I have watched Your Lie In April and I love this tale to pieces. So there’s gonna be a massive personal bias in my review. Well, it took me a couple of runs through the show and an outside opinion to confirm if I had been missing something. I found a hidden message of the story in Your Lie in April, I feel needs to be addressed.
Obviously, there are spoilers ahead. If you haven’t seen the show, PLEASE READ NO FURTHER UNTIL YOU WATCH! I promise your time will be worth it to watch this series. I don’t care if you’re a regular anime watcher or not, just go and watch this beautiful show to understand this deep hidden message from Your Lie in April. Now, let’s begin.
What is the Plot of “Your Lie in April”?
Well, rather than just sharing the plot, I want to share the whole story line with you so that you can just go through the show in your mind if you’ve watched the show ages back. Your Lie in April isn’t just a beautiful love story. The hidden message underscores the true meaning of the whole show.
Your Lie in April is the story of Arima Kousei – a young piano prodigy who, after the death of his mother, had a mental breakdown. And ultimately he lost the ability to hear his own music. However, he could hear everything else clearly. 3 years later, he meets his best friend’s new girlfriend, Kaori. Kaori — a free-spirited violinist who makes it her life’s mission to revive Kousei’s lost love for performing music on stage.
Colour plays a very important part in the story of Your Lie in April. Kousei’s world at the beginning is made up of nothing but muted colours. But all of it begins to change the moment he meets Kaori. The colour palate of the show becomes extremely energetic —especially whenever Kaori is present on the screen. It is a great visual representation of how love affects your view of the world. When in love, everything just seems brighter, doesn’t it.
Kousei’s Inability to hear his OWN Music
From the beginning, it’s obvious that Kousei’s inability to hear his own music is a mental block. It is a psychological reaction to the traumatic death of his mother and the association in his mind between her and performing music.
At numerous points throughout the series, we are able to hear how his own music sounds to him. It is so beautifully represented how it quickly goes from a beautiful classical score as any normal person would hear it to an off-key muted sound. But more than that, we are able to see how he perceives it in unusual moments where it looks like Kousei is literally playing underwater in a deep sea. As the series progresses and Kousei gains more control over his fear. The visuals change to reflect his emotional state — creating stunning images to go along with his excellent music.
How Music Competitions Affected Kousei?
Despite Kousei and his problems with performing, we also see the impact his performance has on the other young musicians around him. All of them suffer from a massive amount of stress, knowing that a win at a music competition is as crucial as passing a college entrance exam. A single wrong note can literally derail their entire future. And that’s not even mentioning the personal stakes that come from the fear of letting your family and teachers down.
The nature of these music competitions only adds to the pressure inside. In these competitions, a performer is expected to play a piece exactly as it is written on the score—with no changes to tempo, loudness, and most certainly no wrong notes. In his prime when Kousei was under the influence of his mother’s strict teaching, he was the living example of this art. This led to other performers and teachers alike referring to him as “the human metronome.”
Kaori, on the other hand, completely rejects this idea of playing and strives to make each piece her own. And this truly appeals more to the hearts of the audience. Why she does this, however, is the key to what makes this anime so sad in the end.
At the beginning of the story, we are introduced to Kaori Miyazono – a feisty, free-spirited violinist. She lives by her own rules and plays music to make her own piece. As we see her start to lift our protagonist Kousei out of his depression, we see the reason behind the depression – his mother – Saki Arima.
Saki Arima was a pianist with dreams of her own. That is until she fell ill. She knew that her time was limited, so she tried to teach Kousei the piano to set himself up for his future. However, as her condition worsened, she became desperate to teach him more and make him so perfect that no one can ever beat him. Her strictness and desperation turned to physical abuse.
Before her diagnosis, Saki never even wanted her son to be a pianist. She never wanted her son to face the stress of a life of competitive performance. Even when Kousei showed interest, she only reluctantly taught him. However, once she fell ill, her view on this matter completely changed.
Her fear of death — of abandoning her son unprepared for the adult world drove her to do whatever it took to give him a reputed and marketable skill. And while she succeeded in developing his skill, she also destroyed him emotionally and left him scarred for entire life.
After years of bearing with the abuse, Kousei finally stood up for himself. One day Kousei played a piece in a competition for his mother which was a little out of sync, however perfect. Saki was angry by his small move, well because of her desperation to make Kousei the perfectionist. She beat him up in front of the people and Kousei outraged at her by saying – “I wish you were dead”. But his outraged words to her turned out to be his last. Because Saki died shortly after. This damaged Kousei psychologically, to the point where he could not hear his own notes. That is until Kaori came along.
