To “lose” something is such a powerful, yet diverse word when it comes to what it means to different people. It’s a word that can mean both a misplacement of something important to us and a heartbreaking parting with someone we know. A word that can mean both a failure to achieve a personal goal and also one of misguidance and confusion. It’s hard to pin down on what “losing” can mean to any individual at any given time. Even further still, it’s complicated to understand how different individuals can cope with each scenario of “loss” regarding its various meanings. Sometimes to “lose” is something we don’t focus on too much, yet at other times, it can be devastating to the point where it feels soul-crushing and unable to be overcome.
Your Lie in April is double-sided when it comes to expressing these emotions from the feeling of losing, in terms of being a positive and negative aspect of character growth of our main cast. That’s the beautiful nature of the show though; “loss” doesn’t mean the same thing to everyone. Some can view it as a time to cherish and reflect on something meaningful to them in a fashion that allows grieving, but to others, it can be viewed as an uplifting growth opportunity that allows our lives to become more meaningful than they once were.
Take one of the main casts from the show, Kousei, a middle-school aged boy that’s suffered his fair share of loss in his very young life. Losing his borderline abusive, yet loving mother very early on in his life leads to a life-changing experience in his piano-playing career, creating his inability to understand what music means to him. This mental roadblock hinders his ability to play even the simplest of notes, despite having the ability to play complex pieces that had won him many awards and competitions in the past. Because of the situation with his mother, playing the piano leaves him in a frozen state of remembering her harsh words and mannerisms and thus, also renders him unable to pursue his undeniable passion for music.
That’s one aspect that Your Lie in April continuously drives home. Losing one important thing leads to losing something else that’s important, and it can become a downward spiral of negative emotions feeding a seemingly inescapable, undefeatable mentality. This destructive mental state can feel insurmountable to pull yourself out of, especially when it seems like the world is reminding you of what you’ve lost at every opportunity it can create. It can become painful to achieve anything, leading to the feeling of a mental defeat unlike any other. These are the sorts of things that Kousei experiences in the show; things that aren’t necessarily hard to relate to when it comes to losing those close to us, and in turn, also losing that willpower to do what we love as a result of it.
Your Lie in April may conceptually be about “loss” and the struggles that come with dealing with that, but there’s more to the show than that as well. I still think it would be a great series if that’s all it wanted to portray itself as, a story about loss and its effects on our mental state. Boiling the anime itself down to that base element alone would be incorrect though, as loss isn’t something that just happens and it’s done, it’s a part of a timely process that takes place within yourself. While that amount of time can vary based on the individual, “loss” is only one side of the coin, and the much uglier one at that.
The other side of the coin is much more optimistic, something else that Your Lie in April isn’t afraid to delve into and tackle head-on. An often less discussed part of loss, as it’s the part that is the most psychologically helpful, yet the part we concern ourselves with the least due to the typically detrimental effects of the actual loss that our minds are always so heavily focused upon.
That is the “hope” for a better future beyond the pain currently being experienced, something that Kaori gives Kousei to help him push through his struggles.
This is where Your Lie in April reveals its true colors, but it takes more than just the first few episodes to realize how brightly it truly shines. Because of the show’s overarching dramatic tone, it could be easily mistaken as one that leaves its audience with a tragic climax as its final message. Honestly, if the last episode had ended even half an episode earlier, I think that could be a valid assessment regarding the series as a whole.
However, that final half proves the exact opposite point — that loss is only one part of hope. With its emphasis placed on Kousei getting through these tough moments that his life continues to throw at him, the show quickly turns from one of tragedy to one that’s more bittersweet in tone. This isn’t only in terms of the feelings that it provides to us as the audience, but also in terms of Kousei’s outlook on life becoming more positive despite the loss he’s experienced.
That key difference is what made this show stand to me; the difference between wanting to cry because of the sorrowful events and dramatic turns within it, or wanting to cry by watching someone struggle through those moments to make the most out of their own lives. This is what Your Lie in April is truly about. Overcoming that idea of losing something to gain a deeper, yet better understanding of ourselves.
I imagine that’s a core reason as to why the unique romance dynamic was chosen to be part of this story, as the key beats of the show revolve around the idea of losing someone close to you, even if that person has not technically left you in a physical sense. Love is a complicated feeling after all. One that this series portrays rather accurately, to the point where it may be more accurate to say that Your Lie in April doesn’t try to understand love itself, only the feelings surrounding it. That’s not to say that there aren’t explicit mentions of romance within the show though, as depicted between the complicated relationships developed between our main cast members.
As within many love triangle stories, there is always a character that will experience a feeling of loss when it comes to expressing romantic feelings for others. What makes this unique within Your Lie in April though is that it’s not just using a love-triangle setup for the sake of having a romance story, but also using it to grow their characters in a way that both reflects the happiness of romance, but the painfulness of it as well. This duality of emotions stemming from the show’s relationships mirrors the thematic aspect to drive home the point that painful things within life can turn into beautiful ones given enough time and strength to move past the hardships, slowly turning that feeling of loss into one of hope instead.
It’s why I feel that labeling Your Lie in April as a “sad show” is purely inaccurate, as reducing the anime to only the lamentable elements is precisely what the core of the show is fighting against. The cathartic latter half of the final episode about Kousei being able to move beyond the setbacks that his life has presented him proves that this anime is not about trying to create the saddest story possible; it’s about using those setbacks to grow and change. It felt as if the entire series was building up to those final 12 minutes, an entire 12 minutes that will forever be unforgettable to me. Not just because of the number of tears shed, but also because of the amount of sincere hopefulness that came with it.
Those aspects are what make Your Lie in April the beautiful masterpiece that it is, and without knowing about the double-edged nature of the show’s theme, I’m not sure how long it would’ve taken me to watch it. Ironically not too much different from Kousei’s situation, I also needed a small push to feel comfortable diving into this show, fully aware of the emotional anguish that it could’ve given me at one of the highest points of emotional volatility in my life. However, taking that brave step into the series was one of the best decisions I could have made and I’m thankful for being able to experience everything that it had to offer.
Sometimes the first step is the one that’s the hardest and pushing through those struggles can result in some of life’s most wonderful experiences.