[Full Review] Shigatsu wa Kimi no Uso

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[Full Review] Shigatsu wa Kimi no Uso




Japanese: Shigatsu wa Kimi no Uso
English: Your Lie in April
Studio: A-1 Pictures
Online availability: Crunchyroll, Hulu
Premise: Arima Kousei was a child piano prodigy, but after his mother passed away, he had a breakdown while playing in a competition, and from that day on he was no longer able to hear the sound of the piano. He continued his life content with the world that had lost its color for him until one day he meets Kaori Miyazono and suddenly everything begins to change.
 
 
Story: 10
Because of how much I loved it, I really don't want to ruin any aspects of the story, and even just acknowledging that there are things to be ruined could theoretically ruin something, but that is unavoidable. I will do my best not to say anything too revealing, but this is my warning. The story is beautiful and emotional. Some might feel that the heavy use of emotion is leaning towards melodrama, and while that may not be entirely wrong, I don't think it's used poorly here. It's emotional because the story delves into some very heavy subjects which have significant emotional impact. And these topics are presented from the point of view of the characters rather than from a 3rd party perspective, so it makes sense for emotions to be flowing freely. There were even some arguments among viewers because some felt that a particular topic was treated too lightly, but what they failed to keep in mind is that we were being shown the events through Kousei's eyes, and from his position, there were reasons to see it that way. At a glance, the story appears to be a light romcom, but it's not; it's so much more than that. Some of the plot points are not difficult to see coming, but that really plays into one of the themes of the show. Life isn't about twists and shocks; even when you know what lies in store, how you deal with everything and move forward is what matters.
 
Character Design: 9
The main criticism that people have for the characters is that they make everything too dramatic, but that's completely missing the point. These people have forgotten what it was like to be in middle school. I can't fault them for doing so because I don't really remember it all that clearly either, but because I have a sister in middle school, I can compare the characters to her and realize that the characterizations are right on the money in that regard. Do I think that the characters make everything a bigger deal than it needs to be? Yes. Do I think that real middle schoolers do the exact same thing? Yes. Compare the main characters to the one major adult character and you'll notice that while she feels emotions like any normal human, she is much more in control of them, as an adult should be. Speaking of other characters brings me to one of the other great parts of Shigatsu wa Kimi no Uso. Aside from really minor side characters, every character feels like they matter, which is key because that's one of the major themes of the show.
Character Development: 10
Growth is pretty much the whole point of the story. Every character undergoes change, but Kousei in particular really develops a lot. Again, I don't want to go into detail as to what occurs because that would kind of defeat the purpose of watching.
Overall Character Score: 9.5
 
Art Direction: 10
The art is straight-up gorgeous. The palettes for different scenes vary between vivid colors and light pastels, and every one is a work of art. It's pretty unbelievable to claim that every single scene was beautiful, but I honestly think that's the case here. I'm surprised that I didn't suffocate because my breath was taken away the entire time I was watching. To add onto how beautiful everything is, the visual symbolism is great. Light and dark, as well as varied saturation of color are all used throughout to convey thoughts and emotions. In a similar vein, the colors are carefully changed over the course of the anime to subtly convey the changes in the characters. The changes aren't noticeable while watching, but when comparison shots are made, the difference is striking. These techniques aren't new, they've been around for as long as art has existed, but it is nevertheless very well done here.
Animation: 8
The animation is really good overall. There is some CG on pianist hands during the music sequences which isn't of quite the same quality, but it isn't distracting, and it allows the playing to be animated accurate to the music being played which is a detail that made me happy. But what has me completely in love is the animation for Kaori playing the violin. It's mesmerizing, and I couldn't look away at any point when Kaori was playing. The animators clearly worked hard to capture the essence of playing the violin with all your heart, and it's perfect.
Overall Art Score: 9
 
Music: 10
Considering that the central element of Shigatsu wa Kimi no Uso is music, it would be almost a crime for it to be lacking in that department, but thankfully there is no deficiency here. The music is done fantastically; it's as simple as that. I am not as good at judging piano, but the renditions of the violin pieces were all amazing, so I can only assume that the piano pieces were of the same caliber. The pieces chosen were also awesome, though this is heavily sourced from the original manga. Admittedly, Chopin's Etude in E minor Op. 25 No. 5, nicknamed "Wrong Note", (link) can be hard to follow even when played perfectly (though I actually like it quite a bit), but other pieces like Saint Saens' Introduction and Rondo Capriccioso in A minor, Op. 28 (link) and the Rachmaninoff arrangement of the Rose Adagio from Tchaikovsky's Sleeping Beauty (link) are simply captivating. Also, while it's not classical music, I adored both OPs and EDs, especially Goose House's Hikaru Nara (link), partly because I really like Goose House.
Sound Design: 8
I think what really shone about the sound design for me was that it knew how to handle the music scenes as part of the story. Obviously, there generally need to be dialogue pieces going on throughout a lot of the musical performances so as to move the story as well as to allow viewers without a musical education to be informed of what's going on, and these are well balanced such that the articulation and emotion in the music is not lost. In addition, there are points where Kousei's inability to hear the music needs to come into play, and this is done very well by making everything look and sound like Kousei is drowning and the music is drifting out of hearing range. Above all, I was really happy that they knew when to shut everything else up and just let the music speak. I can't speak for viewers who don't have any experience with classical music, but I know that for me, hearing just the music and no other noise was often the most effective way of getting the raw emotion to reach me.
Overall Sound Score: 9
 
Personal Enjoyment: 10
This may have edged out Anohana (also made by A-1 Pictures) to become my personal favorite anime. If nothing else, it's now very clear that A-1 Pictures has earned my love forever. As the earlier segments of this review have likely made clear, I was absolutely captivated by every aspect. Shigatsu wa Kimi no Uso was originally a manga, which I have read part of, but I actually think that the anime is better than the manga. This is admittedly strange for me because it's rare for me to think a work has made it through adaptation unscathed, much less that it's improved, but Shigatsu wa Kimi no Uso has so many elements that are a much better fit for anime than manga. First and foremost, it's a story centered on music, so having sound greatly contributes to the experience. In addition, Shigatsu wa Kimi no Uso loves to employ visual symbolism and color imagery, and this is enhanced by the fact that anime is in full color whereas manga is mostly in grayscale. But perhaps most importantly, the anime is a full adaptation that (from what I've read) does not skip over the details from the manga. I'm not saying that Shigatsu wa Kimi no Uso will manage to so thoroughly enamor every viewer, and if you hate anything that's going to push emotions onto you, then this probably won't be your cup of tea. Nevertheless, I think that even more than being just a story, Shigatsu wa Kimi no Uso is a work of art and captures why animation is an incredible medium. By bringing together visual art and music and a story, a masterpiece can be made.
 
 
Final Score: 9.5

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