People always look at me funny when I say that I learned to appreciate classical music from watching anime. But it’s true.
I’ve never particularly liked classical music, though, to be fair, I’d never really listened to it closely. One night, after finishing up Season 1 of Attack on Titan, I couldn’t find a good new anime series to watch, so I randomly clicked on Your Lie In April, a contemporary drama/romance centered around classical music. Not at all my typical form of entertainment.
I loved it.
The art was beautiful, the music enthralling, and the story utterly gorgeous. It only has one season, and I was sad to finish it.
A few months later, I found out that this anime was, in fact, adapted from a manga series by Naoshi Arakawa. So I ran out and got myself the first volume. It was just as beautiful as the anime. Now, before writing this series off because it doesn’t have magic or swords in it, hear me out. Let me tell you about the story and what makes it so awesome.
Arima Kosei was a piano prodigy as a child. The human metronome. He won competition after competition, always playing the music exactly as the score dictated. This was how his mother taught him to play, and she was not the kind of woman to be disobeyed. But when she dies, his like is suddenly thrown into disarray. The pain in his life drives him to abandon his piano playing, but this in turn causes him to live his life in a music less, monotone world. His best friends, Watari and Tsubaki, can’t find a way to help him move on with his life.
But then Kaori Miyazono enters their life. A violinist with a highly unorthodox style, she lives her life in full color. If anybody can bring Kosei back to his music and back to the world, it will be her.
As somebody who knows practically nothing about music, this is a rather odd series for me to enjoy. But the interesting part of it is this: You don’t have to be a musician in order to connect with Kosei’s struggle to find his way. That’s how well done the story is.
The characters in this story were just plain awesome. You have the slightly dorky Kosei, the jock Watari, the tomboy Tsubaki, and the exuberant Kao. But they all have parts of their personality that keep them from being stereotypical. Kosei may be a bit of a dork, but he cheers on his friend’s sports and isn’t horribly awkward. Watari isn’t just a dumb jock: he genuinely cares about Kosei and tries to help his friend out in whatever way he can. Tsubaki may be into sports, but she’s also a very sweet, sometime girly person. And Kao is far more than just a talented violinist, but I can’t explain more without spoiling the major twist of the series.
The art is really neat. I was curious as to how it would handle the idea of Kosei’s world being monotone and Kaori’s being colorful. The anime was at an advantage here because, unlike the manga, it was not in black and white. And yet, somehow, the art was able to show the concept of colors, lights and darks, in a stunning way.
The music was also handled in an impressive way. Obviously, a book can’t allow the reader to hear the music, but the passage where Kaori plays in her competition is still able to convey the passion and spark that is her music. Naoshi Arakawa is one heck of an artist.
I also loved the messages packed into this one volume. Kaori is an artist who has something to say and is trying to reach as many people as possible through her music. Her question, “Will I get through to them?” is one that many creative people ask themselves every time they create, be it a painting, a song, a story. It was neat to me to see a manga express this idea that music is more than just notes.
And that’s not even the only message in this story. It tackles the struggle to find your purpose, the idea of having the courage to set out after something that’s probably out of your reach, and touches on not giving up on people even if they’ve given up on themselves.
It’s clear that Arakawa put a lot of thought into what he wanted this story to say and knew exactly how to weave it into a beautiful story. That takes an immense amount of skill and heart.
In case you are wondering, the anime seems to be a direct adaptation of manga, which explains why the anime is so amazing.
This is a series that should be read with caution. The anime is one of the most beautiful stories I have ever encountered, and, based off of Vol. 1, it would seem that the manga will live up to this, too. That being said, this series is one of the most heartrending series ever. It made me cry, and I’m the kind of person who doesn’t ever cry. The death of Bambi’s mother? Nothing. The first 10 minutes of Up? No crying. Your Lie in April? Tears and a trampled heart.
Basically, this is one of those series that I recommend like this:
This story is gorgeous. It ripped out my heart and made me cry. Here, read it.
Start out slow. Watch the anime (it’s on Netflix). Read this first volume. Then read the rest of the series. Just keep some chocolate on hand. It helps.
Have you read or seen this series? Please tell me in the comment section below! I’m always happy to gush over Your Lie in April with others.