A review of the Shigatsu wa Kimi no Uso anime series
I felt like a monster after the final episode of Shigatsu wa Kimi no Uso (Your Lie in April). The ending was always going to go one of two ways and I was braced for either one: agonising tears or delirious happiness. I certainly didn’t expect to feel nothing. All these other people gushing tears, drowning in hyperbole, and there I was, indifferent. I had cheered Kousei Arima on through the bright lights of stage performances and honey-lit afternoon walks home but in the denouement I realised that all the individual things that irked me about the series had gathered like so much detritus on a beach and was now spoiled.
he is lionised, an indestructible prodigy and a mountain that must be conquered
I knew what I was getting in to of course. Awash with pastel shades and misty eyed teenagers this was a romance series first and foremost with the “musician’s heart” narrative the tempo to the love story melody. Kousei starts out unable to play the piano, supposedly a prodigy from a young age, he is invited on a date by his best friend and serial flirt Ryouta where he meets the series’ poster child, Kaori Miyazono.
Ninety seconds. Just under 2,200 frames. That’s how long the majority of anime openings have to stick in the mind, set the scene and contribute to the microcosm that history has created for them. Right back to what some would consider the dawn of modern anime with Astro Boy in the 1960’s, the prototype for modern anime openings was there, continuing through the seventies and eighties through to recent history of the nineties and 2000+.
setting the tone for bombastic score of the series itself
By now you’ve mostly likely seen the “Every Anime Opening Ever Made” video which cycles through a lot of the tropes and visual motifs that are (over)used, set to remixed trance music. Like a lot of pithy satire its humour and truth doesn’t hold up to scrutiny and even a limited exploration of openings from any time period would highlight how wrong it is. That wasn’t what got me thinking about anime openings though but an offshoot when musing on the slow burning RahXephon one. Originally this was going to be a dissection of the hidden meanings in the visuals and mentioning other similar openings. Then I got lost in a endless loop of watching an opening, then remembering just one more and before I knew it I was attempting to sort the openings I had seen into some kind of system.
Sunday is all about putting your feet up, turning the volume up and queuing some music to get wholly lost in. During the week music always seems to accompany doing something: programming, walking, writing, pretending you can't hear the other people in the office talking about you. It seems somewhat of a lost past-time to simply sit and listen.
there's something alluringly infectious about this sentai inspired quintet
What better way to celebrate this than the release of the Kids on the Slope soundtrack? Any Yoko Kanno release is a cause for celebration; that this has jazz ensembles from Takashi Matsunaga, a noted master of the genre, as well as vocal tracks from well-known artists such as Aoi Teshima is a special treat. I can't claim to know the first thing about jazz or how to approach it for a better appreciation, but as the adage goes, I know what I like. It's still on heavy rotation so my final opinion is still gestating but the tracks effortlessly blend easy listening and jazz sessions with Kanno's signature background melodies - unique but not overpowering.
Of all the franchises that crave another series - Ghost in the Shell Standalone Complex, Stellvia of the Universe (well kind of), Moyashimon (wait...) - Eureka Seven was not one of them. The hugelyinfluential original series was Studio Bones firing on all cylinders. A tour de force of storytelling, boundless imagination, confident execution, and most critically a satisfying and conclusive ending. Say what you will about the pacing (soccer episode anyone?), it still stands as one of the best anime series ever made.
Eureka Seven Astral Ocean has a lot to live up to and does itself no favours by starting very similarly to Xam'd of the Lost Memories - an idyllic island community is attacked with terrifying force by an alien aggressor while an aged doctor tries to help. It's certainly a lot more coherent than Xam'd and has echoes Eureka Seven's original opening with the humanoid robot Nirvash careening into the Thurston's garage roof.
A few years ago I almost lost the hearing in my left ear. The gory details are best omitted, but I was left with (what the doctors claimed) was 20-30% hearing and only two thirds of the bones I should. For all intents and purposes I was deaf in that ear, a lopsided and mono world where car alarms didn't exist (a boon at 3am) but wearing headphones was painful.
Two years and two operations on I have most of my hearing back. All of this is just context for me to say: my hearing is precious to me and I am precious about it. It is a cliché to say that you don't know what you've got until you've lost it, but when it's personal it really brings it home.