Tuesday, March 24, 2015

Shigatsu Wa Kimi No Uso (Your Lie In April) Review

"The world is not a wish-granting factory"

From the moment we are first born until to moment we die, we are not alone. And though more times than not it may feel like we are, we must overlook all of the pain and anguish -- all of those things that we are afraid of -- and slowly stumble forward in an attempt to lift our legs. This is something that I have learned from Naoshi Arakawa's Your Lie In April.

At first glance, Your Lie In April may seem like your typical teenage melodrama, laced with bits of music to brighten up the tone. However, within its first few episodes, we are graced with a coming-of-age story so unique and so vivid that it rivals even the most notable dramatic visual arts. Arima Kousei can no longer hear the sound of his piano. Following the death of his mother, any ties he had with music have been seemingly asphyxiated and tossed out the window. After years of constantly winning every tournament he would enter, Kousei hangs up his coat and tries to forget those times where he would play in front of hundreds upon thousands, all while just trying to make his mother proud of him. Then, one day, he meets Kaori Miyazono.

Kaori, much like Kousei, is a concert musician. The difference between them though, is her sheer optimism and drive to push forward. It quickly becomes evident that she not only plays to express her feelings, but that she just wants to be remembered by someone. And so she and Kousei embark on a journey together in which they try to recover his hearing and leave a lasting mark on anyone that they play in front of. That road, however, is just as difficult as you would think. Kousei must get over the death of his mother while, at the same time, battling feelings of romance and the slope that all teenagers must ascend on the way to adulthood. I might find it difficult to properly convey the sentimentality and immense beauty of all this, but I will try my best as I try and break Your Lie In April up piece by piece in order to better illustrate what is contained within it.

Music: 10/10
Your Lie In April does something that not nearly enough writers and directors try to do. It uses music as it's key force in conveying emotion. Throughout the course of the show, we come in contact with many different musicians, each with stories of their own. These stories, however, are best expressed when those musicians take to the stage. Splashes of Chopin, Mozart, and various other classical artists are all encased and modified within Your Lie In April. The background music is not only extremely touching, but extremely memorable and easily blends into the art of each scene, culminating in what becomes a completely seamless masterpiece. Until I watched this, I never experienced anything that utilized music the way Your Lie In April did. And I will never forget it. You can literally just listen to this anime most of the time and understand how each character feels when it is their turn to perform. Character development is usually one of the most gripping parts of not only anime, but all television. But when that development is done so often and so perfectly through the usage of music, the end result can be nothing but sheer beauty.

Characters: 10/10
A glorious ensemble of characters is another powerful force in driving this show forward. It sounds weird when I put it to words, but I often have a hard time connecting to male characters in anime. I feel like they are often disregarded and simplistic; I normally feel like more care is placed within the female characters. But Kousei Arima is the best and most realistic character of 2014. He faces so many problems and deals with them the same way that any other 14 year old kid would -- and a lot of the time that entails just curling up and not knowing what to do next. He encompasses fear and despair better than almost anyone else I have seen. Kaori, on the other hand, is the epitome of what everyone wishes they could be. Fearless in almost every situation, she is extremely inspiring and a delight to watch throughout all of her development. I could go on and on about the other characters in Your Lie In April, but it would take up the rest of this review. Each one is just so real that is almost impossible to not find a way to relate to them.

Art: 9/10
Your Lie In April is one of those shows where it took me a little while to really get a feel for the artwork. The thing is though, it is strikingly close to its manga counterpart, which came out coincidentally in April of 2011. And even though it took me a few episodes to really understand what they were going for in the art department, I eventually took a huge liking to it. It made sense. The characters' appearances were all very realistic (Except for Aiza and his crazy hair). This becomes a driving force in relating to them even further. Bearing some of the most enchanting landscapes and breathtaking lighting effects of the season, the art of this anime is just about as much of an endearing spectacle as the other aspects of it.

Story: 10/10
Drama has been and will always be my favorite genre when it comes to anime. I find it much easier to fall for animated characters than human ones, simply because they can express so much more. Humans have limits and animated characters don't, it's plain and simple. With that being said, coming-of-age stories will hit me ten times harder when they appear in this manner. And the coming-of-age story that is Your Lie In April is one of the best that I have seen. It is a textbook example of how a plot should unfold. The problem is stated in the beginning, the main characters go through obstacle after obstacle in order to solve it, more problems arise in result of that, and then it ends -- leaving you mystified and wanting more. My advice for you if you decide to pick this up is to go out and buy a box of tissues. Or two. Hell, buy seven. You'll need them come the later episodes.

Finding a show or a character you can relate to is not always an easy task to undertake. But when you do wind up finding one, everything revolving around that character essentially becomes somewhat of a symbol. You'll find some meaning or some personal connection within everything. Your Lie In April is done in a way where nearly everyone will be able to connect to it in some manner. With an ensemble so realistic and so well-crafted, it is easy to give this show a near perfect mark. It left a lasting impression on me and I hope from the bottom of my heart that it will do the same for you.

Overall Score: 9.5/10

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