Hello everyone, welcome to another edition of “things Scott should have watched sooner”. I’m not going to accuse myself for anything this time though. I’m not usually a big fan of teenage drama anime like this. While I liked the Clannad movie, I didn’t like the tv series that much when I noticed what the series was trying to do to me (ups and downs, never anything in-between) and I think Your Lie in April and Clannad are in the same vein. I also didn’t like other similar shows like Orange and Kiznaiver either. I am also afraid of watching anime music anime. As a musician, I know a little too much about how instruments work. Not only the trumpet or trombone that I play, but I have a passing knowledge of how other musical instruments work as well. I know that if I see inaccuracies, I am going to be too judgmental on it. Sound! Euphonium is one of a few series where I didn’t have to think about that. So, Your Lie in April already walked in with two of my own mental strikes against it. After some convincing and seeing other people watch the show, I eventually decided that I needed to dive into this show and I’m glad I did. It was a good experience.
Your Lie in April is a story about a boy named Kousei Arima who was the quintennial kid prodigy on the piano. He was a kid that was known as the human metronome, because he could play a piece of any difficulty, but without any sort of emotion behind his playing. After winning one competition after another, he started influencing other kids and made them want to be prodigies in their own right. The twist behind this is he tried his best to play the piano, because his mother couldn’t anymore. She had a condition that stopped her body from moving, so Kousei practiced eight hours a day to win competitions and make her happy. Eventually, his mother starting physically abusing him. When Kousei’s mother finally passed away, he couldn’t hear the notes he was playing anymore and stopped playing the piano. Cut to two years in the future where Kousei meets this violin player who was full of energy and life and who started pushing Kousei out of his own shell to make him start playing again. This female violin player’s name was Kaori Miyazono. Insert “Kaori has the same disease as his mother” here, and you have Your Lie in April in a nutshell.
When I started watching this series, I couldn’t help but be annoyed by it for two reasons. The first one is that Your Lie in April started off as a cliché fanservice harem series to me. I mean, the set up was there. Kousei took a picture of the main girl Kaori and accidently got a panty shot of her, which she beat him up for. Then he also had the basic childhood friend, Tsubaki, who has been in love with him since childhood, Watari, the womanizing best friend, Emi, the piano yandere, and later on a loli character that also turns out to be in love with him. All the pieces were there, but Your Lie in April never went that direction. There was never any fanservice (besides the ridiculously short school skirts) and most of the series spent between on the relationship between Kousei and Kaori. Even then, the side characters were developed enough to became much more then clichés. That doesn’t mean that the female characters didn’t all fall in love with him in some way, but at least there was more reason then because the plot demands it and fanservice shenanigans. Also, Kousei develops a lot himself. From a character perspective, this show isn’t too bad.
The second reason is that nobody knew how to shut up. In the middle of musical performances, the judges and random audience members continually talked over the music. Why couldn’t this show let the music do the talking and then have the judges provide a commentary after the fact. Even without words, music is a very emotional medium. You can practically always feel the performer’s emotions behind what they are playing. I realize that this aspect might have been there because a lot of people who watch this aren’t into classical music, so that’s understandable and I got used to this as the anime moved on. This aspect was also a part of everyday life in the anime though. There was almost constant commentary over something. Then a lot of emotional moments were treated the way they should be treated in silence and that finally won me over.
From a visual stand point, Your Lie in April has is up and downs. From a character design perspective, their designs are generic. You can automatically tell what a character’s personality just by looking at their designs. This can both be a good thing and a bad thing. Then there is the animation itself. That’s kind of half and half. There are beautiful moments of animation, especially when characters play an instrument, in which you can see every detail of how they are playing an instrument (correctly) and the beautiful visuals that the audience was experiencing during the performance (why nobody couldn’t stop talking during these segments I don’t know). Then there were other times when the anime uses still frames and action lines to indicate movement. I don’t mind this though, the resources at hand were clearly were being saved for those awesome moments I indicated earlier.
After romance and tragedy, music is the next important thing that Your Lie in April revolves around. This anime is about musicians, of course the characters are going to play instruments. I also think that this is why I attached to this teenage drama series than any other series. I’m a musician and that’s just how I roll. The selection of music was kind of limited, mostly famous pieces by Bach and Chopin, but they are great songs to listen to when you can hear them through all the talking. I should also mention the special recorder piece in the beginning of the series that is clearly a reference to Castle in the Sky. The show’s soundtrack is great as well. Now for the bad part of music in this show, the first opening uses fake instruments. I realize that all the music budget probably went to the show itself, based on the fact of what kind of series this is, but don’t you think that is kind of terrible for a music centric anime to do? It shows how lazy they are. At least this was improved on, or hidden better, in the second opening.
Finally, I wanted to bring this up as my last point, isn’t hitting Arima through out the series kind of wrong? This was a kid that used to face physical abuse from his mother which is why he is the way he is at the beginning of the series. Don’t you think there is something wrong with him constantly getting beaten up by Kaori and Tsubaki? I know that this is more prevalent in the beginning then anything else, but still. The emotional whiplash from the dark and depressing stuff to ha-ha, our protagonist is getting beaten up by our female characters again, thing was incredibly annoying. This aspect was eventually smoothed out when Arima became more then just a passive character, but still. This is one of those cliché harem anime aspects that stuck around at the beginning of the show.
In the end, I really liked this show. It had some annoying moments, but Your Lie in April truly redeemed itself in my eyes when it proved how sincere it can be and how each of these characters grew up and their own voice. Watching Arima start out as this kid who barely held onto his love of music to finally returning to the concert hall was wonderful. He may have faced some tragedies and still does in this show, but he learns to accept them all and grow as a person. Even if this show didn’t hide what was going to happen and where it was going. In fact, that makes this show more impressive because even when the show foreshadowed so many things, none of those big moments ever lost their punch. In the end, I highly recommend this show, faults and all.