Your Lie in April Vol. 7 - Manga Review

Kaori is nowhere to be found. Without his trusty partner, Kosei goes on stage to perform alone and finally face the painful memories left by his mother in a final performance.

The Lowdown

Kosei and Kaori were supposed to make their triumphant return to the stage together at the gala concert, but Kaori is nowhere to be found when their performance time arrives. Spurred on by comments dismissive of his partner, Kosei heads onto the stage to perform solo. His performance is erratic early on as he stares head-on into the darkness the memories left behind by his mother, but slowly he begins to realize that for all her terrible flaws, she also left him with a powerful source of inspiration. As Hiroko and his friends watch, Kosei finally says good-bye to his mother for good. Meanwhile, Tsubaki slowly finds her feelings towards Kosei might be a little more complicated than she wants to admit as he continues to move forward in his journey.

How Was It?

The first part of this volume sees the climax of Kosei’s series-long struggle with the scars left behind by his mother, and naturally the resolution is brought about by one last performance as Kosei stars into the darkness. This was handled extremely well, and I appreciated the way the series shies away from completely lionizing his mother. Instead, we see Kosei’s process of maturing shown clearly as he slowly reaches a point where he can look at the good and the bad of their time together in a way that allows him to move forward, and this is portrayed powerfully throughout his thought process during the performance. We also see very clearly the effect that his music continues to have on everyone watching, and it’s been enjoyable to see the way that Kosei’s own personal struggle continues to have resonance for the rest of our cast.

Hiroko’s introduction into the story was also crucial in filling out the story from the reader’s perspective, and I appreciated that we were able to see another more textured perspective of Kosei’s mother provide context for Kosei’s thoughts. There continues to be a great sense of thematic coherence here as the Kosei and Hiroko’s thoughts hone in towards the intrinsic power of music as a medium of expression, tying Kosei’s final goodbye to his mother fittingly in to this series’ overall message about the nature of music. This was an enjoyable and well-done resolution that paid appropriate attention to the weight and conflicting nature of the emotions at play, making for an incredibly satisfying ending to this narrative arc.

Although Kosei is finally able to reach resolution with regard to his memories of his mother, his relief becomes fleeting when he finds out that Kaori has been hospitalized. Kaori’s health issues have been foreshadowed fairly clearly in the series up to this point, and they form the backdrop for Kosei’s story throughout the rest of the volume. This was unknowingly put into extremely effective context by Hiroko predicting that Kosei might need more loss to move forward as a musician, and this burgeoning arc appears to be beginning this process very quickly.

I liked that we immediately see the effect Kaori’s hospitalization has on Kosei, as he, Watari and Tsubaki visit her in the hospital. The symmetry between Kosei’s mother and Kaori is laid on heavily here, and I thought this worked quite well because this isn’t lost on Kosei either as he immediately has doubts about the assurances of good health given by Kaori. While there are a few lighthearted slap-stick moments here that are a little bit jarring, this string of event works extremely well again to foreshadow Kosei’s path forward. After already seeing the beginnings of the effect Kaori’s hospitalization is having on Kosei laid out meaningfully, it’ll be interesting to see how his newly recovered musical ability will fare going forward.

The second half of the volume also spends a significant amount of time tracking Tsubaki’s growing doubts about her true feelings toward Kosei. This is a thread that has been lingering since the beginning of the series, but it finally becomes a much bigger factor in this volume after her friend Kashiwagi continues to prompt Tsubaki to really confront her feelings. I enjoyed the way that Tsubaki’s feelings are given context in the form of a number of flashbacks that show her taking care of Kosei, but the most powerful of these shows her beginning to resent music for taking Kosei away from her as a child. This is linked well into her frustration at seeing Kosei and Kaori discussing music passionately, and this gave her story a little more thematic linkage to the main spirit of this series. I can’t say I was especially fond of this storyline because it felt like it distracted from the core narrative of Kosei’s story as a bit of a tangent, but it was done fairly well for its part. The attention paid to establishing Tsubaki’s feelings in context with the series’ musical focus was key in this, and although it was interesting to see her developed more as a character I can’t say I’m especially excited to see this storyline continue onward as the series progresses.

This volume’s art is squarely in line with what has been displayed in the series so far in a number of ways. Kosei’s performance is portrayed with tremendous detail that conveys the effect it has on the audience well thanks to cuts to the audience interspersed within, and the usual shining imagery accompanying his music makes another appearance here to good effect. The rest of the volume has the same strengths as the rest of the series, with Arakawa’s strong penchant for laying out his panels in a cinematic fashion paying dividends in bringing out the emotions in several key scenes. However, some of the series’ flaws are also present here with some faces being drawn a little inconsistently and with a degree of flatness. This became especially jarring when the faces of characters are drawn with great detail in some scenes but feel a little off model in more simply drawn scenes. That said, if you’ve enjoyed the art in the series thus far this shouldn’t be a significant problem for anyone.

Final Thoughts

Your Lie in April Vol. 7 is a strong and satisfying conclusion to Kosei’s series-long struggle to finally face the memories left behind by his mother. The series continues to zero in effectively on his musical journey by framing his reaction to Kaori’s hospitalization in a way that is thematically consistent with the series, and this left me eager to see how his story will progress. Although all of the attention paid to Tsubaki in this volume felt a little bit distracting considering the strength of the main plot, it was all done well enough to justify its inclusion. All in all, this is another strong volume from this special series that fans will undoubtedly enjoy.


Your Lie In April 7
By Naoshi Arakawa

Your Lie in April Vol. 7 was published by Kodansha Comics USA on April 26th, 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.  Volume 8 will be released on June 24th 2016 in English

Verdict:

A-

Date of Publication: April 26th, 2016

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