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Your Lie in April Part 1 Collector’s Edition UK Blu-ray Anime Review

13 min read

your-lie-in-april-collection-1-uk-packagingTime for a slow journey up aboard the feels train…

What They Say:
Kousei Arima was a genius pianist until his mothers’ sudden death took away his ability to play. Each day was dull for Kousei. But then he meets one violinist by the name of Kaori Miyazono. This care-free, independent and sometimes short-tempered girl had an eccentric playing style that immediately fascinated Kousei. His once monotonous life was about to change forever.

The Review:
For the Blu-Ray release, we have a trademark 5.1 English release and a 2.0 Japanese release – a standard set up with no real issues throughout the track in terms of synching with the video, and the general settings didn’t need to be changed. There were no issues with the synching, or with the audio quality as no adjustments has to be made on my stand settings even with the Japanese 2.0 set up – very general and acceptable.

Similar with the audio, the video is set in 1080p AVC widescreen and the combination of how well stylized the show is – you get the nice outdoor shots with the full screen mode and then switch to the accuracy of the piano playing, nothing is left out with the movements of Kaori on the violin or Kousei on the piano – you’d be amazed how much care is into a show which seems to have a niche but dedicated following – the movement of the animation flows very well and was no slowdown in any of the episodes on the test release.

There was no packaging for this test release; however the special edition will have collectors packaging.

There are two discs with the same set up – it is basically the ending of the anime but in slow motion with slower music – the shots are of some stills of Kaori as light/cherry blossoms flow over her from the school, the street or on top of the slide where she met Kousei for the first time – it is as pretty and picturesque as it sounds like. Selections are below on a bar, on the first disc we have Play All, Episodes, Set Up and Extras (2nd disc same but no extras) – all easily selectable (though sometimes the selection colour isn’t different to the original one so slightly more difficult to see) via the main choices or popup menu (though you can’t switch to extras).

Along with the clean opening and ending, we have an episode 1 commentary for the dub (YLIA being one of the rare Bang Zoom properties to get a dub) with Patrick Seitz (ADR Director/Script Adaptor), Max Mittelman (Kousei), Erica Lindbeck (Kaori), Erica Mendez (Tsubaki) and Kyle McCarley (Watari). With the entire main cast and the director at the helm, there is a good combination of talking about the process of the show combined with a bit of silliness – but the discussions on the dubbing process, the characters, the music – how it sets the mood up and how the cast came into the show originally – Your Lie in April basically has quite the cult fan base as not one of the big shows but one that has a lot of popularity in east and west, and the fact tears were shed in future episodes should suggest the feels are going to happen. The casting was imperative knowing the fan base would be a little more eyeing them up than normal so there is some good talk with the crew, and how the show can change from silly to serious in a heartbeat – a lot of love for the show from the cast and a lot of information making it one of the better commentaries have heard in quite the while.

Your Lie In April (original name Shigatsu wa Kimi no Uso) is one of those shows that just came out of nowhere when originally aired in 2014. It got a Crunchyroll release so it was one I was able to look into, based on a manga since 2011, and even has a live action movie as well. There is definitely a bit of hubbub about this series that when licenced the fact it got a dub was actually a big deal considering the usual licences of Bang Zoom don’t get it – combined with a rather expensive limited edition in the UK (£44.99 for 11 episodes) there definitely is quite the hype for it. The question is, does it live up to it?

Well, let me put it this way. This series I rank with Clannad in terms of feels. Yes, the series I rave about so much and always makes me cry…

Strap yourselves in guys, the feels train is about to leave…

Like Clannad, it actually starts off with a combination of silly before we get to the serious. There are immediately hints though there is going to be a lot of deep drama when we are immediately introduced to our lead male, Kousei. He is a piano prodigy famed for getting everything perfect, but also like a robot with no emotions – this is due to his dominating mother (which will get into that story line in a bit) but since she passed away he has been able to ‘hear the music’ and thus unable to play. Helping him out of his funk are his childhood friends Tsubaki, a cute young girl on the softball team, and Watari, a Casanova with a heart of gold who is the star of the soccer team. Then one day in April (begin the discussion of what the lie is now) Tsubaki asks Kosei out on a double date with her, Watari and a friend of hers. Kousei is still in emo mode but does head over there…where amidst the wind, cherry blossoms and children playing music, is a beautiful blonde girl playing a melodica – helping the kids play. She is enchanting, drawing you in, Kousei has to take a picture of the scene…

…just as the wind picks up. Cue unintentional panty pic and enraged blond girl.

