Is it Okay to Like Your Lie in April?

If you’re dialed in to the anime fandom, particularly the simulcast-watching, blogging segment of the fandom that I inhabit, you’ve probably heard at least some hints of the controversy that’s been surrounding noitaminA’s new show, Your Lie in April, a 2-cour anime produced by A-1 Pictures and based on the Kodansha Manga Award winning manga by Naoshi Arakawa.

Near as I can tell as someone standing apart from those who are decrying the show, the bulk of the outcry surrounding KimiUso is derived from the show’s treatment of protagonist Kousei’s traumatic-abusive childhood at the hands of his now-deceased mother.

Now, I’ve always tried to form my own opinions of a show divorced from the complaints and praises of other, but KimiUso has been something of a special case for me. This is, partially, because I’m hearing these complaints from other bloggers whom I personally like and respect, but also because the criticism seems not to be directed towards KimiUso‘s technical aspects so much as it targets ethical concerns, excepting cases where the two merge together.

Your Lie in April

Now, I generally consider myself an ethical person, so I’ve been experiencing some mild cognitive dissonance resultant from my general like of KimiUso, the types of critique other bloggers have raised against it, and the conceptions I hold of myself as an empathetic, ethically and morally minded person. I’ll maintain no illusions here—this piece is a product of this cognitive dissonance and my desire to alleviate it. Perhaps, if you want to phrase it this way, a justification. Please just understand that I’m trying to tackle this controversy in the most generous and kind way I can, without throwing anyone under the bus or intentionally glossing over any issues.

I think it’s also important to note that I personally have been blessed to live a childhood and young adult life largely devoid of any sort of abuse, bullying, or psychological trauma. I want to recognize the validity of other people’s experiences as they relate to this show. I absolutely do not want to say that those who have been triggered or offended or forced to relive painful memories are wrong for taking issue with the show’s presentation of Kousei and his problems and his friends and their methods of dealing with his problems. If anyone has checked out of the show for those reasons, all I can do is say that I don’t understand their experience, but I understand their need to end their involvement with the show.

I think those are all the disclaimers I need to make at this point.

Your Lie in April

My concerns with Your Lie in April primarily are derived from the criticism the show has received for the ways in which Kousei’s traumatic childhood—an experience that eventually pushed him so far that it broke him and made him unable to hear his own music—has been used as a plot point and treated as a problem he needs to overcome. Kousei needs professional help to get over his past, but he’s instead provided by the narrative with a hyperactive teen violinist who cajoles and pressures him into playing the piano once again and reliving the nightmares of his past. If these concerns are valid, then does liking KimiUso mean I’m accepting a show that believes bullying and force of will are the correct solutions to dealing with abuse and trauma?

Without asserting that these claims are totally off-base, I want to provide an alternative perspective by abstracting KimiUso into structural realms of fiction and mythology.

My mythography professor often reminds us that we cannot judge other cultures by the standards of our own. My lit theory professor often reminds us that we cannot judge Shakespeare for not being a twenty-first century feminist.

Your Lie in April

So, what I want to propose is a treatment of KimiUso that views the anime as, in a sense, another world—which, it sort of is. Bobduh from Wrong Every Time recently tweeted something that I think frames this idea really well:

In other words, KimiUso isn’t asking the audience to view Kousei’s trauma in the same way that we would view it in real life, but to accept that this is a heightened version of reality—it’s a play that knows it’s a play. Kousei getting professional attention for his issues isn’t presented as a possible option (which is different from it being presented as an invalid option). In the world of KimiUso, the way for Kousei to overcome his past is through opening himself up to music. That’s the solution for which Kousei is striving, and that his friends are pushing him toward in their own ways.

This bring me to another point—what the show is actually about. From what I’ve seen of KimiUso thus far, I think it’s much less about how to deal with trauma and much more about how to rediscover one’s passion for something, whether that be life or music or both. This is the natural prerogative of fiction, to choose one area of focus over another, and that’s what KimiUso has done. To throw this back into mythological terms, KimiUso is a narrative set in a world designed specifically to show us how to deal with the loss of passion or love, how to recover it, and the ways in which others can help you to rediscover it. That’s just my analysis of what I believe the fundamental intent of the show to be. You can feel free to disagree, but I hope framing it in this way at least makes it clear why I think the show treats Kousei’s trauma the way it does—because it’s a symptom of a different focus.

Your Lie in April

Now, this isn’t to say that looking at KimiUso in this way absolves it of all the criticism that has been raised against it. If people are offended by the use of Kousei’s traumatic past as a vehicle to convey a tangentially related message, they’re not wrong to feel so. At that point, it’s partially the show’s fault for failing, in whatever way, to construct an appropriate level of suspension of disbelief for the audience to assuage these concerns and to validate the methods it presents as feasible and/or ethical in its constructed world. That’s on the show.

