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 audio has a 2.0 release in English and a 2.0 in Japanese – I watched the first disc in English and the second disc in Japanese to compare – and with the Japanese release I did have to raise the volume a little from my default settings, however, there were no other issues regarding sound quality, echoing, synching with subtitles, etc – the quality is high overall. The dub is excellent too, with the last episode commentary filled with tremendous emotion and awe on how powerful the series, and that episode was when recording it. Of course, I wish it had a 5.1 release but it is still more than acceptable.
Similar with the audio, the video is set in full screen format via NTSC transfer to PAL (though reviewing the DVD version in comparison to the Blu-Ray version previously to see the changes) – sadly it does suffer a bit obviously in comparison as well as the dreaded slightly blurring of the animation during pausing that a lot of older DVDs did, this does sadly as well, which is a shame as it is a very colourful show and in motion full screen it is still great to watch through with no problems or slowdown throughout or issues with the subtitles, just shows how you can be spoilt with the Blu-Ray releases.
There was no packing for this test release.
The menu on both discs is pretty basic – both of them have an above shot of Kaori with the violin and Arima on the piano with the title above them, and episode selection on the left (no Play All, selecting the first episode is basically play all) with the audio selections of English/Japanese 2.0 also right there so no sub-menu so at least all selections are immediately available. On Disc 2 we also have the extras selectable immediately in terms of the commentary, the opening/ending and bloopers selectable so it is as close as a Blu-Ray screen to instant selection as can be and it is easy to return to the main menu via the show albeit with a pop-up screen like a Blu-Ray.
he extras are on Disc 2 selectable straight from the main menu, the main one being a commentary for the final episode (22) – featuring Patrick Seitz (voice director/voice of Kaori’s dad), Max Mittleman (Kousei), Erica Lindbeck (Kaori), Erica Mendez (Tsubaki) and Kyle McCarley (Watari) – this reminds me a bit of the commentary of Snow White & The Red Hair where this is a true gushing moment, but with more emotion because of the experience of the show, how it became a tearjerker now it is over (some of the cast mention they are emotionally drained), how important the letter scene was, (the actors are quiet during it at times), can tell some of the actresses are teary throughout as well because this is one of the most powerful final episodes and in particular most powerful scenes have seen in anime in recent years regarding the letter scene that words are hard to come by. It’s one of those you just have to watch.
We have the second cleaning opening and closing, and it has been a while but we also get a blooper reel which is something you do kind of need after watching the finale of this…
Content: (please note that content portions of a review may contain spoilers)
The first half of Your Lie In April was one of those charming series that had a lot more going for it than you’d think, with a lot of character history with the male lead and basically being brought back into a world he didn’t think he’d return to, thanks to a charming, bossy, fun young girl. And then it hits you with things that you don’t expect, that this girl may not be as healthy as she appears, and things are about to change…
And BOY DOES IT.
In the space of a month, I’ve had the privilege of basically two top series for me (the other being Snow White With The Red Hair) and whilst I know this series does have a few detractors, the love I have for this series will be explained as well as a few little things which lead to the odd moan about it, but yep, this is definitely worth the journey.
