Junior high school student Kōsei Arima used to be a child prodigy on the piano, driven to an unbeatable perfection by his domineering music-teacher mother. But when his mother dies from a terminal illness, the will to play deserts Kōsei – even though he remains trapped within his love for music and his desperate desire to return to the concert stage. One day, Kōsei agrees to companion a friend on a blind date; as a result, he meets Kaori Miyazono, a virtuoso on the violin who has her own charismatic playing style. Aided and abetted by Kōsei’s friends Tsubaki and Ryōta, Kaori coaxes Kōsei into returning – by sometimes painful stages – to the piano and back into competition, along the way helping him to confront the debilitating memories of his past. As Kōsei grows in self-awareness and confidence, he re-ignites dormant relationships with his mother’s old friend and renowned pianist Hiroko Seto, as well as with his long-standing competition rivals Emi Igawa and Takeshi Aiza. Unbeknown to Kōsei, however, Kaori has her own tragic secret – one that could send Kōsei into the kind of emotional collapse that might once and for all destroy his talent and his relationship with music.
Based on the acclaimed, award-winning manga by Naoshi Arakawa, “Your Lie In April” was produced by anime studio A-1 Pictures and ran on Japanese television from October 2014 to March 2015. Presented in a vibrant visual style in which complex emotions are conveyed through a facial expression or a sunset skyline, the series is complimented by a rich soundtrack in which the piano masterworks of Beethoven, Tchaikovsky, Rachmaninov, Ravel, and Chopin form part of the narrative structure. At 22 episodes, the series arguably runs longer than is necessary for the story it tells; and the occasional over-the-top reaction tropes that are a feature of many Japanese anime may not translate well to a Western audience. But “Your Lie In April” amounts to much more than a saccharine teenage love story or portentous coming-of-age tale; layered and multi-faceted, its rich narrative is both emotionally affecting as well as intelligently delivered. The characters are three dimensional and sympathetic; the denouement carries a real punch thanks to the stunning visuals and enveloping music; and the epilogue is replete with a bittersweet coming-to-terms reminiscent of Makoto Shinkai’s masterpiece “5 Centimetres Per Second”. Beautifully presented and thoughtfully narrated, it comes as little surprise that “Your Lie In April” has subsequently spawned an OVA feature, a live action film, and even a stage play.
© Text Copyright Brendan E Byrne 2020. All rights reserved.