Manga Review: Your Lie In April Vol. 2

Despite being a soundless medium, music-centric stories are not uncommon in manga. Now joining the ranks of Nodame Cantible and La Corda d’Oro is Kodansha’s Your Lie in April, and you can read on for my review of Volume 2. (For my review of Volume 1, click here.)

Back cover blurb

After the death of his mother, child prodigy Arima Kosei gave up the piano forever — or so he thought. That vow turned out to be no match for the persistence of sprightly violinist Kaori Miyazono, who’s roped Arima back into the world of competitive classical music. But after so many years, will Arima be able to sit down at the ivories again like nothing happened? Or will history repeat itself, with Arima crumbling under the pressure?

The Review

Volume 1 ended with Kosei’s friends rushing him and Kaori to the competition hall. Soloist and accompanist have never practiced together, and Kosei’s anxiety comes through loud and clear. What is also clear is that Kaori’s personal agenda has nothing to do with winning awards. Usually, the soloist is the one fighting nerves before a competition, but Kaori is the one forcibly keeping Kosei together as she drags him on stage.

It’s pretty much a recipe for disaster. Amazingly, Kosei holds his own against the unfamiliar score for a while but eventually crashes and burns. As mentioned in my review of Volume 1, the anime version of Your Lie has a distinct advantage over the manga because the soundtrack allows you to actually hear the interaction between piano and violin. Even so, the escaping notes that represent Kosei’s disappearing ability to hear and the creepy images of his mother are quite effective at conveying his turmoil. Between those illustrations, Kosei’s internal monologue, and the judges’ and mob comments,  the manga delivers a much better depiction of the music in this performance than for Kaori’s preliminary round. However, toward the end of the scene, it’s not exactly clear how Kosei’s “imagining” the sound turns into a “fight” with Kaori’s violin.

Then the next scene opens with Kaori in the hospital, and it becomes pretty clear what direction the story’s headed. So on top of Kosei’s emotional scars from the past, we have a shadow looming over Kaori’s future. Those two elements create plenty of drama by themselves, but then the manga has to go way off the deep end and make Tsubaki suddenly angsty as well. There’s really no good reason for it, especially since her life is actually pretty good. She even has the coolest guy on the baseball team asking her to be his girlfriend! So when she gets all gloomy, it makes me want to throw the book across the room.

Extras include translation notes and a blurb by violinist Rieko Ikeda about the featured music.

In Summary

It’s not your typical competition scene with Kaori and Kosei delivering a performance that has zero chance of winning. Still, a miracle of sorts takes place on stage though it’s not exactly clear whether Kosei shakes off his handicap or manages to work around it. However, once the applause fades, the story takes a turn toward extreme emo. I don’t mind adolescent angst, but the last half of the volume lays it on so thick, it gets a bit suffocating.

First published at The Fandom Post.

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