So, that’s my entry into the “noise” that’s been buzzing around this show for the past couple weeks. I don’t expect to change the minds of anyone who’s dropped the show or who’s angry with the way the show has gone about telling its story. But all this uproar about Your Lie in April has impacted my enjoyment of the show (enough that I was prepared to put it on hold after episode 4 until the noise had diminished), and I hope that maybe this piece will help people on both sides of the issue to understand each other better without feeling personally attacked.

Your Lie in April

Because I do think, when people raise concerns derived from their own experience about the ethics of a show, it’s hard to not feel personally attacked for liking it. After all, if they’re right, then you’re enjoying something that’s ethically problematic or morally bankrupt. But to paint this show in black and white—either it’s really problematic or its not—ignores the personal experience of people on both sides. Hopefully, I’ve managed to at least sensitively acknowledged both in a nuanced way that can lead to understanding for all of us.

49 thoughts on “Is it Okay to Like Your Lie in April?

  1. I also had to get my thoughts about KimiUso in order after being exposed to the constant buzz around it, and I came to a similar conclusion. Kousei’s trauma isn’t there to be taken seriously, at least not to the extend that some people do. But the conflict, at its core, is real. I’ve made experiences with people who’ve been playing an instrument for as long as they could remember, in one special case even being driven to it by their parents, and all of them have encoutered this issue. Of course not such hights as Kousei does, but still so far as to be confronted with inner turmoil and anxiety. But that’s pretty much it. Everything in this show is hightened, enhanced to a point where you can’t really compare it reality anymore.

    There are still lots of reasons why people would dislike the show, its bad handling of tone or just general directness can get on someones nerves fast. But complaining that it’s toxic in nature and irresponsibly hadles Kousei’s trauma just seems ridiculous to me. His problems really exist, and the show manages to depict its working pretty well. But taking the exaggerated portrayal completely serious? That just seems to miss the point.

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    • There’s the world we live in, and there’s the world of the show. I feel like some haven’t been able to make the distinction there. Which…you shouldn’t totally, because fiction is still reflective of reality, but you’ve got to maintain some sort of differentiation there.

      It’s a matter of degree, I think, rather than of black and white.

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      • Yeah, I wholeheartedly agree with that. If you aren’t ready to detach this show from reality, to a degree, it’ll probably have a totally different effect on you. I just wanted to say that Kousei’s trauma is a real issue, but realistically engaging with its exaggerated portrayal just, well, doesn’t do anthing for you? There are people criticizing Toradora for its “toxic” core relationship, saying that Taiga constantly abuses Ryuji and so on. I won’t say that this is invalid criticism, it just looks like the least meaningful way to engage with what the show is trying to say. If someone can’t help but see it that way, well, I just feel sorry that they can’t enjoy it as much as I did, and thats it.

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  2. Nice article.

    The way you put this show, doesn’t sounds so horrible. I haven’t been reading the critics of the show, instead, what I’ve been reading, are articles thta find good elements in the series.

    You are describing a situation where people are reacting strongly about that topic… if only people reacted so strongly about fanservice (I don’t count here the critics of fanservice that consider it “fine” if is in character, etc, you know, the typical stuff that appears in discussions about scantly dressed characters in media, for example. Because they don’t focus on the root problem), and other immoral topics… oh well.

    Yes, there are peop,e that has suffered by certain situations, etc, but now, we are in a situation where these types of cases are the ones raising eyebrows, and a leniency or laxity towards other conerning issues.

    I dropped it after the first half of the second ep. for something very different.

    The words Kaori said before her recital, that are two words that appear in a invocation ritual from some occult books. It could be unintentional, but, if it was put there, intentionally, well, that would be messed up. Now, going with the possitbility of being unintentional, that arises some problems, namely, that if these words are exclusively tied to said ritual, that would be a problem. In they case they are not, some people are going to search them in internet, and read the ritual… dangerous stuff, or could imprint certain images in the minds of people. Getting strong impressions is rather easy.

    Is said that is easier to criticize the tastes of others, compared to examining what we actually like. In this case, I can say that I thought this series was going to be one of the best, if not the best from this season. The opening song is fantastic, and the opening animation is just beautiful and inspiring.

    Back to the topic of the main character’s traumatic childhood. I didn’t liked that… and coupling such treatment with having her mother dead?

    There is a musical themed series that has a similar topic, minus the traumatic treatment:

    https://reallifeanime.wordpress.com/2014/02/10/tari-tari-review/

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    • “The words Kaori said before her recital, that are two words that appear in a invocation ritual from some occult books.”

