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.
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.
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