Your Lie in April is a 2015 anime adapted from a manga of the same name. Following friends Kōsei, Tsubaki, Watari, and Kaori through their Jr high year, we see their struggles, triumphs, joys, and sorrows in this delightful (but sad) slice of life show. Although Kōsei functions as the main character, it’d be wrong to say that he’s the only focus in the show. Rather, all the characters come to life with their own motivations. The world of Your Lie in April is real and vivid as you watch life happen for these young people. Perhaps, more than most anime that I’ve watched, Your Lie feels authentic. Aside from beautiful visuals and an even more amazing score, Your Lie shows real people in open, honest, and raw ways. While there are many comical breaks to save you from the seriousness of some of the more somber storylines, it handles its topics well.
Something that Your Lie does well, and what I’m going to dig into a bit more here, is how it conveys the reality of suffering. Everyone within this show deals with something, true to real life; whether it be grief, failure, illness, or something else entirely. They all find ways to deal with, address, or hide their struggles from one another, and each must learn how to be there for one another. One of the main themes for Kōsei is that his grief and struggle manifests by seeing the world in monochrome, and that he no longer hears the sound of his piano playing.
Not unlike us when we go through hard times, the world seems to fade away. Reality, as it were, takes a backseat to the reality that is our pain, struggle, or grief. Whether it be a loss of a job, a diagnosis we didn’t expect, or the reality of mental health struggle, it’s easy to understand the metaphor used in seeing the world in ‘monochrome’. What I enjoy about Your Lie is that it doesn’t minimize one person’s suffering over another; instead, each character feels and experiences things unique to them. All too often, it seems like we get into a debate about ‘who has it worse’, ranking each other’s sufferings by what’s worse, or minimizing our own suffering because we don’t have a right to feel bad when ‘someone else has it harder!’ When Ecclesiastes 3 says:
“For everything there is a season […]Ecclesiastes 3:1, 4 (English Standard Version)
a time to weep, and a time to laugh;
a time to mourn, and a time to dance;”
It doesn’t quantify those seasons with ‘unless someone else has more reason to weep than you do’. Rather, it gives us freedom to experience what we’re going through, while still letting us know that it is only for a season—for the time in which we’re there—not an eternity. What a joy it is to know that, while we may have periods and seasons of suffering, and indeed they may last longer than we want them too, our real promise and joy is that, in the end, we have hope and life in Christ!
One thing that struck me in Your Lie when it comes to this is the constant relation of ‘music’ to ‘hope’. When Kōsei determines not to play the piano, Kaori tells him “You have to play. That’s how people like us survive.” And when he claims that Kaori is ‘freedom itself” she quickly counters with “No. Music is freedom.” Perhaps it’s a bit of a stretch to assume what they wanted that message to convey, but it does draw a pretty nice parallel to the gospel. As Christians, although our attitudes and actions may reflect truth, we aren’t the truth, but we do have it. In Christ, in the true hope, we are able to reflect Him to others. People like us—Christians—must reflect our Creator, because it’s how we survive, and its truly freedom. As Kaori echoes throughout the season, when she hopes that her music will ‘reach them’ when she plays for the audience, we also hope that the good news of our Savior reaches those we interact with. And, at the same time, we need that message to reach us time and again, when we so easily forget and feel hopeless or abandoned by God in these periods of mourning. Like it says in Romans 8:31 and on:
“What then shall we say to these things? If God is for us, who can be against us? He who did not spare his own Son but gave him up for us all, how will he not also with him graciously give us all things?”Romans 8:3 (English Standard Version)
Dave Furman, in his book Being There, says in reference to that passage, “If God saved us through the death and resurrection of Christ, how will he not provide deliverance in the future? When you think about it that way, it seems preposterous to suggest that God would abandon his children.”
We may have struggles, and grief, and times in which the world feels like it’s become shades of grey. We may experience these seasons for a short time, or for a long period. Or, maybe, we’re in a season of joy, of happiness, of dancing. But, as children of God, and as bearers of truth, we don’t have to despair in our suffering. We have Hope. Real hope; the kind that promises more than just ‘feeling better when we get through it’. The kind of hope that promises, no matter what comes our way, we have Christ before us, beside us, everywhere! Share that hope with others; be the one beside others in their suffering, and allow others to come beside you. And when the season of grief and sorrow comes your way, remember that our true and final hope is in Christ, and in the life that we’re promised.
This can look different for everyone, and regardless of if you’re struggling with loss, with a disability, with a circumstance you can’t control; the truth and hope that we have in Christ is not only about everlasting life, but about the fact that no matter what, God can and does use us despite our struggles. More than that, He often uses us because of our struggles. And, although it’s not always easy to accept, He also uses our struggles to strengthen our relationship with Him; by reminding us that we need His grace and His support. Even in the moment in which we feel helpless and, believe me, I have felt this time and again as I’ve struggled with depression, anxiety, and life circumstances that seemed impassable; but above all things, the words of Hebrews 6:18 should be our encouragement.
So when God desired to show more convincingly to the heirs of the promise the unchangeable character of his purpose, he guaranteed it with an oath, so that by two unchangeable things, in which it is impossible for God to lie, we who have fled for refuge might have strong encouragement to hold fast to the hope set before us.Hebrews 6:18 (English Standard Version)
And when you are there for others who are suffering, or when you are suffering, remember that it’s not good advice that you need, but the good news that Jesus knows what we’re going through, that He’s walking that path with us, and that there will be a better future with Him.
Be like Watari, willing to sit in silence and promising to listen if someone needs to talk, without forcing them before they’re ready. (As in Job 2:11-13, when his friends come to comfort him and show him sympathy, and for seven days and nights they sit in silence and mourn with him.)
Be like Kaori, hoping your message of truth will ‘reach them’, whoever they may be, and playing that song with conviction and love. (Which means you must know this truth! As in 1 Corinthians 15 as Paul says the Gospel is of first importance. Jesus died for us. Jesus rose from the dead. Jesus is alive today, and he will return!)
Be like Kōsei who, even in his grief, continues to play, because he must in order to survive. (Psalm 18:1, Psalm 90)
The Holy Bible, English Standard Version. ESV® Text Edition: 2016. Copyright © 2001 by Crossway Bibles, a publishing ministry of Good News Publishers.