      What words? (I’m not familiar with occult books) I figured she was just psyching herself up. Remember too, that Japan’s culture stems from an Animist tradition, so some things that may seem occult (hidden) to western audiences might be perfectly open and above board to the intended demographic.

      I liked Tari-Tari (I’m a sucker for P.A.Works) It does have a similar music as discipline / music as joy dichotomy.

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      • Second episode, before the first time the protagonist sees her. These are part of a invocation ritual.

        These are from western occult books, not from Shinto. I knew because I searched these inmediatly after seeing them in the episode. And regarding their appareance in media, these only have been featured in few productions, some of them, a videogame, a doujinshi, and the name of an episode of Hayate the Combat Butler.

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    • Yup, it’s always more difficult to examine our own likes than it is to criticize others. Tearing things down is easier than building them up.

      I still do find it somewhat unfortunate that his traumatic childhood has, in a sense, been reduced to a plot point, but that’s part of the core conception of the show—so, as I’ve said elsewhere, at that point you kind of just have to take it or leave it.

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  3. I haven’t fully sussed out what is at the root of Kousei’s trauma, in fact I don’t believe it has been fully revealed. He obviously has many swirling, probably conflicted feelings about his mother, not the least of which is a kind of survivor guilt. We’ve seen flashes of the screenshot above of Kousei’s mother portrayed as a harsh taskmaster, but there has been at least one flash of a much healthier, much kinder mother speaking encouragingly to a much younger Kousei.

    I’m the product of a broken home, a mentally ill mother (who i resented for years, I still feel I need to atone for that, but she is long dead), I was bullied mercilessly at school to the point I stipped going and had to complete it in another state. What I mean here is while my young life was free of privation, there was trauma. I even had a cold and harsh piano teacher who changed me from a kid happily picking tunes out by ear to someone who doesn’t even want to touch a keyboard, even decades later.

    I was not triggered. I want to see Kousei find joy in music! I hope he can.

    As mentioned earlier, this is not reality, elements are condensed and exaggerated to create the world the film makers want us to see. Here’s where deciding to watch or not watch comes into play. As far as ethics, there are few things less ethical in the arts than to proclaim that some stories must not be told.
    For further reading on THAT subject, see “Usher II” by Ray Bradbury

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    • First off, thank you for sharing your own experience. I’m really grateful that you’re willing to share it and kind of flattered that you feel comfortable enough here to do so. 🙂

      & that’s just it! Despite what I may think about the way they handle his trauma, I want him to succeed in spite of that! I want him to be given hope and color and brightness in his life!

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  4. As a psychologist and avid anime watcher, I’m constantly working to keep myself form over-thinking things here. I believe the ‘system’ is failing to help the young man, and usually, friends helping friends, especially when it’s teenagers, is full of pitfalls. If I treat this series as one of the video games that choses to present ‘the Kaori route’, then I’ve established boundaries for my expectations, and I can kind of cheer them on, hoping things work out. All real-life situations and their solutions, failed or successful, could be considered real-life ‘routes’ with their successes and failures. In the minority of cases where things work out, we may question the means, but we may then accept the way it was done (with reservations). What makes the evening news are the ‘routes’ that fail, the lives and dreams that are adversely impacted. Our hospitals and institutions are filled with the results of those failures (the system and those well-meaning friends and family members) and that seem to be the basis for the complaints against this anime. I don’t think we have all the facts by a long shot, so I’ll keep checking in with a (relatively) firm grip on my professional ‘book learnin’.

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    • Ooo cool! Pretty cool to have a professional commenting on here! ^_^

      If I understand you correctly, what you’re saying is that KimiUso could be portraying a rare, but potentially feasible solution, but that we’re so used to hearing about situation in which KimiUso’s methods haven’t worked that it might be difficult for some people to accept that this could possibly have a good outcome.

      I’m planning to continue with blogging this show episodically, so I hope to see you around more with your “book learnin'” 😉

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  5. I’ve seen so many people criticise this series for being overly dramatic. But the funny thing is how many of these criticisms are also totally blown out of proportion as well. I honestly laughed when I read about people complaining about Kousei’s trauma.

    To label Kousei’s childhood as “traumatic-abusive” is a little too much of a stretch. It is not! Asian kids go through this all the time in many different manners. It’s not surprisingly really. I have friends who don’t play the piano anymore just because they were “forced” in a way like Kousei did and they hated it. (to some extent, but they were not that good). This is not exactly the type of trauma that people would seek psychological help for. It’s not really even abusive enough to be considered abuse so people have to stop blowing things out of proportions. And did you know physical punishment has always been the norm and piano teachers are allowed to physically punishment little kids if they weren’t playing well? Yeah, that is pretty much the social norm until recently and I know of people who went through such regimes. Do you see people being pussies and seeking psychological help for that? They all grow up to be fine people, just that they don’t play piano anymore.

