Your Lie in April Vol. 8 - Manga Review

Kosei has overcome the trauma left behind by his mother, but new fears arise in him when Kaori is admitted to the hospital a second time.

The Lowdown

Kosei finally managed to come to terms with his memories of his mother with an emotional performance, but instead being greeted by happiness he finds out that Kaori is in the hospital a second time. Kosei grapples with the right way to approach her, and keenly feels the effect of his worries. However, his world is shaken up when Hiroko appoints him teacher of a conniving young pianist named Nagi, further forcing him to decide how to allocate his time. Meanwhile, Tsubaki continues to wrestle with her feeling for Kosei and finds that there are only painful answers in store for her.

How Was It?

Much of the later half of Your Lie in April’s previous volume was spent following Tsubaki as she grappled with her feelings for Kosei, and this storyline continues onward in the first chapter of this volume. Although I wasn’t too fond of this storyline in the previous volume, I liked that it was linked well into the overall discussion of the role of music in Kosei’s life as well as his consideration of what to do with his future. However, the continuation of this story in this volume is comparatively more centred upon Tsubaki in focusing upon her emotions as she grapples with the idea of Kosei leaving and the impact this has on her own relationship with her senpai. The problem with this is that it’s not all that interesting watching Tsubaki sort through her feelings when they aren’t grounded in Kosei’s overall journey or with the thematic emphasis on the role of music. This story would have worked better if it had continued to link Tsubaki’s story in with Kosei’s emotional development, but in the end it all falls a little bit flat in overestimating the ability of Tsubaki’s emotions to carry the story. Overall, this tangent distracted a bit from the main story, and I was thankful to see it wrapped up (for now) in one chapter.

The story then thankfully shifts back to Kosei for the remainder of the volume in introducing a significant subplot which sees him becoming a teacher of sorts to a middle-schooler named Nagi at Hiroko’s beckoning. Much like the Tsubaki storyline, this felt like a little bit of tangent in the early going, but towards the end of the volume it tied in quite nicely with Kosei’s overall journey. I liked that we got to see Kosei’s own personal growth through his critique of Nagi’s performances, and I thought this did a good job underscoring his new feelings about music in a different way than we have seen so far in the series. We also get some character development on Nagi’s part as she considers her goals relating to music, and I thought that Hiroko describing her as a fellow traveler on the musical journey aptly described the way that Kosei, Kaori, and now Nagi fit into the overarching ethos of this series. While the twist at the end of her story in this volume wasn’t really surprising, I thought that this tied everything together fairly cohesively in terms of providing her inclusion into the story with some meaningful impact on Kosei’s story.

As a result of the amount of page-space given to Tsubaki and Nagi’s respective story lines, Kosei and Kaori’s story covers comparatively less ground in this volume. However, I really liked that in the absence of any performance scenes the focus was on exploring Kosei’s unclear feelings towards Kaori, and this was illustrated well through his general listlessness about visiting her in the hospital. We very clearly see how his feelings have grown over time, and I liked the way that the constant forward progression in his feelings helped to convey his creeping sense of dread at the questions about her well-being. This is shown in an enjoyable sequence showing the two on a trip to the mall as little hints are dropped which make Kosei suspect her condition may be something more. Interestingly, this volume more than ever separates both the audience and Kosei from Kaori in the sense that it becomes clear that we’ve never really seen the real her, and this set-up has definitely kept me fascinated as the story continues to progress.

Additionally, I liked that this general sense of unease was conveyed to the audience as well by showing scenes independent of Kosei which established Kaori’s condition as more serious than suspected. It was hard to ignore the way this series seems to be turning into a tragedy despite all of Kosei’s progress in coming to terms with his feelings, and I found that this had a different but just as powerful emotional weight compared to what we’ve seen conveyed thus far in the series. Perhaps my favourite scene in this volume conveyed this expertly when Kosei explains his feelings for Kaori to Nagi overlaying panels that juxtapose Kaori’s actual condition against his idealistic description of her. The story also does a great job delving thematically into the similarity raised in the previous volume between Kaori being sick and Kosei losing his mother, and the final leg of this volume brings this out quite overtly in a scene that was genuinely unsettling to watch Kosei go through. The questions raised here are appropriately potent, and the final reveal this volume ends with its particularly powerful because of the way it raises so many questions about both Kosei and Kaori’s respective emotional states going forward.

There isn’t a whole lot to say about the art in this volume other than it didn’t particularly stand out compared to previous volumes in the series but it did complement the proceedings on the whole. This was expected given the lack of performance scenes in this volume because those scenes have been where the series has really pulled out the stops in terms of its drawing quality. The art style is relatively laid-back before slowly gaining a heaviness that accompanied the more emotionally weighty scenes at the end of the volume. That said, this definitely shouldn’t be a reason for anyone reading the series to be dissuaded, but is just a note about the ebs and flows this series has.

Final Thoughts

Your Lie in April Vol. 8 advances the storylines brought forward in the previous volumes in characteristically meaningful fashion by keeping the focus on the emotions of these characters. While some storylines such as Tsubaki’s don’t tie in particularly cleanly to the main plotline, Kosei and Kaori’s story is still as emotionally potent as ever as the story begins to take a more tragic turn. While this volume is perhaps not quite as thematically cohesive as the series has been so far, nobody should be missing out on this story.


Your Lie in April 8
By Naoshi Arakawa

Your Lie in April Vol. 8 was published by Kodansha Comics USA on July 5th, 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 9 will be released on August 16th 2016 in English.

Verdict:

B+

Date of Publication: July 5th, 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