Monday, April 8, 2013

Manga Mondays #146: Swan vol. 4 by Kyoko Ariyoshi

Manga Mondays Meme

I've been doing Manga Mondays every week since I started my blog almost 3 years ago. It started out as a personal feature, but I decided to turn it into a meme last year. There are quite a few people who do Manga Mondays. I don't claim by any means that I owned or created the idea of Manga Mondays - it's an obvious choice given the alliteration. I think a meme is a great way for everyone to publicize their own Manga Mondays and get a little more publicity.

The linky will be below my review.

Swan vol. 4 by Kyoko Ariyoshi


As the only exception to the Japan Ballet Association's scholarship program, underdog dancer Hijiri Masumi trains hard every day with other students who have all won the right to train under the best dance instructors. Because Masumi's technique leaves much to be desired, master instructor and genius dancer Alexei Sergeiev demands that she return to the basics to improve her technique. Masumi practices diligently, so that she will be chosen as one of three student performers in the Japan Ballet Company's special performance in Moscow. Eventually, some of the ballet students depart for various destinations around the world to further their dance careers. As Alexei leaves for Moscow, he reminds her once again to master the basics, because her journey has just begun. Hearing this heartening message, Masumi vows to work hard, and returns to the ballet studio to practice, only to find a handsome new foreign student has arrived. Will this newcomer support her in her quest to develop as a dancer, or will romantic entanglements become an obstacle? (courtesy of Goodreads)


*Warning: Potential spoilers. My manga reviews tend to be more of a summary than a review. I find it hard to review manga in the same way I do regular books.

Hijiri has made it to London after a brief stopover in Moscow turned into two volumes. I feel like we don't get as much British culture as we did in Moscow. Not that we get a lot of Russian culture either, but I have a feeling that the author was fascinated by Russia and used London merely as a change of scenery.

This volume is primarily about Hijiri battling it out with Sydney England, a British ballerina. Their relationship falls into a theme that is played over and over again in shoujo manga. The girl has an enemy (usually female). By the end of the volume, the enemy has become a friend, won over by the main character's selflessness and capability. In this case, Sydney comes to respect Hijiri's passion for ballet as well as the fact that Hijiri put herself on the line when Sydney sneaks out after hours.

We are repeatedly told two things in this series. First, that Hijiri has that "it" factor, the artistic beauty and style that can't be taught. Second, that Hijiri has a fatal flaw. We're never told exactly what that is. I guess it's the lack of technical prowess. The series does a great job at portraying Hijiri's ability to embody her characters, but it doesn't do a good job portraying the fatal flaw.

One of my favorite things about Swan is learning about so many classical ballets. Each volume feature one or more ballets. Many are famous such as Swan Lake or Copelia. But others are new to me, like The Hunchback Pony. Hijiri was cast as the hunchbacked pony. I felt bad for her at being cast as such a ridiculous character, but apparently it's quite an honor.

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  1. There's a ballet called The Hunchback Pony? That doesn't sound like a role any ballerina would want to play, but if they say it's an honor then I'm sure it is. I kind of want to look it up now:)

  2. I actually like that kind of theme. Instead of "defeating" your enemies, it's always nice to make buddy-buddy with them!

  3. Argh! At the one hand, I don't really dig ballet and underdog-stories. Well, I do like underdogs, but it definitely depends on how they are portrayed and with most manga, female underdogs are basically screwed. But someone recommended it to me and has the tankobon, so maybe I should give it a try anyways? Heeelp?! XD

  4. Swan was one I could never get into. I really loved the CMX line of manga from DC and was so mad when they halted the presses as some series I was reading were never completed. Arghh!!

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