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Welcome to the Imouri Anime Review, where people vote for an anime that the Imouri team will review. The anime will be reviewed using these four criteria; Story, Animation, Character Development, and World-Building. Each category will be given of score (1-10), and then an overall score will be determined.
This month we focused on sadness. The theme is Sad Spring May. The users from the Secret Anime Club voted for three sad anime titles. After voting ended, the anime that got the most votes was Your Lie in April for the May 2021 review.
Your Lie in April follows the story of Kousei Arima, a piano prodigy in the world of competitive musicians. When his mother dies due to an illness, he suffers a mental collapse, resulting in him not hearing the sound of his piano. However, he is perfectly fine on the outside. Two years after the event, Kousei sees the world as dull and monochrome due to his past traumatic experience. His friend Tsubaki Sawabe if he can accompany him to meet Ryouta Watari, another friend of theirs, to help him with a blind date that Tsubaki had set up. Kousei arrives early and meets a mysterious, beautiful girl playing a melodica with some kids. Mesmerized by the music she is playing, Kousei's world begins to open up with vivid color as the girl's music playing breaths new life into him. It is revealed that the mysterious girl's name is Kaori Miyazono, the blind date set up for Ryouta. This is the start of a new journey, not just for Kousei but also for Tsubaki and Ryouta.
The story explores themes of music, art, but also healing. Throughout the story, Kousei struggles to with his mental block but starts going through the healing process once he meets Kaori. Your Lie in April does a great job of portraying healing through the lens of music and laughter. The story has many moments when the characters are acting silly, laughing, joking, and messing around with one another. This helps because there are many moments throughout the story where things are serious. You can almost feel the pain Kousei is going through, especially when he tries playing the piano. The animation does a great job of complementing the narrative. As you progress through the story, you start to see Kousei heal a little at a time. You are taken on a journey through Kousei's healing process with art and sound as a guide.
While I think the story is strong, it's not without its flaws. Sometimes the serious pacing of the story is abruptly interrupted by some gag or joke. This really breaks the seriousness of the story, and at times the pacing gets thrown off. An example of this would be when Kousei is in deep thought or searching for his feelings. Suddenly and unexpectedly, something completely random happens for zero reasons, changing the pace and emotion completely. This usually occurs with Tsubaki and Ryouta. At that point, it becomes scene or situation instantly becomes a gag, and you are left with mixed emotions. Sometimes this is a good thing to help balance the serious pace of the story, but sometimes I feel the tactic is either overused or has the wrong timing.
Overall, the story is great. I love the message the story leaves for the viewers because, realistically, this could or could have happened to someone in real life. Story Score: 8/10
Your Lie in April has some great animation, both with sound and visuals. The anime does a great job incorporating sound with the visual. Kaori's music brings vibrant colors and opens your eyes to the limitless possibilities of music. Kousei's music playing brings darker, more monochrome visuals. Kaori represents freedom of expression, while Kousei represents a robotic, almost locked away expression, especially when Kousei plays a score correctly to a fault. No room for expression or creativity. Watch these two videos below. One is Beethoven's Kreutzer Violin Sonata, and the other is Kaori's version of the same composition. You only need to listen to the first couple of minutes of Beethoven's Kreutzer as it is very long.
Beethoven Kreutzer - Violin Sonata No. 9 "Kreutzer"
Kaori Version of Beethoven Kreutzer Violin Sonata
The art style is wonderfully vibrant and colorful. I like the saturation and lighting, especially during musical performances. This is where Your Lie in April shines. The use of colors combined with music shows off the show's artistic side. The character models are animated very well, and some, if not most, of the background, is also wonderfully drawn. I love the opening of Your Lie in April as well. You can see a lot of elements of the opening used throughout the whole series. If you want to check out the opening, here is the video.