    Honestly I’m a little fed up with all the unjustified and pretentious criticisms most of which are not even valid points. I agree sometimes with some of the stuff that people point out but this is definitely not one of them. The psychological “trauma” in this series is perfectly fine.

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        • Maybe I’m misunderstanding where you’re coming from (please let me know if I am) but it seems like you really, truly love this series. And yet, here you seem to completely dismiss the legitimacy of Kousei’s suffering, as if it’s something he’s simply blown out of proportion and needs to man up to. I mean, that’s an opinion you’re allowed to have (or maybe you believe that at all, tell me if I’m off on this) but that would seem to cut the heart of the entire series. Why should we care about Kousei if he’s just a wuss who can’t deal with something that’s very common and not even morally wong?

          I’ve just skimmed a few of your entries on this series and read your post above, it seems like they could have been written by different people.

          I agree with you that the psychological “trauma” in this series is perfectly fine, insofar as it’s something that should not be off-limits to depict as long as it isn’t simplified over the course of the entire series. Or were you saying that his “trauma” is actually no big deal at all and that Kousei — despite his depression or very real difficulty in giving himself in to playing the piano — is actually fine?

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          • Blown out of proportion? Yes, mostly by the community and not Kousei. I don’t blame them because people have different thresholds to what they consider “depression” or “trauma” or “abuse”. I don’t think this trauma stems from the abuse from his mother anyway. It was more of the guilt and feeling responsible for the death of a loved one. There’s a difference. People need to see it.

            I don’t think Kousei is being a wuss. (did I imply so somewhere?) This is a show about people overcoming their problems and a problem that isn’t morally wrong or necessarily “evil” doesn’t have to cause me to care less for the characters.

            In short, Trauma = problem? Yes. A big deal? No, not really. Also a big deal means different things. For Kousei, maybe. For his friends, maybe lesser. For us? Definitely not so much to be concerned or attack the show for it.

            For some reason I woke up at 4am to reply to this. I’m still in a daze. If I didn’t answer any of your questions properly/sufficiently do let me know.

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            • “I don’t think Kousei is being a wuss. (did I imply so somewhere?)”

              “I have friends who don’t play the piano anymore just because they were “forced” in a way like Kousei did and they hated it. (to some extent, but they were not that good). This is not exactly the type of trauma that people would seek psychological help for. It’s not really even abusive enough to be considered abuse so people have to stop blowing things out of proportions. And did you know physical punishment has always been the norm and piano teachers are allowed to physically punishment little kids if they weren’t playing well? Yeah, that is pretty much the social norm until recently and I know of people who went through such regimes. Do you see people being pussies and seeking psychological help for that? They all grow up to be fine people, just that they don’t play piano anymore.”

              I definitely agree that Kousei may be feeling somewhat responsible for his mother’s death or for “failing” her (how could he not?) but the abuse has probably destroyed his self-esteem, and for someone with no positive relationships to model his life after, I don’t think it’s surprising that he’s going through the difficulties that he is.

              I also think it’s impossible to completely separate the matter of how he was abused and the guilt that he may feel for his mother’s death. Unfortunately for Kousei, it’s really complicated and he might not clearly understand it all himself!

              If it was a big deal for Kousei, then it’s a big deal for me as a viewer, and maybe that doesn’t have to apply to everyone else who’s watching but I thought that empathizing with characters was one of the (many) reasons why people would watch something like this.

              I definitely don’t want to quibble about what the “right” or “wrong” ways are to enjoy this. I’m just really into this series right now and want to talk about it with people who have opinions.

              Liked by 2 people

  6. Huh. You know, I honestly didn’t know that this series was particularly controversial. I mean, I can see why it would be, and I realised that KimiUso was quite divisive just in terms of like/dislike, but I guess partly because I didn’t talk about the show in-depth on my own blog, and partly because I stopped reading about it altogether a couple of weeks ago after dropping it myself, I wasn’t aware KimiUso had caused that much of a ruckus.

    Personally, I stopped watching not because I was offended in any way but simply because, for the reasons I’ve already talked about before, it just didn’t work for me. If any one thing truly bothered me then it was Kaori’s character rather than the way in which Kousei/Kousei’s mother and surrounding issues were presented.

    Even if KimiUso had ended up offending me though, I don’t think it’s a particularly helpful or healthy thing to say to somebody that they have no right to like [insert whatever anime here]. As an adult who’s perfectly capable of critical thought and making my own decisions (as I assume most bloggers in this general community also are), I’d probably be more offended by somebody telling me that it’s not okay to like whatever I happen to be into than by any anime itself. Thankfully, this has never happened to me, though I don’t doubt it’s happened to plenty of other people. There’s nothing wrong with debate of course, either from a technical or even moral standpoint, but I hope I’d never basically demand that people stop watching something just because I personally have a problem with it. And I’d also like to think that I’m accorded the same level of respect.

