Your Lie in April
The Music of Sadness and Depression
Warning: this review does contain a few vague spoilers.
Your Lie in April (四月は君の嘘 - Shigatsu wa Kimi no Uso) is an anime series based on the manga by Naoshi Arakawa. The plot follows Kōsei Arima, Kaori Miyazono, and Tsubaki Sawabe as they face teenage problems in love, music, and health.
This anime is by far the most depressing series I have ever watched. It's not just sad, it's depressing. It's like watching a group of cursed kids going through traumatic events that will likely make them the most miserable adults possible. The series started with the potential of being one of the great tear-jerkers, but they forgot how to give something resembling happiness to keep the story in the light. At times, it feels like the story, and the characters, are about to emerge from the shadows, only to be pulled back deeper, like a swimmer caught in the ocean desperately trying to reach shore as it's swept further away by each crashing wave. Due to the constant dark nature of the story, I found the scenes that should have been emotional just blended into the rest of the story, resulting in a story with very little emotional impact. Although, the final two episodes were so emotional that they cut right through all that sadness, which should tell you how fantastic they were. But two unforgettable episodes doesn't make an unforgettable series.
Much of the problem in Your Lie in April stems from the repeated content. Sometimes the beginning of one episode is the same as the final minutes of the previous episode, with a few alterations. This felt like sloppy storytelling and a huge waste of time that could have been spent on fixing the balance issues. If we needed more information, the scene should have been extended to tell us the whole thing the first time. The worst was the annoying flashbacks, which repeated, ad nauseam, the same traumatic events that pushed the characters down their painful paths. It's like they didn't have faith that the viewers could remember those painful experiences.
Also, I am sure Your Lie in April would have left a better feeling with me if only one or two of the characters felt cursed. What makes the other greats so powerful is that it's how one person's problem/illness/death affects everyone else. Unfortunately, it feels like everyone has these series of problems that are only compounded by their friends' problems. Worse yet, everyone lies about the problems existing, which prevents the problems from being addressed for an excruciatingly long time. The outcomes of these problems are also extremely predictable, especially with all the excessive foreshadowing and stalling.
Maybe all these issues I have isn't as much a problem when it's watched on a weekly basis, as it originally aired. The breaks would certainly have reduced the waves of depressing twists from impacting the viewer as much, plus it would make the repeated content feel less annoying. For those watching the series after it was done, that does very little, though. A story should be enjoyable no matter how frequently the viewer watches it.
If this series focused more on the characters and their struggles in school and music, I think this series would have been fantastic. What happens at the end could have still happened, and probably would have been more impactful if they let the characters exist outside the world of pain they were in. Actually, it would have been much more enjoyable if the cursed love story, which was the same as so many other stories, was removed. There were also events that were skipped over, especially in the last few episodes, that would have done a great job of lightening the story by showing us that these students might actually have a decent future ahead of them.
Your Lie in April still has enjoyable moments, though, if you can get past the dark feelings. Ignoring their problems, the characters are very well rounded and interesting, especially when focusing on their musical and athletic talents. I especially liked the idea that music can fill the audience with colour and feelings. Even the animation amazing at times, especially when they're playing music.
While the music certainly isn't bad, but, coming from someone who does listen to classical music and has heard all the songs played before (in multiple variations), it doesn't really feel like any of the songs are that special. I'm sure they will be impactful to viewers who didn't get a chance to experience those amazing pieces before, but if you have, you probably won't be overflowing with the emotions the characters in the anime apparently feel.
So, should you watch Your Lie in April? Because the love story is so overused that it's predictable, and the main plot is so depressing, I feel like I should say no... yet, there is a lesson this series teaches its viewers that needs to be heard. I wouldn't put this anime to the top of your to-watch list, but it is something I would recommend watching in between other anime series – maybe a couple episodes at time to break things up, or once a week. I definitely don't recommend anyone to binge-watch this series, though; it might cause some very unwelcome feelings.