I’m so glad Shigatsu wa Kimi no Uso can be so positive, because all I can think is, “Damn, that’s messed up.” What’s messed up? Well, when first I read the show’s synopsis, I didn’t think anything of it. Ah, a young pianist lost his ability to perform after his mom died? Then some manic pixie dream girl will heal his soul and restore his love for music? You gotta admit, that doesn’t exactly sound like a killer premise, huh? As it turns out, however, Kousei’s terminally-ill mom was abusive in more ways than one. Not only did she physically abuse him, she had an abusive emotional effect on him as well. As a kid, Kousei literally believed that if he achieved his mother’s goal of becoming a world-class pianist, he could and would save his mother’s life. I don’t think she actually led him to believe that (though you’d never know…), but it’s what his young mind accepted wholeheartedly anyway. More importantly, he thought it was his way out his nightmare. Not only would he save his mother, his mother would stop hurting him. Somewhere in that naive, adolescent mind, he likely thought his mother’s illness was the reason she was this desperate. Ah, she’s only pushing me so hard because she’s sick. It’s not really her fault she’s abusing me. It’s her illness’s fault. ‘Cause c’mon, what young child wants to believe his own mother is really a horrible, abusive mother? He thus put the onus on himself to end the abuse. That’s why I said she had an abusive emotional effect on the kid.
So again, his mom died, since then, he hasn’t been able to play the piano again. You can just imagine the emotional toll her death must have had on the kid: “I was too slow. I didn’t become a world-class pianist fast enough. She died because of me.” Yeah, he wanted the physical abuse to end, but not like this. Like all kids, young Kousei still needed a parent’s nurturing. With his dad always being away on business trip, he had nobody but his mother. Between losing a mother and staying in an abusive environment, it’s not uncommon for kids to pick the latter. So of course, I now understand how Kousei feels. Of course he can’t play the piano again. What’s that? His childhood friend thinks he looked cool back then? C’mon, he’s got emotional baggage to work through! He doesn’t want to step foot in a concert hall, because it’s literally the site of his failure? It’s where he thought he committed matricide? I feel ya, buddy. Too bad Kaori just grabs his hand and drags him along with the rest of the group anyway. But it’s not like it’s his friends’ fault. The kids here are younger than ever; our cast of characters are only in junior high. I don’t expect most adults to be able to handle this level of emotional trauma, so far be it for a bunch of kids to get the job done. Still, there’s just something about the tone of the anime that I find a bit off-putting. People think the show’s cute, and I guess that’s the thing. Why is it cute? This kid’s got issues, and yet the story seems so happy-go-lucky about it.
So I guess this is supposed to be a love story. Despite all that I’ve written above, nothing’s really changed my perception of Kaori’s character. Oh by the way, she’s the manic pixie dream girl I was referring to earlier. In fact, the first time our protagonist sees her, she’s dancing barefoot atop some playground structure, playing her melodica in an attempt to summon pigeons. Like really? Oh, how delightfully quirky! What a free spirit! You couldn’t be more manic pixie dream girl if you tried. Then of course, a bunch of kids join in, and it becomes an even more ridiculous scene. Kaori and three kids proceed to play a perfect song together complete with melody, counter melody, harmony, and rhythm. Naturally, they summon the goddamn pigeons. And naturally, when Kousei goes to snap a picture of this oh-so-magical moment, a gust of wind lifts Kaori’s junior high skirt, baring her fucking panties at just the right moment. Oh no, Kousei and his love interest have gotten off on the wrong foot because she now thinks he’s a pervert! From physical and emotional abuse to a manic pixie dream girl’s upskirt photo. Sweet stuff, guys. I don’t know, I guess I should wait an episode or two before I judge Kaori’s character. Maybe her character will come into its own later, and she’ll have her own complex issues independent of the main character to deal with. But at the moment, I’m not impressed. Her portrayal is just so cliche that it hurts. In fact, I audibly groaned during the impromptu performance even though I had already seen it before in the PVs for the show.
Anyway, let’s tie up some loose ends. It’s A-1 Pictures, so the animation is pretty tight. The characters’ lips look a bit odd at times, but it’s whatever. Plus, lips are hardly going to make or break this show anyway. I think the comedic elements are somewhat out of place. I think I would have preferred a more solemn tone for the story considering what Kousei’s been through, but hey, people like this light-hearted nonsense. And I’m kind of tired of the whole “I’ll fall in love with someone else and leave behind my childhood friend who’s obviously been pining for me” storyline. Tsubaki seems like a nice girl, she’s always there for Kousei, and she tries her best to inject fun into his life. Why does she add no color but Kaori does? Is Tsubaki just not enough of a free spirit? Is she just not manic and dream-like enough? But I’m getting ahead of myself, because maybe Kousei won’t end up with his dream girl. After all, it’s only the first episode in holy shit this is really going to be a 2-cour anime. We have enough story for that many episodes? Welp, I hope Shigatsu wa Kimi no Uso gets a lot more dramatic from here on out, because I’m not watching 21 more episodes of our manic pixie dream girl communing with nature. It’s not that I hate light-hearted, happy shows. But you can’t just tell me some kid has been physically and emotionally abused, then proceed to have some manic pixie dream girl dance her way into his heart. Like c’mon, it would have been better if Kousei’s mother simply died. But the story brings up all this serious stuff like abuse and trauma, then tells me not to take any of it seriously. Okay then.