One of the anime series currently available for viewing on Crunchyroll is La Corda d’Oro, based on the manga series licensed in the US by Viz (which is, I understand, based on a video game). My husband brought it up to me recently as a series he’d be interested in watching and when he told me the name, my ears perked up as I reached excitedly into my pile of review copies where I have volume ten of the manga waiting to be reviewed for Manga Recon’s “On The Shojo Beat” column next month. Seeing this as a great opportunity for me to study up for my review (I don’t own or have access to the first nine volumes of the manga), we plunged right in.
Now I’ll say right off, I am really enjoying this anime series. Sure, the musical selections are straight out of someone’s supermarket CD of “Your Favorite Classical Music Hits,” but honestly this is what I expect to see in popular fiction, and even when the arrangements of these overused standards are utterly ridiculous (I looked it up–there actually is an existing arrangement of Pachelbel’s Canon for just violin and piano, as ill-advised as that may seem) the characters are so sincere about playing them it’s hard to remain snobbish about it, even for a stodgy old music geek like me. Recently, however, there has been a bit of a plot twist that has seriously thrown me for a loop. I found my own reaction to it surprising, revealing, and actually a little bit hilarious so I thought I’d talk about it here. Major spoilers after the jump.
For those who need a little background, La Corda d’Oro is the story of a second-year high school student named Kahoko who is chosen by a, uh, music fairy named Lili (because of her ability to see him) to be the recipient of a magic violin that can be played by anyone. By accepting the violin (which she does very begrudgingly), she also accepts being named a participant in her school’s musical concours, despite the fact that she is not part of the school’s prestigious music department. The series then follows Kahoko and the other participants through their preparation for the three sections of the concours and to varying degrees each of their personal journeys as musicians and otherwise.
One of the other student participants is Azuma Yukoni, the youngest son of a very traditional and influential family, who plays the stereotypical “prince” role at school. He is smart, beautiful, always smiling, kind to everyone, and constantly surrounded by a crowd of admiring girls. Over the first ten episodes of the anime series, Azuma is shown to be extremely insightful and kind, especially when it comes to Kahoko, but then at the end of episode eleven, he suddenly reveals an incredibly cruel side to his personality–one that he shows only to Kahoko.
I know this will sound completely ridiculous but this turn of events has been, for me, seriously traumatizing. Even now, days later, I have not recovered. At first, I tried to think up ways that the whole thing might be a lie–like maybe he had an identical twin brother who was stepping in and impersonating him or something. Anything, really, just to have it not be true. This is a fictional character in an animated work of fiction, and it has actually, honestly hurt me to find out that he is not who I thought he was. Is this not kind of hilarious? About this, I have a few thoughts:
First of all, YAY FICTION. Despite the fact that I have tossed and turned in bed (no, really) thinking about this and feeling upset over it, man, isn’t this what is awesome about fiction? Anything that can affect me this strongly deserves high praise, no matter how many times I have to listen to Pachelbel’s Canon, Schubert’s Ave Maria, and Grieg’s Morgenstimmung (which are, by the way, at least all performed with heart). My reaction to the revelation about this character is pretty much exactly what I imagine Kahoko’s to be, and I have respect for any storyteller who can make me truly feel what his/her characters feel. I feel betrayal, loss, sadness, disbelief, and I feel it almost as strongly as if it was happening to me.
Secondly, on a strictly personal note, I think the reason why this has affected me so strongly is that this kind of duplicity is something I am especially vulnerable to in life, and has over the years become a pretty intense fear of mine. As a person who trusts very easily and tends to see the best in people, the thing that I’m least likely to see coming (and therefore, the thing that has the power to hurt me most) is the person who pretends one thing while actually being another–the enemy who pretends to be a friend. Overall, my trusting nature is a part of me I like more than other parts, and despite the fact that this gives a duplicitous person ample opportunity to hurt me very deeply, it is a part of me I think is worth trying to hang on to. Still, there is a looming fear that I could unexpectedly find myself in Kahoko’s shoes at any time, and I’m sure that plays a part in my unusually strong reaction to Azuma’s deception.
