While going through the usual process of watching a tonne of anime at the start of a new season and then narrowing down my selection to a select few I’m interested in, Shigatsu wa Kimi no Uso for some unknown reason was kept out of my radar back in Autumn last year. It was only until April (funnily enough) that my friend from university recommended it to me and I accidentally the entire forty-four chapter manga. I was hooked. It -that- good. Shigatsu is the first series in such a long time that has kept me this hooked and eager to find out what happens in the next chapter. As a result, this review is aimed at the series as a whole, while comparing the differences between the anime and manga.
Shigatsu entails the life of a young successful piano prodigy Kousei Arima who at the young age lost his mother; leading to his mentally inability to hear the sounds of his piano and so leaves the music world. The main story fast forwards into the latter years of junior high when Arima meets a girl named Kaori Miyazono.
The story paces itself really consistently spanning over the course of a year in-plot. And as with other certain shows, it juggles the themes of light hearted happy comedy and tragedy really well. The character dynamic is the backbone that drives Shigatsu. From the pianist tri-rivalry between Arima, Takeshi and Emi to the romantic hardships between certain characters I will not mention because that would enter spoiler territory, Shigatsu hosts a nicely diverse yet closely knit cast of characters that would honestly make you believe it’s a very small world. Oh, and there’s a cute imouto as well. It may seem as the piano performances makes Shigatsu what it is on the surface, but it’s off the musical stage the well-crafted interactions between all the characters that define the series.
And speaking of pianos, the anime’s trademark selling point is of course the piano acts, and yes; there’s a flood of Chopin and Bach to satisfy Japan’s oddly infatuation of the Polish and German composers respectively. The obvious disadvantage to reading the manga is the unlikelihood that the average reader would have prior classical piano knowledge. Ink on paper can only go so far in conveying sound so the author compensates with a plethora of metaphors from musical note effects to fluttery cherry blossoms (just like a certain weird cooking manga). I’m not a classical guy personally though I played classical guitar for five-odd years so I had to YouTube up the many piano scores featured only to be humourously greeted in the video comments section asking if Shigatsu was what bought me to the video.
Shigatsu’s production quality is definitely top-notch. A-1 Pictures did an amazing job capturing the flair and the quirks of the manga’s art and beautifully translating it into moving pictures in many ways that actually surpasses the source material. The vivid colour palette is a sight to behold; dynamically changing at the right moments and fortunately doesn’t go overboard with the filtering effects unlike a certain anime feature.
The main drawback I find in Shigatsu is that it relies too heavily on clichés that even the characters subtle poke fun of in later episodes. As the story progresses it becomes obvious how predictable it is; from its foreshadowing doesn’t beat around the bush and over-dramatic plot tones. But don’t let these take away any reasoning to watch Shigatsu. The plot is nicely constructed and it ends where it naturally should and it avoids being drawn out for the sake of being drawn out.
The anime adapts the full story from the manga so you’ll be getting complete package from the two mediums. Even though I read the entire manga before watching the anime the execution of the conclusion still manages to force me to succumb into bitch tears and contemplate my existence. I definitely give both the manga and anime a try. If anything, contrary to the rule of thumb; watch the anime.
Shigatsu wa Kimi no Uso is a marvellously thought out series dealing with themes of loss, acceptance of the self, but it trips itself up in areas of the cliché and over-dramatic plot tones. Nevertheless, Shigatsu has been a wild ride.