consistent, the writers would try and throw in a random scene for comic relief that only served to kill the mood. It would make me wonder, “what was the point of that scene?”
Ultimately, Your Lie in April suffers from a tendency to tell, not show. During concert scenes, internal monologues and musings dominate. It gets intoxicating, and prevents the viewer from really bonding and immersing themselves into the story. Since so much of the drama and themes are handed to you, it’s hard to connect with the characters and create your own interpretations and attachments.
The Characters: Your Lie in April‘s characters have their moments. Unfortunately, while most of the cast has some sort of personality, it was hard for me to get attached to any particular character.
Kousei Arima: Kousei would’ve been a really good character if he didn’t talk to himself so much. He’s not a bad character; he’s kinda relatable and sympathetic, but he has so many internal monologues, which are supposed to sound poetic and meaningful. A few at the beginning were ok, but by the halfway point, they start to get annoying. Rather than show his development, he tells it, which is a lot less meaningful. The writers tried to gave him a personality and it works, but he still feels lacking.
Kaori Miyazono: Kaori’s this strange enigma among the cast. She’s probably one of the more developed characters in the show, although that is relative. In many ways, she’s Kousei’s foil, cheerful while Kousei is brooding, outgoing when he’s reserved. Sometimes, her personality can interfere with the mood, as she’s usually the one who breaks the tension with a “funny” line. However, that alone isn’t enough to explain her flaws. As a character, she’s missing something. Like Kousei, she felt lacking in some area that limited her character development.
Final Verdict: Your Lie in April tried. It tried so hard to be dramatic and artsy. And while it partially succeeded, it was lacking in some areas that it needed for it to be a great show. I can’t say don’t watch it, but it is not as great a show as some would have you believe. There are better dramas
Final Grade: B-