Monday, February 15, 2016

Reaction To: Your Lie In April Dub Premiere (Katsucon 2016)

It's like this show was designed to be rewatched.

What They Say:
Kousei Arima was a genius pianist until his mother’s sudden death took away his ability to play. Ever since then, each day was dull for Kousei. One day, he meets one violinist by the name of Kaori Miyazono. This care-free, independent, and sometimes short-tempered girl had an eccentric playing style that immediately fascinated Kousei. His once monotonous life was about to change forever.

The Reaction:
(This article will be spoiler free in order to make it readable for all audiences)
About a year and a half ago, I was introduced to a series that would go on to make waves in terms of my feelings on topics like relationships, optimism/pessimism, friendship, and so many other themes that are commonly overlooked in anime. When I first started watching Your Lie In April (Or Shigatsu Wa Kimi No Uso), I was immediately floored by its ability to captivate and entrap me almost right off the bat. Now, not even two years later, Aniplex has graced myself as well as so many others touched by the series with an English dub and two upcoming blu-ray box sets.

The dub made its premiere on Saturday at 7:00PM EST (Katsucon 2016). With Katsucon being one of the few conventions I attend each year, it was a given that I would toss everything else happening aside in order to attend this extremely special event. And I say "extremely special" because it was truly an intimate and touching two-hour panel that would far surpass everything else from the convention this year. Moments after taking my seat near the front, Aniplex sent forth a spectacular Kaori Miyazono cosplayer (Equipped with violin and all) to annihilate the hearts of the crowd. As the lights dimmed and everyone in the audience fell silent, the cosplayer began an emotional violin recital of various songs from the series that we all grew to know and love during its 22-week course. After playing for ten minutes or so, Kaori left the center of the room and the reps from Aniplex gave a little introduction to the magic we were about to witness. Of course, that wouldn't be until they surprised us again with the announcement of Erica Mendez (The voice of Tsubaki) being among us in the crowd.

And then the room went dark.

The first thing that all of us saw on the screen wasn't the anime itself, but instead, a discussion lead by the show's ADR Director/Scriptwriter, Patrick Seitz, as well as the four core cast members. Throughout the discussion, the audience came to know just how important this show was to not only the rest of the crowd, but the actors themselves. Considering the emotional rollercoaster that this series grows to be, it was not surprising hearing stories of tears in the studio to coincide with the tears that we, the viewers shed. Once the discussion wrapped up, it was like a tidal wave of magic and sorrow washed over us as Kaori appeared on the screen.

That's when the feelings came back. Just seconds into the show, myself and so many others started tearing up. It was like this series was created to be watched again, beckoning for our hearts to slow down and for our faces to grow red as we remembered the times we shared with the series. So many subtle shots in the very beginning of the series served as callbacks to things we learned, later on, that were witnessing from a new, more informed perspective now. But this wasn't just designed so that those re-watching the series would be hit harder. Even those that were seeing the series for the first time were choked up just moments after the dub started.

And what a dub it was.

Each of the four main characters fit the original Japanese seiyuu in a way that was almost unprecedented. With voices sculpted in a way that evoked feelings of nostalgia and passion. The American actors must have truly done their homework, because it felt like each one of them had become the character they were portraying. And this isn't just me being biased because of how special Your Lie In April is to me. In fact, with the speakers being English this time around, I may have developed even more of a connection to the show. The emotion and inflection packed in every single line was crystal clear. In both the sorrowful and the joyful moments, it was almost like I was there. And it was truly an experience unlike anything else I've seen before -- and I've been to other dub premiers as well to back that up.

There was just something different about this, and that difference can be attributed to the wonderful direction (And scriptwriting) from Patrick Seitz. Through just that short discussion before the series I mentioned earlier, it was easy to uncover just how much Seitz cared about Your Lie In April. It was like he put himself into each character's shoes and discovered the intricate inner workings of all of them. And, as I mentioned before, it was faithfully backed by his actors. 

After the first three episodes played consecutively, the lights came back on and Aniplex took the stage again. After our eyes readjusted to the light and our sleeves grew wet from mopping up our tears, Erica Mendez made her way up front for a quick Q&A before raffling off some autographed Your Lie In April gear -- including a unique poster signed by the original producer of the series (That, I kid you not, I lost by one number. This is the last time I bring a friend to a convention).

The dub for Your Lie In April isn't your typical anime dub. It's intimate, passionate, and beaming with personal connections from the actors and director. For those who use English as their first language, this might even surpass the source content of the series (Which was an A+ in itself). There was just a certain quality to this premier that overtook and consumed everything else in my life until it ended. Honestly, I would have stayed in that room and watched the entire series over and over again. It was an escape from reality, and I'm absolutely positive that I'm not the only one who felt that way.

English Dub Grade: A+

Your Lie In April is set to release its first blu-ray volume on 3/29/2016, with a second volume coming on 5/31/2016. The specs and features for each are as follows: 

Your Lie In April Blu-ray Box Set Vol. 1
Spoken Languages: English/Japanese
Subtitles: English/Spanish
Episodes: 1-11
Number Of Discs: 3 Blu-ray discs
Total Run Time: Approx 250 min.
Rating: 13+
MSRP: $129.98
Bonus Content (On disc): Textless OP/ED, English commentary (Ep. 1)
Bonus Content (Physical): Original Soundtrack CD Vol. 1 (Masaru Yokoyama), Collectible Postcards, Original Box Illustration (Naoshi Arakawa), Original BD Case Cover (Yukiko Aikei)

Your Lie In April Blu-Ray Box Set Vol. 2
Spoken Languages: English/Japanese
Subtitles: English/Spanish
Episodes: 12-22
Number Of Discs: 3 Blu-ray discs
Total Run Time: Approx 250 min.
Rating: 13+
MSRP: $129.98
Bonus Content (On disc): Textless OP/ED, English commentary (Ep. 22), Bloopers
Bonus Content (Physical): Original Soundtrack CD Vol. 2 (Masaru Yokoyama), Collectible Postcards, Original Box Illustration (Naoshi Arakawa), Original BD Case Cover (Yukiko Aikei)

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