It seems like every other anime season, there’s a show that always manages to get people to say that they got really emotional and teary-eyed during it, better known as “TEH FEELZ!!” Yes, people, I used that phrase and it’s not going away any time soon.
Oh, and this is a show about music. That’s always interesting to know especially since one of my favorite anime, Kids on the Slope, happens to be about music or have musical elements to it and looking at this one, Your Lie in April does have something with a lot of potential.
Then again, I always say that about most anime having a lot of potential. I’d be right 60% of the time.
Oh, and I see this is a noitanimA show and it aired at the Fall 2014 season….the same season I choose to watch…..Psycho-Pass 2…..instead of this, yeah, let’s get on with the review now.
Piano prodigy Kousei Arima dominated the competition and has become famous among child musicians. After his mother, who was also his instructor, died, he had a mental breakdown while performing at a piano recital at the age of eleven. As a result, he is no longer able to hear the sound of his piano even though his hearing is perfectly fine. Two years later, Kousei hasn’t touched the piano and views the world in monochrome, without any flair or color. He has resigned himself to living out his life with his good friends, Tsubaki and Watari, until, one day, a girl changes everything. Kaori Miyazono, a fourteen-year old audacious, free-spirited violinist whose playing style reflects her manic personality, helps Kousei return to the music world and shows that it should be free and mold breaking unlike the structured and rigid style Kousei was used to.
So, throughout the whole show, it shows that Kousei is a very established and known child musician and it shows as he is a brilliant one but after going through breakdowns, his mother being disappointed in him and even beating the living shit out of him for his mistakes (even if they were small ones) and the last thing he said to his mother before her death……you can’t blame him for giving that up and want to stay away from it. I mean, I like that it shows that going through that is difficult to get back up into and not just for Kousei but the other young pianists in there, too, who did struggle with wanting to be the best in their game but feels like what they have done isn’t good enough or they think they’ve failed and need to try harder next time. The stress being a prodigy or trying to get on another level is highly relatable to people not just on music but almost any profession or anything and this does make up for great drama for the series and that is the best aspect of this series.
When it comes to the comedy and the love triangle aspects, it loses points for that. I’m serious because whenever we gets this emotional moment, the transition to its comedy is clumsy and I really hate the comedy in here if you can call it that. Most of it is just tropes out of romantic comedy anime that really frustrates me or have me roll my eyes and irritably sigh at. I get some of the scenes are supposed to help Kousei but most of the time it doesn’t. Not to mention some scenes felt like they were set-up to do that, particularity that scene in the first episode when Kousei discovers Kaori playing the melodica in the park with some kids and the wind was blowing. She’s wearing a dress. He has his camera-phone out. Guess what happens next?
Yeah, the typical misunderstanding scene that has me cringing every time a scene like that plays and I’ll get to the love triangle thing in a few.
Other than that, I thought the story was handled well with one area in need of getting rid of or just fixing.
Thinking about characters in this show, they were portrayed as cordial and flawed individuals that we as an audience do care about even if sometimes we get annoyed by most of them. Kousei has the most complex character development in the show as I mentioned before overcoming his past trauma. However, with the rest of the characters, there really isn’t much to say for them. Kaori is the girl that helps Kousei on his journey and she comes across that girl with the manic personality but feel sorry for her because she [CENSORED FOR SPOILERS!] and not to mention [CENSORED FOR SPOILERS!] Like I said, most of the other characters play their type such as Watari, captain of the soccer team and later-on boyfriend to Kaori and he’s basically the cheer ’em on guy who loves the ladies a lot. Granted that part isn’t annoying about him, it’s just there. And there’s Tsubaki, who is Kousei’s childhood friend, and she plays for the softball team.
Oh, that love triangle? It happened again…..I think. Because in here, it’s obvious that Kaori has a crush on Kousei but she’s dating Watari and not only that, Tsubaki has feelings for Kousei, too, and, it shows. The writing’s on the wall with this because they laid down the traps of a triangle with all the things I mentioned above. Granted, it didn’t blow over like the last show I reviewed (the one before Akame) but it just felt vanilla at that point. Other characters include Takeshi Aiza and Emi Igawa, young pianists who admired Kousei for his performance but not that fond of him later on. Takeshi has a sister named Nagi who wants to learn to play the piano like her big brother. Hiroko Seto is another renowned pianist whose friends with Saki (Kousei’s mom) and took Kousei in as a guardian after she passed and also my favorite character on the show. She has a daughter named Koharu, kawaii and all. Characters aren’t half bad although a bit cliché sometimes.
Animation-wise, once you seen any A-1 Pictures show………this is their standard when it comes to shows like this. The art and backgrounds look amazing and there’s no doubt about that and a special mention goes to animating the musical performances there. However, the comedic animation when it comes to that humor and the antics does bring it down some points for me.
Since this is an anime about music, the musical performances of the characters performing Chopin, Beethoven, Tchaikovsky, etc (and this is coming from me, who isn’t into classical music that much) easily outshines the opening and ending songs for the shows and it’s not that those are bad as the first opening “Hikaru Nara” sung by Goose House was listenable but the other opening and endings never struck a chord of wanting to listen to them before and after the episode. I mainly skip them to the next episode and all that with the score was nicely done by Masaru Yokoyama.
Yes, I know I sound like a broken record when it comes to dubs by Bang Zoom but so far, they haven’t disappointed me in the slightest and I think as of now, they are stronger than before when it comes to dubbing more slice-of-life anime. Well-known veteran voice actor Patrick Seitz is the ADR director and writer of this series and the man does the show justice with this and continues to show the growing talents of Max Mittleman (Kousei), Kyle McCarley (Watari) and Eri…..basically all three Eric(k)a’s are in this show with Lindbeck being Kaori, Mendez with Kaori and Harlacher with Emi. Two other performances I really dug was Wendee Lee as Saki and Carrie Keranen as Hiroko.
FINAL VERDICT: Your Lie in April accomplishes writing something about overcoming your past trauma that does resonate with many people who went through this. However, it’s not the critically acclaimed heart-wrenching drama that every anime fan and critic claim it is. It has those points but gets dragged down by the inconsistent comedy and some predictable writing choices. The show plays more as a slice-of-life drama with some musical elements instead of the other way around. It’s good to view once in a while but if you’re into this show, then it’s practically something you would love and want to own.
To say I hate it is a lie in its own words…actually I give it a
7/10 – it’s OK.
At this time, YOUR LIE IN APRIL is coming on Blu-ray from Aniplex of America March 29th (HA! So at the end of March) and on May 31st (And the end of May but not in April!). Streaming options are on Crunchyroll, Hulu, Daisuki and Netflix (with the dub to watch as well if you want to try before you buy).
This has been MAK2.0 aka The Blue Hybrid, bringing the musical elements and hopefully I’m not lying about it.
YOUR LIE IN APRIL – animation by A-1 PICTURES / licensed by ANIPLEX OF AMERICA