This show is bittersweet–depicting the lives of middle school students enjoying their youth and experiencing hardships. Noitamina picked a wonderfully written manga to adapt and the music sells this show a ton!
A-1 Pictures adapted Naoshi Arakawa’s manga faithfully. It’s beautifully drawn with very detailed character designs by Yukio Aikei! This is a wonderful series that ties the bonds between friends together through music and love. Arima Kousei’s growth is one of the big highlights of Shigatsu as we see him placing fear onto himself due to his mother’s death. The contrast that gets him out of his shell is Kaori Miyazono. She’s free-spirited and much like his childhood friend, Tsubaki Sawabe, she’s got this drive to fix Kousei out of his slump. The connection is that they are both musicians and this is how the romance develops between the two of them. They’re both learning their own sounds by practicing together and discovering they’ve got strong chemistry!
Masaru Yokoyama’s soundtrack fits extremely well into this– picking from a range of popular classical insert songs to a collection of original pieces that are just as emotionally moving as the animation and its engaging characters! When it comes to a series about music it’s pivotal that you need sound to get this story moving and it doesn’t let go of this idea ever. This is one series I would highly recommend to anyone that’s a fan of music or romance. It touches on parental loss and the huge respects are paid to this theme throughout as Kousei goes on his journey discovery that in order to get over his mother’s death and realize his feelings for Kaori he must find his own way of voicing it out even if its through playing piano.
If you like Nodame Cantabile‘s focus into music than I’d say you would enjoy this series. A lot of criticism from Shigatsu stems from its overdramatic scenes and moments where the show at times leans more on a characters’ emotions rather than the musical performances themselves. In my opinion I find this to be a pretty big success to the series’ way of reminding us that these are middle school students and they need all the room to grow up in their own ways.
OVERALL IMPRESSION: [91/100]
This just raised the bar on this entire series for me! So much emotion! The direction here is credited to an already well-established mangaka but much praise to Kyohei Ishiguro’s directorial debut! Seriously everything came together so smoothly in the end here! After seeing this I am very eager for his next directed-animated work in the future!
Kaori’s letter reveals she’s been watching Kousei for a long time– this is how to deal with a death of a major character! Rather than showing flashbacks of her childhood prior to this [like what Tokyo Ghoul has been shoving in our faces this entire season] they lead in with the death first without really showing it! The ‘heavily implied’ scenario makes for a larger impact on the audience especially when it is driven by music here!
That performance is animated ridiculously well! A-1 Pictures did a fantastic job at maintaining a continuous flow with this entire episode! Heck even the music is breathtaking during Kousei’s performance that the creators didn’t dissolve it with dialogue around it! Finally! When Kousei visualizes Kaori on stage with him this just makes him realize that she’s gone and delivers a tremendous feeling that lifts his playing style to another level here! Absolutely love how both of them are in their own world far away from anyone else– this greatly depicts the love they have for music and for each other. With A-1 Pictures help animation director Keiko Okuda pulled off the most stunning visuals of her career especially with the whole performance and the background scenery against Kousei reading the letter! That one single cut of Kousei’s face as he’s reading the letter and giving off different facial expressions while Kaori is reading it– left me speechless.
I’m also glad there is closure for Watari and Tsubaki as well. Watari chases girl after girl but will never forget Kaori– he keeps a picture of them as wallpaper on his phone. As for Tsubaki she’s the comfort Kousei will need or rather she’s the best friend he’s always had but now more than ever she steps to the plate in being a big friend– supporting Kousei in anything that he needs and she will never stop being there for him! I like how the elevates Tsubaki in a larger light by leaving away the feeling of selfishness she’s been portrayed in previous episodes and allows her to be the final dialogue piece with Kousei.
Kaori didn’t just love Kousei but its the fact that she was an inspiring force in everyone’s lives through her personality and music. The montage during the credits amplifies her death so much more! Saddening but a bitter sweet ending that enriches the love story this series approached with since the beginning! Curious about the OVA– original standalone story or alternate ending?
