Book Review: A Life In Monotone (Your Lie in April #1) by Naoshi Arakawa

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“To me it’s all monotone. Like a sheet of music or the keys of a piano.”

Synopsis:

At a very young age, Kousei Arima was strictly taught by his mother how to play the piano and meticulously follow the score to the point where he dominated every competition he entered with ease. He earned the title of “Human Metronome” for performing almost perfectly. Every musician his age looked up to him. However, after his mother suddenly died, he became tone-deaf due to the shock and then disappeared, never to be seen onstage since.

Three years later, Kousei lives a monotonous life with his childhood friends Tsubaki Sawabe and Ryouta Watari supporting him. He continues to cling to music, although performing is still an impossibility for him. This is until his unexpected encounter with Kaori Miyazono, a violinist who performs freely without the dictations of a score. A story of friendship, love, music, and a single lie, Kousei’s life begins to change and gain color as Kaori helps him to take up music again.


I tried to read this series a while ago via fan translation and it just felt like something was missing. Then one day I realised it was licensed by Kodansha Comics and I picked this volume up on sale from the Kindle store. This time Your Lie in April snuck up from behind and hit me square in the feelings.

The plot follows a musical prodigy, Arima (pronounced. ah-ree-mah) in his final year of middle school, years after the death of his mother shook him to the core and made him quit music. In this volume we learn a bit about the relationship between him and his mother, how big a part music played in their lives, and we begin to understand why her death affected him in the way that it did.

We are also introduced to the secondary protagonist, Kaori Miyazono, also a musician yet Arima’s polar opposite. Instead of seeing music as a something to be mastered, Kaori views it as a way for her to have fun and express who she is as a person. And to Arima, it feels like his world is no longer in monochrome but colour has finally returned.

But things could never be that simple. Arima and Kaori met each other through a mutual friend who Kaori is romantically interested in, therefore shutting down any hope that he may have had. And to make matters worse, the two had a less than favourable first impression of each other due to an unfortunate incident with a camera phone and a poorly timed breeze.

I was just so blown away by the sheer depth of feeling incorporated in this first volume. There is definitely a load of potential in this series just waiting to be made use of and from what I can tell from its reviews, things are only going to get better.

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