Your Lie in April on Ice

Our skating… Did it reach you?

Published by Diane Zhou and Sabina Chen in April 2021


Friendships come and go, each shaping us in different ways. Some leave us with fond memories, others with tough lessons. Perhaps the most special friend is the one who lifts us up during our darkest hours. Diane and Sabina express a friendship built not only on blissful moments, but also on supporting each other through difficult times.



WARNING: Spoilers for Your Lie in April ahead!

The Birth of Anime on Ice

Birth of Anime on Ice texts

... and just like that, Anime on Ice was born.

Music vs. Figure Skating

In Your Lie in April, Kousei Arima is a pianist burdened by expectations and potential for disappointment from being a child prodigy. Throughout the story, he grapples with his feelings about his mother, who was his primary source of both motivation and toxic pressure. After his mother passes away, Kousei is unable to face the piano at all. Meanwhile, Kaori Miyazono is a violinist who was inspired by Kousei’s piano playing. She befriends Kousei, hoping to fulfill her dream of performing with him. Through support from Kaori and other friends, Kousei slowly comes to terms with his past and gradually re-enters the music world.

Similar to Kousei, competitive figure skaters often end up crippled by the stress of a cutthroat atmosphere. High expectations often lead to pressure, disappointment, and difficulty for skaters to enjoy skating at all. Therefore, we created this program to bring focus back to the meaningful and expressive sides of figure skating.

It takes a supportive community to remind us of the inspirational side of the arts. That is what Kaori did for Kousei, what the MIT Figure Skating Club has provided for many of its skaters, as well as the story we hope to portray in this program and throughout the Anime on Ice series.

Creative Process

Brainstorming

For this program, we knew from the beginning that we wanted to focus on Kousei and Kaori’s friendship, especially on how it develops through moments of struggles, rather than through purely fun times. Kaori was trying to help Kousei out of the darkness; in turn, Kousei gave Kaori a purpose in life. Many of our own personal friendships at the time reflected this same type of mutually supportive relationship.

However, we needed to flush out the specifics of what we wanted to express in our skating. A few questions we considered were:

  • How faithful should we stay to the anime?
  • How could we incorporate personal elements?
  • How could we reach various audiences like the Your Lie in April fandom, figure skating fans, and the MIT community, all at the same time?

Ultimately, we chose to express the “essence” of the story so that fans of the anime would recognize references to the anime, while not being so literal as to alienate those who have not watched the anime.

Choreography

The choreography is a loose interpretation of the story in the anime, where Sabina represents Kousei Arima and Diane represents Kaori Miyazono. The song we skate to, “Friend A,” guides how the story unfolds. While our choreography is open to interpretation, we explain our thought process behind the choreography in the slideshow below.


Play each video to view the section of the program corresponding to the description on the slide.

Costume

In choosing costumes, we wanted to find simple, college-student-budget costumes that were not as elaborate and detailed as cosplay but still referenced the anime characters we were portraying. We also had a practical constraint of being able to skate comfortably in our costumes.

For Diane’s costume representing Kaori, we opted for a pink dress reminiscent of Kaori’s dress in episode 1. We also had Diane tie a red ribbon around her waist; in the program, she unties this red ribbon and leaves it with Sabina at the end. Initially, we were skeptical about using a prop in case the prop detracted from the skating by making the program too theatrical. However, we decided that using the red ribbon only at the very end would add a lot of meaning without taking away from the skating throughout the program. The red ribbon, an allusion to the “red thread of fate” that binds together people who are destined to meet each other, calls back to Kousei and Kaori meeting on that fateful day in April.

For Sabina’s costume representing Kousei, we considered having Sabina wear a blue suit and pants to match Kousei’s school uniform, but that felt too superficial. In the end, we found a black-and-white schoolgirl-style dress that worked perfectly for this program. The schoolgirl look matches Kousei being in a student uniform most of the time, while the black and white color scheme references Kousei playing the piano which has black and white keys.

Friend A costume

Together, the costumes also highlight the contrast between Kousei, who initially sees life as monochrome (black and white), and Kaori, who brings color (pink and red) into his life.

Reflection

In 2016, before we were about to perform this program, we were asked to write a “blurb” that the exhibition announcer would read to introduce our program to the audience. The original introduction we came up with is as follows:

Friendships come and go, but during our hardest times, a true friend - let’s call them Friend A - has the power to lift us out of the darkness. Even when unfortunate circumstances take them away from us, our special Friend A will continue to live in our hearts forever. Skating to a song called “Friend A” from the anime Your Lie in April, Sabina and Diane hope to express a story of love, loss, and true friendship.

… We thought we were “subtly” hinting at the plot of Your Lie in April, but in hindsight, it was actually quite literal.

So in 2021, while creating this website, we decided to update the introduction to showcase what we wanted to convey at the time, but didn’t have the words or experience yet to express properly:

Friendships come and go, each shaping us in different ways. Some leave us with fond memories, others with tough lessons. Perhaps the most special friend is the one who lifts us up during our darkest hours. Diane and Sabina express a friendship built not only on blissful moments, but also on supporting each other through difficult times.

In rewriting the introduction as well as writing this behind-the-scenes content, we learned that the two of us actually had different interpretations of the program, both when we were first choreographing the program in 2016 and when we look back at it now in 2021. But that’s the beauty of art: it’s open to creative interpretation, even by the creators themselves, and its meaning can evolve over time! However, the overall sentiment of friends helping each other remains similar across the years and between the two of us, and is an integral part of the foundation of Anime on Ice.

Thank you to the community members, both from the audience of our live performance and from the comments online, who have expressed appreciation for the message we were trying to share. The ability to connect with others through our skating continues to motivate us in creating meaningful Anime on Ice content!

“My music… Will it reach them?” ~ Kaori Miyazono
Our skating… Did it reach you?
Artwork by Rachel Wu