The final moment arrives – Kosei and Kaori each put it all on the line for one another in the series’ final volume.
Winter is here, and Kosei is heartbroken – after finally realizing his feelings for Kaori, he sees the extent to which her health is failing. With his final performance coming up, Kosei finds himself unable to approach the piano even as he faces a test that will determine his future as a musician. Still, he and Kaori resolve to play together once more, and Kosei reluctantly takes the stage for a final time as Kaori goes into surgery.
How Was It?
So here we are at the final volume of Your Lie in April, and this one is unmistakably quite a doozy for the way that it reasserts the dramatic stakes set out in the previous couple volumes before culminating in a crescendo of intensity as Kosei takes the stage. One of the best parts of this volume is how everything that happens here is in service of Kosei’s final performance, and some of the other distracting storylines such as Tsubaki’s are accordingly left out of the picture here. The emphasis is thoroughly centred on Kosei’s emotional experience before, during, and after his final performance, and I was very impressed with the focus displayed in this volume to wrap up the story. This has always been Kosei and Kaori’s story, and I was thoroughly pleased with the way that this volume succeeds in portraying the emotional pinnacle of their journey in this series.
Your Lie in April’s penultimate volume left off with a stark emotional cliffhanger as Kosei witnessed the extent of Kaori’s deteriorating condition for the first time, and the lead up to his final performance bears the weight of this appropriately. I loved the way that much of this circled back to the previous themes of the series, particularly with regard the idea of Kosei’s dependency on other in the course of his playing as explored with his relationship towards his mother as well as his recognition of his love for Kaori. The images of Kosei’s brokenness at the beginning of this volume become imbued with a tremendous emotional weight because of the way that they build upon his emotional journey so far, and I really liked the way that Arakawa-sensei places Kosei’s struggle to just get to a final performance in this context. Kosei and Kaori’s relationship comes into focus here as well in a wonderfully understated scene immediately before the final performance, and I really liked how this sequence both revealed a little more about Kaori to us while putting the emotional stakes at hand in a really apparent way. The lead-up to Kosei’s final performance does exactly what a great dramatic build should do in laying out the stakes in a way that pays full service to the themes and emotions that lay at the base of this entire series, and this was a strong way to lead into this series’ climax.
The idea of barring ones’ soul through music has been repeatedly emphasized throughout this series, but Kosei’s final performance takes this to an entirely new level as the climax of this volume. This scene amplifies the best aspects of this series’ performances by punctuating some wonderfully laid out panels with the reactions of the audience to really emphasize the emotional weight at hand here as Kaori’s surgery plays out in tandem with the performance. In some sense, there is almost a magnetically voyeuristic aspect to all of this because of the intensity with which we see Kosei fully pour his emotions out during this performance, and this feeling is fostered by Arakawa-sensei in the way that we see the reactions of the audience layered into the performance between Kosei’s monologues. More than that, this sequence is stunning because of the way that it tells a cohesive “story” through Kosei’s performance in a number of wordless panels. Without spoiling anything, this all culminates in an incredibly intense conclusion which brings all of the emotions and thematic elements of this series together in one conclusive and memorable bang.
The final chapter of this volume is an epilogue of sorts, and I couldn’t be happier with the way that this chapter brings the entire series to a satisfying close. We get a conclusion that links the whole journey we’ve witnessed together in quite a special way, and I really liked the way that it explores a completely different side of the story than the lens that we’ve been looking through. If anything, the conclusion made me want to immediately re-read many of the earlier volumes, and I liked that it brings a strong sense of conclusiveness to this series while leaving just enough to the imagination. It’s hard to describe without getting into spoilers, but the use of symbolism here is impressive, and gives an enjoyably sentimental and cinematic air that feels wholly earned given the emotional intensity this series has always brought.
Your Lie in April’s final volume succeeds in capping off this series in an incredibly satisfying way because of the way that it brings together all of this series’ best elements to create a profound emotional experience. In this sense, this volume does exactly what a final volume should do in bringing Kosei’s coming of age both musically and emotionally together in a display that is quite mesmerizing thanks to Arakawa-sensei’s artistic decisions during the final performance. This volume does a great job paying homage to the themes which this series has placed at its core in portraying Kosei’s emotional journey, and I loved the way in which the final performance brought this into stunning focus both from his perspective as well as that of his friends watching in the audience. Finally, the epilogue is one that you won’t likely make it through with dry eyes, and it really does provide a satisfying ending point that brings this series together thematically and emotionally one last time.
Your Lie in April Vol. 11 was published by Kodansha Comics USA on January 3rd, 2017. 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.
Date of Publication: January 3rd, 2017
Author: Naoshi Arakawa
Translator: Alethea and Athena Nibbley
Editor: Paul Starr
Publisher: Kodansha Comics USA