Your lie in April is a delicate reminder of the uplifting powers of music and love, covering a collection of heartbreaks – a series of photographic moments carried with each character and informing their stories with each regrettable glance. When Kosei Arima, stuck in a rut after once being a piano prodigy, first meets the violinist Kaori Miyazono performing with the touch of a wildling child, they unknowingly share a moment where their longings and troubles overlap. And it’s these varying stages of convergence in the characters’ dreams which move the drama beneath the series’ bittersweet tragedy. The loves that fade in life but pain the memory drive each character on, while the anxieties they inspire tug them back to the time of suffering. Even in Kaori, there’s a look in the eye that chimes frenzied, her energy a reaction to an unnamed fear, leaving her as her eyes close to feel the music she creates.
As Kaori drags Kosei back to the competition stage as her accompanist, there’s a discovery yet to be made; that people feel their anxieties differently, and that they are closer to each other in their fears than they realise. Calmed by the air of the concert hall, cloyed with nostalgia, he can only see the contrast between Kaori and his mother, who appears as the face of anxiety each time he plays. The panic beating him into submission just as she did in life, Kaori can’t see that, to him, the ghost in greyscale is as present as the rest of the audience. In turn, Kosei can’t see the shared love that terrifies them, the relentless anticipation of playing agitating her the same way as the loss of his mother does for him. Certain people can fake a smile in the face of their fear more easily than others, and while Kosei is drowning in a dark sea of his failings as a musician and, he feels, as a son, she’s merely alienating herself from a tragedy somewhere ahead of her. The spring that surrounds her is oversaturated, resonating in A-1 Pictures’ drastic movements between her light and his darkness during performances.
On either end of the contrast though, there is strength to be found, inspiring to anyone who has clung to music to overcome hardships. Kosei’s slow ascent from the cold, lonely depths of his despair becomes unbearable, then liberating as he begins to find the light. Kaori is a rebel against the road of least resistance, infuriating the old boys of the classical echelons with her refusal to keep to the score. Kosei may have a lot to learn from Kaori in finding the silver lining in any given situation, but she could also find room to accept that suffering is a freedom of music too, something that they could both learn to harness in their music equally with their happiness. It seems that the second collection will see them make this discovery, the empowerment of tragedy pushing them to achieve more than they could have imagined in their music.
Extras: English dub; clean opening/closing animation