***Obviously, there will be spoilers for the entire series in this article***
If you’ve been reading any of the prior Anime Spotlight articles I’ve done, you’ll have seen my article on Anohana and how to me it’s the king of anime that makes you cry.
For me, this is the show that’s next in line to the throne.
The show itself seems like it’ll be a really happy show and for a while it is. The story revolves around child prodigy pianist Kousei who essentially quit from playing piano when he was younger. When meeting a female violinist in Kaori, she completely blows him away with her carefree style of playing, giving him an entire new look on music. Though he doesn’t intend to ever resume playing piano, when the two of them start to get closer together she drags him kicking and screaming back into playing piano. It’s a light-hearted, happy series of episodes in the beginning.
But then shit gets real.
As Kousei begins to try to play the piano again, we get an EXTREMELY dark backstory to Kousei’s childhood leading up to when he decided to never play the piano again. Everything was normal at first, a friend of his mother (Hiroko) urged her to let Kousei learn how to play the piano after seeing the talent he had. His mother was also a well-known pianist herself. When she fell ill however, things drastically changed. She pulled Kousei away from Hiroko and started teaching him herself, but in far worse ways. She turned him into what he would be later nicknamed as “The Human Metronome”, not letting him play a song any differently, forcing him to play exactly as it’s written, no change in speed, no flair, just note for note perfection. And if he failed to do so, she would beat him. Yay, child abuse!
After winning a major competition, presumably not playing the song perfectly regardless, his mother beats him in front of everyone and draws blood. It’s then that Kousei finally snaps and tells her that he wished she would just die already. A matter of days later, she does just that. Instead of feeling happiness however, Kousei becomes ridden with guilt, claiming full responsibility for her health suddenly turning even worse and dying not long after. It didn’t help that they never spoke after he told her to die. So days later at another competition his mind has gotten so fucked up from all the mental trauma, he becomes tone deaf and breaks down, thus his intent to never play again.
It’s when Kaori comes into the fold that Kousei begins to find his stride in music again. While in the early going his tone deafness still takes over, he slowly begins to get over it. Later on we learn Kaori originally played piano but took up violin because she wanted to play with Kousei and not against him. She gets him over the course of the series to get back into playing, not just alone and with her, but accompanying her in violin competitions, teaching young prodigies, and even entering competitions again. Because of this relationship they share, he slowly begins to develop feelings for her, which he doesn’t admit because he’s aware she’s already in a relationship with his best friend, Ryota. But more problems arise in the long run and that’s when things really start to get depressing.
As if Kousei’s life wasn’t depressing enough, Kaori has been ill since she was a child, though we’re never told specifically what medical problems she had. What we know in the long run was she’d been in and out of hospital since she was little. We start to see things are getting worse after she starts playing with Kousei, collapsing and being hospitalized a lot more often. Even though she can’t be around for Kousei as much, she’s constantly phoning him and texting him to keep him in check, making sure he’s staying on the path she’s been setting him on since they first met. I spent the entire series hoping for the happy ending, she ends up being cured of her illness, they share a tender moment, woo hoo! But it just gets worse and worse and worse until it gets to the point that you have that sinking feeling in your heart when you know the inevitability of what’s going to happen by the end of the series.
The last 6-8 episodes are extremely difficult to get through, especially towards the very end. When Kaori’s condition worsens, so does the core of your very soul, watching such a person so full of life having it all sucked out of her. And they keep stacking on the pain, watching Kousei’s other best friend Tsubaki struggle with her own feelings for him, which with Kousei’s love for Kaori are pretty much ignored.
The final episode is a bittersweet ending to a very tough emotional roller coaster of a 22-episode series. Kaori has indeed passed away and leaves Kousei a note explaining her medical history but leaving him with an even tougher pill to swallow. She actually wasn’t in love with Ryota at all, she was in love with him. It’s not an fun ending to watch, it’s a purely saddening end to what we all hoped to be a happy show by the end.
Like Anohana, Your Lie in April is a show that is all about the feels. It’s meant to challenge your mental fortitude in a number of ways and doesn’t pull any punches when it wants to go full on sad. Did I cry watching this show? Kind of, not the level Anohana did for me, but it made me feel really shitty by the very end, that’s for sure. It’s a great story, albeit a depressing one. But if you can handle tear-jerkers, this one’s right up your alley.