Take one part Toradora, two parts Nodame Cantabile, and one part AnoHana, and then mix them all together in an anime blender of bittersweet-ness, and you have Your Lie in April. And it is a tasty anime snack.
Your Lie is a very good show, but it's also very sad, kind of slow, and HEAVILY music-oriented. Classical music that is. So if you have anything against Chopin, Beethoven, or Liszt, you may want to stay away from this piano-friendly production. This is an anime about love: young love, but also love of talents and gifts that people have. Whether it be playing the piano or the violin, or athletics, or even picking up chicks, Your Lie in April celebrates them all and (at least in my case) makes you want to be better at what you're good at. I'm personally just trying to find what I'm good at, but then I'll try to be better at it!
Things start out like this: Piano prodigy Kosei Arima was one of the best and most precise talents to ever hit the scene when he was a young boy. The only problem was that his mother (his instructor) used to beat him and psychologically abuse the poor kid in order to make him the best there is at what he does. It works for a while, but Kosei's mother has some terminal illness, and one day she pushes the poor boy too far and he snaps back, telling her he wishes she were dead. Guess what happens next...
Because of his guilt over his last words to his mother, Kosei becomes absolutely guilt-ridden and mentally unable to hear his own piano playing, and therefore can't perform again... But then, 2 years after his mother's death, at the start of Kosei's final year in middle school comes one Kaori Miyazono into his life.
Kaori is a cute blonde girl in Kosei's class (yes, she's a blonde Japanese girl... You should be used to this by now) who also happens to be an exceptional musician (though she's best at the violin, Kosei first finds her playing a melodica on top of a park playscape for a bunch of children, blowing out the trumpet theme from Laputa: Castle in the Sky like a champ!). While Kosei is immediately smitten with Kaori, he takes a step back and hides his feelings since she's got a crush on his best friend, the slutty Ryota. Also in the relationship stew-pot is Tsubaki, the tom-girl nextdoor neighbor of Kosei who of course has a monster love-boner for our lead pianist. Middle school hormones, everyone.
Your Lie in April is all about Kaori pulling Kosei back into the world of music, and letting him know that it's not all about how precise and perfect you are at replicating classical music, but how much you feel it, how much it moves you, and how much you can get it to move others while still having fun with it. Only it's not half as in-your-face or sappy about it as I just laid it all out for you.
You get super attached to all the characters (even Kosei's piano-world "rivals"), and you really feel for their plights... Especially that one character who might not have very long in this world before he/she kicks it... Not that this is really a spoiler (we find this out like 4-5 episodes in), but I just feel that experiencing this show and all its emotional twists as they are presented is the best way to "feel" the series.
One thing that I didn't really like about this show is something I've had a beef with in lots of anime in the past... I hate how Tsubaki the tom-girl can only express her puppy love for Kosei by either yelling at him or literally kicking him in the shins and knees. These kids are about to enter Japanese high school, which means that in America they'd be Freshmen already. They're like 15 years old! I don't ever remember being that immature at 15, and girls are supposed to mature quicker than boys. Is this just lazy writing, or are Japanese 15 year-olds so inept at common social practices that it's still okay to puff out their cheeks in anger and kick a boy because they themselves don't have the guts to express their feelings to their crush? What the hell?...
But really, that's the only negative I have against this series. It's quite beautiful, it's got an amazing soundtrack, the drama is very much earned, and it's got a sad, but really good ending... For a while life seems to only shit a constantly-streaming load on our boy Kosei, and my god, that last episode especially, and the final co-performance. It's not quite as heart-wrenching as AnoHana, or even 1/10th as soul-destroying as Grave of the Fireflies (really, what is?), but it's just good... And sad. But hopeful.
Oh, middle school... Did I ever tell you guys how I started a band in the 8th grade because of a girl I liked? Sheryl May... She was beautiful... So I told her that I could play guitar, which was kind of true. I mean, I HAD a guitar, and I knew that if you plucked the strings it made sound, which is how one plays the guitar, right?
