I don’t often do review updates, unless there is a major shift in the tone and themes of the show. Your Lie in April is one such, with the very first episode after I posted my previous review showing almost a complete 180 in tone. The show started out as a slowly building love story – a very traditional romance that just happened to take place between two musicians. What it became, however, was a whole different beast.
The show immediately (the episode after the end of the first arc in fact) begins to show signs of tragedy. The story becomes focused heavily on Arima, our protagonist, his childhood friend Tsubaki and a new character named Nagi – with the other characters, even the previous female lead, taking on supporting roles. It was a surprising switch, since the first episodes had so strongly revolved around Kaori in particular. To see her reduced to a supporting role was surprising, but it really worked with the story they were telling.
One way in which this show has consistently impressed me is the attention to detail in the animations. The characters are animated in great detail, especially when they are performing. I was amazed by the loving care taken to ensure that the fingers move in a way that looks, at least to me, very realistic. Additionally, they also animated the inner workings of the piano, occasionally showing the interactions between the action and the strings within the piano. The two combined to make a great effect that really turned a simple piano scene into something dramatic. They also do a great job of using colour and imagery the entire show through with a very unique colour palette and some amazingly pretty scenes.
The show’s stellar soundtrack showed no signs of stopping. The opening and closing themes were not quite as good, but the background music did a ridiculously good job of setting the mood. It is simply superb. But even more impressive are the performance pieces, which are still the same style of classical pieces. The performance during the final episode in particular was stellar, and even came close to recapturing the incredible impact of episode 8’s unbelievable performance.
Speaking of the ending, the first half of the last episode is really weird. The surrealist approach to it, while somewhat fitting with some scenes throughout the show, felt really weird. However, after that is over, you get a finale that does an incredible job of wrapping matters up. It really puts a lot of the other scenes in the show in a completely different light while also showcasing the characters’ growth.
The development of the three main characters was superb, for the most part. Arima’s response to tragedy was a bit exaggerated, which made a few scenes feel a bit awkward and made his growth feel almost too miraculous, too sudden. But the overall character progression was well handled, especially with the way they used Nagi. Nagi was used as a catalyst to force Arima to face his problems and to overcome them, while also developing her own story which built up to a rather impressive conclusion midway through the second half of the season.
Of course, everything was very heavily foreshadowed, and the events of the finale are largely expected due to the progression of the show. Not only was it expected, it was in fact almost necessary in order for the show to reach a satisfying conclusion. If the finale had turned out any differently, it wouldn’t have been satisfying, and the realistic dichotomy between the hope the characters feel and their sadness over the events makes it end on a high note, despite the tragic events of the series.
Overall, I really felt they took what they’d built-in the first half and used it to great effect in the second half of the series. By relegating a main character to a side role, they were allowed to bring one of the other major characters forward into a more important role, one that suits her a lot better. And they created more situations to showcase the show’s fantastic animation and soundtrack. While I enjoyed the entire series, it really came into its own over the second half.