Your Lie in April (Blu-ray release 2017-4-12) is a live action adaptation of a manga series.  The protagonist stopped playing piano because he could no longer hear the piano tones since the death of his mother.  A violinist girl shows up, and invites him to play a violin / piano duet with her.

As a standalone movie, it is not bad.  The main storyline is still mostly the same as the charming original, and the romance aspect is still good.  However, the 22-episode anime (2014-2015) is so much better, even after considering the comparatively limited duration of the movie.  The live action version takes a different approach in some areas that undermines the dramatic and visual impact seriously.

MINOR SPOILERS

Firstly, the inability to hear piano tone is done badly and is much less obvious in the movie.  In the anime we get a deep sea representation of it, coupled with muffled sounds, and a haunting hallucination of the dead mother – this visual portrayal of the difficulty involved is truly important.  Likewise, when this inability is explained as a gift, the movie fails to elaborate it other than saying it lets music flow from the heart.  The recovery as presented in the movie also brings much less impact.

Dramatically, the anime makes it clear that the situation with the girl is reminiscent of that of the mother, and the protagonist has to go through this difficulty again.  The movie removed this dramatic comparison.  The original story has a one line dialogue that says the protagonist needs to grow by facing tragedies.  I think this is an important justification of the story, but is again removed from the movie.

If anyone thinks that a live action movie must have everything realistic, that is most certainly false, as perfectly demonstrated in Beauty and the Beast (2017).  The movie makes this mistake and removes all the fantasy-style depiction of the emotion of music.  In the anime the screen is filled with colors, and the audience says they see the music is colorful.  In the movie we don’t get much from the audience to express their approval of the music – not even a “Bravo!”.  We are only told later that the performance was good enough so they continue to be invited for further performances.

The climactic scene in the anime has a beautiful background of sky and clouds, and more visual effects on the girl.  There are many different varieties of shots of the piano at different angles, the protagonist, and close-ups of different things.  There is also special lighting of the stage.  The movie drops the beautiful background, and has much less varieties of the shots, making a dull climax.

P.S. Watching the anime I found that it shares a common theme with Neon Genesis Evangelion – both protagonists try to run away from difficulties, and are saved by a group of women.

 

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