Whenever Kousei played the notes he pictured his mother around him saying this is his punishment for disrespecting the notes by not playing it perfectly and throwing them. It was the punishment for his outraged behaviour. This was, however, a fear that Kousei developed inside himself and was using it as a reason to run from music that took away his mother.
SIMILARITIES BETWEEN KAORI AND SAKI
When you get down to it, Your Lie in April is an exploration of a terminal illness too. How the illness affects not only the one suffering from the disease but also everyone else related to that person. 2 people in Kousei’s life, his mother and Kaori, had known that they were going to die. However, the two reacted to this knowledge is very different and in their own ways.
When Kaori falls ill too, she starts behaving similar to Saki. Yelling at Kousei to practice more, unpredictable mood swings, constantly worrying about limited time. These similarities concern Kousei. And others around him, his friends worry that if something happens to Kaori, he will fall right back into his old ways.
Kaori reacts to her impending death in the opposite way than Saki. Instead of trying to provide for someone else, she chose to lead a perfectly selfish life in the time she has left. While originally a shy and withdrawn girl, her illness gave her the power to act in a way free from results. She does what she feels when she feels. She’s not afraid to break the rules in a music competition and has no hesitation about dominating others into submission to get her way.
But behind this kind of behaviour is, again, the very human fear of death. In reality, her way of fighting her fear is both simple and heartbreaking – to have people remember her after she is gone. Her performances are all emotion and completely attractive but her masterpiece is Kousei himself. If she can bring one of classical music’s greatest potential stars back to the stage, he’ll never be able to forget her neither her friends.
The Emotional Suffering
Kousei obviously suffers massively watching his mother and Kaori going through the same illness as he stands by them both through their prolonged illness. As a young boy, he truly believes that his piano playing can save his mother. And thus for her love and affection, he gladly accepts the mental and physical abuse she dishes out. And in a tragic twist, when he finally breaks from the abuse and criticize his mother, those end up being the last words he says to her before she dies. This, of course, leads to his public mental breakdown following the fearful block of not being able to hear his own playing.
Kousei’s emotions for his mother are naturally complex. He remembers both – the kind, loving mother alongside the strict, abusive teacher. Hence, loving one and hating the other. He has this long-lasting unreasonable guilt over his mother’s death and it’s surprising he is as stable as he is. While it is his mother’s death that breaks him, it is Kaoiri’s that heals him. Her love for life and battle against the inevitable inspire Kousei and his music long beyond her time in this world.
So in the end, both of them win. She will be forever in his heart. And he is able to become a far greater musician than the old “human metronome” could ever have hoped to be. Suffering is a part of life which does not mean you’ve to be apart from life itself. The way Your Lie in April depicts the suffering and how we can find the ray of light in even darkness is literally inspiring.
KAORI HAD BEEN TRYING TO TEACH KOUSEI TO BE HIS OWN PERSON
Kaori only wanted Kousei to go back to playing the piano because she knew that he loved it. She saw the conflict in his heart – how he loved the piano but hated the ties it had to his mother’s abuse and her death. She tried to help him find his love for music again and in turn his love for life itself.
Her point of view deeply affected Kousei. She helped him to move past what happened with his mother. She helped him focus on being positive, moving forward despite any consequence and taking chances. Whether it be jumping off a bridge or being excited by the small things, Kaori gave Kousei the courage to develop as a person and even take an apprentice of his own.
So when Kaori died in the end and left a letter for Kousei explaining everything (the scene that punches me in the heart every time), he is able to take what he has learned and move forward. He could very easily have reacted to the incident just like his mother, become attached and give in his fear again. But instead, he is able to move on. He is not just glad for the time they had together but he will remember him forever.
SELF-RELIANT- THE HIDDEN MESSAGE OF YOUR LIE IN APRIL
The story of Your Lie In April isn’t just about Kousei and Kaori’s beautiful and tragic love story. It’s about how Kousei learned to be his own person and not live purely for the sake of others. Kousei never gave a thought about his future until Kaori became a part of his life. She helped him stop looking at the ground, pulled him out of depression and always look forward in life.
Saki and Kaori showed many similar traits throughout the show. They even fell down in a similar pit when things got rough. While Saki tried to set up Kousei’s life, Kaori taught him how to live. Kousei, in turn, was able to pull Kaori out of her own sadness when she was admitted in hospital and fight for her own life.
And that’s the true message of the story – being self-reliant – living for yourself. Finding your passion and being able to appreciate what you have around yourself while you have it. That’s what should be learned from this beautiful portion of the journey of Kousei’s life. And if you re-watch Your Lie In April, once you’ve finished wiping the tears, this message might be a bit clearer. Well, it worked for me. Believe me, when I say, I have watched Your Lie in April at least thrice to understand this hidden message.