Saturday, May 27, 2017

Anime review : Shigatsu wa Kimi no Uso

Shigatsuwa Kimi no Uso

“That IS music to my heart. Strikes true, however, not deep enough”

What is Shigatsu wa Kimi no Uso?

Shigatsu is a drama anime that focuses on music. It follows ArimaKousei, a prodigius and really good pianist who lost his way after an incident 2 years ago, until he finally meets a woman that would change his life forever.

What do i think of it?
At first, I decided to watch and review this anime on a whim, when one of my friend told me that this is a good anime, and a tragic one at that. And when I give it a go, this turned into one of a well-written drama I’ve ever seen. Not the best, but one of the best.

One of the product of A-1 pictures, the show’s excellent performance really takes me by surprise, since the studio has never impressed me. Let’s talk about the anime. Let me remind you first that i shall refer to this anime as just "Shigatsu" to make it simpler.

The anime opens with our protagonist, Arima Kousei, meets Kaori. And immediately afterward, she was a subject to fanservice when a wind blows her skirt away and revealing her panties [Though it was not shown thanks to a god’s given light], a fanservice that is later forgotten as the series progressed until the end.

The fated encounter between ArimaKousei and Miyazono Kaori. Her tears is later explained

Shigatsu focuses on musical performance, mainly piano, since ArimaKousei is a pianist. And when the concour [Piano competition, or something like that] is happening and a character walks and play their piano, the scene turns into a magical scene, where the music is so great and the animation is well-done, though if not, hampered by several flashbacks that causes me to lose the focus on the performance several times.

I really don’t like flashbacks, especially at the time when it matters the most, in this case, the Concour. When I was supposed to listen to Kousei’s piano, I instead thinks “His mother is so strict, god” and that is wrong. Maybe it was intended, but for me, that’s not good. Dividing focus is never right and good. Then again, If you think again about the value of those performance, you can easily forgive it.
The other thing I like about this anime is putting details into little things that later matters the most.

Kaori is seen crying during her first encounter with Kousei. This is later explained that she is happy to finally meet him, in the last episode. There are other things that was put into details, such as the young Kaori next to the crying young Emi after the former saw Kousei’s first performance, Kaori’s illness that becomes apparent as the story progress, her skin tone become even more pale and her hair color starts to fade.

Sometimes, I am scared about my ability to read into something, as a literature student. When Kaori begs Kousei to become her companion in her first [And later, last] performance, she was crying and says she needs him. This scene already piqued my curiosity and I started to place suspicion on her. And after her performance, where she cries and says “I’m gonna treasure this moment until I die”, this alerted my suspicion again and I immediately suspected that she’s going to be the subject of a really bad illness, and some minutes later, she collapsed.

It was not predictable, but to me, it was. Not that it was not good, it was excellent and well-played, but seemed kinda obvious. Still, almost every emotional scene hits home for me. I am one of those types that loves these kind of things.

This is actually the only time that Kaori and Kousei played together during their concour, which is sad.

It’s not with it’s flaw though. Some of the jokes that the show tries to fling to me misses. Of course, considering that the serious tone of this anime, that should have been acceptable. Either way, every joke is placed right. And at the beginning, I said that Kaori is the subject of fanservice. There’s a lot of fanservice running gag involving her, such as the gang inadvertentently entered her hospital room and she isn’t wearing her top, amongst other. But, as the story becomes more serious, this was later abandoned, for the greater good. That was a good move though. Kudos to the director for that.

Kaori, being on the subject of fanservice running gag. This is later abandoned.

And like I said, the anime is well made, particularly the animation. Everytime there’s a performance, the scene is always moving and seems alive. Even when the finger is obstructed by the piano, there’s still movement within the arms, something that some anime failed to make. Also, everytime a character plays their instrument, there’s other thing that accompanies them, which represent their inner feelings. Kousei, for instance, when he plays it while being scared, he is depicted to be playing underwater, with a dark and suffocating atmosphere. But,when he plays after he is no longer scared, he plays with the impression of a blooming sakura tree, representing his inner feelings. And also, Kaori, when playing her instruments, is always depicted with rays of light, representing her hope and wish.

Moving back to the earlier review, I said that the musical scores is good, if not, hampered by the repetitive flashback that interrupted the classical music. When I said this, I meant it. With the exception of Kousei, some character, when playing with flashback, has their music muted until it was later brought again for the present time. That is really annoying to me. Why don’t the flashback be before they play their instruments? When Aiza is playing his piano and he’s going to flashback, it was really bad. From everyone, I enjoyed his performance and it’s only one time, and it was riddled by flashback about him always screaming about his hero. Anyway, that aside, the musical score was excellent, looking forward to listening to the home version.

