Along came a brave little girl who took what was left of her short, fragile life and ran with it, pell-mell right in front of the boy she liked, the music she loved and the food she loved and the rest, as clichéd as this sounds, is history.
I’m referring of course to the anime above:
Shigatsu Wa Kimi No Uso
Your Lie in April
Here is an anime all about embracing your life, taking joy in it and expressing yourself through the absolute joy that is music. Throughout its 22 episode run, Your lie in April touches heartstrings and provokes smiles and tears alike. It’s a soft, subdued and gushing tale of teenage love and music. Sit down and enjoy the ride.
The premise is simple enough: Arima Kousei, a child prodigy on the piano bumps into Miyazono Kaori, who herself is a child prodigy on the violin. He gets to know her as the girl in love with his best friend, Watari Ryota and she gets to know him as Watari Ryota’s other friend next to Sawaki Tsubaki. And amidst all the hanging out and accompanying her violin pieces on his piano, Kousei Arima grows and falls, hard.
It’s a story that’s been told numerous times but as much as the overarching plot has been retold over and over and over, Your Lie in April paints it a whole new way. I could talk endlessly about the animation, the music and the storyboard but I think I’ll think to what stood out the most: the emotional well in the story.
You’d think the story of a couple of friends hanging out and jamming together is an equation for a happy ending but oh lord was I wrong. The story runs deep, deep here and pulls and tugs the viewers into and out of it with frustrating regularity. And no matter how clueless you are about classical music (I’ll admit it, I can handle a piano but I don’t know the first thing about actual music theory), this will draw you in. It’s not about the Chopin or the Bach that our friend Kousei is playing, it’s about the story he’s telling or the picture he’s painting through the music and my god have the developers done some wonderful animation work in showing us that. Ranging from faceless demons hiding behind his shoulder to clouds floating by his head, the anime just jumps up in terms of quality whenever someone’s tinkling the ivories. And don’t even get me started on the soundtrack.
But the story is so delicately balanced between happiness and sadness, it’s perfect. Unlike Anohana, the only other anime that made me feel like the world ended, where every episode hit the viewer hard and unrelentingly with scenes of characters breaking down, Your Lie in April holds back and reserves itself. There’s tones throughout the entire anime of something deeper and sadder than what seems to be going on but until the last moment, you expect everything to work out.
Your Lie in April handles the concept of hope very well. Everyone in this story is hoping for something and some of them succeed and some of them, sadly, don’t. This realistic portrayal of the bittersweet end of hopes and dreams are probably what hits the viewers hard. Whereas Anohana dealt, gratuitously and rather heavily I might add, in death, grief and mourning Your Lie in April doesn’t bog itself down with any of that. The anime is filled with joy and happiness, the scenery and the backgrounds drip with lush tones and the soundtrack is bright, lilting and masterful to say the least. And yet this is definitely a sad story, a story of kids growing up, facing demons, struggling to survive, realizing and losing dreams and ultimately, as the sweet cherry on top of this profoundly bittersweet anime, music.