Monday, April 29, 2013

Manga Mondays #147: Swan vol. 5 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. 5 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.

Drama-rama! What would a shoujo manga be without drama overload. Yet this isn't the same form of romantic melodrama that we see so often in manga. Instead, it's all about the high stakes audition for a role in Swan Lake.

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.

The plot of Swan Lake is a huge part of this volume. The story is told piece by piece spread out over most of the pages. Hijiri is dancing for a lead role in Swan Lake. She dances the White Swan and the Black Swan.

While the drama is so overdone that it becomes a bit silly, I do like the fact that it is mostly conveyed through the drawings. Ariyoshi is able to draw movement and emotions in such a way that the reader feels a strong connection to the characters. Plus, a plethora of exclamation points just so we know that everything is important!

I'm almost halfway through this series. I want to keep reading it to find out what happens, but the fascination is also petering out. It's becoming increasingly unrealistic with Hijiri's innate talent leading her to beat highly accomplished ballerinas despite that her technical training is lacking. But I'll keep going at least for now.

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  1. This is a different-looking cover...more watercolor than graphic novel! I'm not sure I'd be quite so tolerant of all the exclamation points!!!! (ironic, considering I use them all the time...)

  2. The drawing sounds wonderful, especially since it's able to convey the emotions and movements. Sounds like a fun manga, even if it gets a bit too dramatic ;)

    Nice review!

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