VS Versus #2 by Keiko Yamada Manga Review

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Title:  VS. Versus #2

Author:  Keiko Yamada

Publisher:  CMX

ISBN:  1401210694

May Contain Spoilers

Reiji’s sister, Miruka, has been sent to America, safely away from their abusive father.  Suddenly despondent, he no longer has the will to play the violin.  Mitsuko takes away his violin and determines that he’ll not touch it again until he wants to play from the bottom of his heart.  When he learns that the other teachers have already found a replacement for him, Reiji snaps.  He breaks that case containing the school’s most famous instruments.  Have the teachers finally found a reason to keep Reiji for competing in the Nationals?

I was disappointed with the direction that this volume took.  Instead of simply focusing on Reiji and his fiery personality, and all the problems it causes, the author introduces a new character, Sakurada, the violinist the teachers are grooming to be Saioin’s replacement.  On his way to the music hall, Reiji is kidnapped by Sakurada’s henchmen, so that he’ll be a no show for the contest.  Though certainly dramatic, the series of events that followed just didn’t seem plausible and some of the impact of the story was lost on me. 

Things got back on track after the contest, as Hane sends Reiji to escort his new rival, Aoi Kenzaki, from Kyoto.  The son of famous musicians, he’s decided to turn his back on the piano and embrace the beauty of the violin.  He argues violently with his grandfather about his choice, and he’s told if he follows through with his plans, he’s no longer welcome in the family home.  Hmm… He sounds like he could be as emotionally unstable as Reiji!

I really enjoy this story when it spotlights Reiji’s battle with his inner demons.  He’s a flamboyant, contentious character and despite his gift for playing the violin, he’s a social dimwit.  Whether Hane can reform him before he self-destructs is what interests me most about this series. 

Grade:  C+

Rated for Teen

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