[Anime Review]: Shigatsu wa Kimi no Uso (Your Lie in April)

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Director: Kyouhei Ishiguro

Writer of Original Manga: Naoshi Arakawa

Animation Studios: A-1 Pictures

Version Watched: Subbed

Shigatsu wa Kimi no Uso is an enigma. Its episodes flew by as I watched them, making me regularly question whether I had, in fact, actually spent 24 minutes staring at the screen each time its ending sequence started up. Usually this is the part where I say “Now that’s the hallmark of a good anime!” or something along those lines, and the sheer quality of the show’s conclusion makes me want to heap praise upon it, but…the honest truth is that I can’t bring myself to do that. It features fantastic production quality, engaging characters and heart-rending emotion, though it also fails to use those assets to reach its true potential.

Arima Kousei was a prodigy. Was. He used to win each and every single piano competition he attended, spurred on mercilessly by his sick and dying mother, but when she passed away something inside him died with her and he lost the ability to hear his own playing. Two years later he has come to terms with his loss and is struggling to live on in a dull and colourless world…until she comes along. Beautiful, filled with energy, tragic. The talented violinist Miyazono Kaori forces colour into Kousei’s life once more, pushing him into rediscovering his music. The two connect, though they may not realise it, working together to move the audiences they play for. Time is short, however, and Kaori is like Kousei’s late mother in ways he would not care to acknowledge.

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I would like to say that Shigatsu is a series of ups and downs but that’s not quite right. The final three episodes were wonderful in every way, shape and form, doing a great deal to alter my opinion of the show. They had emotion in spades and tied together all the right strings to make for an ideal finale. The preceding nineteen episodes were flat in comparison and missed a number of opportunities, firstly to set up for the tale’s conclusion and secondly to engage the viewer on more than a superficial level. To put it bluntly, they were ultimately forgettable and prevent the show from reaching the heights its concept and production values could have taken it to.

Elaborating too much on what I’ve said already would make way for spoilers galore, so I’ll stick with just saying that the main heroine, Miyazono Kaori, is central to one’s reaction to the finale I enjoyed so much. When I go on to explain that she’s mostly absent for the majority of the series you might begin to see where I’m going with this review. In fact, I’d guess that the majority of the screen time she gets comes in the form of the protagonist’s thoughts about her, rather than her own involvement in the events portrayed, which leads onto one of my other major gripes. Shigatsu doesn’t manage to achieve much at all despite its double-count of episodes, and that’s because huge portions of runtime are taken up by inner monologues and flashbacks that essentially contribute very little to what is already understood by the audience. While they’re not boring (well, maybe a little at times), they’re not valuable to the production either. It’s hard for viewers to bond with characters when they’re barely ever present. I could continue complaining about this issue for a while longer but I’ll conclude by saying that even when present events are the focus at any particular time, they tend to prefer stagnating on the same issue rather than developing the plot in a meaningful way.

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Okay, I admit it. I’ve been really, really mean to Shigatsu wa Kimi no Uso and that’s more because it disappointed me than because I disliked it. Some of the piano performances were stunning (despite odd song choices) and the directorship of the show in general deserves major kudos, perhaps more so than any other anime I’ve reviewed. The background art in particular also merits extensive praise (while the characters themselves…well, they’re alright). The episodes did seem to fly by at a frightening pace in a good way and several of the side characters made contributions to the plot that were really very interesting (while others, here’s looking at you, childhood and best friends, worked to distract from what was really important).

Summary – Shigatsu wa Kimi no Uso is a good anime that could have been better without too much more effort. Inner monologues and frequent flashbacks obscure the value of some excellent performances and meaningful emotion, while the most important characters don’t get the attention they deserve. Still, the show is almost worth watching for the directorship and visuals alone, so you can’t go wrong by giving it a shot. I won’t go so far as to say MAL’s 8.9/10 rating is staggeringly incorrect, but I won’t be adding this anime to my recommendations list either.

