At a very young age, Kousei Arima was strictly taught how to play the piano and meticulously follow the score by his mother, to the point where he dominated every competition he entered with ease. He earned the title of "Human Metronome" for performing almost perfectly. Every musician of his age looked up to him. However, after his mother suddenly dies, he became tone-deaf due to the shock and then disappeared, never to be seen onstage since.
Two years later, Kousei lives a monotonous life with his childhood friends Tsubaki Sawabe and Ryouta Watari supporting him. He continues to cling to music, although performing is still an impossibility for him. This is until his unexpected encounter with Kaori Miyazono, a violinist who performs freely without the dictations of a score. A story of friendship, love, music, and a single lie, Kousei's life begins to change and gain color as Kaori helps him to take up music again.
Shigatsu wa Kimi no Uso was nominated for the 5th Manga Taisho Award in 2012 and won the award for Best Shounen Manga at the 37th Kodansha Manga Awards the following year. A live-action film adaptation is scheduled for theatrical release on September 10, 2016.
The series was published in English as Your Lie in April by Kodansha Comics USA from April 21, 2015 to January 3, 2017.
It would seem that feeling some modicum of emotional involvement whilst watching/reading something is all it takes to make a masterpiece these days. Whilst emotional involvement is always a great thing, it's not enough to excuse problems that a particular work in question has. On another note, it irks me when people say they "got the feels" from watching something because more often than not, it was something stupid/cliché/melodramatic. Maybe I'm a heartless sociopath or maybe it's because I've been through a lot worse in life, but I can't help but scoff when people tell me they cried like a baby whilst watching stuff like
the first season of Clannad. Then enters Shigatsu wa Kimi no Uso, an anime/manga series that plagues me with cognitive dissonance because there was no shortage of moments where I couldn't help but catch the proverbial feels and yet there were also no shortage of moments where I was irritated beyond all belief.
The main reason why I found myself becoming emotionally involved with Shigatsu in the first place was because of Kousei himself. Like I said in my Clannad review: my own mother is dead, so I know exactly where the poor bastard's at and I couldn't help but get attached to him. Shigatsu to me was less about the music and was more along the lines of a story about coping mechanisms. Throw in some romance and next thing you know, I'm hooked! Of course, not everything was perfect and there were minor flaws I noticed here and there that gradually turned into major problems that seriously affected my enjoyment of the series. What was once endearing became tedious and even when it was tedious, there were still bits and pieces of the series I loved the shit out of and it baffles me as to why it had to be like this.
The biggest problem by far that Shigatsu has is all of the psychological monologuing that went on over the course of its run. I said in my anime review that monologues are powerful and if used sparingly, they can further strengthen any emotional impact that a particular scene has and that will always be a fact. Of course, the mangaka (and A-1 Pictures by extension) just doesn't seem to understand that more monologues does NOT equal more emotional weight. It just makes those particular scenes increasingly tedious to get through. I wouldn't mind this if I actually wanted everything the characters were feeling spoon-fed to me as if I were some emotionally inept otaku with no social skills whatsoever, but I actually WANT to think while I'm reading or watching. I don't understand why mangakas and anime studios think it's a good idea to have everyone say exactly how they feel like it's some kind of Disney musical, but it's a phenomenon that really needs to fucking stop because it just feels condescending as all hell.
Another problem that I have with Shigatsu as a whole is the comedy. I'm perfectly aware of the fact that levity has a place in storytelling because excess tension tends to build up quickly in stories like this and can quickly make something tedious or just plain uncomfortable to sit through. What's more is that Shigatsu is aimed toward a mainstream shonen audience that probably can't handle the intensity of stuff like Watashitachi no Shiawase na Jikan. However, Shigatsu's particular style of comedic relief irritated me quite a bit whilst I was watching the anime because of the fact that it was so poorly timed. Any sort of drama that being built up was immediately ruined by some poorly-timed visual gag to the point where I found it hard to become invested in what was going on. Now the manga has a lot of these moments as well and whilst it's a lot more tolerable in print rather than in anime form, it's still something I take umbrage with if only because of the fact that the gag-manga style of levity Shigatsu uses doesn't fit with the subject matter it actually deals with. If it were more in-line with the kind of humour shows like Daria used, I'd be all for that but alack it's not and we'll just have to deal with that.
Now those two problems aside, another thing that never really sat right with me was how Kousei was treated by his friends over the course of the series. He's got a dead mother who was pretty damn abusive toward him. The last thing the bloke wants to do is play the piano, and yet he still finds himself drawn to it because you know... that was his thing. I understand his friends want him to just play the bloody instrument again and that 14-year-olds aren't psychotherapists by any stretch of the imagination, but the way they go about doing so is rather cruel to say the least. He's harassed and manipulated quite a bit over the course of the series and somehow, that's the solution to all of his problems. You know, Kousei would've had a mental breakdown if he was a real person because he'd be forced to re-live some nasty childhood trauma. I wouldn't really have much of a problem with this were it not for the fact that I've seen shit like this first-hand, and it *RARELY* works out. It also doesn't help that there was a lot of inappropriate gag comedy that was going on during these scenes where Kousei was forced to play the piano again, but let's not get into that.