Anyway, she confided in me that she always wanted to be the lead singer in a band after seeing Joan Jett rock out in "I Love Rock 'n' Roll," and I promised her that I would make her dreams come true.
I spent a whole week of my life recruiting other kids in our class who had musical instruments (I didn't worry much if they could actually play them), and then I signed us all up for the school's Fall Talent Show under the name "Sheryl and the Guns N' Leppards"!... because I froze and couldn't think of a cool band name at the Talent Show registration desk.
Then (because we couldn't all practice together due to living so far apart, and all of us having uncaring parents who refused to shuttle us around for our one chance at a huge rock and roll licensing deal due to just how much we were guaranteed to blow people away at the talent show) we all had just 6 days to learn each of our separate parts of "Sweet Child O' Mine" before getting up in front of our entire school. We figured "What could possibly go wrong?"
The first thing that went wrong is that Tim, on drums, threw up on his drums 30 seconds before we went on stage. Then, after we stood on stage for about a minute in pure silence after realizing we had no way of starting everybody at the same time, Josh, on oboe, just yelled out, "ONE! TWO! ONE, TWO THREE GO!" and then started playing with nobody else joining in.
After Josh stopped playing (about 40 seconds later), we had a quick pow-wow and decided we would use Josh's cue, but this time we would all begin at "GO!" And so we did. And it sounded like a dozen cats were getting thrown into a paper shredder while being raped with a red-hot fireplace poker. And then Sheryl May started "singing"... And by "singing" I mean "screeching like a barn owl that got its claw trapped in a mousetrap and its wing caught in a slamming window." We couldn't really hear just how bad we were while we were on stage, because the adrenalin was just moving us all, but the Rossman recorded our performance on his dad's camcorder, and it explained why we didn't get a standing ovation after our 10 minute cover, which included my 5 minute guitar solo that I thought put anything Slash did to shame.
What I first noticed in the video the Rossman made was how much vomit was splashing up from Tim's drums every time he pounded them out of beat. It took watching us in retrospect to notice that Mike on bass was playing "Metal Health" by Quiet Riot instead of our Guns N' Roses song. But Sheryl's "singing" was by far the worst component, and the satire cartoon in the next student newspaper that pictured her as a screeching cat in heat while humping the microphone ruined any chance I ever had with getting her in the sack. Goddamn the Rossman! Why'd he have to draw that cartoon for the paper?!... Though he did make me look like a cool zombie rocking on my sweet guitar. I framed that comic. It was pretty awesome.
This Lie in April show was okay, but it reminds me of that time Chi-Chi made a shitty little band up to impress that weird Sheryl Whatsherface in middle school. She was the kind of girl who drew tattoos on her arm in pen and claimed that they were real, even though they smudged and changed daily. She also claimed that she lost her virginity to Michael Stipe of REM. I don't think I even need to comment on that one.
Anyway, so at the school talent show that Chi-Chi and the Boppers (or whatever they called themselves) debuted, I was there, ready with a box of almost rotten tomatoes ready to distribute in order to hurl at the stage for whatever act deserved it the most. But when it became apparent that the train-wreck act that Chi-Chi put together could only be HELPED by projectile rotten fruit, I just dropped the box, shook my head, in disbelief that a 14 year-old girl's voice could get even more cringe-worthy than Gilbert Gottfried getting repeatedly kneed in the crotch, and walked away. Well, I did save one tomato, but I threw it at Snotlick when he actually got up to clap amid the sea of disbelieving shock when the Boppers stopped playing... which was mainly due to Josh accidentally sucking down his reed.
Anyway, Chi-Chi and the Boppers, or whatever, were the reason Randolf Scott Middle School made kids audition before the Talent Show from then on. Not for obscene acts of any kind of profanity, but just for the suicide prevention.