Classical music is built upon the idea of the building of suspense leading into a resolution, thus creating very elegant sound that seems to move emotions with its melody. How appropriate that Your Lie in April, with it’s plot based on classically trained musicians, would exemplify the use of tension and release with its own music and passionate visual style.
Music is like a huge release of tension.
– James Taylor
Your Lie in April takes its young character’s drama to the extremes with Kousei often reflecting upon his life in prose. Generally melodrama within a show detracts from the experience and fails to manipulate my emotions, but in Your Lie in April it succeeds. The drama within the show is used as a build up leading to each performance where Kousei learns to come to terms with his past and find direction for the future. Your Lie in April understands that dramatic tension cannot be held forever and has many micro-releases in the form of sentimental character interactions or comedic relief. To my dismay the comedy often involves the physical abuse of Kousei, but I digress, I am here today to sing my praises. These micro-releases of suspense allow the viewer to not become insensitive to the drama presented and retain their emotional investment to the characters, meanwhile the overall tension continues to rise.
Even Kousei’s performances can be characterized by their intensifying suspense followed by a climax. In both of his performance’s so far, Kousei has had his trauma effect his music. Steadily his state of mind deteriorates, paralleled by the music until he gives up and stops playing. In this despair, Kaori inspires him to play with a new found vigor, releasing the tension built over episodes and creating a moment of catharsis while turning a failure into a triumph. The idea of turning the tables and converting a loss into a victory is by no means original, but the culmination of the sound direction and visual aesthetic turn these moments into magic.
Aketagawa Jin, the sound director for Your Lie in April, has a mastery over the use of silence. Kousei stops playing in each of his performances and the silence is used to prolong the suspense before the ensuing climax. As for the music that complements the climax itself, the pieces are chosen perfectly and played to perfection. I especially want to commend the violin player for Kaori as I have never heard such a spontaneous violin before. It captured the strong willed and impulsive personality of Miyazono Kaori perfectly.
The art style of Your Lie in April reminds me of a cleaner version of Clannad. An aesthetic that uses bright shades of colors and a lot of lights in the background. Even when it is night everything in the show seems to shine. The only scenes that truly use a dim palette are the scenes where Kousei struggles with his trauma, and it is usually followed by an explosion of color to complement the pacing of suspense and release. What really makes the art special though is how it is animated manifestation of the character’s emotions.
In the end Your Lie in April is really carried by its pacing music and art. The emotional drama is only effective when raised by the show’s beautiful frames and powerful music. As much as I can write about the pacing and how the show is structured to complement these elements, there are some things that are better expressed without words. I’ll let the show do the rest.