Score: 8/10 – Good

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About Silvachief

I'm a Gamer that dabbles in a little bit of everything. I'm big on Video Games, Visual Novels, Anime, Books and TV Series, but there's more to me than just those!
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8 Responses to [Anime Review]: Shigatsu wa Kimi no Uso (Your Lie in April)

  1. Lazarinth says:

    I knew pretty much exactly what was going to happen by the beginning of episode 5. I watched the show to the end to see if it would do something different and surprise me… it didn’t.

    • Silvachief says:

      Yeah, i’ll agree with that. The “twist” was obvious very early on.

      • Lazarinth says:

        That’s what gets me with most drama anime, the set up is so obvious in what’s going to happen that it pretty much acts as its own spoilers. Girl who’s full of life but has a chronic illness… I wonder what’s going to happen? Prodigy reluctant about returning to his hobby feels inspired by the sick girl… I wonder what’s going to happen? I wish I’d had someone who had confirmed my assumption just so I could have saved myself from what to the end.

        • rakuro says:

          The fact that Kaori will die is given since episode 5. The plot here is how Kaori changed Kousei’s life. She gave a new meaning on his life turning it from dark to bright. I can’t put it in words but this show really changed me. 10/10

  2. Kai says:

    Pretty much my thoughts, I honestly wouldn’t even score it a 8/10 myself. KimiUso has an extremely stellar ending, combined with spectacularly animated performances. Other aspects of the show however fell a little short. KimiUso is at a really weird place with it’s poor build-up and overwrought drama, which still somehow leads to an incredible ending — the former of which really stopping the show to being truly great. Though at the very least, KimiUso is one hell of a beautiful show.

    • Silvachief says:

      While I can look back on KimiUso and say it had major issues, I never found myself bored while watching it and as I say in the review the episodes absolutely flew past, which is where the 8 comes from. It’s a real shame its parts didn’t really come together.

  3. DuedTalks says:

    I would have rated it higher, but that probably stems from how I can relate to the show. In my fifteen odd years watching anime, this probably took the cake. It took my favorite spot and I’ve always committed to watching around ten shows a season if I can, it had to have been special in my book to do move me he way it did. I think that ultimately past a certain point, you cannot truly give anime an objective assessment.

    You could try to be objective, drawing on production values, execution, characters, but when something is well made I think what happens next relies on how you can resonate with the characters. The show echoed things I’ve experienced and I feel that while it has flaws, mostly on the execution of the comedy segments, it still does have elements in each episode drive the story forward in a meaningful and beautiful manner. Kaori’ absence I think, was a deliberate choice. I do think she was purposefully pulled away to create distance between her and Kousei. His many thoughts about her frames how a typical adolescent deep in the blanket of bliss (and sorrow) of being in love for the first time.

    Still, kudos to your review man. It still does make very good points and you’re at least not being extremely critical on the physical abuse on this show while being hypocritical and ignoring it on the hundreds of other shows that have aired where it’s used in a comedic fashion. It’s amusing to see a rating of 5 on this show while seeing he same person give seasonal ‘waifu’ shows ratings you’d give to a Miyazaki film.

    • Silvachief says:

      Ten shows a season is pretty hefty! I’m personally the kind of person that likes to wait for blu-ray releases, so i’m usually behind on the newer stuff.

      I agree that there’s something beyond objective quality that draws us to certain series. Our own personal experiences throughout life alter our ability to relate to or sympathize with characters and themes, which will either blur or enhance the objective stuff.

      Your argument regarding Kaori’s absence makes sense. It means we are given more of a sense of what she means to Kousei and how she influences his experiences, instead of what might have been another typical anime relationship. However, it also meant I didn’t connect with her which in turn robbed the events of the finale of some of their impact. Still, it only meant I liked the show rather than loved it.

      Thanks for the comment! I can’t say the physical abuse stood out to me as being poorly used, since there are other production where that’s definitely been a complaint for me. I guess it depends on whether it furthers a narrative’s goals or is just in there for cheap emotion or shock factor. And with regard to that last point, as always, you can’t account for taste.

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