Brace yourself, we have another high school romance ahead of us. As you might expect, it stars “shy, reserved main character”, also known as Kōsei Arima, with his best friends “girl who likes him but hasn’t said anything” and “jock who gets all the ladies” – Tsubaki Sawabe and Ryōta Watari respectively – and the love interest Kaori Miyazono: “gorgeous girl who is perfect for main character but quickly enters a relationship with jock who gets all the ladies”. And, as you might also expect, circumstances give Miyazono the worst possible first impression of Arima. Now that we’ve gotten that out-of-the-way, let’s be serious here…
I’m not going to beat around the bush here… Your Lie in April is the standard love story we’ve all seen a million times with the standard characters we’ve all seen a million times. The entire path has been trodden before, and things don’t seem to be going anywhere unexpected by the end of the first arc… but is that really a bad thing? I mean, the reason this has become ‘the standard love story’ is because it’s a path we like to tread. And Your Lie in April is a good showcase of why we like it. It is touching, emotional… it’s a beautiful story, it’s just not a new story by any means.
I know, I know… I’ve been harping on mystery a lot lately. But there are some stories that don’t need it. Some stories where it would take away from the simple, pure story that is trying to be told. I’m not going to praise Your Lie in April for being cliché, but sometimes we all just want the story we’ve all heard before with new characters… sometimes its good to just have something to enjoy that you don’t have to think too deeply about. And there’s nothing wrong with that.
There are a few twists that make this show somewhat unique. The main one is that the story has a second focus… you see, while the love story is of course playing centre stage, the main character also has a fairly dramatic childhood trauma to overcome: losing his mother who was also his piano teacher. Yes, Arima is, or used to be, a pianist – a rather impressive one, referred to as a prodigy until his mother passed away and he had a mental breakdown. Since then, he has been unable to hear his own playing, even though his hearing is fine, and he has distanced himself as much as possible from the music that used to be so important to him. Miyazono, a talented violinist, forces him to remember all of that… which creates almost a bit of conflict between them as well, which leads to many of the show’s more entertaining story moments.
But the real star of Your Lie in April is not Arima. Nor is it Miyazono, no… not even her, fun though she is to watch. The real star here is the soundtrack. Regardless of whether the show itself is memorable, whether it is cliché or whether it refuses to stray from a well-trodden path… the soundtrack will stick with you. It may even haunt you, it is that good. After watching this show, there were moments where I had to go back and watch scenes again because I’d gotten too caught up in the music and completely forgot what was actually happening. It helps that I am a huge fan of both the violin and piano as instruments, of course… but the unique mix of classical tracks and more standard anime fare makes this soundtrack almost impossible to forget. There is one moment in particular – near the end of episode 8 – that literally sent chills down my spine. The soundtrack is so good that it is hard to describe.
And that is why, despite a fairly mediocre love story, fairly ordinary characters, and a relatively tame show in general… I urge anyone out there with any appreciation for the piano or violin to watch this show. The music will live in your soul, it will show you true emotion. It will teach you what music is capable of, and it will make you forget any flaws the show had. For whatever those flaws were…. they pale in comparison to how bright and beautiful this show’s music is. I have gone back to listen to that performance in episode 8 several times… and it continues to have the same impact. It leaves me speechless, breathless, and in awe… and I hope that others give this show the chance to do the same to them.