By Andy Hanley.
Just the opening notes of a song can put a smile on your face, while a few bars can similarly reduce you to tears. But when it comes to playing classical music at a competitive level, technical proficiency is just as important as recreating the emotional resonance of a piece. That, however, is where musical prodigy Kousei Arima excels, to the point where he has been nicknamed “The Human Metronome” for his unerringly accurate piano recitals.
All is not well in Arima’s world. Having spent his young life in relentless piano practice at the instigation of his pushy mother, he is left directionless when she dies after a long illness. Unable to bring himself to practice any more, his career seems over, and he seems to have lost his reason to live. That is, until Kaori Mizuno comes along. Her outlook on life couldn’t be more different to his own. While his obsession has been winning competitions and perfect timing, Kaori is simply interested in bringing the joy of music – and her own free-spirited interpretation of it –- to whomever will listen. As Arima himself sees it, this meeting is an event which returns colour to his life – but is it enough to teach him to find enjoyment in music?
On the surface, Your Lie in April is a romantic drama that hits all of the usual beats that you’d expect of an anime adaptation – a tangled web of love, both requited and otherwise, and plenty of secrets harboured by characters that lead to seismic shifts once revealed. However, the musical aspect of the show isn’t just window dressing, but a powerful means of relaying this story – the concerts and recitals peppered through the series often become a maelstrom of emotions, heavily accentuated by the classic pieces that accompany them.
These scenes are also where the anime arguably gets a leg-up over its source material – Your Lie in April is visually stunning, whether it’s turning its hand to simple comedy or tangled emotional drama, but its concert scenes are where it really shines, taking the viewer deep into the psyche of Arima via abstract representations of his state of mind. Not only are such scenes visually eye-catching, but they also prove to be a great way of relaying this information beyond inner monologues and flashbacks.
There’s no shortage of romance-focused anime out there, from harem comedies to melodramas, but Your Lie in April is undoubtedly in the upper levels of the genre thanks to its spectacular presentation and well-realised characters. Much like a vibrant music recital, there’s nothing mechanical about the way this series carries you along on its journey with all the expertise of a true maestro.
Your Lie in April is released in the UK by Anime Limited.