VS Versus #1 by Keiko Yamada Manga Review

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Title:  VS Versus #1

Author:  Keiko Yamada

Publisher:  CMX

ISBN:  1401210686

May Contain Spoilers

Reiji is a gifted violinist who’s trying to escape an abusive past.  He only plays the violin to make his little sister smile, and to save her from the clutches of their cruel father.  He’s been chosen to represent his school at the national music contest for the 3rd time, and to prevent the embarrassment of his previous efforts, a new teacher has been hired for him.  Hane Mistuko was a prodigy until an accident robbed her of her music career.  Now she’s determined to help Reiji win in spite of himself.

Despite having a thoroughly unlikable main character, I’m intrigued by the premise of this story.  The scenes of Miruka’s abuse were disturbing, especially as her mother ignores her youngest child’s pleas for help.  As Reiji seeks the courage and the means to protect Miruka, he sees his violin as a weapon, a sword that will save his sister.  However, with his own dysfunctional upbringing, he lacks the emotions to pour into his music and truly move his audience, rendering his violin ineffective.

Mistuko is determined to teach Reiji how to make music that is filled with feeling.  As he changes the arrangement of the assigned song, she castigates him, accusing him of lacking the talent to play the music the way the composer envisioned it.  It’s a flaw in his personality, and if he hopes to win, he must find a way to make the audience feel the heart of the piece.  As he struggles to understand the music, he rejects Mistuko’s offer of assistance.  He refuses to fulfill her dream even as he is swept away by her playing.

The art isn’t bad, though at times the backgrounds are cluttered, and it’s hard to determine what is going on.  Reiji often looks as though someone is holding a small turd under his nose, but that might just be because I don’t really like his character.

I ordered the next two volumes, but only because I was able to find them at a 40% discount.  While I am interested enough in the series to read further, I would have had second thoughts at ten bucks each volume.  I’m hoping that Reiji will begin to change, and become a more likable person.

Grade:  B

Rated for Teen

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