The Nihon Review - Anime Reviews & Editorials

Your Lie in April

Title: Your Lie in April aka Shigatsu wa Kimi no Uso
Genre: Drama
Company: A-1 Pictures
Format: 22 episodes
Dates: 09 Oct 2014 – 19 March 2015

Synopsis: Once an accomplished child pianist, musical prodigy Arima Kousei lost his drive to play the piano after a traumatizing event involving his mother at the tender age of eleven. Now a regular middle school student, Arima spends his days with his two best friends Watari and Tsubaki devoid of music. However, his life changes dramatically after meeting Miyazono Kaori, a pretty violinist every bit as brash as the way she plays.

The Highlights
Characters: Delightfully dynamic in general but never fully rounded out.
Animation: Absolutely gorgeous.
Musicality: Not quite as important as you would expect.
Edge of Your Seat FactorKeeps you hooked from the beginning and never lets go.

Your Lie in April feels like the delightful spiritual offspring of Cross Game and Nodame Cantabile. It does a beautiful job of creating chemistry between its main characters, who are a tight-knit group of friends reminiscent of Cross Game‘s intricate character relationships. At the same time, the show borrows Nodame‘s balance of seriousness and humor, alternating the two and weaving them into a musical theme that binds together the whole series.

One of the core areas in which the show particularly excels is its sense of grandeurnot only when it comes to the drama of the musical performances but also in its depiction of life in general. We learn of Kaori’s brash play-style filled plenty of liberties with the score or Kousei’s meticulous precision, and can see these aspects in their personalities both on and off-stage. Plenty of scenes not involving music are highly dramatized as well: when arguments erupt between Kousei one of the girls, tears are a guaranteed result. The constant drama maintains pacing and momentum throughout the entire show.

The series also demonstrates just how powerful animation as a medium can be. Benefiting from its main theme of music by incorporating diverse classical pieces, the show makes a visual splash with its detailed animation of each character’s fingers and hands as they perform. In addition, the use of color is particularly effective in emphasizing the general mood and, specifically, the emotions running through the characters.

Unfortunately, the series could have significantly developed more in terms of depth by better focusing on the more mundane aspects of its subject’s lives. Your Lie in April is an anime about music, but it doesn’t really spend any time discussing the intricacies of how the music is played differently by its characters in a way that makes the music feel integral to the show’s characterization. We see Kousei practicing or reading his score, but we never really go through the development of learning to play a piece differently or better. Instead, everything is told through other character’s dialogue, resulting in characterization more told than shown.

Furthermore, the non-stop drama for twenty-two episodes, while entertaining, leaves something to be desired in terms of emotional connectivity between the characters on screen and the viewer off screen. The characters all feel like they were specifically created to play out a cosmic drama. Kousei never really develops beyond the profile of an aloof child prodigy who’s also a nice guy, while Watari and Tsubaki aren’t truly individuals so much as typical best friend archetypes found in other anime. This is something that really separates the series from being a strong candidate for an outstanding show, and may have been solved if the series had more time to fully round out its characters.

Your Lie in April‘s flaws, however, are mostly only visible through the cracks of its veneer. It’s entirely possible to miss issues with the show’s characterization due to the frenetic way in which the drama develops as a whole. An animetic tour de force that grab you by the shoulders and chucks you through a whirlwind, the show’s well-balanced character chemistry and gorgeous animation elevate the core drama of the show to roller coaster heights right from the first episode.

The Rating: 8

Reviewed by: Kylaran

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