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    • To be totally clear, no one in the community has told me I ought not to watch KimiUso or that I shouldn’t like it or shouldn’t enjoy it. It’s more that hearing people’s concerns with it made me feel concerned that I should be seeing and worried about something that was otherwise going over my head.

      So I had to kind of grapple with that. & yeah, there are certainly other flaws in the show beyond just this issue.

      Really, I just wanted to look at this issue from both sides because I’ve seen some judgment from both sides of it & I wanted to hopefully present both perspectives with kindness and sensitivity, while also holding true to my own thoughts on the matter.

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  7. I think I’m in a similar boat to you. I never noticed all these problems until people pointed them out, then felt quite guilty for enjoying the show like I was. Thanks for writing this! It’s reassuring for those who are enjoying it.

    I think I said it a while ago, before all the noise appeared, but KimiUso has always struck me as more of a healing anime. I agree with your take here, he’s rebuilding himself through music, with plenty of pushing from his friends. I think the pushing is the big issue for most people, because it’s essentially bullying a traumatised young boy. But the thing is, within the show it works. It’s working for Kousei, we can see he clearly feels better for all this happening to him. It may feel like bullying to some viewers, but it really is helping him. I’ve been under the impression the whole time that this is what Kousei wants, but he desperately needed firm-handed people to force him to take the steps he’s taking now. This is why I think relating it to yourself and real-life doesn’t work. It’s as you said. It’s not real-life, and it’s not trying to be. And it’s mostly working just fine for me.

    There are other issues I have. That scene in the hospital at the beginning of the fifth episode where they were kicking him and telling him it was his fault the performance didn’t go well I was kind of going “okay guys, don’t be dicks”. The big problem is there are times when people feel like the series wants us to believe Kousei is at fault for failing/refusing the cute girl. I’m still not sure where I stand with that one.

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    • I’m glad it was reassuring! That was a big part of my goal in writing this (for myself, and for others).

      I remember you talking about it being a healing anime, and I like the way you frame it as this being what Kousei does want. He’s been looking for someone to give him a push, to help him work through this by not allowing him to run away from the piano anymore. That’s just the choice the story’s made.

      I’m actually not sure that the series itself wants us to believe Kousei’s at fault. I’ve never really gotten the impression (even from the direction, like Froggy and Deadlight were talking about) that the series was trying to point out that Kousei’s done anything wrong. I think it trusts us enough to know that he was never going to pull through the concert with a good performance or that some girl who’s basically a stranger pushing him to accompany her isn’t going to convince him immediately to go back to something painful.

      The blaming from his friends, if I remember right, was done in chibi aka comedy—so that’s not great, and is symptomatic of another issue, but I think it’s probably was supposed to be another way they were pushing him, even if it wasn’t really a great way to go about it.

      It’s a troubled show, in some ways, for sure! That doesn’t mean we can’t like it, though!

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      • I thought the river jumping scene was especially illustrative of how all that pushing and prodding has ultimately been good and encouraging for Kousei. He’s working through his trauma via friendship and love, I don’t see what’s so bad about that. Which is a gross over-simplification, but yeah.

        I’ve yet to watch the latest episode, so I’ll see what I think about everything else when I do.

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  8. It’s kind of funny. At the first, people were worried that comparisons to Nodame Cantabile were going to overwhelm any fair evaluation of KimiUso. But now, it feels like NC comparisons should be made to see if the sticking points for KimiUso’s are key to its story, or if they could have been executed a different way.
    From that perspective, I feel that the reason why people are coming down hard on KimiUso’s handling of Kousei’s abuse/trauma is because it’s a key part of his main emotional journey. (coming to love and embrace music again)

    In NC, Nodame undergoes a lot of slapstick violence. However, other characters also undergo similar types of slapstick, and the exaggerated nature of the gags is highlighted by “hurt” characters being perfectly fine seconds later, not reacting to any injuries they might have received by the slapstick, as such injuries do not exist. This sends a signal to the audience that the violence isn’t “serious.”
    Like Kousei, Nodame has a backstory about a strict teacher, but the consequence of this backstory isn’t as debilitating as Kousei’s. Nodame can still play the piano, and it actually bolsters her innate talent of not playing to conventional standards. Her emotional journey is not so much about confronting the damage her old teacher did, as overcoming her own preferences, which were reinforced by her teachers’ actions. As with the point in the previous paragraph, moments when Nodame is confronted by another strict teacher are mitigated by existing scenes where the strict teacher whacks other students comedically. Some of the unease surrounding KimiUso also comes from the way the slapstick is focussed on Kousei, creating a malicious subtext.

