Manga Quick Information
Saki, a gifted classical pianist and teacher, takes his younger cousin Riya, an aspiring violinist, to perform at a summer retreat in the Berkshires. But when they get there, Saki is taken aback to find Irving Russell awaiting them; the young British composer and conductor has been put in charge of their concert, as the musical director, Larry Foreman, once Saki’s mentor, is unable to be there this year. And, of course, there is history between Saki and Irving, who dated for two years…but then broke up. The atmosphere in the summer cottage becomes increasingly tense as Saki’s buried feelings for Irving are stirred up and tempers fray over rehearsals. Is it possible that the reserved (he’s British!) Irving still has feelings for Saki too? There’s a concert to give and Saki can’t even make up his mind which solo pieces he is to perform, another source of irritation for Irving…
What a pleasure to find a manga set in the world of classical music which is not only well researched, but which also rings true (I trained as a musician and often grind my teeth at the fluffy, unrealistic way a musician’s life is portrayed in manga and anime; ‘Nodame Cantabile’ is the other notable exception.) The difficulty of establishing and then maintaining relationships for concert musicians who must spend much time practising their craft and travelling great distances to perform are explored here with sympathy and, occasionally, touches of humour (violinist prodigy Riya is constantly referred to as ‘Lee’ by the Americans he meets!)
Those already familiar with Tooko Miyagi’s excellent ‘Il Gatto sul G’ will head eagerly for this sequel but new readers can start here without any foreknowledge of the original series.
Tooko Miyagi is particularly skilled at uncovering the twists and turns in a developing relationship and her delicate drawing style seems particularly suited to depicting subtle variations of facial expressions. Such a description might suggest that her work is angst-laden and heavy-going but even though the protagonists are all classical musicians, this story has more of the bitter-sweet qualities of Poulenc or Ravel’s chamber music rather than the darkly brooding Cesar Franck. And, did I mention that, for all the delicacy of her artwork, Miyagi creates some hot scenes between the major protagonists? This story is, after all, Boys Love.
Nevertheless, fans of ‘Il Gatto’ will be delighted to meet Riya Narukawa again, now twenty and studying in the States; a one-shot at the beginning of this volume, ‘Midsummer’s Distance,’ reintroduces us to the young violinist and his lover, Atsushi Ikeda, both struggling to cope with a long-distance relationship. But it’s good to see older cousin Saki getting a story all to himself; the portrayal of two people trying not to get involved again and make the same mistakes, yet painfully, irrepressibly drawn to one another, is believably done. And, like the music Saki plays, it will end by tugging at your heartstrings…
And the title? No spoilers here but, like an idée fixe, the butterfly motif is woven into the story in a charming and meaningful way.
|Score:||8 out of 10|
|Date Published:||Mon, 5 Sep 2011|