Ladies and gentlemen, our female lead, Kaori Miyazono, a.k.a. the girl that will take your heart on a very bumpy ride this series…

Kaori is of course the girl that is Tsubaki’s friend and she apparently has a crush on Watari (this sentence will occur a lot during your thoughts) after initial rage on Kousei they seem to get along where it turns out Kaori is heading to a violin competition, giving Kousei some flashbacks – and audience members turning heads as they recognise the piano prodigy. Kousei is understandably tense and watching the regular performers it seems to be nothing major as the judges look on with interest or boredom.

Then Kaori gets up. And to say she wakes up the audience (literally in Watari’s case) is an understatement. She doesn’t stick to the score – she plays the right notes, but makes the music in her own style. This of course, annoys the judges who strive it to be by the book, but the ones who are more into performance adore her – as does the audience. The one most entranced was of course, Kousei, yet he feels he is going to be playing the role of ‘Friend A’ for her and Watari…

Whilst Kaori doesn’t pass via the judges, she wins the audience vote and appears to wanting to date with Watari. However, the next day she finds Kousei instead and says he is his substitute…first hints of two things have occurred by now – the fact Kaori is more interested in Kousei than she appears with his musical skill and other reasons, and also Kousei notices something about Kaori when her hands seem a little shaky. Kaori, on a not-date with Kousei though, asks him to be her accompanist. It leads to a fair bit of comedy with Kaori chasing after the refusing Kousei, but leads to a dramatic moment on the school roof where Kaori begs him to be with her, for more reasons than just helping her. Again, little hints like her struggling with the stairs, and her desperation with getting Kousei to play again is early indications that there may be more to Kaori than meets the eye…

This hits hard when they do perform as Kousei manages to keep up with Kaori’s style, but the more he concentrates, the more the music seems to ‘disappear’ from him. Combined with flashbacks of her mother, he actually stops in the performance. Kaori however, follows suit, and the two start up again as he realizes Kaori’s performance is different and to focus on her. They do get disqualified but also many admirers from judges and audience…

…just as Kaori collapses after the event.

At first, it seems like exhaustion but when you couple with little things in earlier episodes, you know there is something more. And this is probably when alarms will start ringing about her…for the time being however, she is now more focused than ever for Kousei to start performing again. Tsubaki also encourages this, wanting to see him before, but this is where the childhood friend cliché hits with her starting to like Kousei more now that Kaori seems to be bringing him out of the light. Jealousy? When a high school sempai returns to her life and they appear to go out, she still seems to only talk about Kousei – and when she injures herself at a softball match, it is Kousei who helps her home echoing a flashback to when the two were kids. So potential love triangle/square (Watari clearly likes Kaori, yet isn’t as involved in the plot as much and when he does, it almost feels like he is pushing Kousei to Kaori…)? This I consider possibly the weakest part of the series as it is a typical cliché with the childhood friend romance, but Tsubaki at least doesn’t seem to hold either character in contempt (for the time being) and this definitely feels more a side story than something that will impact the main plot but we’ll see….

With a musical anime, there will obviously be other musicians – and when Kousei gets involved with a competition, he becomes nervous but helped by Kaori…and two other people are excited about his appearance. The rivals appear in Takeshi Aiza and Emi Igawa, a young boy and girl who were always 2nd and 3rd to Kousei in the young competitions before he withdrew completely. The two are friends, but have different psychologies to Kousei returning to competition – Takeshi wanted to avenge his defeats and improved to a level that he believed Kousei couldn’t touch – Emi on the other hand heard the first (and last) performance of Kousei actually going against his mom’s wishes and performing more similarly to Kaori (which when we witness the aftermath is truly cold) and almost feels she has to best him – almost like she is in love with him but is projected differently. They are two interesting characters and get the feeling they are going to be involved more (Emi for example seemed to have been performing poorly but when Kousei appears, she dominates).

As for Kousei, he is back in the past, suffering from his mother’s spirit around his neck, and again he begins to fall apart as the music leaves his ears. His friends however cheer as Kousei has to confront his trauma (and we learn that when he played with feeling rather than to the score, she beat him and he finally snapped whilst she was in her wheelchair, he wished she would die. Her change of face suggests she finally realises…but shortly after that she passes way, so yeah, the last words he said…) and whilst he doesn’t place, his late mother’s friend and lead Japanese paint Hiroki hears it, realises the old Kousei can be brought back, and looks set to return to playing. With Takeshi and Emi seemingly happier that Kousei is back and much more mature, Kaori is in the bathroom seemingly OK, but a couple of other people notice the amount of pills she took….