OVERALL IMPRESSION: 10/10
Hiroko is a great parental figure for Kousei– it’s too bad the adults in this series are outweighed by all the drama of the main cast because she would have been great to explore for a few episodes during her college life. They could have put into more detail her relationship with Kousei’s mother in an entire episode to establish an even greater view of Kousei’s relationship with her.
As much as Kousei has changed he is still very much the same as when he was a child whom lost his mother– hiding in the same place and Hiroko choosing to comfort him differently this time spells out their past history together. This is a very powerful episode because Kousei blames himself for what is happening with Kaori– he fell in love with her and is giving up his music due to this! It’s good to see Kousei struggling personally because this is what he needs to find a new direction in handling his own musical style. The caneles as I mentioned before translates for Kaori that she wants to see him– this is very tough to watch here. He carries her up the stairs in order for her to see the outside possibly for the very last time. The snow outside foreshadows her death greatly and the writer of this episode really knew what they were doing transition from Kaori’s heartwarming lovable side to her scared behavior of being left all alone. How amazing this entire scene is it revitalizes Kousei’s desire to see his performance through the end.
The Your Lie in April is enhanced quite a bit here because we now get to see Kaori being affectionate within her own mind about Kousei– we all need someone to kiss us goodbye. Everything will be ok and it will be Kousei’s passionate performance that will give her this message and more importantly send her home. The smallest things in life can make the biggest impact– the caneles play a pivotal role especially in this episode: a gentle sweetness to a short-lived life. Kousei’s breakdown on stage is completely saved by Tsubaki’s clumsiness– that he’s not alone he has support through his mentors and his friends. So why not let it ring for them Kousei? His performance is awesome here but I wish they hadn’t cut it off with the ending. Guess we will see what happens in the final episode!
OVERALL IMPRESSION: 9/10
According to the official website there is going to be an OVA in the coming months– will this be an alternate ending for Kaori? Let’s hope so.
At last! Tsubaki finally lets Kousei know how she feels– it’s comical where she kicks him in the shin, after holding her love inside her heart for so long she runs away. The angles in that scene are done incredibly well and just shows how there hasn’t been the slightest drop in animation quality yet! Shigatsu excels at drama but one part of this I really enjoy is the aftermath of awkward situations between the main cast and minor characters– launching the bat at her friend is priceless here! Tsubaki is always distracted by Kousei and this series doesn’t forget that one bit! It’s very funny how lightly thrown in this is with Kousei’s perspective about girls being enigmas.
The flashbacks are a nuisance now because we already have a pretty good idea about how their relationship has been in the past and this overly emphasizes this too much. I am hoping that the final two episodes aren’t shattered by this effect.
However the second half is awesome because after Tsubaki takes the dive, Kousei follows suit by telling Kaori he wants to see her. I’ve mentioned before how I really like the friendship Watari and Kousei hold but this is bitter sweet for them because Kousei reveals to him he’s got feelings for Kaori and it’s good to see Watari be so cool about all of it. They’re best friends that understand each other– great build up towards Kaori’s inevitable encounter with death. This might have been the last time they see her and to see this view of her struggling in pain is heart-wrenching.
The cat that’s been seen throughout this series is hit by a car really speaks volumes to Kousei about the reality of Kaori and what he’s feeling inside his heart. He’s lost his mom, the cat and possibly Kaori– his emotionless eyes pushes this even farther here!
The question is how will he handle this through his music?
OVERALL IMPRESSION: 8/10
This is emotional— it is heartbreaking to see the parents especially the mom here upset over possibly losing her daughter to this surgery. Kousei is distraught over seeing that Kaori’s deciding on doing the risky surgery— I really don’t see her coming out alive after this is over. It’s a good thing though that this is taking place here because we get a good view of Tsubaki’s selfish behavior.
