Anonymous Noise Volumes 8 and 9 by Ryoko Fukuyama
Oh, Anonymous Noise! It is a series I often find frustrating, because I love the stylish covers, dynamic paneling, and idea of high school kids working hard to find their way in the music industry, yet I do not enjoy the dynamic of the central love triangle where Nino with the extraordinary yet erratic singing voice gets tossed between two tortured musicians like a long-haired, face-masked hot potato. I do fully expect that my occasional feelings of ennui with this manga is due to my having read maybe too much (is it possible!?) shoujo manga, and if I was much younger I would be following this series with unquestioning devotion.
That being said, these two volumes focused a little bit more on musicianship than romance, so I found myself able to relax much more and enjoy the story. Volume 8 opens with Nino and Yuzu being assigned to wrangle the music for the debut of some fashion models turned singers. As always in shoujo manga, fashion models are the worst. Their new clients are petulant and very picky about their debut song. This only makes Nino and Yuzu want to try harder to write an awesome song! There are plenty of angsty plot developments with the extended cast as well, as Momo deals with a life crisis and Miou continues to try to get over Yuzu. Nino stretches her abilities as a lyricist by trying to fit the song to the voice of the singer, and everyone is ready for their next adventure, a tour!
I have to admit, I wish some of the side jokes in Anonymous Noise were expanded a little bit. The mini-tour is an excuse to showcase Nino’s enduring obsessions with local foods. Silent Black Kitty gets back together again as Momo devotes himself to his music, and I’m sure the result will be yet another battle of the bands in an emotional confrontation. Nino struggles with consistency for her live performance. One thing I do like about the way music is portrayed in this manga is that it is rarely effortless. There’s a lot that comes together for someone to become a successful performer, and even though Nino’s talent is recognized, she still clearly has a long way to go before she’s a true professional. One of the ways em>Anonymous Noise is so successful at this episodic format is that each volume tends to end with a dramatic revelation or new crisis point, which happens in volume 9 when Yuzu is having issues with performance. Nino’s determined to come up with a solution to protect his dream, and everyone’s devotion to music helps offset the tortured romance. The story is propelled forward and this makes it a compelling read, even if some of the character dynamics in the manga aren’t as interesting.