Ah, Your Lie in April. I would never hesitate to call this beauty one of my top three anime (where it falls in that ranking, however, will come with much more hesitation). There is so much that can be said of it, and even more to be appreciated from every last detail. The attention to detail is astonishing top to bottom; the art will paint as marvelous of an impression as the story, music, and writing. For people interested in getting into anime, or just fans of anything remotely entertaining, I leave it at the forefront of recommendations. Late last year, it was announced by Aniplex USA that there would be a dub made for the romance. Somewhat abruptly, both the sub and the dub of the series in its entirety became available for streaming from Netflix services in March (two months after the dub cast was made public).
These are not reviews of a series or their dub, but rather opinion articles for the high notes from how the individual cast did, their overall chemistry, and/or the things that the dub brought to the series that benefited the source material. It is understood that dubs are not the most embraced means of viewing, so please refrain from commenting over the preference to the format as a thesis to an opinion. It is okay to not like dubs, but don’t ruin everyone else’s fun because you don’t agree. Articles will be tailored as spoiler-free as possible, with only vague notes on how an actor’s performance progresses as the story goes on, so feel free to read even if you haven’t seen the source material.
Getting nerve and fear down is a daunting task for a voiceover, and often times it can come off as whiny or uninvested. I think one of the biggest things Mittelman nails as Kousei how well he captures those feelings behind what the tortured pianist is thinking so well. What might in most cases be read as a scratchy, all over the place range of voice is replaced with a steady voice of uncertainty. As much of a contradiction as that sounds like, there truly is a difference between launching the lines out like a child wobbling on their first bike and something that audibly shows doubt whilst maintaining an unwavering delivery. The slowly rising self confidence in Kousei can be felt as his narrations become driven by the inspirations just as strongly as his body language on screen and performances heard. As the world hits him with hardship, we are greeted with the same withdraw back into the hesitation and doubt just as subtly. As Kousei overcomes the challenges, his development overflows with emotion into his monologues and is simply irresistible. What started as a likeable protagonist grew all the more endearing with the way Mittelman portrayed him.
It has to be said: Erica Lindbeck absolutely steals the show with her gripping performance here as Kaori.
Right from the jump, Lindbeck brings the limitless energy and fierce passion behind the young violinist out in such a fitting fashion for the role that it is hard to picture her being portrayed any other way (that’s saying a lot because Risa Taneda was spectacular in the sub, too). It is important to say that almost every scene in this show has a stellar quote-worthy line, and some honestly flew right over my head how poetic they sounded until Lindbeck read them. There are cryptic hints carrying brutal weight in dialogue that the series is known for, and eventually these build heavier and heavier in the story. Obviously, these impact Kaori, and even in the tiniest ways, there are jaw dropping results. A carefree soul breaking down and begging someone or the same person struggling putting on a painfully difficult bravado for friends isn’t just done and the story progresses, the performance sucks you in and steals away the moment.
Those nice touches around the lines overlooked are certainly slam dunks, but the iconic lines Kaori has in the show aren’t just that- they’re 360° no-look windmill jams from the free throw line. I’m usually pretty bearish about pointing people to dub preview videos, but the line they use for her in the trailer is a perfect example I can give without delving too deep into the meat and potatoes of the series (if that line they pick for that trailer doesn’t give you goosebumps, I don’t know what will). The adventure the story brings the viewer on is one full of just about every emotion, and they are all accomplished perfectly by the main actress. I never thought there would be a day I would question if another voice role could rival the emotion I found in that of Crispin Freeman and his basically life changing monologue towards the end of The Disappearance of Haruhi Suzumiya (not linked for obvious reasons), but the finale smashed that like a freight train. Seriously, Lindbeck is on the Mount Rushmore of English dubbing for this one.
CHICAGO VOICE ACTING REPRESENT!!!
