Music, Anime, and Me

Shigatsu wa Kimi No Uso. Sometimes it’s better known as Your Lie in April. It’s a show about music and the way it can tear people apart and bring them together.

Nodame Cantabile. A long series about what it means to be a performer, or an artist, and trying to find love along the way.

Music has always been kind of an interesting topic for me, especially classical music. I’ve been playing violin for thirteen years, and I’ve gotten pretty good in that span of time. It’s very important to me, and it’s also very conflicting with the rest of what I do.

Violin is probably one of the most painful relationships I have. It’s something that I give hours and hours of my life of, pour my heart into, master incredibly difficult pieces and know them like the back of my hand, but with no payoff. The conflict lies in what I can feasibly do with violin and what I actually do. I’m an engineer. I belong in the sciences. I know this; all of me knows this. I don’t have the time or the dedication to make violin my living. But I still practice violin as if I’m going to be playing in Carnegie Hall one day, even though I’m well aware that I probably won’t ever even step foot on the local theater stage.

“Well, why the fuck are you still in engineering then, if you like violin so much?” This is a question I get asked pretty much every time I bring this up. And the reason is because I will never be any sort of happy in my life if I am not doing science. I love knowing how things work and making things work, designing, theorizing, drawing logical conclusions. I like the feeling I get when I write a piece of code and it runs perfectly after hours of debugging. There is no profession for me that does not involve science. I love physics and tech too much.

So where does violin fit into that world? Well, simply answered–it doesn’t. There’s simply not enough time to keep up mastery of an instrument and perform and be able to be a rocking engineer. And yet, I keep shoving it in anyways, practicing every day, because I can’t let go of it.

These anime series are like a glimpse into what-could-have-been. In another world, one where I didn’t want to voluntarily sell my soul to science, or loved math and physics just a little less–that could have been me. I could have moved people with my music. Violin isn’t just a way for me to communicate with other people; it’s a way for me to understand others as well. It’s setting up scenes I would never have imagined by myself, or finding stories that I didn’t even know I was missing.

So I envy Kaori for her ability to turn heads. I envy Kousei for having his prodigal talent realized and he himself for the strength to keep on fighting. I envy Chiaki too for his insane musical prowess, and Nodame for her dedication to her art. I see too many could-have-been’s in these characters, and it is sometimes painful for me to keep watching. Knowing that these are things I could have had or could be, but will not have by my own choice.

But I also relate too. The way they love music? That’s me, right there. The way Kaori moves when she performs? I do that too. When Chiaki looks at a piece of sheet music and has it play out in his head? Every time I play a new piece. It’s like seeing the rarely acknowledged, haphazard pieces of yourself highlighted on a laptop screen.

So I appreciate these classical music anime. They’re good to me. I’m too in love with something I have no business loving, so in the end, I’ll just love it harder and know that even without anything else, it’s already loved me back hard enough that I’ll probably never stop.


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