Thus marking my 1500th review here on Mikomi is this music-focused drama from 2014. Being one of the highly anticipated titles I laid eyes on from the Fall 2014 season, I have been holding off on seeing Your Lie in April over the past couple years since I was just recovering from anime burnout in 2014 and I cut down on the number of titles I watched from said season since quite a bit got my attention at that time. Focused on middle schooler Kousei being disinterested in playing piano since his mother's death, he encounters the lively and free-spirited violinist, Kaori, who works to restore the boy's interest in being a pianist. I'll admit the premise was a unique one that grabbed me into wanting to like Your Lie in April. But as I have had the opportunity to recently plow through the series, I've come to realize there is quite a mixed bag underneath the rose-colored glasses I wore for it.
Before I dig into the mixed elements of Your Lie in April, I suppose I can cover what the series does right. It does a believable job at exploring the rigorous expectations that Japanese society can put on their younger generation to succeed, this focused on in the world of music that Kousei, Kaori and other musicians have to strive for. These expectations can usually be too overbearing for the younger generation to grasp, being an integral part of Kousei's back story as he suffers from mental trauma playing the piano due to an apparent abusive relationship with his mother overpushing him to succeed as a pianist. Kaori serves to provide the support and motivation that Kousei needs to break out of his funk with her free-spirited approach to living and being defiant in musical competitions where rigid conforming to a musical score's interpretation is an integral element of them. This does create an inspirational message that you can choose to live up to your own expectations and not whatever others expect out of you.
Another prominent element to the series that I would have to praise is its presentation. Your Lie in April is a very beautiful series to look at in terms of artwork with gorgeous scenic shots and attractive-looking characters, each sporting vivid colors and a good amount of details. In regards to animation, there is fluid movement coming from characters as they move about and play instruments. The series will still cut corners with animation at points such as milking use of still shots, but still offers some great cinematography whenever Kaori and Kousei are performing any musical acts. The soundtrack to the series is just as great sporting a variety of classical musical pieces coming from the performances done by musicians, as well as dramatic and energetic tracks to accompany any mundane or serious developments in the title's storytelling.
Moving past praises, it is now time to explore the mixed baggage that comes in with Your Lie in April, perhaps the most central of this being the show's characters. To put things simply, the majority of characters outside of Kousei and Kaori contribute little to the series and are mostly insignificant in the grand scheme of things since they largely don't effect any of the developments occurring with Kousei and Kaori. While Tsubaki and Watari appear to be pushed as major characters as well in the series based on the title's promotional art, they are mostly defined by whatever typical school anime archetypes they are based around and get little in the way of fleshing out and development compared to our main leads.
Even Kousei and Kaori fall victim to the anime's shortcomings at points. The anime can go overboard at points with emphasizing the drama faced by both characters and this usually can make it hard to sympathize with both their struggles, this being more apparent with Kousei's spiraling mental condition. Also, Kaori's character is a bit of a double-edged sword where while she does have a lively personality and is fleshed out enough where she can't be defined by an archetype as Tsubaki and Watari could be, it mostly felt like she was some sort of plot device to drive along the developments of Kousei's character with the convenient timing she arrives in his life and coincidental tragic events that her character faces in the anime's second half that parallel what the boy faces with his mother.
But perhaps the most glaring issue I had with the series comes in the form of its comedy. The series resorts to an exaggerated approach to emphasize its comedic moments when characters interact with one another. While meant to help soften the anime's more tense plot developments, the comedy is often poorly timed in execution and clashes poorly with Your Lie in April's more mundane mood.
While certainly unique in the premise it offers up and is still a decent series in its own right, I believe the praise given to Your Lie in April from fans and critics may have been a bit exaggerated. Many characters have little to no relevance in its overall story, its drama can get too overbearing at points, and it could have used a different style of comedy if it really needed humor to lighten its mood at points. Still, the show's beautiful presentation and believable look at exploring the pressures on Japanese youth to succeed help prevent the series from being a forgettable one and is at least worth a watch.
Last updated Friday, January 20 2017. Created Friday, January 20 2017.
(One episode watched):
Music and teens, apparently. There's a guy, Kousei, who was once a piano prodigy, but he was good because his mother mercilessly hounded him into improving, not because he particularly liked playing the instrument. In fact, he came to hate it, and when his mother died something snapped and he can't do it anymore. It seems pretty obvious that this story will be about him rediscovering his talent and learning to enjoy playing the piano in his own way. But this premise isn't exactly novel, and I felt that Kousei still hadn't developed much of a personality at the end of episode one. I wish I could define exactly where the borderline between generic, uninteresting characters and likeable, engaging ones is, but that remains more of an art than a science. All I know for sure is that Kousei and his friends didn't excite me or make me want to know more about them and what happens to them. I don't get a feeling that Kousei will struggle with realistic emotional problems and overcome them in a believable manner. His problem seems to be nothing more than him not wanting to play the piano, not deep psychological scars. Perhaps the biggest problem of all was that the jokes largely fell flat and the frequent SD became annoying. When a new fansub of this series was released in 2020 I watched it because I had completely forgotten about this series and didn't realize I had already seen it 'til I came to this page. This show just doesn't excite me; both times I thought about watching another episode, but ultimately didn't.
Last updated Saturday, August 22 2020. Created Thursday, October 16 2014.
|Official Japanese Series Web Site