In such a crowded show full of stellar performances, it can be really easy to overlook just how outstanding Mendez does with a character I’d wager has more lines than the main female lead role. One of the more intriguing parts of any character’s development is seeing their contemplations and resolutions on their identity. Wherein her childhood friend Kousei doesn’t question his identity (if anything he struggles with knowing who is), Tsubaki journeys internally to figure out who exactly she is and what she holds dear. Mendez gets her chance towards late second act-early third act and absolutely shines as she forms and takes actions for her newfound convictions. Depending on when people hear this one, they might not have seen just how much of a natural talent she was in Kill la Kill’s dub. After a listen to both of the roles, it is obvious this voice actress is an absolute all-star. To keep up with the basketball analogies
(because I totally didn’t just drink my third mocha), seeing her role in this show is like watching a player by the James Harden back in 2012. Harden was a star in his own right, but played a much smaller role because two of the best players in the league were on the same team as him. Even the toughest critics of basketball analysts agreed that if Harden was in another situation, he would be the biggest player on not only his team, but the league (when he left the next year, he would go on to get a league MVP bid and a massive 118 million dollar contract- proving true). Even if she would be the third on the list of characters, it is hard not to imagine the future is going to be awesome seeing more roles by this budding voice actress.
While it is understood Ryouta Watari is a main character technically in the series, his impact on the story is smaller than a lot of the support characters. This isn’t a knock on Kyle McCarley (Mikazuki Augus in Mobile Suit Gundam: Iron-Blood Orphans) as he does what he can with role, but I found Watari to be such a wasted character in the show to the extent it is really hard to gauge what else was supposed to be done by McCarley.
The duo of Kousei’s rivals in Takeshi Aiza, played by Erik Kimerer (Ryuuji Takasu in Toradora!)and Emi Igawa, played by Erika Harlacher (Kurapika in Hunter x Hunter 2011) have their moments during their respective performances. One of the more notable outings was during the episode “Let it Ring”, where Harlacher seals the deal for the anger for Emi’s playing with the episode title words repeated constantly crescendoing.
Wendee Lee (Faye Valentine in Cowboy Bebop) gives an absolutely chilling performance as Kousei’s belated mother, Saki Arima. As we see the flashbacks to where his mother unravels, it leaves a very conflicted opinion on the character that better supplements the relationship Kousei has with his craft.
Nagi Aiza is a really important character to the story of Your Lie in April in that she serves as a means for Kousei to offer mentorship and rekindle his love for piano. It truly is a treat to get to see Stephanie Sheh add another impact role to her massive voice acting resume (no seriously, I can’t decide which one to use as a single example).
Arguably the fourth biggest role in the series, Saki Arima’s best friend and Kousei’s piano instructor Hiroko Seto is an insanely powerful presence on the story and provides some of the most organic insight that could ever be found for a support character. I had originally heard Keranen’s work in Trails of Cold Steel, so there was a lot of curiosity going into the dub to see just how she would deliver. There is such a flow to the way Keranen delivers her lines that fits the mentor role like a typecast. Whenever she is speaking, her voice provides a tremendous boost to the others with how well it bridges together the scene. There are times for people to be bold and showing their brightest, but it takes a real disciplined voice actress to understand the cadence of a scene and the little things necessary to pull it all in.
Hiroko has a lot of skeletons in her closet, including a guilt for introducing Kousei to the world of piano in the first place. As she helps the struggling artist back up, she battles her own demons in a truly moving fashion. Through the character development and story direction, it is really hard to picture it being as smooth without how well Keranen brings things together in her role.
One can assemble all of the acting talent in the world, but if the group as a whole doesn’t work well together, the whole thing comes down. Perhaps that is why the biggest strength found in the dub for Your Lie in April comes in just how well the voices selected compliment one another. It was mentioned above with how well it is done by Keranen as Hiroko in particular, but anytime there are more than one character in a scene, the way the actors build off of one another adds a level of dynamic that feels really organic. Speaking of which, the writing in the show never feels particularly unrealistic or melodramatic, raising a lofty goal for the cast to pull the power of their parts in without getting carried away in the dialogue. This serves a challenge, particularly in the more passionate characters, that is taken up seamlessly. The emotional scenes in the series are made even better by the cast’s ability to sound real authentic with crying (something that can feel a little fake in a lot of dubbing, honestly) to the extent that it creates a “I’m not crying, you’re crying” kind of reaction in the listener. It is only natural a show hailed as the king of feeling has a cast so ready to deliver said feeling.
Overall, this dub is by far the best I have ever experienced as a gut instinct. The more I try to weigh another against it, the more it feels like the pound for pound champion of dubs, too. Thankfully, I can yet another title to the recommendations to give this title for with “Best dub to get into with anime”.
Did you watch this dub? Recognize any of the cast? Let me know what you think below! As always, thanks for being wonderful and have a good day!
Your Lie in April is available for streaming on Crunchyroll, Hulu, and Netflix services.
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