Music is an important part of any movie experience, but for the anime Your lie in April, he is at the heart of the story and of what unites each character. Considered to be one of the saddest stories in anime, this musical drama uses real classical music pieces to uplift the characters’ emotions and express what cannot be said in words. It tells the story of a deep love for music, heartbreaking loss, childhood trauma, growing up and letting go, as former pianist prodigy Arima Kousei overcomes his “curse” of not being able to hear the notes when playing and entering the beautiful world of classical music after a two-year hiatus.
He is inspired to do so after meeting the beautiful free-spirited violinist Miyazono Kaori. This anime focuses on classical instrumental music and features compositions by composers such as Mozart, Beethoven, and Debussy. These compositions are used in competitions and special moments in the show to add another emotional layer to the storytelling. Here are a few examples of how music enriches the storyline.
The first piece of classical music viewers are introduced to is Beethoven’s Fast and Difficult Third Movement Moonlight Sonata. In the story, Kousei performed this piece in the final of her last piano competition, right after her mother passed away. His unmistakable rampant grief is used to elevate the first major occurrence of his curse and is further accentuated as the music sounds as if the pianist is desperately keeping himself from sinking. Kousei too can be seen drowning as the sound of his own playing leaves him.
In contrast, Kaori performed Beethoven’s Violin Sonata No.9 in the first round of the violin competition and it was the first piece Kousei heard her play. She started performing the piece as it was written and suddenly began to improvise wildly, captivating the audience and infuriating the judges. In classical music, it is unheard of to improvise, unless otherwise specified. This piece highlighted its precision and accuracy and possibly its audacity and authenticity. She doesn’t care what people think because she plays music only from her soul. The passion in her music was clear throughout the performance and Kousei was almost immediately won over by her.
Saint-Saëns Introduction and Rondo Capriccioso is the piece they performed together in a violin competition. It was their first duo together, and they made a rather odd pair. With Kousei’s mechanical precision supporting Kaori’s free-spirited unpredictability, this piece did a great job of showcasing the struggle to stay in sync. Initially, Kousei remained determined to keep up with Kaori’s sporadic tempos, but he lost his synergy with Kaori and began to drown Kaori’s violin with his volume.
Eventually, Kousei stopped, but Kaori continued to play. When Kousei finally found the courage to join her, the music started to sound like they were fighting. In the audience, the judges pointed out that musically they were also fighting by not agreeing on a tempo and described it as a spellbinding hand-to-hand fight. In the end, they finished strong as Kousei finally caught up with Kaori. The audience burst into applause and they moved on to the next round.
When Kaori convinced Kousei to enter a piano competition, Kousei chose to play Etude op. 25, n ° 5, Bad grade. It is written to make it look like the player is hitting a bad note due to the amount of dissonance in the room, hence the title. In choosing this piece, it may have been his way of intentionally showing them that he was not what he once was, or a way for him to intentionally regain control of his own game. performance, he faced his demons over how his love of the piano was marred by his mother’s abuse. He lost his hearing again, but while desperately clinging to the notes, he remembered what he felt like playing with Kaori and dedicated his performance to her. Thanks to this, he found new strength and ended the piece with immaculate musicality.
Old Viennese melodies by Kreisler, The pain of love had a lot of emotional significance to Kousei and this is the piece Kaori chose to perform with him for the next round of the violin competition. Kousei had fond memories of his mother playing it as he fell asleep under the piano. He considered her to be his lullaby, but because of his trauma with his mother, it quite easily triggered his curse. Kaori failed to make it to the competition due to his declining health, and alone on stage he is inspired to play his childhood lullaby.
At first his playing seemed frustrated, possibly due to the trauma he associated with playing the piano. As he struggled with his emotions, he decided to start playing like his mother would have played, and the notes started to sparkle. In his inner monologue, he realized that his mother was angry with him because she desperately wanted to secure his future as a pianist. Thanks to this, he was finally able to eliminate the antagonistic feelings he had against his mother and began to embrace music rather than just playing it.
Kousei was also seen playing Debussy Moonlight after meeting his childhood friend Tsubaki trying to play him on the piano. As Kousei started playing, Tsubaki realized the feelings she has for Kousei, lamenting how he plans to leave for college. They were in a training room at night, which was fine since Clair De Lune translates to the word moonlight. Kousei pointed out how big the moon was as he played, and he inadvertently accompanied Tsubaki as she realized everyone was walking away. Clair De Lune has done a great job in demonstrating the bittersweet loneliness this moment brings.
The last piece in the series is played by Kousei in the piano competition final. One of Chopin’s most solitary pieces, Ballade n ° 1 in G minor, op. 23 begins with certain sorrow. Despite this, he has reflected on all the people in his life that make him feel more full while he is playing. He recognized that he was not alone, and for a brief moment he imagined Kaori playing with him again as the song started to take a lighter turn. Her music sparkled again, but as Kaori’s health worsened, her appearance began to fade. As the music started to turn into something more scary, he begged Kaori to stay. His appearance looked back and vanished into the cosmos as the final notes of the piece echoed in utter agony. He looked up, with tears in his eyes, and the scene shifted the day after his funeral.
Together, these pieces along with the heart-wrenching story are a recipe for a masterpiece from an anime. Each piece used is intentionally placed in the storyline as an emotional puzzle piece and is used to raise emotional stakes. Kousei has often lamented that he was not good with words, so most of his emotional communication was seen through his playing the piano. Music is such an important aspect of anime, and it shows that it can be used more than just for atmosphere.
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