Progression is everything in this teen-drama anime. From Kaori’s eventual illness, to Tsubaki’s feelings toward Kousei. I saw a lot of progression, if not, dragging a bit since it was too clichéd. But all in all, a good cliché. I’m not gonna delve into that, I’ll just delve to Kaori’s illness. At first, I thought it was color failure when I saw her skin tone so pale and her hair color is fading. But, as the story progress, it’s finally clear that it was the extent of her illness. 

This is a very obvious comparison of Kaori’s condition, which worsens as the story progress

I like all the characters equally, but If I had to pick one, I was broken between Tsubaki and Kaori, though it leans on Tsubaki, I’ll explain later. Kousei’s character developed as the story progress, from a unsure protagonist, to someone who can live with his decision and plays with his wits with him. Tsubaki, though undergo no changes, gradually accepted that she has feelings for Kousei. Kaori undergoes change, not development and I have mixed feelings about it. Partly because of her illness and because it’s getting worse as the story progressed, but sometimes, she was able to stay within her character and keep supporting Kousei until her time finally passed. It was sad to see her go, but what else would happen? Even though she says that she believes in miracle, it was clear enough that her resolve is not enough to combat her illness, as it becomes apparent in the episode before the final that she’s going to die. And my bet was later answered to be correct when she was revealed to have passed away after the surgery.

To me, her passing is a little bit rushed, since I didn’t shed tears. In my opinion, Kousei and Kaori should have one last meeting before she finally passes away, though it would do more damage to Kousei so, I think this is for the best.  Glad the series didn’t go with that idea. If they should meet, it should’ve when Kaori’s surgery is succesfull and she has more time to live, to at least play her violin one last time. Good call and well-played.

Quoted from Nick Creamer, he said that the relationship between Kaori and Kousei is is honestly a bit less strong, and can sometimes lean too heavily on the show's somewhat tortured dialogue. To me, yes, Nick was right. The more I see their relationship, the more painful feelings that I have for them. They chat as if there’s no more hope even when they are speaking about hope and is always lying until Kaori finally tells him everything in the letter. That’s when I finally feel that Kaori and Kousei should be together, but it was the last. Kaori, who is gone now, is finally opened up her heart to the guy he likes.

The relationship between Tsubaki and Kousei, on the other hand, is intriguing and better-written. Tsubaki is a girl who can only watch as her childhood friend taken away by a girl he just met, but what can she do? If the feelings mutual, then there’s nothing she can do but hope. Her emotional moments always hit me right in the heart, especially when she’s with Kousei. That’s why I like her more than Kaori. Kaori is sad, but Tsubaki is even more I think. She’s the one who supported Kousei from their childhood and only because she can’t play music, she feels inferior towards Kaori. And I also like her friend, Kashiwagi, who constantly gave her advice and seems like to always know what she’s doing.

It’s Tsubaki’s emotional moments with Kousei that, most of the time, are compelling to me

Lastly, i want to talk about their voice acting. While Arima's voice acting, which was done by Natsuki Hanae was decent, It was Risa Taneda's performance as Kaori Miyazono that moved me. She speaks in her own pace and there was this one particular time that i felt the emotion struck me when Kaori was screaming and crying in agony as she was unable to stand up. Taneda's performance at that time, was on point and marvelous. Since Risa Taneda is on a hiatus now and is recovering her health, i wish her a speedy recovery though.

Overall, this is a very beautiful anime. Coupled with good emotional moments and great musical scores, you will be able to enjoy it fully. There are a few things hampering this anime to be called great, but then again, nothing is perfect in this world. The characters are strong and the story is well-written with good pacing. Beautiful!

Last thing I forgot to mention is Hiroko, who lacks flashback of her own and information. Is she really just a friend to Kousei’s mother? Or is there something more?

The good : Damn good musical scores. Emotional moments hits home. The characters.Animation are pretty well-done. Subtle hints placed in almost every episode.

The bad : Too much flashbacks on performance, which hampers it. Drags on late. The subtle hints can make you predict the ending easily.

FINAL SCORE : 3.5 out of 5. Even omitting the fact that i am a drama-anime lover, this was the best i could give.

Good show is a good show. Sometimes, you just don't want to think about the flaw and enjoy it to the fullest. By the way, who was that girl standing next to a young Kaori?

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