As I’ve mentioned, I haven’t read any of the manga series yet, and I gather from Kate Dacey’s review of the first four volumes that this revelation about Azuma’s character may happen much earlier on than it does in the anime, which might make it less of a shock. It will be interesting to see once I do get my hands on the manga just how much of a difference that makes. I will be interested, too, as I continue with the anime, to see what happens with this character over time. I’m sure we’ll learn much more about him and how he got to be this way (I have a few theories, of course), and I’m assuming there’s a decent chance he’ll grow in some way, probably due to his association with our heroine, though it might be equally as interesting if he does not. Still, through all of this, I sincerely mourn and experience honest pain, as ridiculous as that might be.
Why am I burdening you people with these thoughts? I’m interested to know about your experiences with strong emotional reactions to fiction, and how you feel about them. I tend to personalize most of what I read, watch, experience, etc., so this is not an unusual reaction for me, though it is admittedly quite intense in this case. How about you?
Note: If you want to talk about La Corda d’Oro in comments, please, please do not spoil me past episode 13 of the anime series (roughly through volume four of the manga, I think).
Flora saysApril 7, 2009 at 12:15 pm
psst: something about your code went bananas on the LJ version.
Melinda Beasi saysApril 7, 2009 at 12:16 pm
Thank you!! Bad LJ-cut, I think I have fixed it.
Michelle Smith saysApril 7, 2009 at 1:28 pm
This is interesting… the power of delaying such a plot twist to maximize the impact. I don’t know if I’d react to such a degree, but I too have had a major thing like that happen to me once in life and it seriously felt like the person I thought I knew had died.
Melinda Beasi saysApril 7, 2009 at 1:38 pm
I think I tend to have extreme emotional reactions because I let myself get *so* involved. Heh. But, yeah. Though from the comment below, I wonder if I interpreted Kate’s review properly. She said something like he’d been doing it for the whole four volumes, so I assumed that meant it must have started much sooner.
Danielle Leigh saysApril 7, 2009 at 2:00 pm
same experience as Michelle here. Thought I knew someone and then discovered I really didn’t (they only showed me one side of themselves, hid things not because they were evil because they just didn’t know better).
I also didn’t know the show / manga was this *dark*. Of course, *now*, I’m interested! ;-)
Melinda Beasi saysApril 7, 2009 at 2:03 pm
Hee! Well, I don’t want to mislead you—with the exception of this aspect of it, so far it is not extremely dark overall. Honestly, it’s a reverse-harem anime/manga with a nice musical focus. But this particular aspect of it is pretty freakin’ dark.
Melinda Beasi saysApril 7, 2009 at 2:01 pm
I too have had a major thing like that happen to me once in life and it seriously felt like the person I thought I knew had died.
This here has been sitting with me ever since I read your comment. It’s just so well stated. That’s exactly it.
badzphoto saysApril 7, 2009 at 1:34 pm
I haven’t watched the anime but I remembered I was shocked when it was revealed.
I’m curious on how crunchroll works? I assume that one would watch anime on the computer – and sub only? I do prefer sub. I wonder if La Corda d’Oro will get released in the US.
Melinda Beasi saysApril 7, 2009 at 1:40 pm
I wonder if my assumption about it being revealed earlier in the manga is actually true. I haven’t read it, of course.
We actually have my husband’s computer hooked up to our TV, so we can watch everything on the big screen, but yes, it’s subbed!
I don’t know if the La Corda D’Oro anime has been licensed for DVD over here or not.
badzphoto saysApril 7, 2009 at 2:17 pm
“La Corda D’Oro anime has been licensed for DVD over here or not.”
I was a bit skeptical about this series since it was based on a game – but it turned out to be better than I expected.
Melinda Beasi saysApril 7, 2009 at 2:30 pm
Based on the first 13 episodes of the anime, I definitely agree.
Ysabet saysApril 7, 2009 at 3:06 pm
I’ve read ten volumes of the manga, but I don’t remember when that development happened—I read the series a bit out of order. >.> I’d be interested to see the anime if a chance comes up, though; the manga isn’t clicking all that well with me, but I think having the actual music could make a huge difference.
As for my emotional reactions to fiction, it varies quite a bit. If I get deeply invested in particular characters it doesn’t take much for me to respond strongly to their feelings or what happens to them, but I don’t know how often that investment happens. I think I’m wired to connect very strongly with a few characters/stories (although I don’t usually identify with them) rather than a wide variety of them, but it’s quite intense.
