Your Lie in April Vol. 5 - Manga Review

Kosei is drowning at the bottom of a soundless ocean. Overwhelmed by memories of his mother, he searches for the reason why he plays in hopes of salvaging his performance.

The Lowdown

After beginning his performance with the technical and emotionless perfection expected of the “human metronome”, Kosei is starting to fall apart. Confronted by the memories of his mother, Kosei labours through his performance, unable to hear the notes playing. While his rivals and friends look on, Kosei finally comes to a simple realization, finding that one thing to hold onto in hopes of saving his performance.

How Was It?

This volume blew me away. Ripe with emotional payoff, this volume was an emotional rollercoaster which epitomized the best aspects of this series so far. The conclusion of Kosei’s performance was full of the dramatic weight that lovers of this series will be sure to appreciate, and I loved the impact with which Kosei’s emotions were vividly portrayed through a combination of intense imagery and cinematic flair. We get an extremely strong sense of Kosei’s emotional journey over the course of this performance, creating a fitting (if still unsettled) resolution of his barrier to playing the piano. I say unsettled in the sense that there is a noticeable degree of nuance here - although Kosei does find the answer he seems to be looking for, this isn’t a fairytale epiphany as his issues are far from resolved with the question of if he has truly recovered left open.

One of my criticisms of the previous volume was that it occasionally veered on the side of explicating a little too much instead of letting the imagery tell the story. Thankfully, this is not the case in this volume as the art is left to tell the story of Kosei’s performance with just enough text added to provide context. The end of the performance itself felt like the culmination of Kosei’s journey over the series so far, and I particularly enjoyed the skillful way that Arakawa weaved all of Kosei’s character development together to create a conclusion that felt appropriately earned.

This volume also does a great job at turning Kosei’s performance into more than just an individual moment of realization on his part, interweaving the perspectives of his friends and rivals effectively. A continual theme of this series has been the communal aspect of music - that performance goes beyond simply the impact on the individual but connect and impacts the lives of those who witness the spectacle. Arakawa emphasizes this by showing Kosei’s performance through a number of alternating perspectives; Kaori watches on hoping he’ll pull through while Takeshi longs for a return of the pianist he long looked up to. I greatly enjoyed the way that Arakawa used Kosei’s performance in this way to provide characterization for this compelling cast, adding even more to the final conclusion of his performance as all of their emotional journey’s reach a thrilling climax. This was a fitting and thoroughly satisfying end to this arc which kept me on the edge of my seat the entire time.

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Just as in previous volumes, Arakawa makes skillful use of imagery to portray the emotions emanating from the performance with a wonderful amount of thematic coherence. The performance scenes in this series seem to be where author Arakawa pulls out all the stops, using quick cuts to different perspectives to highlight certain scenes from multiple angles. The scenes outside of the performance are also a marked improvement over the first couple of volumes, and although character faces are a little bit on the plainer side they are none of the problems with consistency in drawing that were present early on in the series. This volume is an extremely solid artistic effort overall, with Arakawa upping his game for maximum emotional resonance in the beautifully rendered scenes while in performance. These more than made up unremarkable moments outside of these scenes, marking the volume stand out overall.

The second half of the volume follows the aftermath of Kosei’s performance, introducing a new mentor for Kosei in the form of his mother’s friend Hiroko Seto. I enjoyed the way that Kosei’s early interactions with Hiroko put his character development in context, showing the emotional progress that he has made over the course of the series in a different context. This also did a great job cementing the satisfying sense of forward progression which began with his performance, investing me even more in wanting to see how this more resolute character will continue to grow. Later, Kaori convinces Kosei to partner up with her again for an upcoming gala and together they gear up for it. This provides a much needed breather after the high emotions of the majority of this volume while continuing to advance the plot in an interesting way. The volume ends of quite a cliffhanger that brings the volume together as a whole thematically while providing a tantalizing hook into the coming volumes.

Final Thoughts

This volume was simply fantastic, providing a thrilling emotional climax to the first major arc of this series. I was extremely impressed by the thematic cohesiveness this volume showed, skillfully weaving together the themes of love and the joy of performance in a way that progressed individual journeys of all of these characters. The artwork also steps up to complement the moments of emotional high in this volume, making for a wholly engrossing read and the most complete volume this series has seen.


Your Lie in April 5
By Naoshi Arakawa

Your Lie in April (Shigatsu Wa Kimi No Uso) Vol. 5 was published by Kodansha Comics USA on December 29th, 2015. 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. Volume 6 will be released on February 18th 2016 in English.

Verdict:

A+

Date of Publication: December 29th, 2015

Translator: Alethea and Athena Nibbley

Author: Naoshi Arakawa

Publisher: Kodansha Comics USA



Matt

Matt is a broke law student by day, broke law student by night, and one of the co-founders of Taykobon in his dwindling spare time. Although his favourite series tend to be shonen adventure series, he also has a soft spot for slice-of-life shojo romances. He enjoys following the manga industry, and is a fan of the Toronto Maple Leafs and the Toronto Blue Jays in other nonexistent spare time. 

Favourite series: Bakuman

Favourite author: Io Sakisaka