While we're on the subject of 14-year-olds, I can't help but feel like this entire ordeal is a bit farcical in hindsight. Don't get me wrong: young teenagers are more than capable of experiencing all kinds of intense emotions, but it gets REALLY ridiculous when you have a bunch of 14-year-olds prattling on about "seeing the notes" and love and all that shit. The dialogue gets so ridiculous sometimes that it's laugh-out-loud hilarious and other times it's just flat-out cringeworthy. Maybe if Kousei and Kaori were like college freshmen or something, it would be more bearable but that sadly isn't the case. I love my romantic melodramas as much as the next Indian guy who grew up on Bollywood movies, but even guys like me have limits.
If this review sounds more like a long-winded list of complaints than an actual review, I apologise. There's a lot of things that people overlook when they talk about this series that it just irritates the shit out of me. It's not like this manga didn't do anything right from the get-go because that's not the case whatsoever. For starters, the concept of a story about a teenager trying to move on from past tragedies whilst learning how to deal with new ones that come on the horizon is something that I just love to no end and in the midst of all the annoying comedy, the tedious monologues, and all the farcical melodrama, there are some great lessons to be found and once in a great while, there comes a powerful scene that would've left you in tears were it not for all the problems I listed beforehand.
Ultimately, Shgiatsu wa Kimi no Uso is a very flawed series but that certainly doesn't mean that it's without merit. While it did get a lot of things wrong (and I do mean a LOT of things), what it got right was almost enough to make up for the tedium that was present beforehand. It's such a shame that a mangaka like Inio Asano wasn't the one who made this series because I get the feeling that if this was something by Asano himself, it would probably end up in the Top 30 here on MAL alongside Oyasumi Punpun. Alas, that's not the case at all and we have to put up with what we got. Overall, I give Shigatsu a 6.5/10 (which rounds up to a 7/10). Even though there's a good deal of stuff it got right, what it got wrong is just impossible for me to look past. With that said, at least it managed to end on a rather ceremonious note instead of just fizzling out completely like Elfen Lied did. Thanks for reading this review like always. Feedback is always welcome and with that, I'm out. Peace.
After such a long time not reading romance stories I'm finally getting into some lately. First I started off with some popular shoujo titles, and when I'm running out of new books to read, I stumbled upon Shigatsu wa Kimi no Uso (Your Lie in April). I thought this was just going to be a casual read about your typical romance + bits of music. Boy was I wrong, for this manga has proved to be a really emotional ride I shall never forget.
Story - The story is interesting. The beginning was rather predictable, it started with the introduction of
Arima Kousei, a prodigal pianist who stopped performing the piano because of a traumatizing event. Then one day, a hurricane came into his life and wrecked his everyday routine. This hurricane was a seemingly loud, cheerful, and free-spirited girl named Miyazono Kaori. By the arrival of this girl, Arima's life did a 180 degrees turn as he's forced to face the piano again. Past memories resurfacing, meeting former rivals, and the bittersweet feeling of love and affection were what followed next. It started off as a sole growth story of Arima, and the initial atmosphere of this story was fun and touching, but later on metamorphosed into something more melancholic, more intricate, and a hell lot more depressing. Regardless of what you feel about the ending, you can't deny that Shigatsu wa Kimi no Uso is a really beautifully crafted piece of work. It builds up emotional attachments to the characters and by the time you've finished it, there's a warm feeling inside your chest. The story really flows and I especially love the dialogues. The words are spot-on and not just fillers for the story.
Art - The art is, ok I guess. Moderate at best, though. It's not sparkly nor is it particularly beautiful, but still okay. What I'm bothered of is the lips. Sometimes the author colors the lips and it looks like they're awkwardly using a bright red lipstick. It's disturbing.
Character - What's the most impressive here is really Arima's character growth. He has always been a warm, gentle individual, but later on he will mature a lot. By using his past experiences and finally realizing what being a musician is, he no longer runs away. He learns to face his past, makes peace with himself, and that shows in the music he plays.
I would also like to highlight Miyazono Kaori. She starts off as your typical heroine the male lead likes, but later on you'll also realize that that's not the only thing to her. Her character isn't something the author randomly pasted on a girl to make her likable, but she has something that drives her to be the way she currently is. Her background is not messy, but really well-written. Tsubaki is also a really nice character, she bullies Arima a lot but deep down we all know she cares a lot for him. This is not just about the male lead and the female lead, but about everybody's characters and everybody's stories.
Enjoyment - This, ladies and gentlemen, is indeed a really emotional ride. The atmosphere changes very quickly and unexpectedly and I want you guys to brace yourselves for what's about to come (though I doubt you can't guess what's the ending going to be like). But it's a really beautiful story. It makes you feel something, and that feeling lingers for a while inside your heart even after you have finished it.
