Shigatsu wa Kimi no Uso (2015)

To start off, I’m not a fan of classical music. I don’t hate it nor do I particularly look out for it to listen to. I don’t really give two shits stuck in a clogged can about it. Most of the classical music I have on my phone that I lend an ear to from time to time comes from Nodame Cantabile, that one radio station in Sleeping Dogs, couple tracks plucked from several anime over the years, and recommendations from a chick I know. So, when I tell you that the cream of Shigatsu wa Kimi no Uso (Your Lie In April – will shorten to YOLO YLiA) is that godly soundtrack then, baby, you better believe it.

The Openings and Endings were generic ‘meh’ material. I did not like them. The ‘plot music’ and the background music… now those were stunning.

When the MC, Kousei the prodigy pianist, plays like a moron then the music sounds like a damned deaf mute trying to tell you what he thinks a piano sounds like. When his piano playing, along with his character as a whole, transforms over the course of the show then your excited little ears will be thanking you for that auditory orgasm. The violin, by Kousei’s love interest who is called Kaori, plays twice or thrice and in all of those instances, it’s powerful.

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Me enjoying the sound.

BUT this is not an anime about a person’s journey on the harsh walkway of melody making. Nor is this (entirely) about musical self-discovery. YLiA is a melodramatic romance tragedy (of sorts) and therefore the story takes precedence. The music is pretty much akin to peaches in an orchard. The peaches are there but the trees are either not there or dying.

Synopsis From MyAnimeList: Music accompanies the path of the human metronome, the prodigious pianist Kousei Arima. But after the passing of his mother, Saki Arima, Kousei falls into a downward spiral, rendering him unable to hear the sound of his own piano.

Two years later, Kousei still avoids the piano, leaving behind his admirers and rivals, and lives a colorless life alongside his friends Tsubaki Sawabe and Ryouta Watari. However, everything changes when he meets a beautiful violinist, Kaori Miyazono, who stirs up his world and sets him on a journey to face music again.

Based on the manga series of the same name, Shigatsu wa Kimi no Uso approaches the story of Kousei’s recovery as he discovers that music is more than playing each note perfectly, and a single melody can bring in the fresh spring air of April.

To be honest, the plot is extremely straight-forward for an anime relying on melodrama. There are no twists and there’s no subtlety to anything. The ending that should have been a ‘POW oh noooooes’ is pretty much realized in like the fourth or fifth episode. The problem here isn’t the story. Simple stories can be wonderful experiences – just look at Erased. The flaws of YLiA basically fall in the execution of the story and the characters.

Let’s get to the story first.

The story starts out strong. Kousei is suffering from musical PTSD and Kaori comes along to help him out of his mess. It’s ultimately about a romance between a mentally sick guy and a physically ill girl and how they try to heal one another with music. It’s about accepting guilt, moving forward, making up for your mistakes, and trying to make sure you bury yourself again. Even though it all sounds cheesy as hell, it still seems like a pretty Gouda deal of a story.

Unfortunately, it falls short in delivering what it should have and so we’re left with an ambitious talent-show entry that had insufficient preparation time. It starts off all at a comfortable pace but slow downs a lot which each passing episode until a specific event occurs after which the the last few episodes rush to the ending. There is a lot of repetitive monologue in every episode. First, it’s about Kousei’s horrible mother for eight episodes or so. Then it transitions to his interactions with his friends. Then it swings into Kaori-blues. The last three episodes are 25 minutes (of around 60) of flashbacks we’ve already seen ten times before.

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*muffled static and monologue playing*

Now to the characters. The only characters who get proper development and sculpting are Kousei, his childhood female friend who likes him called Tsubaki, and his two piano rivals. How Kousei slowly morphs from a crying mess into a man and even superbly (thank you, proper progression) deals with the finale is an excellent ordeal to follow.
Kaori is only developed in the last episode. For most of the show, she’s seems like a violent, cheery, somewhat mellow plot device. Sure, the dynamic between her and Kousei will pull your heart’s strings but a little fleshing out before the finale would have made the overall story much better, in my opinion.

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Right before one of the best scenes in the show.

The rest of the cast, even though they are fun to follow, should have either gotten more screen time or less than they actually got. Seeing the focus shift from the main duo to the side-characters for a long 12 consecutive episodes (half the anime!) was somewhat like ‘throwing the game’. That’s because it just a bit after Kaori is confirmed ill as shit…

 

Animation is done by A-1 pictures and it’s bright with lots of colour (and lack of) and beautiful contrast between the environments and the characters especially when their health and emotions come into play. There’s some CGI during the piano playing but, thankfully, it’s for a few seconds.

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The animation is highly expressive – even in the ‘between frames’.

 

To summarize, YLiA is a good show that would have been loads better if it didn’t have it’s pacing issues and the bad move of shifting focus elsewhere midway through the anime’s course after a major plot event. Also, the monologue loop should have been dealt away with and the show tried to be too comical at times which was off-putting a few times. Slap-stick should have been avoided.

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This occurs after one of the many whine-ologues.

Objective score is 7.5/10. If my doki-doki’s (ba-dump ba-dump) and enjoyment of that amazing soundtrack were to come into play then it would rise to an 8.

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