Rule of Three Review, Flower Digest: Your Lie in April, Yuki Yuna wa Yusha de Aru – Episodes 2-3

I need to have a conversation with the folks in charge of scheduling.

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Thursday is an insane day for me this season (lots of new shows, plus those Sailor Moon Newbie Review posts), so I hope you’ll forgive me for combining these two shows. Your Lie in April certainly deserves its own post, but I ended up not having that much to say about YuAru, so rather than force my fried brain to keep typing, I figured I’d just tag a short review onto the end of a longer one. Hit the jump for a lot of positives, a few negatives, and one lovely new show.

Your Lie in April (Shigatsu wa Kimi no Uso)

If music be the food of love, play on.

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There’s a moment during Shigatsu’s opening theme where the music swells and the singers combine their voices, and it’s like the notes push some Emotions button inside of me and I get choked up every time. Every. Single. Time. I wish I understood music composition better so I could explain why I have this reaction, but I can’t – it’s just a strange, surprising thing that happens.

And in some ways this is how I feel about Shigatsu: As beautiful as the art, animation, and music, and as much as it connects with me on an emotional level, I feel like I’m completely unsuited to discuss the music itself, which is a huge part of this series. So I suppose I’ll have to focus on more traditional story elements to try to explain just what it is that I love about Shigatsu.

A lot of it is the characters, who are flawed and not always likable, but I find them sympathetic and relatable and they just feel like actual teenagers in a way that a lot of shows struggle to portray. There are misunderstandings and miscommunications, people unable to say what they want and then finally saying it all in an outpouring of emotion (and even then only barely making sense), which is so perfectly high school that it both drives me crazy and strikes a chord all at once. There are broader themes at work here as well, issues of abuse and trauma and healing, and of what it means to be an artist – to create, to perform, to give yourself to an audience and hope they accept and reciprocate.

And oh, did I mention that all of this is set to beautiful music with equally beautiful animation? Even if you were lukewarm about the premiere, I urge you to at least watch the second episode. Kaori’s Kreutzer Sonata performance is a gorgeous, viscerally moving scene, a magnificent marriage of audio and visual, and an excellent example of the unique experience only animation can provide.

There are some definite issues with Shigatsu (Kaori can be quite overbearing, and there’s a real concern Kousei will turn into a doormat/punching bag, dragged around by the other, more extroverted characters, which really irritated me in the third episode), but in terms of emotional honesty, a willingness to address real, difficult issues, and character-driven YA storytelling, there’s not a show that tops it this season. Shigatsu is firmly on my watchlist.

Yuki Yuna wa Yusha de Aru

This series has nothing to do with music, but “I’m playing it by ear” is still an apt idiom.

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Due to release delays, I basically already reviewed Episode 2 during my premiere post, so I’m keeping this short. The first two episodes surprised me with how much I enjoyed them. The third one? Much less so. This week saw the addition of Miyoshi Karin to the cast, and she’s a compilation of a bunch of character traits that, frankly, I’m sick of seeing in anime: Nasally voice, prone to yelling at and insulting the other characters, with a “hard on the outside, soft on the outside” (a.k.a. tsundere) personality. Also, while the fanservice is extremely minimal, the girls are young enough that there shouldn’t be any, and it rubs me the wrong way every time it happens.

Even so, the very end of the episode did (somehow) manage to make me feel all warm and fuzzy inside, and there are so many unanswered questions about the nature of these Vertex monsters, the Shinju-sama, and the mysterious Taisha organization (who may or may not have created Karin? It wasn’t super clear) that a part of me wants to stick around to see what’s going on with all that. I suspect this will be a “one week at a time” kind of show that could easily drop off my watchlist, and given how packed Thursdays are there’s a chance I won’t even make it back for Episode 4. But there’s just enough here in terms of story and charm to keep me from dropping it outright, so we’ll see how I’m feeling a week from now.

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