It’s almost performance time for Nagi and Kosei, but the lingering question “want to commit double suicide with me?” torments Kosei as he tries to pull it together.
“Want to commit double suicide with me?” Kosei trembles after hearing this spoken by Kaori and struggles to figure out what to do to help her. Meanwhile, Nagi’s brother Takeshi is in a slump because of Kosei, prompting her to do whatever she can to try to motivate him again. With all of this in mind, Nagi and Kosei form a surprise duo for the performance at Nagi’s school festival to give a solid musical punch to the ones in their hearts.
Your Lie in April delivered a solid emotional gut-punch to end off its previous volume as Kaori speaks about committing double suicide to Kosei, and this volume continues to explore the parallels Kosei experiences between Kaori and his mother. This sequence is well-done because of the way that it frames Kosei witnessing Kaori’s despair in this dire way, creating emotional impact by overlaying his perception of Kaori with his memories of his mother as he tries to process it all. The art also reflected this shift particularly well, and I definitely noted the heightened use of shadows in the hospital room as the series has gone on. We see Kaori placed in the shadows more frequently much like how Kosei’s mother had been when she was represented in his memories, and this really did a great job conveying the sense to terrifying similarly he feels between the two situations. However, the difference here is that Kosei is able to lean on his friends and his experiences throughout the series to overcome the situation, and I enjoyed that we see him find his resolve internally in a vivid way as he runs away from the hospital. This sequence really framed Kosei’s portion of this volume’s driving plot very well, and I thought it was a strong way to start this volume.
While I enjoyed the introduction of Nagi in the previous volume at the surface level because of the way that she spurred Kosei onwards in terms of becoming a teacher, I really enjoyed how much depth she added in this volume as her story becomes intertwined with Kosei. We got the curtain pulled off of her back-story at the end of the previous volume, and this volume continues to explore her overall motivations in a particularly poignant way as she prepares for her school-festival. We see her reason for playing linked in a relevant way with the rivalry between Takeshi and Kosei, but I also liked that we slowly get to her experience in coping with the pressure placed on her by everyone. This results in a scene that ties her experiences in with that of her fellow musicians in a really nice scene with Hiroko that highlighted the similarities between Nagi and Kosei. I really liked the way that the slow but very visible change in Nagi’s perception of Kosei was shown in her inner monologues, and I thought this was linked in quite effectively in this discussion theme of purpose in music that this series explored heavily in the first few volumes as we head into the performance.
It’s been a few volumes since the last major performance for Kosei, and I never realized how much I missed the inclusion of these sequences until after Kosei and Nagi started performing. Much like the previous performances scenes, this scene absolutely steals the show in a dramatic spectacle that brings together Nagi and Kosei’s stories in a incredibly meaningful and well-done manner. The scene immediately preceding the main performance shows Nagi panicking before the performance before being comforted by Kosei in a scene that call-back to Kosei’s first performance with Kaori in a strong way. This was probably my favourite scene of this volume because of the way this call-back showed how much Kosei has grown over the course of the series but also for the way that it brought Kosei and Nagi’s respective worries together in small but meaningful way.
The actual performance is a real-page turner thanks to the intensity conveyed as the two perform, and we see this through Nagi’s perspective as her inner thoughts are brought out during the performance. The shift in her perspective during the performance is extremely well handled because of the way that we see her go through the full-range of emotions as the performance calls to mind her reasons for playing. The performance scenes in this series work so well because they really bring out Arakawa-sensei’s talent of framing his panels in a way that emphasizes the drama of each situation, and a number of quick cuts between the faces of Nagi, Kosei, and various audience members helped to really emphasize the effect the performance has on their emotions. While I really enjoyed the personal development that Nagi receives during this performance, I thought that this also continued Kosei’s characterization through the portrayal of Nagi’s connection with him. This is all brought to a satisfying final conclusion that felt fitting because of the way that it draws upon the ethos of being a musician once again, giving this performance a strong sense of resonance especially when related to the road this series has traveled so far.
A final layer added to the performance is that of Kaori as she hears the performance thanks to Kosei’s request, and this makes for a performance that really represents a meaningful intersection between many of the plotlines this series is juggling. This become a rather haunting moment because of the way that we see her on the edge of her hospital bed without ever seeing her face, and it all felt rather ghostly in a way that I thought really conveyed the existential nature of her sadness well in connection to her talk of suicide. Again, the use of shadows here in the art really adds to this haunting feel, and this was well used to illustrate the effect Kosei’s “punch” has on her through an appropriate juxtaposition when we finally see Kaori in the light again in a hospital rooftop meeting with Kosei after the performance. I was particularly interested to see Kaori’s perspective touched upon just a little bit for the first time at the end of this volume, and this felt appropriate for a volume that spent much of its time abstracted from Kosei’s perspective.
While so much of this volume is done wonderfully, a few of the flaws which continued to dog this series rear their head at moments. The series’ shifts in tone between the heightened drama to slap-stick comedy have been an unfortunate trend so far, and in this volume there are definitely a couple moments in this hospital as well as between Nagi and Kosei which feel jarring and out of place. These moments never really ruin scenes, but they definitely affect the mood in a way that is particularly unfortunate given how meaningful many of these dramatic moments are. Tsubaki’s story also continues to linger in the background, and the prospect of that storyline surfacing again isn’t the most heartening thing considering how great this volume fared because of its handling of this series’ more interesting and centrally connected storylines.
Your Lie in April Vol. 9 is a stunning continuation of this series which draws together Kosei, Kaori, and Nagi’s respective stories to create another brilliantly moving performance sequence. This performance is strongly framed by the exploration of both Kosei and Nagi’s perspectives to begin this volume, and I enjoyed the sense of dramatic build up that accompanied the lead up to the performance. The performance is the complete package, combining Arakawa-sensei’s talent for highlighting the drama of these moments through his art with Nagi’s own self-discovery, and I definitely enjoyed this sequence very much. It’s not perfect, but this volume really encapsulates the strong emotional resonance that makes Your Lie in April so powerful as we head into the series’ final stretch.
Your Lie in April Vol. 9 was published by Kodansha Comics USA on August 30th, 2016. Authored by Naoshi Arakawa, the series originally ran in Kodansha’s Monthly Shonen Magazine from 2011-2015, with an anime adaption by A-1 Pictures airing from October 2014 - March 2015. Volume 10 will be released in October, 2016.
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