All in all, Shigatsu wa Kimi no Uso is really enjoyable. I recommend this to everybody. Even if it may start off as cliche, believe me, there's more to it than what it seems. And in the end, let the title -- Your Lie in April -- sink into you. Once you do, though, I doubt you can forget about this amazing piece of work for the next few months, or maybe throughout your life.
When i first picked Shigatsu wa Kimi no Uso I honesty didn't expect much, I actually started reading it because some jackass spoiled the ending for me, don't you just hate it when people do that, well rest assured there was blood that day *insert maniacal laughter. Anyway, what can i say the story was beatiful, breathtaking and overall made be cry like a b$#!/. This is not your average love story or some shoujo manga. Hell no! So yeah story wise this was awesome.
I was suprised that some said the art was
"good." Not at all, it was brilliant and that's all i have to say for the matter.
*holding back the tears. The characters are really unique, especially Arima and Kaori. As the story grows, you learn more about each character's inner struggles, their personal tragedies and how they overcome their difficulties. Just prepare yourselfs for the final chapters.
Ummm... I don't think there is anything left to say... so...
READ IT!!! READ IT!!! IT'S AMAZING!!! IT'S AWESOME!!! JUST DO IT!!!
Reading this feels like listening to a talented singer with great voice, who unfortunately keep making the same mistakes and hitting the wrong notes over and over again until the whole performance is kind of ruined.
Er, random musical analogy aside, there's actually a lot that I like from this manga's set-up. For starter, the fact that the the main characters are middle-schoolers/pre-teens, which I don't see very often in manga. It's a great period when kids are mature enough to start exploring complicated feelings and emotion, while still retaining the sense of childhood innocence lacked by high-schoolers. Naoshi Arakawa's art hits similar kind of sweet
spot by combining the intensity of typical shounen art and sensitivity of shoujo style, creating a signature look that's both powerful and very easy on the eyes. He's very, very, good at paneling and impactful framing, too. Someone once said to me that "a comic/book about musician is kind of useless because you can't hear the music", however, Arakawa's art has enough power and details that the characters absolutely resonate with me during their performance scenes.
I like the main character, too. Arima Kousei is an unusual protagonist for this type of comic, quieter and more perceptive than your typical lead. Most importantly, his mental block makes for an intriguing internal conflict and a very realistic depiction of a real life issue. Physical abuse by a parent figure is a serious thing, and watching a fundamentally good kid struggle to come to terms with it and overcome the guilt he shouldn't even bear is simultaneously gut-wrenching and inspiring. It's also very interesting to see Arima's past as a child prodigy, as well as the bond he formed with his two lifelong rivals.
.....Now, about those "wrong notes".
In addition to music and internal struggle, there's a lot of comedy and romance in April. To be frank: they don't work at all. The comedy first: nowadays I've been bothered a lot by the sense of humor in many shounen/shoujo manga, as it often try to pass off abusive, sexist, and/or problematic behavior as something 'cute' or 'funny', and I also find that issue here. April's main joke is to have Arima routinely abused (physically and emotionally) by the two main female characters, which is not only unfunny, but becomes extra disturbing when you consider the boy's background. Like... I dunno girls, your friend there was severely abused in his childhood, maybe you shouldn't kick his kneecap/throw his head with softball/choke him with recorder/emotionally blackmail him?
It happens too often to be coincidental, which leads me to suspect that Arakawa-sensei really think that brute force and aggressive girls are the best therapy for abuse-induced trauma. I'm not an expert on psychology... but yeah, that doesn't sound right at all. The problem with the comedy ties directly to the romance one, since the aforementioned two girls are also Arima's love interests. It's basically a tiresome love square, with the second boy never becoming significant or memorable enough. I couldn't care less which girl Arima ends up with, as they're both selfish, petulant, and manipulative. Teenagers are never perfect beings, I know, but these girls are just too damn unsympathetic. The occasional melodrama makes it even worse, as some of the characters like to suddenly break out of character and wax some purple prose. Imagine watching kindergarteners have a childish fight, and seconds later quote Shakespeare out of the blue-the effect is as jarring as that.
(there's another girl character that I actually like, just because she's much wiser and more mature than everyone else. Unfortunately, her only role is to be the thankless Best Friend/Adviser character).
The music performance scenes are the biggest strength of the series, but they're not entirely free of problems either. As I've mentioned above, Arakawa's art is more than good enough to convey the emotional state of the musicians during their performance, but he also frequently have a bunch of random people in the audience providing unnecessary amount of corny commentary. "That boy looks nervous!" "Ooh the melody truly comes from her heart!" "I could feel the emotion coming!" Yes, yes, please shut up, Random Audience #3.
In spite of all that, I'm actually happy I got to read this manga and learn about Arakawa. There's such a great deal of artistic talent on display here that I'd definitely still check out his future works--I just hope next time I can truly get behind his characters and narrative.
Popular music anime Shigatsu wa Kimi no Uso (Your Lie in April) is as much about the characters as it is about the beautiful music they make. Here's a comprehensive look at the main characters in this youth drama anime.