    NC’s actual main character Chiaki also has traumas, a fear of flying and a fear of water/drowning. However, his main emotional journey is about being less of a strict perfectionist about music, and opening up to other people and other modes of expression, which are neither affected and influenced by the aforementioned traumas. It’s this character growth that later helps him overcome his fears. So early scenes about his phobias can be played for laughs, because in the context of the greater story, they’re almost non-sequiturs at first, besides acting as contrived reasons for him not to jet off to Europe.

    In contrast, Kousei’s backstory is directly and solely responsible for his current state, and confronting those memories is a key obstacle in regaining his relationship to music, which had been lost. That is why it cannot be treated as trivially as it was in Nodame, where the abuse was incidental to the emotional journey, and importantly, did not impede their access to music, so that music could act as a tool for NC’s characters to face their traumas. In KimiUso, music (that is, simply being forced to play) cannot be the solution, because the structure of his problem means that he cannot access the music without confronting the trauma. That means that, inherently, the show has to be largely about dealing with trauma, with rediscovering passion as the reward. If the latter could circumvent the former, he should have been so particularly affected by his mother’s actions in the first place. If dealing with trauma wasn’t supposed to be the solution, the very foundation of the show’s premise is thus flawed.

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    • That is a good point. His musical issues are functionally connected to his childhood trauma…at least so we’ve been lead to believe.

      Now that I think about it, though, the actual moment of the breakdown…isn’t it only really implied that its resultant from his problems with his mother? Eh, actually forget that line of reasoning. Doesn’t seem like it would really be a fruitful line of thought.

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  9. This is refreshing to read. I’ve heard lots of complaints about the anime and I do get where they are coming from. I also think that anime in general tends to do a bad job when it comes to trauma or depression. I would say it might be the culture, but then again, a lot shows in the US do depression in a bad way as well.

    I think it’s fine for people to not like the show due to its lack of understanding towards Kousei, but it’s also fine to like it because Kousei is starting to see the world in colour again. That’s the great thing about shows, it’s up to the individual to decide what they like and don’t like and when it comes to this show I think we’re seeing a lot of people share their views so that’s a good thing. 🙂

    I’ve only watched the first episode though, not because of the drama surrounding this, but simply because I have too many animes/show on my plate at the moment. I’ve read a good amount of the manga and liked it well enough. I’ve never heard of this controversy with the manga, so I wonder if it’s the medium/direction that causing problems more so than the story?

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    • Froggy and Deadlight actually just wrote a post in which they argue that it is poorly directed, and that the poor direction causes some troubling subtexts.

      I wonder if my general inexperience with visual storytelling techniques and specific preference for writing has somewhat mutes that effect for me, although I’ve been somewhat leery about some elements of the show since the very beginning.

      But I’m glad to hear this was a refreshing read for you! I think both side of this have valid points and it’s okay to both like it and not like it.

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  10. A great insight of the series, I should say. I’m most certainly agree about the part where you say that the show is all about “rediscover or to rekindle your passion towards something”. It has been clearly stated that Kousei’s actually still has a passion towards piano (a big one, maybe), but instead got his passion blocked by this wall of trauma. At this point, Tsubaki and Kaori act as a “catalyst” for Kousei to be able to break through that wall. I’m aware that the criticism is all about the forcefulness or why with the lack of professional handling, but if you asked me, I kinda disagree if Kousei’s “solution” to his problem is simply because of the forcefulness. IMO, it is actually within Kousei himself. He is the one who “allows” himself to be forced. Why, or when? Since he was seeing Kaori’s “free” performance which is the opposite of what he’s been living (and cause his trauma), of course. By that time, Kousei seemed to found his “switch” and probably thought “If I follow this friggin girl’s antics, I may be able to find my passion again”. Yeah, IMO, Kousei is just that desperate. No, I don’t blame Kousei or anyone in this, but I speak this actually based on my own personal experience and some of my friend’s experience. There’s just this time when you found yourself stop doing something you love the most and you’re desperate to make yourself do it again, then suddenly a random event like meeting with a free-spirited girl (Not in a drama sense) lifted your heart a bit. Of course, this doesn’t make what those two (K and T) do to Kousei is right. But hey, I have an insight for that.

    Another thing I rhetorically ask, those criticism… Did they criticize basically only after watching the show until a certain episode, or have they actually see the source material? Because if they can criticize the show that harsh, based only on the show without seeing the source material, it will only make their voices go hoarse. How about you, Bless? Have you take a look to the manga? This is a stupid thing to say, but I believe that it wouldn’t won an award for nothing. And I’m pretty sure it is not popularity based, because if it is, I’d already read this a long time ago. The first time I hear “Shigatsu wa Kimi no Uso” was on MAL when it said it is about to end and adapted. Never see it in Oricon chart as well, or maybe I’m just ignorant.

