With the words “please play with me again” resounding in her heart, Kaori continues her rehab while Kosei prepares for his latest and most important competition in this penultimate volume of their saga.
Kosei and Nagi’s duet was exceptional, and their music carried their thoughts to all the people precious to them watching. Kaori heard Kosei’s message loud and clear, and despite her failing health she resolved to strive to play once more with him on the stage. Although Kaori is on Kosei’s mind, he’s got his latest competition coming up in December to worry about, and this one is his biggest yet in terms of affecting his career aspirations. The competition will be tougher than ever, and no one is taking it more serious than Takeshi Aiza, who has resolved to finally compete against his former hero. Meanwhile, Tsubaki continues to feel conflicted about her feelings for Kosei, and now that he may leave town for good she finds herself in a race to make up her mind.
How Was It?
Your Lie in April’s previous volume was primarily about its characters trying to find their respective reasons to move onward, and this emotional process culminated most notably in Kaori’s case as she finally found a reason to continue struggling onward in her treatment. I was really impressed with the nuance shown in that arc through a number of these characters, and this process continues here as these characters really get to work after making their resolutions. This volume ends up being quite an uplifting read because of the way that we see them push through in spite of their struggles, and in this case, the drama plays out as Kosei struggles to finally get a handle on his feelings.
The theme of “inspiration” is readily apparent throughout this volume, and this comes through most clearly in Kaori and Kosei’s story as they each push forward towards their respective final tests. This series has centered itself upon Kosei’s story of being inspired by Kaori to take up the piano again, and by contrast, this volume (as well as the end of the previous one) show the way which Kaori is motivated by Kosei to struggle onward in her rehabilitation. I thought that this duality in both of them inspiring each other in turn was very well done in terms of exploring Kosei’s story from a different angle while also giving us some insight into Kaori. We see how Kosei’s emotional state has become linked in a strong way to Kaori’s well-being, and the result is a thematically-rich gut-punch to end off the volume in a tremendously strong way. Without giving away too much, the stark conclusion of this volume really sets up the upcoming finale in a compelling way that draws richly upon the themes their relationship has been built upon, and I can’t wait to see what will happen as this story races towards its conclusion.
It was really cool to see this story arrive at the point where we really get the sense of two people each pushing each other onward, and I thought this demonstration of inspiration dovetailed really nicely both with Kosei’s burgeoning acceptance for his feelings towards Kaori as well as the emotional arcs experienced by characters such as Takeshi. This is drama done right – it never feels over the top, but it’s impossible not to be enthralled the stories of the teens as they learn more about themselves thanks to the people inspiring them. In Takeshi’s case, this is brought out in a performance as he responds to Kosei’s “challenge” of sorts by letting it all out on stage in another dazzling performance which really capture the emotional intensity being displayed. Once again, Arakawa-sensei’s artwork shines during the musical scenes thanks to skillful paneling which captures the audience, the instruments, and the expressions of the performers perfectly to convey a real sense of gravity to the proceedings. I've come to expect being swept up in the drama portrayed through the musical performances in this series, and I was really happy to see that Takeshi's performance continued to raise the bar in terms of conveying the power of his musical expression.
The final storyline of consequence in this volume follows Tsubaki as her feelings for Kosei reach a head as he concentrates more and more on his piano competition. I’m still not the biggest fan of this storyline because it distracts somewhat from the emphasis on the influence of music and being a performer that motivates the rest of the characters. Tsubaki’s story, with her continual dithering over her feelings, feels divorced from the more powerful aspects of this series, and I continued to find myself wanting to get back to the main plot during her numerous segments. I just haven’t been able to become invested in this storyline, and I still think it makes for a less focused experience especially when it takes up much of the page time in this volume. That said, I thought that her inclusion was interesting because of the way that it served as a catalyst for Kosei to progress in realizing his own feelings. Tsubaki’s storyline is also punctuated by some really nice dramatic scenes that showcase Arakawa’s talent for enhancing the emotional atmosphere of a given situation, but I found scenes such as Tsubaki's conversation in the rain with Kosei to be interesting as dramatic set-piece in itself rather than from investment in Tsubaki’s arc.
Your Lie in April continues to be powerful as it hurtles towards its conclusion, and I really liked the way this volume continued to build meaningfully on the way Kaori and Kosei’s relationship has developed over the course of this series. I continue to enjoy the thematic cohesiveness that Arakawa-sensei has displayed in terms of showcasing role inspiration plays in various arcs of these characters, and I think that Takeshi’s storyline advanced this in a compelling way throughout his performance in this volume. Tsubaki’s story continues to be a largely unnecessary addition to this story, and I’m not sure that her arc ever really feels relevant in the course of the main storyline. In contrast, Kosei and Kaori’s story continues to be the emotional rock of this series, and I was thrilled as usual to see the powerful way this was explored in the way that they rely upon each other more and more. This led to another emotionally rending cliffhanger to end off this volume, and I can’t wait to see what’s in store as this series enters its final movement.
Your Lie in April Vol. 10 was published by Kodansha Comics USA on November 1st, 2016. Authored by Naoshi Arakawa, the series originally ran in Kodansha’s Monthly Shonen Magazine from 2011-2015, with an anime adaption by A-1 Pictures airing from October 2014 - March 2015. The final volume will be released on January 3rd, 2017.
Date of Publication: November 1st, 2016
Author: Naoshi Arakawa
Translator: Alethea and Athena Nibbley
Editor: Paul Starr
Publisher: Kodansha Comics USA