Posted on 11 November 2014 with categories: Currently Watching:, Your Lie in April

Episodes 4 and 5 of Your Lie in April were crucial ones in terms of how the series would develop. Episode 4 was a very important episode in the series as we see Kousei reintroduce himself to the music world after his mother’s death left him unable to play the piano. How the writers would handle this situation was extremely important. I was personally worried that Kousei’s and Kaori’s performance would go too smoothly, almost belittling Kousei’s trauma. Instead, the writers took a more agreeable path than that in which encouraging signs for Kousei’s progress were mixed with frustration and familiar problems that showed that he is definitely not out of the woods yet.

After the performance, we’re left with Kaori’s sudden collapse. I was immediately worried that this was going to be an extremely cheap use of melodrama to inject some drama into the show that would ultimately be completely negligible to the series as a whole, but we learn in episode 5 that this has been a recurring issue for Kaori and will almost definitely be a very important part of Your Lie in April going forward. The rest of episode 5 showed a stronger focus on the relationships within the show with some monologues from Tsubaki and Kousei as they ponder their feelings. Episode 5 ends with Kaori pushing Kousei to enter a piano competition, which will be another important step in Kousei’s progress overcoming his trauma.

The good from these two episodes is that the pacing and production values have remained very strong. Good pacing is always nice since it feels rather rare in the medium, and especially rare in the drama/romance genres. The show also managed to beat out my worst expectations that I detailed a little bit in the above paragraphs, relating to how Kousei’s accompaniment of Kaori would go and Kaori’s collapse. As for the bad… I really wasn’t a fan of the writers hanging the botched performance over Kousei’s head. I can understand Kousei being hard on himself, even if he was pushed into the performance. I think it would be a natural reaction. I was less understanding of Kaori bringing it up at the end of episode 5. At the end of the day, I think it was merely to get him to do the piano competition, continuing to try to help him overcome his issues, but I’m still iffy on hanging that over his head to get him to do it. This is also a good time to mention the sappy lines I forgot to mention last time. They’re back in full force, particularly during the monologues. The biggest issue with these lines is that they really just suck me out of the show. Nobody talks like that.

Overall I’d say the quality has remained fairly consistent through these five episodes. Kousei’s upcoming piano competition should be the next major event and it’ll be interesting to see how the writers choose to move along the plot from where we are now. Also, of course, it’ll be interesting to see how Kaori’s health develops going forward.

Posted 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.

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