    Being a manga reader, I found more depth in Kousei’s trauma and his overall relation with his mother. Deeper than simply “My mom abuse me because I won’t follow the piece”. Kousei’s mother reasoning to do that is actually deeper than “I abuse my kid because he can’t play properly”. There will be some revelations, I promise you that. Whether it will affect the show negatively or positively, it’s outside my prediction. This show… still doesn’t show its full “potential”. Thorough the story, with a mind as observant as yours, you will somehow see a “gentle and subtle” hint about whether K and T’s ways to “recover” Kousei is effective. NOTE: this one paragraph is by implying and assuming you haven’t read the manga.

    Well, that’s all I guess. Btw, you seem fun. I think if we were to be able to discuss properly, it will be a good discussion. I have a MAL account named FloatingList. Feel free to drop by if you ever have an interest to MAL again. Do you have another account besides MAL, Humming, and this blog?

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    • I haven’t read the manga myself, and even if I had I would want to judge the show on its own merits, not on the merits of the manga. There’s communication theory that posits that stories told through different media might as well be different stories and while I don’t fully agree with everything that theory has to say, I think the basic idea of judging different forms of a story separately is a good one.

      Now, this situation is a bit of an oddity due to the different ethical concerns involved, but I don’t really intend to read the manga to try and exonerate the show of its flaws. I’m certainly expecting KimiUso to nuance Kousei’s mother a bit more than she has been thus far, but that’s on the show, not the manga.

      & thanks! 🙂 I don’t know if anyone’s ever told me I seem fun before, haha. I’m pretty much done with MAL right now, but I do have an ask.fm and a Twitter. Outside of those, I’m on the Crunchyroll forums, as well. That pretty much covers all my anime-related accounts.

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  11. Tbh, i’ve only watch the first episode of KimiUso so my experiences with it is pretty much limited on several comments on the show. I was surprised on people reaction for the show’s suppose handling on “abuse” because really it doesn’t seem like an abuse. (Incidentally, for me KimiUso’s premise isn’t exactly new. Its about a guy who lost passion for the one thing he once like and then all of the sudden a manic pixie girl comes to his life reminding his passion and making his life more colorfull)

    From my understanding, Kousei’s “monotone problem” isn’t something that was meant to be realistic. Its simply a heightened projection of his outlook on life because of his passion for music(i.e. his color) was lost. Music wasn’t exactly something that he loves, but rather its something that was forced upon him by his mother and when she passed away, so to his reason for liking music. And that’s where Kaori comes in. Though i do understand thay her forcefullness can come across as bullying, making the troubled subtext.

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    • Yeah, there’s certainly a lot of the show that’s up to interpretation in terms of what is abuse and what is bullying, etc. I don’t really have or think there is a definitive answer here—hopefully the people who like it can continue to do so and those who do not can let the show go.

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  12. I am only up to ep 7 and haven’t seen anything that would stop me so far.

    The people who are worried about the real life psychological implications sound like they are self identifying, which can be a problem because it can lead to suspect criticism. The most blatant example of this sort of thing I have seen is when a woman posted how she didn’t like the use of bastard children in fantasy fiction. Sure it is a trope, and perhaps can badly used but to say “You can’t have a bastard prince in you fantasy novel” is a bit thick. I investigated and it turned out she was born out of wedlock in 50’s Ireland. She admitted that for her main reason for wanting the ban was because of how it triggered HER.

    Plus all the protagonists are 14, so it likely they are going to do wrong things thinking they are doing right. Kaori is a classic example. She said that she understands what Kousei is going through, but she obviously doesn’t. She probably just thinks he has lost the joy of playing (something I can relate to since after 6 years of training for competition swimming, one day I went to the pool with friends and realised that I didn’t know how to play there. Pools were places I swam laps. It was a shock to say the least).

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    • Yeah, I definitely think the show’s been triggering for some people—which has, generally, from my perspective, resulted in a lot of criticism couched in kind of absolutist terms. Again, it’s the ethical thing. If someone tells me (they think) KimiUso is justifying bullying as a solution for trauma…well, it’s something I want to at least consider, you know?

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  13. I’ve struggled with writing a response to this. I’ve read the original post and all the comments, and it seems like there’s a lot of observations here but I cannot understand just what it is that people are finding objective about this series. And FOR THE MOST PART no one is really saying anything that I disagree with but I’m having a hard time understanding whether or not there’s one point that everyone is taking issue with or not and how that would be unique to this series and not countless others that came before it.

