Mar 10, 2015
defunctmaluser (All reviews)
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. 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.