Let me get this out of the way first: I did not hate Your Lie in April, at least not as much as how I reacted to it during the first couple of episodes.
To sum up: we have a strong, clear trajectory for our main character as he is slowly but surely drawn of his shell, and while Your Lie in April brings nothing new to the table, it pulls off a satisfying tale of getting back on your feet in spite of the failures along the way. While the mother is portrayed in such an abusive manner that is beyond redemption (exaggerated in his mind perhaps, but still), the show captures incisively the depression that afflicts our overly-pressured hero. The resolution of his mood issues can be a cop-out, but at least, the portrayal of how he was able to turn his life around and get back on track without necessarily letting him win all the time was believable.
The leading lady is barely a notch above the “manic pixie dream girl” cliche, and her issues come straight out of a soap opera, detracting from the main story. But all in all, her presence is serviceable and even a tad cute. And simply because of its relatable subject, I was able to get behind this show despite having to cite a litany of caveats.
Now, the thing is, it’s the little things that count when it comes to any story. What’s less easy to forgive in the case of Your Lie in April is the fact I had to ignore these little things precisely if I wanted to enjoy the show. This task, however, is very hard for an abrasive nitpicker like me.
Directing was reminiscent of 2013’s Beyond the Boundary in that it is marked by egregious tonal shifts that take me out of the moment. One of the more outrageous things that irk me about this anime is how it milks the protagonist’s physical abuse from his mother for drama while treating that from his leading ladies as comedy…
And, while the plot is already quite melodramatic to begin with, it is not helped by a sappy script that is overblown to say to least. At some point, the five lead characters (I won’t consider the soccer player guy an important one) all wax poetic with cheesy, heavy-handed similes.
Not to mention how it seemed at points that everyone’s just standing in for what the writer commands the audience to feel: oohing and aahing with little variation in their words, smothering the main character with praises on how his music brought color to their drab lives, and how unlike the others’ self-seriousness, his music is imbued with scenery yadda-yadda.
Lastly, there’s this irritating tendency not to animate the piano or violin-playing (which is quite a fatal flaw for an ANIME), or worse, skip them out altogether and just have the characters claim the pianist played well and hit it right in the kokoro or something.
All these qualms—served in small but consistent doses—detracted from the experience and I was never completely sold on the anime. Which I think is a shame, because I only began appreciating the richness of the conflict and main character’s trajectory once I gradually learned to tune out all the mediocrity in presentation. But in the first place, this was something that should not have been my responsibility.