    Is it okay to like Your Lie in April?

    Is it okay to like Gunslinger Girl?

    Is it okay to like Welcome to the NHK?

    I don’t believe that the conflict at work here is meant to represent everyone who has endured mental or physical abuse from someone in their family. People have a problem with how Kaori is trying to help Kousei, but don’t see anything wrong with Tsubaki throwing a baseball at the back of his head for no reason? That’s slapstick, obviously, but it’s also a sign of affection and that’s how I came to understand Kaori’s often-inappropriate approach to “helping” Kousei. I don’t mind that in this series, and it’s never mean-spirited in the way that it often seems to be in so many other high school-themed anime.

    Kousei’s absent father and apparent lack of any other kind of family support would seem to be a reasonable explanation for why he is not in therapy. It is likely that years of denying his own emotions and desires, in service of trying to please his mother (both because he was emotionally manipulated at a very impressionable age, as well as his compassionate nature), have probably robbed him of any sense of agency to help himself or even any kind of concept of self-esteem or real happiness. People in this state may not feel motivated to seek help or even truly understand that they need it.

    Don’t want to get defensive here and I apologize if it came across that way.

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    • Well, for the things people found objectionable, I’ll point you to a few blog posts I read that express discontent with the show. Do note, though, that these posts were written several weeks ago. These posts, along with a lot of the reactions I saw on Twitter, were what I was responding to when I wrote this piece:

      E Minor
      Frog-kun and Deadlight
      Enzo
      Kairi

      As for why people rallied against this one, rather than those other titles you mentioned, I dunno. Bobduh has theorized it’s people who generally have problems with the rom-com genre using this as an opportunity to attack, but I don’t really see that. Because, as you say, it’s not mean-spirited…

      That being said, I felt I couldn’t ignore all these opposing opinions from voices I trust and some I was just seeing from the first time. I wanted to both give validity to their reactions and express why I felt differently. Hopefully, I did that effectively.

      & you didn’t sound defensive at all! Even if you did, I definitely lean more towards your side than the other. Honestly, this post was me being defensive, although I obviously made a great effort not to attack anyone for what I’d seen from them.

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      • I’m not going to say which, but one of these was was really toxic and seemed to be coming from a place of real anger and I couldn’t make it to the end of it. Others seemed reasonable and thoughtful and if the series isn’t working for someone, and/or actually sending them to a dark place, then by all means, drop and and never look back! But it’s really weird how uplifting I find this story to be, while it seems to figuratively and literally sicken other people.

        It’s funny how at first glance, I read your post here and was a little offended, as if you were saying that this series cannot be taken seriously on its own terms, or something like that. Reading these other posts, I think I see your point and I think it may have been one that I agreed with all along but just never framed in those terms.

        People seem really hung up the idea that Kaori is “abusing” Kousei. I don’t believe that her threats are meant to be taken literally, not any moreso than her ability to seemingly transform into a dog at will. That’s a huge simplification of people’s arguments but I honestly feel that many of the instances cited are not meant to be taken seriously. I don’t know if I explain why in this reply, I’m still trying to understand why I’m so willing to just go with this story and not question it very much.

        Is it that difficult to believe that Kaori would be interested in Kousei as a musician and as a person? Why does everyone rush to label her as a one-dimensional character when it’s been strongly suggested that there’s much more to her story than has been let on thus far? I could go on all day like this but that’s not good for anyone, I’m afraid. Instead I’m going to go watch the latest episode on Hulu right now and hopefully find a way to accept that people won’t always agree with me over everything.

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    • Spoken like a true retard eh kjkszpj? 😉

      Durr hurr, me too dumb to refute logical and reasonable assessment with logic and reason, hurr must pretend me intelligent, come up with statement I cant support under anonymous nick. Hurr!

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  14. Nice blog, thought provoking, thanks. I am late to the conversation. I agree with the analysis. I always thought the inability of Kousei to ‘hear his own music’ was a metaphor for everyone who is prevented from living their life in full (from hearing their own music) because of any trauma throughout life, and methods to cope and overcome so that they can experience their life in full going forward, no matter what age. ‘No life IS enough’ may be ok for awhile, but eventually it is NOT enough. At least for me. I need to hear my own music to live life to the fullest.

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    • Oh, meant to add that the idea of Kaori is abusing Kousei – I just didn’t see it like that. I see the actors in this play as extensions of Kousei’s Self. Every actor in the play is an extension of a part of his psyche. Kaori is his duality, his (jungian) anima, giving himself the kick in the butt to restart. Sometimes we might all need to do that to ourselves to get going again after trauma. Sometimes we need kindness from others and ourselves. There is a time for tough love though, for that kick we give ourselves as well as others who need that from us.

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