Posted by LightningBolt on 28 October 2014 with categories: Currently Watching:, Your Lie in April

Your Lie in April has emerged as a bit of a nice surprise in this young season. The fairly popular noitaminA programming block has been pretty hit-and-miss of late, with some very good shows here and there but a much higher rate of complete duds compared to the block’s past. For this reason I approached Your Lie in April not so convinced that I was going to be a fan, despite a decent (though hardly groundbreaking) premise. Thankfully, through three episodes, the show has settled into a nice groove and has brought some pretty good drama and music to the table each week.

In episodes 2 and 3 of Your Lie in April we’ve gotten through character introductions and have seen beginnings of the various relationships present in the show. Our two leads, Kousei and Kaori, have gotten over their initial but shortlived hostility towards one another that stemmed from their meeting and have begun interacting on more friendly and deeper grounds. The writers didn’t waste much time in addressing Kousei’s trauma related to his piano playing and have faced it head-on in these episodes, ending with episode 3 having Kousei ready to accompany Kaori in her next performance. While there’s not much reason to believe Kousei’s over his trauma, it is refreshing that it hasn’t been dragged out as long as it could have (and as long as I was personally expecting) and that, whether things go smoothly during this performance or not, some kind of progress should be made in the next episode on this front, just as there was progress made in this latest episode. Perhaps this is one of the better aspects of Your Lie in April – there’s been consistent progress made in the story over all three episodes so far without a lot of the dragging out that plagues many stories, especially ones that touch on romance.

Not all is good in Your Lie in April, unfortunately. The main thing that sticks out to me as not being particularly well done is the comedy. While comedy is wildly subjective and difficult to critique without going to vague points, I do think the show’s comedy fails on most levels. In most comedic moments, the art style resorts to a more crude and simple style which tends to clash pretty strongly with the show’s normal highly detailed and well-done presentation. Most of the comedy also seems to be of the slapstick variety, which has never been a favorite of mine on a personal level. In episode 3 we had such moments like Kaori throwing a shoe at Kousei and giving him a heel drop at the end. Our female lead is quite the violent one. There are also a few other problems, though they aren’t very numerous and don’t detract too much from the experience. One such problem was the unnecessary “Friend A” thing thrown around so far. I immediately related it to the all-too-common character trope anime uses with lead characters who are super ordinary and live super normal lives. The thing is that Kousei isn’t that character. He’s already been through a lot as a person, he has a remarkable and outstanding talent, and, as mentioned in episode 3, he’s seen as a bit of a celebrity among musicians from his age group. I just don’t really understand where that whole “Friend A” thing came from that paints him as some forgettable background character.

Overall, Your Lie in April has been a pretty good watch through three weeks. I wouldn’t recommend it to the whole anime-watching world as of now, but I’m sure a lot of people would enjoy it so far. If you’re into drama/romance anime, then you might want to pick it up.

9 Responses

  1. Avatar Hogart says:

    I like drama and romance, but lost interest in this one pretty quickly. I can’t be bothered to watch any story where the characters are grating and I’m given no counter-balance or reason to suffer their presence. There’s nothing likable about the manipulative Kaori, and Kousei has no definition outside of his tragic backstory. I can’t even come to care that Kousei’s frankly being abused (downright bullied) by the two female characters. That, and there are too many sappy lines of dialogue that just doesn’t feel like it would suit kids like these. And you’re right, the comedy feels really out of place.

    • I actually meant to comment on some of the more sappy lines. I agree on that. It’s particularly a problem during monologues. The abusive female characters issue is a real one, though it’s so prevalent in anime that I admit I don’t give it the attention it should get. I think it’s because most of the physical violence is typically of the slapstick variety and played up for laughs and I don’t think it’s really meant to be taken literally, so for me it tends to fall into the “failed comedy” category more often than the “terrible character trait” category, but I can certainly understand taking it more seriously.

      • Avatar Hogart says:

        Thing is, I’m also at the point where I give the female-on-male slapstick violence a charitable pass, because if I got annoyed every time I saw it, I’d almost always be annoyed at anime.

        But it’s the emotional abuse that bothers me here. Kaori’s petulantly and selfishly using Kousei for her own gains, despite knowing that he’s suffered something traumatic. And Kousei’s best female friend is in on the bullying too, trying to make him do something he clearly isn’t ready to do himself. It’s beyond uncomfortable. I know they’re just dumb kids, but the way the anime frames it like it’s funny… well, it really rubs me the wrong way.

        • Avatar drachen says:

          God I loved your lie in april, if only for the music. but for the majority of the show all that was going through my head was variants of ‘god this is a guide on how not to help PTSD abuse survivors’.

          Putting the emotionally abusive friends aside, what I am wondering is, jow do all of the adults ESPECIALLY HIS BEST FRIENDS MOM, condone this behaviour. From a psychological standpoint, while facing your fears can be good, this is NOT how to do it. If anything þey will probably end up traumatizing him more than he already is and all the adults that are SUPPOSED to look out for him are just letting it go! man i needed that.

  2. Avatar Boku says:

    I’m still watching this, but I can’t help feeling that, even though she has flaws, Kaori still feels too much like a Mary Sue. What’s the word I’ve heard used for this? “Manic pixie dream girl”, I think. She just doesn’t feel real & feels like some sort of wish fulfillment fantasy girl.

    Other than her I think the series is generally well done, and it’s nice to see a classical music show, since it’s been a while since I’ve seen Nodame.^-^

    • Avatar Hogart says:

      Thing is, in real life if you force someone who is genuinely traumatized to face their demons before they’re ready.. well, it likely won’t end up helping them. And if you break their heart while doing so, then you’re certainly not going to convince them to stop living in solitude.

  3. Avatar Sidekick says:

    I really, really want to like the series, but I can’t. Bad comedy aside, I feel like the heart of the series is in the entirely wrong place. Kaori, as while as the childhood friend, are pretty awful characters and the series doesn’t seem to realize this; the girls are bullying Kousei. They call him ‘weak’, asks him to ‘get over it’, even using violence (comically, which makes it even worse) to get him to play the accompaniment. That’s like telling a person suffering from depression to ‘stop being sad’.

    The series even dared to give Kaori the farce of some ‘profound’ reason for her passion for music, used her tears to get Kousei to agree. That’s cheap as hell. She’s ridiculously self-important, hypocritical, and plain mean.

  4. Avatar fatrobo says:

    Manic Dream Pixie Girl is right, she’s every shy pianist boy’s dream girl. It certainly helps that she is crushing on Kousei more than a little bit. She’s the tornado speeding through town and if you don’t get out of her path enough, you’re going to get pulled in for the ride. Kind of like a Czardas.

    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=No7NeEaVls4

    The humor for me works, strangely. The Friend A is a running gag about how the supposed extra is reaching boyfriend status by all the stuff that he does.

    The bullying that Kaori and Kousei’s friend use could also be considered tough love. It’s true that it’s emotionally manipulative but possibly justifiable in that they may believe that he’s denying himself one of the great passions of his life. Kousei has been spinning along in a depressive loop, transcribing songs and wondering if he can do more. He can’t forget the piano and he can’t make himself play it. I wonder what the conversation between Kaori and Kousei’s best friend was before the first date. I doubt it’s what his best friend led him to believe.

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