Reviewby Rebecca Silverman,
La Corda d'Oro
The competition in which Ryotaro and and Kahoko are competing is coming up, and both are practicing like mad to prepare. Len has been helping Kahoko prepare, and the close proximity with the other violinist has made him come to some conclusions that surprise and flummox him. Ryotaro knows what's going on, but isn't sure he wants to give his rival love advice. Meanwhile Kazuki and Azuma make their post-graduation preparations – will love factor in?
La Corda d'Oro has taken an unusual step for the reverse harem genre – rather than have the heroine surrounded by beautiful guys who have, with one exception, friendly feelings for her, Yuki Kure's adaptation of the otome game of the same title has the heroine surrounded by beautiful guys who are, for the most part, in love with her. While it has elements of the ridiculous – remember that scene from the second volume of Oresama Teacher where Mafuyu is reading a shoujo manga with seven guys simultaneously confessing? - it also provides a bit of distinction from other genre titles, and the interactions of the four males in question keeps things from degenerating into total lunacy.
Very little time passes in this volume, another deviation from Kure's norm, as Kahoko and Ryotaro prepare for a competition that is only just beginning as the volume ends. There is also very little time devoted to playing instruments or discussing music this time around, with the emotional content taking the foreground. Len has been helping Kahoko prepare for the competition, and she has taken this as a sign of increased friendliness on his part. As a result she treats him much as she does Kazuki or Ryotaro – by simply hanging out with him when the two are thrown together. For Len's part, he cannot quite understand why he doesn't mind this, and while his revelation on the subject inspires more of a “well, it's about time” reaction from the reader than any surprise, it is still well handled and by far the least of his problems. When the ice man thaweth, whole new issues arise for him, the largest of which is simply what to do. Len may be a virtuoso in music, but in humanity he is barely at a beginner's level, something that continually frustrates the much more perceptive Ryotaro.
We actually see much more of Len's and Ryotaro's inner thoughts this time around than Kahoko's, with both boys trying to come to terms with the emotional issues at stake. Len is more concerned with himself, but Ryotaro's primary concern is for Kahoko, highlighting the fundamental differences between these two potential prince charmings. Ryotaro's maturity, however, is in stark contrast to that of Azuma, whose wilier nature masks itself as sophistication. While Azuma stops short of a full-out confession or admission, readers will still find confirmation of what they have suspected as the number of Kahoko's suitors is definitively set. This volume firmly cements the story's romance properties and makes it clear what track the series' final few volumes will take.
This book also contains two side stories, the first coming before the main one in a nice mix-up of the usual format. This story focuses on Keiichi's family, specifically the sister who enjoys dressing him up, and marks his one real appearance in the volume. It is a fun little piece and allows a pleasant glimpse into an oft-neglected character's family life. The book ends with a brief manga adaptation of the La Corda d'Oro 3 game, the latest in the franchise. It is a totally separate story set eight years after the present plot and features country-bred violinist Kanade transferring to Seiso with her childhood friend Kyoya. Kyoya's brother is the captain of the orchestra club and the group, along with the usual assortment of attractive companions, live in the school's Linden dormitory. Kure is currently working on a longer version of this series, so presumably this is intended as a teaser. Kanade falls into the cute-but-clumsy mold and as such is a bit less appealing than Kahoko. However, given that the main story is more enjoyable than the average game adaptation, it seems possible that this, too, could have potential.
As La Corda moves towards its end, it manages to keep us reading and enjoying the ride. The focus on romance is exciting in a different way than the earlier music competition-focused plot, and Kure throws in just enough differences to make it feel like more than a recycling of other reverse harem tales. With an end firmly in sight, it seems safe to say that this one will be a pleasant experience up to its finish, and this volume is no exception to that rule.
Overall : B
Story : B
Art : B
+ Some nice changes from the average reverse harem tale, Len and Ryotaro compliment each other nicely. Keiichi side story is fun.
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