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Your Lie in April, Vol. 1

Welcome to yet another midweek manga review! This week I’ll be taking a look at Kodansha’s Your Lie in April, Vol. 1, but first some news…

And now, onto the featured review of Your Lie in April, Vol. 1!

Your Lie in April, Vol. 1Your Lie in April, Vol. 1
by Naoshi Arakawa
Kodansha Comics, 224 pp
Rating: Teen (13 +)

Driven by his mother’s desire for success, young Kosei Arima was well on his way to becoming one of the most talented pianists in Japan until tragedy struck. His ill mother took a turn for the worst and passed away. The resulting trauma drove Kosei from the piano. Now, years later his world is empty and devoid of joy, or at least it was until an encounter with Kaori Miyazono, a violinist who will change his life forever. From Naoshi Arakawa comes the winner of the 37th Annual Kodansha Awards Best Shonen series, Your Lie in April, Vol. 1.

I wasn’t sure what to expect going into this as the buzz surrounding the anime adaption managed to slip by me completely unnoticed. What I found was a surprisingly soft and touching tale about a traumatized prodigy rediscovering his love for his specific area of talent. The characters are engaging and Kosei’s particular trauma rings true and tragic. His fascination with Kaori Miyazono is based heavily on her ability to enjoy and play music for the sheer joy of playing music, something that was never really present in his life as we see in flashbacks to his tutelage under a rather stern and unforgiving mother who’s hell bent on living vicariously through her child. Along for the ride is Kosei’s friends from school, the athletic and womanizing Watari and the tomboyish Tsubaka.Page from Your Lie in April, Vol. 1

One of the interesting things about this is how heavily involved it is with the music. References to specific songs, pieces and interpretations abound throughout this volume. This leads to some interesting scenes and sequences where Naoshi Arakawa is forced to convey the sounds through a solely visual medium. As a result Naoshi Arakawa attempts to convey the sounds and emotions of the music through the panel layouts, two page spreads, body language and reactions of the audiences and observers. Along the way there are scattered notes about the pieces of music featured, with some background information, historical context and similar bits of information about them. They even include specific Youtube search terms to look for official videos of the pieces that Kodansha Japan seems to have posted. Sadly when I tried using the suggested English search terms nothing specific came up and instead I just got a list of videos of the anime’s OST.

If I had any real complaints about the first volume, it’d be the occasional dip into comedic over reactions. They don’t happen all time, but they’re frequent enough for them stick out like a sore thumb. I know this is just part and parcel of the whole shonen manga thing, but they really break the tone and take me out of the story when they pop up. Hopefully, as the series goes on, Naoshi Arakawa will rein them in a bit.

Your Lie in April is off to an intriguing start. The focus on emotions and relationships is wonderfully handled and watching Naoshi Arakawa attempt to convey the musical pieces through his artwork is fascinating to watch. I’m curious to see how Kosei Arima’s relationships with Kaori Miyazono and with music grows. All in all Your Lie in April, Vol. 1 was a wonderful surprise and one that fans of character driven relationship dramas would do well to check out!

You Lie in April, Vol. 1 is available now from Kodansha Comics.

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