Monday, November 13, 2006

Manga Monday 16

Manga Monday returns after a week off with new reviews of the shoujo title La Corda d'Oro and the ever popular Shonen Jump title Hikaru No Go.

La Corda d'Oro (Volume 1)
Yuki Kure

I picked this little number up after a pretty riveting preview in a recent issue of Shojo Beat. Yuki Kure's La Corda d'Oro follows the prestigious Seisou Academy, which is divided into two parts: the music school and the general education school. There isn't much crossover between the two, and indeed when a student from the other department stumbles into the music academy, like our talentless protagonist Kahoko, the students treat her like an alien, wondering what a "gened-er" is doing there. And things only get worse for Kahoko as she is approached by a fairy that no one else seems able to see and selected to enter a music competition that has seen its previous winners go on to be famous musicians...without ever having played an instrument in her life! If she felt out of place just walking through the music school's halls, that's nothing compared to what she deals with mingling among the other music competition candidates. An interesting cast of characters come into Kahoko's life as a result of the fairy's mischief and Kahoko comes to appreciate what the music students are doing even if she doesn't believe herself capable of living up to their talent...yet. Kure's illustrations are really beautiful in this first volume. I was surprised to learn that this manga is actually based on a video game of all things. The story's completely engaging and exciting in its own right. I couldn't believe that the heart and soul the creator has poured into this material isn't of her own creation. But it remains a stunning achievement nonetheless. A

Hikaru No Go (Volume 3)
Yumi Hotta & Takeshi Obata

Hikaru comes face to face with...yeah, Akira again. Akira has become a member of his middle school's go club in an attempt to force a game between himself and Hikaru, who has refused to face him, even though his mastery of the game far surpasses those of his classmates and riles them up. Hikaru has his own problems, however. Before his go club can even compete in a competition, he must track down a third player for their team, a feat that leads him on the trail of a mischievous young man. Three volumes into the series, the creators have maintained the suspense of the previous volumes and continue to skirt that fine balance between keeping things interesting by having Hikaru want to play the game for himself, and the excitement of his ghost Fujiwara-no-Sai beating the tails off of arrogant players and propelling Hikaru into a sphere of near legend. And if the art in La Corda d'Oro is fantastic, it pales when compared to Takeshi Obata. A-

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