Shigatsu wa Kimi no Uso or commonly known as Your Lie in April is a show produced by A-1 pictures that premiered in 2014. It is a music based romantic comedy set in middle school in Japan. This show is highly acclaimed by the anime community as it is currently (in 2016) ranked at #14 best anime ever on MyAnimeList with a score of 8.93, and at #15 on HummingBird with a score of 8.84. As you can see this is considered to be the best in it’s genre and well as one of the best anime ever created by the anime community. But does it deserve this acclaim?
Shigatsu is a story following a young protagonist Kousei Arima who is attending middle school with his childhood best friends Sawabe Tsubaki and Watari Ryouta. Kousei at an earlier age was considered as a piano prodigy having been taught by his mother. He was so amazing at playing the piano that he would dominate every competition he attended and got to a level where he can plan the piece given to him perfectly to the score. After his mother passed away Kousei losses the ability to play the piano as he no longer can hear himself play it, and now only sees the world in black and white. When Kousei meets a young violinist named Miyazono Kaori she slowly try to get him to start playing the piano again, and slowly but surely she starts having a huge positive effect on him.
The story is great, it takes a very well established genre like rom-com and instead of trying to re-invent it. It rather tries to perfect it. The story being set in a middle school doesn’t offer that much compared to it being staged in a high school like most anime, but it does bring a sense of lightheartedness to the story since the characters are so young. The middle school sets the backdrop to allow the characters to fill up the world and focus around them. The story does feel slow at some points throughout the middle although only being 22 episodes rather than the usual 24 or 26. The buildup some would consider slow, but I feel that it is necessary because when the story does start to get going it is really satisfying because the build up was there.
The characters are limited in the show as their are really only 4. They all get a lot of development except for Watari who is Kousei’s best friend. The others get their backstories fully explored and their motivations on why they are in the position that they are at now is great to see. Since the genre is romantic comedy their is a lot of romance in this story, as basically everyone likes everyone thus forming more of a love square than a love triangle.
Their are minor characters that make their appearance throughout the show like Kousei’s former piano rivals, his new apprentice and a family friend that use to be his mom’s student. All these characters serve their purpose of introducing the next arc and adding some more characterisation and humanization to Kousei and well as further exploring his past in flashback, and the personal effect Kousei and his piano playing has had on them.
This might just be the best looking anime A-1 pictures has put out. Shigatsu shines in animation as the colours used are both vivid and expressive. The concert scenes are shockingly beautiful and the atmosphere created by the different seasons in evident. A-1 pictures didn’t have a limitless budget for this anime, as during the comedy scenes the animation falls flat as I would think they are trying to cut cost to better animate the scene that matter. The animation does have noticeable flaws, but when it is good it is mind-blowing fantastic, and I have to applaud A-1 pictures for this considering they aren’t a studio like Ufotable or Kyoto Animation that are known to constantly put out top-tier animation. The character designs are nothing amazing, but they are good.
The OST for this anime is probably if not the best OST of 2014, with Zankyou no Terror giving them a run for their money. The music being played pulls you into their world and makes you feel the emotion being played. Even if Kousei’s scenes where he can’t hear the piano notes anymore, you can feel what he feels and the sound of keys muffled out by water is evident. Their isn’t anything bad about this soundtrack, it fulfils everything it needs to, and goes above and beyond in it’s concert scenes with classical music integrated with the new age.
To summaries, Your Lie in April is a fantastic show that exceeds expectations. It is an amazing romantic comedy and although it does nothing new to the genre, it does try to perfect it. The characters feel believable and real whilst the story folds out with just the right amount of buildup and payoff. It is a must watch for anime fans especially those who are into slice-of-life and romantic comedies.
[see end of review for weighing]
Alternative anime recommendation would be: Golden Time as it is an anime that shows some of the most realistic relationship portrays in anime.
And another would be Nodame Cantabile which is a 49 episode show that fully explores the use of music and the study of music in the anime medium, it and Shigatsu both also feature a piano and violinist duo.
[story+characters+animation+sound] + [enjoyment]