Shigatsu wa Kimi no Uso (’14/08 – ’15/03)

Arima Kousei (Hanae Natsuki) is a piano prodigy who has been unable to play music in the two years following his mother’s death. This changes when the intrepid and hot-headed, but undeniably beautiful Miyazono Kaori (Taneda Risa) charges head first into his life and demands that he become her accompanist at an upcoming violin competition. Arima hesitates, but his childhood friends Sawabe Tsubaki (Sakura Ayane) and Watari Ryouta (Osaka Ryota) turn out to be extremely supportive. This pushes him onto the road back to music, which forces him to face his old demons and to shape his identity as a musician and an artist.

01

Narrative
In terms of both plot and style, this anime is a cut above its peers in the romcom genre. Nauseating sentimentality is a common fault of Japanese shoujo anime (lit. girl anime) and Shigatsu wa Kimi no Uso falls into its trappings, too, although it does so with so much sincerity that one can’t help giving in to the emotions that tug mercilessly at one’s heart. There is a relatable theme for everyone in this anime, whether it’s the struggles of a teenager to find a place in the world, the pain of losing a parent, or the bitterness of unrequited affection. Moreover, the story is technically satisfying. It comes full circle sweetly and satisfactorily, and if you’re wondering what the ‘lie’ referred to in the title is, the answer is in the final episode. Rest assured that the minor arcs embedded in each of the episodes will prove engaging as well, and beneficial in making the main arc richer and more piercing.

Characters
Although not all of the cast are given a deep character analysis, the ones who are given attention make the spotlight directed on them worth it. Arima’s motivations, for example, are explained so vividly that one bleeds for him, one cries for him, despite never having experienced anything similar to what he has gone through. It is also an excellent decision to delve into only a few characters, as this turns the anime into a classic case of quantity vs quality. At the very least, the relationship of each of the characters to Arima Kousei is well explored, which adds focus to the narrative and makes Arima’s musical journey even more personal by the last episode.

Arima Kousei is a piano prodigy who hasn't played music since his mother's death.
Arima Kousei is a piano prodigy who hasn’t played music since his mother’s death.

Perhaps my only beef with the characters in terms of either design or dialogue, is that the middle-school-age cast are collectively, unnaturally mature for their age. It’s hard to believe that fourteen year old students could be capable of spouting such deep and reverberating epiphanies. Arima could be qualified as an exception, given he had to grow up quickly after all the sorrow he had gone through, but I personally still find him too mature for a fourteen year old. To be fair, the kids’ lines aren’t unbelievably complicated – in fact, they revolve mainly around everyday things like popsicle sticks, sports teams, and cake. The extremely heavy aura surrounding its characters, however, makes Shigatsu wa Kimi no Uso difficult to place in an ordinary middle school setting. Transplant the story to a high school setup or even to a college setup, and its gravity would still make sense.

Miyazono Kaori is a violinist who plays to the beat of her own heart.
Miyazono Kaori is a violinist who plays to the beat of her own heart.

Music
This anime, aside from being a romcom, also explores the life of a budding musician – albeit an extremely talented one, whose skills are taken almost as a given – so a lot of beautiful music is showcased. The type of music shown here is classical, and because a huge part of the plot has to do with music competitions and concert-level performances, the pieces are compositions of major European composers like Chopin and Beethoven. To a music novice like me, the central pieces all sound vaguely alike – enthralling, but so much like each other. The variety and the nuances between the compositions, however, are revealed to the ordinary viewer mainly through the imagery that is given when these pieces are played. Colors are utilized often – for example, red for passion, and pink for sorrow.

The BGM of the anime is a good combination of pop and classical music, and the songs have the saddest, most profound lyrics. The bubblegum pop songs balance out the heavy classical pieces, creating an exciting range of tunes to complement the art and the narrative of the anime.

Overall
I’m a fan of anime, but I tend to stay away from the emotional ones – my favorite genres are mecha and supernatural / horror. When a friend tells me that they cried over a particular anime, I make it a point to stay away from that anime, as I don’t enjoy having my emotions manipulated. Still, I absolutely enjoyed this show, and despite my stubbornness, I found myself tearing up at Episode 13. It was a long time coming.

More than anything, Shigatsu wa Kimi no Uso reminded me of what’s it’s like to be human – to feel, to struggle, to want to be alive. So rarely does an anime make one relish one’s humanity. If anything, I’ve always thought anime were supposed to an escape from reality, a means to forget. But for one afternoon, I watched 22 episodes of the wonderful Shigatsu wa Kimi no Uso and felt hopeful again. For that, I will always be grateful that I watched it, fears of tears notwithstanding.

02

This blog gives Shigatsu wa Kimi no Uso 5 out of 5 stars.

International Title: Your Lie in April.
Language: Japanese.
Produced by: A-1 Pictures.
Genre: Romance | Music | Coming-of-Age | Drama.
Music by: Yokoyama Masaru.
Written by: Arakawa Naoshi (manga) | Yoshioka Takao (anime).
Directed by: Ishiguro Kyouhei.

Video (c) Animes-ZI14.

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2 thoughts on “Shigatsu wa Kimi no Uso (’14/08 – ’15/03)

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