She knows full and well that Kousei loves Kaori but it’s great to see how she’s struggling at making her own feelings right in her own mind— the impact is how she treats Kousei in the first half here. She’s just as passionate as Kaori is and she does have a soft-side— her leaning against Kousei as he’s playing against the moonlight illustrates this quite strongly. Also the hair cut scene as well! She’s fighting her own feelings while trying to be respectful towards Kaori and her illness but I can’t shake the feeling that she’s going to have another breaking point later on.
Kaori is determined as ever to walk— she wants to perform with Kousei one last time in order to keep her promise. She’s one of the strongest characters in this episode that has defined Kousei in who he is as a musician and a boy growing up.
As fantastic as this is Takeshi and Emi steal the spotlight this episode. They’ve grown as well— they respect Kousei now that he’s back in the music world and we get a good view of how inspiring he’s been to all these musicians. Climbing those steps in the flashback is one heck of a way to depict this entire idea around these three— Takeshi, Nagi and Emi. Takeshi’s performance is awesome but I wish that we could have focused on that a lot more rather than the constant use of flashbacks.
His teacher crying over the fact that he’s surpassed and even Nagi cheering him on elevates his character to fantastic heights! Good closure to him and hopefully we will get to see Emi handled in this same style!
OVERALL IMPRESSION: 8/10
Kousei has gotten over his mother but that doesn’t mean that she’s left his heart completely. Sharing the bad memories of when she would strike him or hurt him psychologically it can clearly been seen in his music still. I say this because he’s still trying to climb away from his fear: hearing the notes. What’s intriguing here is that he uses this to his advantage by surprising the audience and even Nagi with his radical piano playing. This performance is incredibly animated and Hiroko says it perfectly here. Kousei is having his way with her. He’s taught Nagi how to play the notes as they’re written on the score, how to interpret them and bring passion throughout them but it wasn’t until his Kaori-filled anxiousness takes him over that develops this as a duel between Kousei and Nagi.
How fitting that Tchaikovsky’s piece is the one the author chose for this part of the series because it represents a distinction between characters through its brazen collection of simple and even complex musical arrangements very well. A challenge between teacher and student on quite a few levels: to get Nagi to be better than she ever has been in order to find her own voice through the piano, to pour out to the audience what Kousei has been feeling and if his music can reach Kaori. The ending is nice here: Tchaikovsky’s score transitions to the famous waltz. They’ve fought over practices and opened up to each other and here is where they’re sounds are finally coming together with all this hard work behind them!
I like how Watari leaves his phone open so Kaori can hear Kousei’s performance. There is also an ongoing theme throughout this episode: inspiration. Nagi found it through Kousei’s determination, Kaori hears it through the headphones with Kousei and Nagi’s performance and most importantly Takeshi. His reaction to the fact that Kousei has been teaching Nagi in secret illustrates this well but I think what makes this profoundly fundamental to become a better pianist is how much he sees Nagi all grown-up. His comment about Kousei stealing her is hilarious here!
As for Kaori things are getting worse for her in so many ways. From her hospital bed she hears what she could once be a part of and now she’s missing out, but that doesn’t stop her from fighting this illness. This also establishes her calling towards music once again. I think my favorite scene is where Kaori is playing with those kids towards the end– arriving full circle. Kaori had played with these kids before in the first episode and I like how she’s being the one influenced by Kousei’s astonishing performance. I think this is where she realizes how much she loves Kousei. Awesome episode here!
OVERALL IMPRESSION: 9/10
Kousei has grown quite a bit– he’s getting over his mother’s death, he’s found a stronger connection with Watari and now he’s teaching Nagi in order to play she needs to understand why she is playing. He knows exactly who he’s playing for– Kaori. Her illness elevates the inevitable performance that is to come and I can’t wait for that. This is an interesting episode because we are shown different facets of Kousei that was only caused by Kaori’s musical kindness and free-spirit.
