Kousei Arima is a damaged former pianist who limits human interactions to his two best friends. Kaori Miyazono is a wild violinist who bursts into his life uninvited. Without hesitation, Kaori rapidly fills Kousei’s monotone life with vivid color. Kousei’s heart won’t let him play his instrument, but Kaori’s heart is expressed through her instrument. Can this unconventional violinist revive Kousei’s broken spirit with the music of her soul?
Based on the award-winning manga of the same name, Your Lie in April is a true masterpiece of emotion and relationships. Known as Shigatsu wa Kimi no Uso in Japan, this anime is a full and accurate adaptation of the source material. A completed series at 22 episodes, it began airing in Japan on October 9, 2014 and ended on March 19, 2015.
As the story begins, Kousei Arima is an unremarkable junior high student. He keeps to himself, has two friends and makes no waves anywhere he goes. But unbeknownst to his school, this unassuming boy is one of Japan’s most famous child piano prodigies. Or rather, he was. 2 years ago, Kousei’s abusive mother, who was also his piano teacher, died of a terminal illness. After a complete mental breakdown on stage, Kousei lost the ability to hear the notes that he played. Deeply scarred from the horrible memories surrounding piano, Kousei gave it up.
Then comes Kaori Miyazono. Exploding onto the scene with unmatched energy, her playing style captivates audiences but completely destroys the original intentions of the sheet music. Judges hate her “lack of respect for the score”, but her undeniable love of music reaches everyone else who hears her. Shortly after meeting Kousei, she convinces him to play the piano as her accompanist for her next performance. No ifs ands or buts, Kousei is forced back into music practically kicking and screaming.
Kaori’s cheerful but sometimes violent approach brings all of Kousei’s pain to the surface. But as he battles through issues he’s allowed to lie unresolved, his life takes a turn he never expected.
The hero of our story, Kousei is a quiet, gentle boy who appears to be constantly bossed around by his two best friends. His normal life today doesn’t much reflect his early brilliance as a pianist, but inwardly he can never quite forget it. He suffers from a great deal of psychological trauma thanks to his harsh and self-centered mother. Under certain circumstances, he shows distinct symptoms of PTSD.
A chaotic force of nature who manages to touch the lives of everyone she meets. She’s a passionate violinist who likes to do things her own way. Despite what she should do, despite what people tell her to do, despite what tradition demands. Her hyper-cheerful demeanor hides a dark secret that will rip apart the people who surround her.
Kousei’s childhood friend, who grew up next door to him. Bigger and stronger than Kousei, Tsubaki has been treating him like a little brother ever since they were tiny. She’s known to be more “brawn than brains”, but that’s a rather unfair assessment of her. Inside that thick skull lies a brain that can get her any grade she needs. And even better, underneath her bluster and physical prowess beats a heart that would give anything for her friends.
Kousei and Tsubaki’s childhood friend, Ryouta has been there through every up and down of Kousei’s life. Captain of the school soccer team, Ryouta is extremely popular with girls and hates to limit himself to just one at a time. His frivolous attitude make his occasional piercing insights all the more shocking. Nevertheless, he does truly care about his friends and is always there to do what he can to help pick them back up again.
With emotive camera angles, grounded animation and vivid colors, this anime is a treat to view. A common theme throughout the story is Kousei’s seeing the world as “monotone”, and the animation adjusts saturation to reflect his vision.
There are very few visual flaws in this gorgeous anime. Except that in episode 1, Tsubaki tells us that Kousei’s eyes are “warm brown”. When they are very clearly deep blue. It’s strange and distracting, especially since this comment was made in relation to the lack of sparkle in Kousei’s eyes. His brown eyes are contrasted with Tsubaki’s brown eyes, which have a great deal of light despite their color.
Other than that, the animation is nothing but pleasant and beautiful to behold.
Being an anime about classical musicians, the music had to be up to par with this exact and powerful style. And it certainly was.
Most remarkable was the playing of the characters themselves. There’s a great deal of dialog talking about the styles of the different musicians as they play, so the music had to keep up with the glowing or harsh terms used. And it totally did. Beautiful, passionate, crude, monotonous, whatever the story called for the music gave.
Your Lie in April is packed with believable and engaging characters, beautiful animation and gorgeous classical music that tells as much of the story as the dialog. Since it’s a complete series, you could watch the whole thing in one epic weekend binge session. It’s only a bit over 7 hours in total. But you probably shouldn’t do that. Since with that much beautiful music and those compelling characters, if you don’t take a break you might end up being coerced into playing piano yourself.