Your Lie in April Opening 1: Hikaru Nara by Goose house
Your Lie in April Opening 2: Nanairo Symphony by Coalamode
The animation does of some weakness, though. Throughout the series, you definitely see where the animation and artistry are at it's best. However, there are moments where the artwork and animation are not at it's best. In some scenes, the background images are clearly drawn a bit quicker than in the other scenes. Sometimes the background seems a bit more generic than other scenes that show a heavy focus on the characters and/or the music. I am not seeing that the animation is awful in any way, just a bit lacking. Overall, the music and art style are made masterfully, bring Your Lie in April to life. Animation Score: 8/10
While there is undoubtedly character development between all 4 main characters in Your Lie in April, this area is still a bit lacking. Before we go any further, this is your spoiler warning. If you have not seen Your Lie in April, I will encourage you to do so. If you don't mind being spoiled, however, then, by all means, read ahead. Otherwise, I would skip to World-Building.
Kouesei probably has the most amount of development throughout the series. He has a few hurdles to overcome throughout Your Lie in April. The first hurdle is his inability to play the piano. Due to the tragic incident of his mom passing away, he could not hear his own notes. He describes playing the piano as drowning in a deep dark ocean. However, with the colorful, free-spirited playing style of Kaori and her intense light and encouragement, Kousei was able to play the piano once more. The other hurdle is his own feelings towards Kaori. Throughout the series, he convinces himself that Kaori likes Watari and that he can't compete with the likes of Watari when it comes to girls. However, he cannot hold back his feelings for Kaori and ultimately confronts those feelings for her. The last and probably most crucial hurdle is closure. He needed to move on and heal from the traumatic experience of his mother's passing. Despite the way his mother treated him, he still carried and blamed himself for her passing. The guilt ate at him, and over two years, the guilt had consumed him. Kousei needed to grieve appropriately and heal for him to move on with his life. With the support of Kaori and all of his friends, he finally gained a sense of peace.
*Spoilers Have Ended*
Watari and Tsubaki, each of them did develop as characters, just not as much as Kousei. Each of them had their own struggles they had to overcome. Most of their efforts revolve around their personal feelings toward Kousei and Kaori. To be honest, there is not too much I can say about their development as Kousei, and perhaps even Kaori overshadowed them with her story. Despite being the main characters, they were more like supporting characters in the development area.
Kaori's development is a bit different. As much as I want to talk about her development, her story is monumental to Your Lie in Apri and should be experienced first hand. I don't want to ruin any more spoilers.
Overall, the character development is pretty good for some and okay for others. The number of episodes in this series had put a ton of focus on Kousei and Kaori. Character Development Score: 7/10
The world-building aspect is also a bit lacking in the series. However, there are some world-building aspects we can talk about for Your Lie in April. The anime invites us to the world of music competitions. We get a glimpse of what it's like for students to play competitive music. We are introduced to judges, some strict and very focused on the score, while others are looking for more talent beyond a set-piece. We get to see the stress of playing competition and the toll it takes on the competitors. We also get to know the competition structure, the atmosphere of the crowd, and the somewhat harsh reality have trying to be the best musician.
Another thing to note is that all the music playing is real music made from the past. As I mentioned above in the animation section, Kaori plays a classic Beethoven piece for the violin. We also hear pices from Frédéric Chopin and Alexander Scriabin, among many others. Overall, world-building is okay. It's not grandiose or majestic, like new Gods, lands, or territories, but keeps things more grounded in realism. World-Building Score: 5/10
Overall, Your Lie in April is very enjoyable. The music is lovely, and the animation is colorful and vibrant. Character development and world-building are not bad. The series tells a pretty fantastic story. I would recommend this anime to anyone, especially those who love music and great artwork.
Overall Score: 7/10
Thanks for ready this review. We appreciate it. Be on the lookout for the next review for June. Our next theme is Makoto Shinkai. See you soon!
*All images are from the My Anime List website. All videos are from YouTube that the channel owners listed. We do not own any of these images. Credit to all artists of the images and credit goes to the creators of the anime series.