Leaving one from the first half, Kaori has been asked to perform at a big competition (Towa music competition) and has asked Arima to be her accompanist – of course, Arima has his concerns about not hearing the music but Kaori, stubborn as she is and hilarious, of course is going to drag him there. The problem is that the piece she has selected is one he played with his mother, and brings back bad memories for him. This leads to what some people have as a complaint about the series, is that Kaori can be quite selfish and manipulative towards Arima, and can be seen as a double standard. This is one of those series that you really need to watch the entire series to understand her motivations as initially it could seem that (granted, some of the scenes are played for comedy but yes, I can see that forcing him to play a piece that brings bad memories is a bit on the negative side – TBF Kaori didn’t know this…) but once you complete the series you actually understand her motivations (short story – wants to get him playing again, long story – OHH BOYYY…)
However, when he goes to perform, Kaori surprisingly doesn’t turn up. They tried to hold off but the final player is stubborn and doesn’t swap, so Arima goes by himself which is a big turning point for him as he plays a piece that he struggled with due to the memories of his mother, but he gets through it, begins to hear the music (thanks to Kaori’s influence) and breaks through the darkness in his mind. This is a big turning point in his character as for the rest of the season Arima becomes more confident whilst having to deal with a new set of problems which will become very apparent…
As was definitely hinted at in the previous arc, and explaining her disappearance, it appears Kaori isn’t as healthy as her energetic performances would showcase. Indeed, her no-show was due to her collapsing, and she ends up in the hospital. She puts on a happy face for Tsubaki, Watari and Arima, but ‘Friend A’ clearly notices she isn’t well. This leads to a different dynamic for Arima and Tsubaki – Arima now wishes to follow music in his career and attend a school with a music degree, whilst Tsubaki realizes this is due to Kaori’s influence and thinks she is unintentionally taking him away from her – this is actually big as it is now clear she also likes Arima (despite having a boyfriend, which he does notice and later breaks up with her, which she feels terrible about) as she begins to study hard to go to a school near the one Arima goes to. Again, Tsubaki’s character can be conflicting as she can be seen as more selfish now as she could be seen as Arima liking Kaori and trying to go in between them – which considering some of her actions I can see as base breaking – but ironically she never seems to have ill-will towards Kaori so it is a double edged sword how her character is portrayed.
Arima meanwhile now is struggling to see Kaori more knowing she is much sicker than she appears, and to help him out, Hiroko (very underrated character, his music teacher is quite awesome throughout) assigns him a student to help with the piano named Nagi – Nagi is a young girl who is a great introduction to the cast, as she is actually Takashi’s little sister and purposely wants to sabotage Arima being Takashi’s rival. Hiroko immediately sees through this and pretty much puts her on notice, but the fact is she never gets to try anything because Arima goes straight into teaching mode needs to some funny scenes between the two and later some great performances – again, the clash between comedy and tragedy is no greater than in this series, which might seem a little off-putting but I felt it is necessary considering what is about to come…
Eventually, Kaori finally gives in and admits to Arima she is not well despite trying to look the same on the outside (including a powerful and foreshadowing thought in one line) – whilst Arima is focusing on performing with Nagi, Kaori intends to go through a surgery which would give her an extending lifespan otherwise she may die from it – however she wants to go through it after hearing about Arima’s new lease of life in performing so she can perform on stage once more with him. This is where you slowly begin to see that Kaori sees Arima more than just ‘Friend A’ as all her poignant moments are with him – even Watari, the Casanova and a good source of comic relief, clearly knows that Kaori and Arima do belong together despite his apparently crush on Kaori, which leads to some sadly brief but nice moments between the two as Watari pretty much casts himself aside for Arima with no bad blood between the two.
So then come the final 3 episodes…
First, Tsubaki tries to suggests that Arima falls in love with her instead of Kaori (which feels definitely a bit wrong in the way she says it but you also have to see it was a spur of the moment considering the about to be revealed information) yet despite this, Arima admits to Watari that he does like Kaori, and the two go to visit the hospital.
Cue nurses moving Kaori to the emergency unit.
This breaks Arima and Tsubaki, fearing the worst due to being through this before when his mother died and during his most abused stages, tries to get Hiroko to help but Arima feels music has taken everyone he loved away. Depressed, he returns to school but gets a message from Watari which easily means Kaori wants to see him. With a slight switch to comedy for a moment with Kaori immediately seemingly fine and cursing him not practicing, she wants to go eat some canales he has brought for her, so he carries her to the roof and Arima admits why he is scared to play. Kaori, in pain but through effort, pretends to play her violin and tells him she is going into surgery just to prolong her death so she can play with him. It is also the day of the contest…
So the day happens. Arima seems at peace (making full friends with Emi and Takeshi) and whilst he seems to initially have doubts, he sees Tsubaki in the audience and realizes he has friends there and begins to play.
