Shigatsu wa Kimi no Uso Ep. 1: What a dream girl

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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.

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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.

Your moment of zen:

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11 thoughts on “Shigatsu wa Kimi no Uso Ep. 1: What a dream girl

  1. Jovian Dreamer

    This would’ve been good if they’d ended it with the kid getting hit by the baseball and dying. Bam, anime of the year. Moral of the story? Don’t hit baseballs too hard or they’ll kill people good at playing the piano.

    22 episodes for this storyline? Nah, there’s bound to be filler episodes like the obligatory fan service-filled beach visit episode and a summer festival episode that are complete wastes of time. And obviously we’re going to have uninteresting arcs for the side characters. If that isn’t enough, maybe they’ll find some other emotionally and/or physically crippled kids and help them get over their shit with constant, oppressive niceness. Yatta! Poorly written WAFF galore!

    Best part was the ‘moment of zen.’

    Reply
  2. Pia

    Biggest disappoint of the season for me, that dream girl put me on my nerves, the anime even starts with her following a cat… like seriously? a cat? Nya? she’s so unbelievable, but she’s the main girl so there’s nothing we can do, also I don’t like the fact that they’re only 14 years old, it’s hard to take their problems seriously, I’ll check this anime for a week or two since it’s to early to drop it I guess, also I like the visuals and yeah that’s about it.

    Reply
    1. E Minor Post author

      I dunno, it seems like a thing for anime girls to follow cats. She should just thank her lucky stars it didn’t bite her.

      Reply
  3. neeba

    I wonder why the girl felt the need to take off her shoes and leggings to play music on top of that thing. It doesn’t even make sense as a contrived excuse to set up the embarrassing misunderstanding, since she didn’t really need to wear pants with that dress on anyway. I don’t get it.

    Anyway, I was finding the episode to be surprisingly enjoyable, up until the moment the main character revealed his tragic past. That was so melodramatic and out of place that I had to roll my eyes. They can’t drop a tragic bomb in the middle of a light-hearted episode and expect me to take it seriously. Something so ridiculously extreme as that character’s past needs a proper setup to work, and the first part of the episode definitely wasn’t one.

    And I agree that the comedic moments were out of place. They looked really forced, the episode didn’t need so many of them.

    Reply
      1. neeba

        Actually, now that I notice, the people that made this show seem to be obsessed with kids going barefoot. The opening is full of that.

        Reply
  4. IonCaron (@IonCaron)

    The disconnect from the solemn soul of the story and the WAY too giddy up-beat notes seems to me like a result of two things:
    1. The writer likely has a bit of a Mary Poppins theme they want to go for but is trying too hard, too soon with the light-heartedness
    2. Kotoura. It’s a bit of moe nonsense that actually starts out as if it’s going to be a grim tale of an esper’s loneliness only to then turn into a romantic comedy before the OP starts. I’d argue that “Kotoura” is actually much better in this regard (though the whole “lol perverts” thing is annoying). Funny enough, it also has the theme of abuse and abandonment by a mother.

    Honestly, I also think the show is taking on a tone unsuited for the story, or at least the seriousness of the protagonist’s issues (which is admittedly silly of me to say since I neither know how it goes from here nor did I write it). It’s trying to Poppins/Kotoura it.

    I think a tone and pace like “Harmonie” (that anime short featuring a reoccurring dream) would have done a lot better, something quiet and steady that, while having comedic moments, doesn’t just BURST OUT INTO THE GAGS HUEHUEHUE. It doesn’t need to be particularly somber, just…calm.

    Reply
  5. rebiawatkins

    Aww I actually liked the pigeon scene, I thought it was cute. So far I like the show because it’s not boring like I thought it would be. I also thought they did the dramatic (sadder) parts well

    I agree with you about the girl. Glad I’m not the only one who thought her “fun loving free spirit” personality is unoriginal and a bit eye roll inducing

    Reply
      1. jojo

        It’s more like. . .suspension of disbelief. NO ONE, NOOOO ONEEE Does thsi kidn of shit that Kaori did. A high school girl runnign after a cat and saying “Meow”? NO ONE DOES THIS at that age. Then the scene with the kids? No. just no. Pretty much all the scene with Kaori are jsut so bad, that I can tell the writer of this show just doesn’t know what he/she is doing. Those scenes were so dumb, I mean we coudl have just skipped all that B>S. with the kids and just meet her standing there and they meet. ugh I was somewhat fine untill they brought back grown up Tinkerbell, not to mention she’s wither a)White, or b)dyed her hair blond. . . while she’s a “violinist”. . .which is unbelivable for many many other reasons

        OH OH and don’t forget the “Stickers” on the violin case, because she’s cool/perfect. Its like Kaori is some self insert for the author(if author is a woman) or the MC is and he’s just makign this whole show to fantasize how he gets some white girl. (yeah harsh but this show pissed me off with how they caricaturized Kaori) defintely not watching anymore of this crap. Even if the premise of how the MC gets over his issues with Piano etc etc was interesting the way Kaori is, is just too annoying to go through.

        Reply

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