The strange thing about this half of the series is that I believe it has only scratched the surface of what is about to come. Our two leads are incredibly engaging characters for different reasons (Kousei breaking out of his trauma and wanting to play for himself, whilst Kaori is a bundle of energy with a sick girl hidden inside of her encouraging Kousei for unspecified reasons) whilst the other characters are fun and am sure going to be far more involved as the series continues. You know that there is going to be both smiles and tears, but from which side or both? Kousei breaking out of his funk but Kaori falling worse and worse? Kaori battling against the illness she clearly has whilst Kousei sinks back into depression? And what roles do Tsubaki and Watari have with this? Will Tsubaki get more jealous that Kousei is getting more into Kaori’s world, and why hasn’t Watari got upset that his prospective girlfriend is more with Kousei (there is a minor moment where his soccer team loses a final match, and he actually cries despite being a good sport about it, wishes for Kousei to be the only one to succeed with his dream now…more to him than meets the eye…) – combined with these two new rivals who seem to be the friendly type, and a familiar face of the past hoping to help him, it sets up all these questions to be answered in the second half.

Not going to lie – this has been one of, if not my favourite series of the past 5 years – Erased is probably the only other one that hit this level of amazing in terms of the Crunchyroll series (the last time I got heavily involved with lore and watching was when Madoka and Gosick came out in 2011) – similar to Clannad, the real payoff is happening in the 2nd half, but the first 11 episodes are more than acceptable. Kousei as a lead character could have easily been a very unlikeable stick in the mud, however he is clearly got friends, and his drama is something that nobody can really get him out of because it is in a completely different world. This is why his relationship with Kaori is the kicker – she lives in that world as well, or at least the world Kousei once inhabited – a talented musician who wished to play his own way. His mother didn’t let him and when she perished, it meant the death of music for him. Kaori is that angel on his shoulder that is pushing to return, and it is clear he is regaining his smile, it is just how the future tells.

And there is Kaori. On one hand, you could argue that she is a tad manipulative and angry – a bit too tsundere in terms of her relationship with Kousei – she is clearly very pushy, and pushing Kousei into something he seems to not want. Yet there are clear motivations for Kaori, and it is pure speculation but you can easily sync the fact she is clearly unwell – it is just you wonder what the relationship between Kaori and Kousei is going to be. Friend A? Best friends? Romantic? And if so, how is Kaori’s unknown illness going to factor in that? Kousei clearly has noticed something with her but it hasn’t been too obvious. Kaori is a wonderful character as her passion and emotion is being used for good, and whilst she maybe pushy, there is clearly something in that madness and you know it is going to all come out in the 2nd half of the series.

The only weakness I see is that it could be falling into some clichés – some are definitely good (the friendly rivals and the returning teacher) but I am concerned how Tsubaki is going to be utilized – at the moment it seems like not the worst and doesn’t seem to want to get involved with Kousei and Kaori’s musical relationship especially as Kaori is bringing Kousei out of his funk, but you get the feeling there is a tad of jealousy that Tsubaki can’t enter this world. Watari is the weakest of the main characters but even he has his moments which suggest that he is pushing Kaori along more onto Kousei so there are questions, and hopefully answers in the 2nd half.

With beautiful animation, classical music (fans of Nodame Cantabile or Sound Euphonium will definitely enjoy it for that reason) and classic characters, there is definitely a lot more to come but it sets it up beautiful and I can’t wait for the 2nd half.

In Summary:
Your Lie In April was one of those series that has a strong fan base but more hidden compared to a lot more well known shows. A lot of love is put through this and it is definitely the start of something wonderful. Those hints of Kaori being not as happy as she appears to be whilst Kousei’s unhappiness is slowly melting thanks to her, the rivals and childhood friends all getting involved and the demons of the past being slowly vanquished, it has it’s set up and ready to strike the pins down. And I get the feeling it is going to come out with a knockout…

Japanese Language, English Language, English Subtitles, Clean Opening/Endings, Cast Interview (Episode 1)

Content Grade: A-
Audio Grade: B+
Video Grade: A-
Packaging Grade: N/A
Menu Grade: B+
Extras Grade: B

Released By: Anime Limited
Release Date: November 14th, 2016
MSRP: £44.99
Running Time: 275 minutes
Video Encoding: 1080p AVC
Aspect Ratio: 1.78:1 Widescreen

Review Equipment:
Playstation 4, Sony Bravia 32 Inc EX4 Television, Aiwa 2 Way Twin Duct Bass Reflex Speaker System.

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