Cue one of the most beautiful and eventual tear jerking sequences in anime as whilst he is playing Kaori is in his visions – and he understands what that means. As she fades away, with tears in his face, he says his final farewell as he plays…and leads to the infamous letter from Kaori that was left for him, which includes the actual ‘Lie In April.’
Let’s just say I needed hydration.
The series definitely will have a few questions raised about it despite the intense drama and storytelling. The clash between comedy and drama/tragedy can feel out of place as mentioned, the characters (especially of Kaori and Tsubaki) have personality traits that you may not be that fond of – whether they are manipulative or perhaps too mature for their age. These things are actually good points and I did notice them throughout the series which is why it certainly isn’t perfect.
That said, I do feel to say that this is one of those series that if you get your teeth into, you are going to love.
The lead character, Arima, is incredibly developed and one of my favourite male leads of all time. He has a back-story which is tragic but he is growing out of it because of friends. However he has had that something missing since he lost his ability to ‘hear’ the notes he played. Whilst Tsubaki and Watari are good friends of his, they sadly couldn’t be there to help his biggest fear due to their lack of understanding of it.
Enter Kaori. Kaori is an aura of brightness, beauty, power and plain recklessness that Arima needed in his life. Kaori was selfish, a bit bratty, and arguably manipulative when it came to getting Arima back into music. But then you learn not just she wanted it for his own sake, but for her own reasons as well considering she had not much time to live…that letter scene, oh man…she is a wonderful character and you could see the hints in the first arc, and they come full circle the 2nd half.
The other cast are a nice mix as well – Tsubaki, whilst you may feel that her way of being interesting in Arima may have been just as manipulative, and she did lose points by trying to force him away from Kaori, but in the end she also was sad about what was happening to her, and her determination was admirable, plus she did get some of the key fun moments. Watari wasn’t a major factor in the second half, but you knew he was actually pushing for Arima and Kaori, despite a single sad moment right at the end of the series when he looks at a picture in his phone after being slapped around by another ex-girlfriend. The character of Hiroko was a big one as she was the one who helped Arima fully turn the circle as a surrogate mother figure, part strict, part funny, all loving. The introducing of Nagi as a student of Arima for him to focus on combined the fact she was Takeshi’s brother and her feelings of respect vs. anger towards Arima lead to some great conflicts and moments. And Emi/Takeshi as the rivals of Arima led to an amicable friendship by the end of the series.
A lot of series have made me cry – I even did a top 10 tearjerkers way back on the Fandom Post – this would definitely be in the top 5. I don’t think it is quite the level of AoiHana or Clannad: After Story, but it is close. The animation and music are the cherry on the cake, as the story goes through and you hope for once that the cliché does happen and it is happy ever after…and there is a happy ever after…
…just without the girl who told that lie in April.
Your Lie In April is a rollercoaster of emotions which lead from fun, to smart, to developing, to sad, to hope, to acceptance. There are parts of the series that can feel a bit problematic involving the characters, but once you get to the end, you begin to see everything come into place (especially with Kaori). The development of Arima is underrated as most people will feel that it is about him and Kaori, but this focuses on him and his journey back to music, and his love/hate relationshop with it. Combined with some fun characters, symbolism, backstory and an ending that tears your heart out, Your Lie In April is one of the best series IMO to come out in the last few years.
Episode 22 dub commentary, Textless Opening & Closing themes, Bloopers
Content Grade: A
Audio Grade: B+
Video Grade: B+
Packaging Grade: N/A
Menu Grade: B+
Extras Grade: B
Released By: Anime Limited
Release Date: May 8th, 2017
Running Time: 275 minutes
Video Encoding: PAL
Aspect Ratio: 1.78:1
Playstation 4, Sony Bravia 32 Inc EX4 Television, Aiwa 2 Way Twin Duct Bass Reflex Speaker System.