Review: Your Lie in April


December 9, 2015

Shigatsu wa Kimi no Uso, or Your Lie in April as it is called in the English translation, is an incredibly unique series. While there is certain other content with a very similar feel, Your Lie in April brings a twist unlike a majority of other series I have seen, and that twist is music. The music in this series is both beautiful and sorrowful, fitting the overall theme incredibly well and further enhancing the series to be something unlike what I’ve read before.

Story

The story of Your Lie in April is rather simple and somewhat cliche. That is not to say that the story is bad to any stretch of the imagination. In fact, much like one of the general themes of being unique and just being yourself, the series takes the plot in new and unexpected ways over and over again. Ultimately, however, it is the individual characters that serve to support the story and work through these cliches, and because the characters are so distinct and lovable it brings this tired plot to life.

While as a whole the plot was not boring, there is some confusion regarding the emotions and love triangles evident in the series. It may just be my laziness, but I became quickly confused with who was in love and who loved the leads, especially when the rival pianist Emi is introduced. It is implied that she has feelings for the male lead Arima, but with her temperamental character it quickly becomes hard to deduce her intentions. While a quick Google search can alleviate the confusion quickly, a reader shouldn’t have to look something up to answer questions that the story has left unanswered, which acts to detract from the story overall.

Regarding the ending I would be giving away a major spoiler and wish to refrain from talking directly about it, but when it comes down to it, the ending is both incredibly sad, heart-rending even, and incredibly fulfilling, leaving the reader with a sense of closure and an end to the personal story arcs for our characters. Ultimately, however, I found the simple story easy to follow if a bit predictable at times. It makes a few minor alterations to the standard to make it a unique experience.

Art

The art is one of the best facets of this series hands down. The art is done in a realistic fashion. The character designs are meticulous and beautiful with character designs that are distinct enough from each other to easily differentiate everyone from one another. A special amount of detail and precision, however, has to go for any of the concert scenes. Each of these scenes has incredible visual detail and is made to feel decidedly epic. Each of these scenes surpasses the last with more emotion and feeling put into every panel to make it as though the reader themselves are at the concert.

In contrast the quiet and loving scenes such as Kaori and Arima practicing together in the music room is made to feel relaxed and open with good use of open space to give a welcoming and enjoyable scene. Other quiet scenes of note are any of the outdoor scenes, especially nighttime scenes, which are beautifully depicted in such a fashion that makes the scenes in question magical. A special mention should go to the art for the starfields and sky, both of which play an important symbolic role for the leads.

They are depicted in beautiful detail and are truly incredible. Overall the art style works well for the story and is made easily distinguishable from other Shoujo style art and is a wonderful addition to the series. However if the art is marred by anything at all it would have to be the style of the slapstick in the series, and while I understand it is present to alleviate tension in the reader, it felt rushed and was sloppy looking in comparison to the rest of the designs present. But when it comes right down to it the art is by far some of the best I have seen in a long while and rightly deserves praise. More than anything I would love to see a full color edition of the manga be released to fully enjoy the art and design of this series.

Characters

As previously stated the characters in this manga are what keep the story from falling apart with the lead characters Kousei Arima and Kaori Miyazono being well developed with a smidgen of cliche added to ground the characters to certain tropes of the traditional Shoujo style, a style of manga focused on romance or other “girly” things. Starting from the top is Kousei who is a piano prodigy. Trained by his abusive mother he has become one of the most skillful musicians, playing the score the composer set for him perfectly. But because of his own feelings and his mother’s death he has given up playing the piano; that is until he is introduced to the female lead.

The female lead is the lovable Kaori Miyazono, a violinist who is in love with the male lead Arima’s best friend. She is funny, impulsive, and kind with a nurturing side towards children and animals. Most of all, she is skilled in her art. However, when it comes to how she plays her music is where she becomes more interesting. Kaori is a musician not bound by the strict score the other musicians are so fond of. Her style is in direct contrast with that of Arima’s, which helps fuel the central conflict Arima has early on.

The supporting cast is chock full of interesting characters, but most predominantly are Arima’s best friend and captain of the middle school soccer team Watari, and the childhood friend of Arima’s Tsubaki. Each of these characters is given full character development and towards the end are borderline full protagonists in their own right. More specifically with Tsubaki and her quest to truly understand her emotions and try to open up to the one she loves.

Other supporting cast are the rival pianists of Emi and Takeshi who have set their sights on Arima due to their interactions with him in the past, as well as famed pianist and Kousei’s caretaker, Seto Hiroko, and Takeshi’s younger sister Nagi. Now to tackle the elephant in the room, Saki Arima. Saki is the deceased mother of Kousei and was incredibly strict with him in his piano that she could be considered abusive. While the character herself makes me incredibly uncomfortable, she is necessary to further the plot and serve as an antagonist for the early parts of the story, as well as doubling as a representation of Kousei’s guilt. In conclusion the characters were fun and had great motivation and reactions which serve as a supportive pillar to the weaker story.

Enjoyment

I don’t have words to describe my true enjoyment of this series. Having finished it and upon writing this review I can’t help but relate this feeling I have for this series to that of Clannad and Anohana, as they are rather similar in concept and tone, eliciting an emotional response from the reader. I love this series and I highly recommend it. The anime adaptation is also spot on. It follows the manga well and comes with a strong recommendation as well. Moreover I was moved so deeply by this series that I wanted to share my thoughts in a review for the first time ever. If after 15 years of anime and manga fandom one series can move someone to do this I would say it was incredibly enjoyable.

Overall I find Your Lie in April to be incredibly fun and unique, with a heart-rending plot and a great theme. Just remember to be yourself and the rest of it will fall into place.

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