For those of you who are unfamiliar with this anime, the story follows Kousei Arima, a former child prodigy who lost his ability to play the piano when his mother died. But after he encounters the beautiful and eccentric Kaori one day, his life begins to change. Over the course of twenty-two episodes, Your Lie in April tells a touching story about dealing with grief and the power of music.
Arguably, what makes Your Lie in April so impressive is not its script, however. The anime is at its most powerful when it lets its music and visuals do the talking. I think that Patrick Seitz, the director and writer of the English dub, must have realized that too, because the English dub audio never sounds intrusive. There’s an air of natural ease about the voice acting, as if nobody is pushing their voices too hard. I think that understatement was the best approach Seitz could have taken with a Japanese script that was, in my opinion, somewhat ungraceful at times.
I’m stepping out of my comfort zone as a blogger to discuss a very controversial topic. But it’s also a very important one for the online anime community.
On paper, there’s a lot to like about Kimiuso. As a burnt-out musician myself, I can relate to Kousei’s struggles. The concert scenes are particularly beautiful. But the anime is torn between being a teen melodrama and a silly romcom, and second-time director Kyohei Ishiguro can’t seem to pull off the right balance.
The biggest problem with the directing is that it lacks restraint. It’s clear that Ishiguro understands the basics of his craft, but he makes the common inexperienced director’s mistake of using these techniques in a heavy-handed way without understanding their deeper purpose. Kimiuso piles on the artistic effects in every single scene, regardless of their actual narrative weight, to the extent that it comes off as a distraction.
Now, I’m no expert when it comes to direction, cinematography, photography and all the other tricks of the visual trade. Deadlight knows a lot more than I do. That’s why this post is a collaborative effort. The two of us thought it would be a great idea to discuss how visual direction can alter the mood of an adaptation.
Most importantly, we both agree that the animation is detailed and there is a lot about the visuals that is beautiful on the surface level, but underneath that, the direction is messy and Ishiguro doesn’t seem to understand what sort of story he is trying to convey.