Saturday, March 21, 2015

Shigatsu wa Kimi no Uso

Shigatsu wa Kimi no Uso,  also known as Your Lie in April, is a slice-of-life anime, which follows a few months in the lives of some teenage-friends.  The main characters include three friends who have grown up together, and another girl who enters their lives.  The friends are Arima Kousei, who is a glasses-wearing, virtuoso pianist, Watari Ryouta, a boy who is captain of the soccer team and extremely popular with all the girls, and Sawabe Tsubaki, an athletic girl who is on the softball club and is Kousei’s next-door neighbor and been protecting him like a little brother since childhood.  The character who enters their lives is Miyazono Kaori, an out-going girl who is also a violinist.

Like most slice of life anime, this series is a mixture of everyone having a crush on everyone else.  Kaori is dating Watari, and refers to Kousei as “friend A”.  Kousei is in love with Kaori, and Tsubaki has realized she loves Kousei.  So the series spends time with everyone juggling their feelings around everyone else and coming to terms with their various feelings.   

There’s lots of deep story here though and lots of tragedy.  Kousei was taught to play piano by his pianist mother, who physically brutalized him while training him.  When Kousei is eleven they have a falling out and she then dies of her illness, leaving him unable to play the piano and with lots of issues that he hasn’t dealt with.  At the start of the current story he’s not playing the piano, being unable to hear himself play.  He meets Kaori and she sets out to change that and get him to play again, at first by badgering him into becoming her accompanist when she plays the violin. 

With help from his friends and his mother’s colleague, Kousei finally comes to terms with his past and begins playing piano again during the story,  At first that’s because Kaori pushes him until he does, but then he begins to play for her.  Kaori, for her own part, plays the violin with abandon, and teaches Kousei not to give up.  So along with the regular slice of life story, there are also interactions with a boy and a girl paino players, Aiza Takeshi and Igawa Emi, who compete with Kousei in piano concerts, and learn their own life lessons along the way. 

And the deeper story is that no matter how full of life and whole-hearted Kaori is, she is also very ill and doesn’t have long to live.  She does everything to the full extent because she knows she won’t be able to do it for long.  So Kousei loses his mother, who he was playing for as a child, and then loses Kaori who he started playing again for.  At the story climax, Kousei realizes Kaori will die and decides never to play piano again.  Kaori tells him that she’s going to have one last surgery to maybe extend her life and play violin again, and if she’s going to keep trying, he has to keep trying.  

So Kousei plays the contest and while he’s playing Kaori dies in surgery.   In his trance while playing, he and Kaori say good bye through his music.  Kaori leaves him a letter explaining that she lied in April, that she used Watari to get to know Kousei, because she always wanted to play violin accompanied by him on the piano.  Kousei comes to terms with her death and goes forward with his life, continuing to play for her sake.  

The series is all about coming of age, growing past limitations and keeping on trying, even at the worst times.  It’s also about friendships and relationships.  The series is overall very tragic, but has nice renditions of various classical music pieces throughout in the various contests. And it’s a beautiful series, with a very colorful and pretty animation style.  I’m glad to have watched it although I could wish Kaori had survived.

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