The first half manages to pull in Nagi’s aspirations in reaching her brother Takeshi and it pulls off a tremendous gap between the inspiring musician he’s been and leaps to a boy in love with an ailing girl. As dramatic as this show has carried itself previously, I really like how Kousei just breaks down and cries in front of Watari– both being unable to figure out what to do. The canoles once again play a big role here. If I recall, Kaori’s parents are pastry chefs and for Kousei to bring canoles from just any shop and Kaori portrays this theme’s title very well– “Your Lie in April”. Looks to me like Kaori has feelings for Kousei that goes beyond soloist and accompaniest.
Reality is sinking in for Kousei just as it has been an underlying thread for Kaori– just proves how similar these two are without their music as the focal point. Hope to see more of Nagi in upcoming episodes because here is where we get a gradual growing-up feeling from her that’s not all vindictive towards Kousei.
Nagi leaves a strong impression on Kousei here– he’s succeeded in paving a future for her that’s ultimately going to change her life forever; let’s not forget this stoic performance she’s about to deliver!
OVERALL IMPRESSION: 8/10
This is probably the best directed episode of Shigatsu yet! We’ve got some really solid drawn angles that moved especially with that library scene.
By the end of Shigatsu I feel this will be a tearjerker of a series– the animation is beautiful, Masaru Yokoyama’s score is intense and the story so far is heartfelt with a rich cast of characters. Noitamina should really broadcast more series like these– coming-of-age anime.
Kaori is breaking down– she cries at any moment and falls down. The illness she has had since this series began is in full force and this episode really clues into how well-developed Kousei, Tsubaki and even Watari are– they’re too gracious to ask what’s going on even when they’ve got their own issues. While not as dire as Kaori’s having the other three kids experience school life and authentic youth really pushes the plot to be more engrossing even further.
Moving back to Kaori, she’s been holding everything together until the last few episodes where reality sinks in and it’s this displacement out of the group from the numerous hospital visits and the absences from practices to performances that strikes all the right notes here. Kaoari has feelings for Kousei and he doesn’t see this because of how much she’s inspired him to play the piano again.
As dark as this show is going to tread through there are a lot of light-hearted moments here that revitalize the humor that Shigatsu pulls off very well– the shopping mall scene separates us the viewer from the inevitable illness she has and winds up forcing Kousei to carry her bags. The super-deformed drawings of these kids takes us out of the dramatic realm we are used with this series showcasing its inner monologue sequences and into a more fun setting far away from the outcome this show is playing out for itself. Honestly, this is one of my favorite parts of this series because while she is sick she has a courageous determination to her that would otherwise not be there if were not for Kousei. I’m glad especially here that the episode director didn’t force this idea down our throats from her perspective. This isn’t a one-sided romance from just Kousei’s viewpoint like I initially thought.
As for the music this time around Nagi is a good releaser to Kousei’s issues about his mom and all the drama we’ve been having recently with Kaori’s illness and Tsubaki questioning her own feelings about him. Hiroko is the parental balance to this all– she’s loving and aggressive when things need to be done. She was there when his mom disappeared from his life so she understands him a little bit more than the others and should provide the backbone to his character when or if something tragic happens to Kaori.
This is a good break from all the rough moments from previous episodes and what’s to come for Kousei and Kaori– hopefully with all this drama building up it doesn’t sideline what this series originally ventured into when it brought its two leads into the spotlight: music.
OVERALL IMPRESSION: 10/10
Tsubaki didn’t have to end it, Saito respectably gives her an out that is so gentlemen like here. He has a mutual respect for her which is why he says they’re too much alike. He knows she likes someone else and its probably good for this to happen because now she’s able to move forward without her pulling the punch. If this had happened prior to the last episode I feel like she would not have cried here. She’s never emotional but now she’s thinking in a more mature way because of how Kousei’s performance made such an impact!