Michelle’s comment also hit a chord for me. Personally, I’m cynical in the sense that I believe lots of people do hide things about themselves, but trusting in that I tend to assume individuals are being honest with me. I don’t think I’ve had any occasions where I’ve discovered that someone’s (intentionally) misrepresented themselves to me to that extent, but I can imagine it. :/
Melinda Beasi saysApril 7, 2009 at 3:17 pm
I tend to identify very strongly and easily with many characters (I always tie that back to my years as an actor when that was my job), even if I’m only identifying with certain elements of their personality or experiences. Kahoko, for instance, I actually don’t identify with in most ways, but she is trusting in the same way I am, so this particular thing was able to really hit me where it hurt. There are a few characters I identify with so strongly it’s a bit overwhelming at times (Nana Komatsu, for example), but Kahoko isn’t one of them. Just on this one thing.
I think having the music probably does help, actually. And I get the feeling the pacing might be better in the anime.
Ysabet saysApril 7, 2009 at 4:12 pm
It makes sense that acting experience would make a big difference. I have a bit of training, but only enough to sort of look at a character analytically and see where I would dig in to build that kind of connection, if I were to do so. ^_^
Someone was asking me recently about characters I identified with, which is why that distinction came to mind. I wonder if it’s somehow odd that I really don’t instinctively connect with them in that way, given how deeply they can work their way into my heart. Although…I don’t really identify with people in general, so maybe it’s not surprising. I can empathize very strongly, but it seems like a different thing to me.
Melinda Beasi saysApril 7, 2009 at 4:47 pm
I don’t think it’s necessarily odd. And I think empathy is more useful in the world, honestly. :)
Grace saysApril 7, 2009 at 4:32 pm
I don’t get emotionally involved in fiction, so my reaction to plot twists is pretty much always “ooh, neat!”
As for the fear of betrayal, I don’t ever worry that someone is hiding a totally different personality from me, but I am paranoid about lying. That’s why I hate, hate, hate the social lying that people do (especially in fandom) to be “nice”, such as complimenting fic when it really sucks, etc. That just makes me not trust people when they give compliments.
Melinda Beasi saysApril 7, 2009 at 4:45 pm
Hee, I always think when I make posts like this, “I wonder if Grace is sitting at home rolling her eyes and sighing loudly at yet another emotionally motivated post about fiction from me.” :D
Ugh. Yes. Kind of. Heh. I can’t claim complete innocence, because I’ve been known to… not exactly lie, but avoid mentioning bad things about a fic if it’s, say, a gift fic or something where I feel like the only appropriate response is thanks. I wouldn’t make up good things, but I will gloss over the bad in a situation like that. But overall, I am disheartened by the false faces put on in fandom so much of the time.
Grace saysApril 7, 2009 at 5:12 pm
LOL I don’t roll my eyes. I find it really interesting how people’s minds work differently. (Although I was really pissed off in a similar discussion recently when someone asked me what was the point in reading fiction if I didn’t get emotionally involved, and why didn’t I just go do something else and stop wasting my time on something unenjoyable. Like uh…reading fiction is one of the most enjoyable activities ever to me. Just because I process it differently doesn’t make it less so. An interesting story is an interesting story!)
Melinda Beasi saysApril 7, 2009 at 8:48 pm
This is embarrassing to admit, because I’ve always prided myself on being able to understand things outside my own experience (or at least understand that I *couldn’t* understand and that is okay), but I was guilty of thinking that once. “How do you love fiction if you don’t get emotionally involved?” But then I just had to smack myself and remember NOT EVERYONE IS LIKE ME. Which should be pretty obvious to all people at all times, but it’s amazing how often we can manage to screw that up.
Grace saysApril 7, 2009 at 9:28 pm
Hee! Well, I don’t have a problem with wondering like that. I mean, I wonder how people can get so involved in something that’s not real! I wonder how emotional involvement affects how interesting a story is (because the story itself doesn’t change)! And I’m forever baffled by a lot of the ways most (?) people read fiction. And I wish I could get inside their heads to understand, because I really think it’s just one of those things you can’t ever understand, just like you can never truly understand how another person thinks.
But it was the way this person phrased it (as if I were somehow reading fiction to spite people or something) and the assumption that because I don’t get emotionally involved, I can’t enjoy it.
Melinda Beasi saysApril 7, 2009 at 9:55 pm
And I wish I could get inside their heads to understand, because I really think it’s just one of those things you can’t ever understand, just like you can never truly understand how another person thinks.
Yes, yes, yes! That’s exactly it. :)