The scene afterwards here is probably one of the best– it features one of my favorite piano pieces of all time: Clair de lune. Sitting side by side on the piano bench while he plays the song to calm her down she gently puts herself towards the realization that she neglected her real feelings with Kousei by neglecting him all this time while hurting Saito. Some of her distractions in this provided some hilarious situations for her– landing head first in the long jump, her death threat towards Hiroko and that scene with the broom. With this much drama there has to be a good balance of comedy and this is it! As much as Tsubaki is examining herself and sees herself as a mess its a good contrast against Kaori and how she’s holding it all in.
Emi’s performance is nothing short of captivating and I must say it’s not just Kousei that has been the influence on all of them rather its Kaori. She’s been the color in Kousei’s world and now he’s displaying what he’s been learning from her onto other musicians.
This is the possibly the best placement in this series to introduce Nagi. I like how she ends up playing the first performance that Kaori and Kousei played in the beginning. She’s rife with a rushed passion that eventually leads up to a nice reveal that she wants to ruin Kousei but winds up being a pupil to him! I can see some hilarious situations between the two of them in happening later on. What a dynamic turn that will provide him a good breakaway from his wavering feelings about seeing Kaori.
The phone conversation between Kousei and Kaori is pleasant– he knows how he feels but is unsure how to display his affections towards her. As for Kaori this ending is incredible here– we get to see what sort of pain she’s been going through. All those previous episodes where she’s so energetic really illustrates the impact she has on everyone in this show especially Kousei. This is a powerful scene that blows just about every other young character in recent seasons out of the water in terms of development here! She’s been the inspiration to Kousei from the very beginning a mystery that brings him closer to her through music and now reality is finally weighing down on her. Those closeup angled shots of her distressed expression really came across wonderfully!
Hopefully they will get to perform together one last time before she goes if that is where this series will be heading towards for her character.
OVERALL IMPRESSION: 10/10
Kyohei Ishiguro isn’t a fantastic director but I feel like with this series he’s surrounded himself with talented people that know how to tell an emotionally invoking story week after week! It also helps that he’s adapting rather than taking the helm on an original production– the main character[s] develop further only to change the story without any concrete substance to back up a strong setting is one problem that could have come from an original work by Ishiguro. He’s doing a fantastic job with this series alongside it being a Noitamina broadcast that will no doubt help him become a better director.
After that cliffhanger– I’m glad this series hasn’t left Kaori out of the picture just yet. In order for Kousei to get past his mother’s death he channels his emotions through performing music. Kaori is still as spirited as ever after passing out and winding up in the hospital and Kousei worrying just proves he admires her as a musician and a friend on a deeper level than the other cast.
The animation helps get this comedy to pull off quite nicely– kawaii illustrations and sometimes out of the norm facial expressions of Kaori and the others is a smart direction to take from the inevitable dark emotional ride Shigatsu will take us through for the first time but for Kousei a similar situation he knows all too well with Kaori.
While we’ve had our attention onto the musician performances these past episodes and what Kousei has had to get through to find his own style it is refreshing to see more of how Tsubaki is feeling towards Kousei. She’s having dates with Saito but its clear that she’s conflicted and this episode didn’t take any time elaborating on this more than the previous ones about her did. It’s almost like this episode is recapping what we already known however in a different light. She’s enamored by a boy that’s transformed into a young man after having ignored him for so long. Seeing that he’s matured after that performance last time and how she looks at him differently now is a struggle all its own for her becoming more of a grown-up. I felt this episode really conveyed this well through her scene changes at the festival, cafe and school appearance throughout.
What makes this a triumphant episode for Tsubaki is how her own feelings in how she cares about him more than a friend for far too long are vented out. An internal resolution that she’s been struggling with inside her heart. Those flashback scenes she recalls as she is running away from him depict the age of these kids very well– all of them are growing up gradually and whether its music, romance or sports these kids are overcoming it in their own ways. This adds so much more realism to this school setting and its dramatic main cast.
OVERALL IMPRESSION: 9/10