Review

by Rebecca Silverman,

Whisper Me a Love Song

GN 4

Synopsis:
Whisper Me a Love Song GN 4
Yori and Himari are officially a couple, and while not everyone's handling that perfectly, the two are really very happy. There's some concern that Yori won't be as involved in the band now that she's got a girlfriend, but that's quickly disproven – only for another problem to rear its head. Shiho, the singer Yori replaced, is back, and she's now part of a different band. She's determined to prove that she's better than SSGirls in every possible way, and that puts Himari and Aki in a position that's awkward in all sorts of ways.
Review:

Whisper Me a Love Song did not, technically speaking, need to continue past volume three. That book nicely wrapped up Yori and Himari's awkward relationship with them getting together and being delighted about it, and things could easily have ridden off into the sunset with readers left to imagine a happily-ever-after for the two girls. But there are more volumes, starting with this fourth, and as it turns out, there's plenty more story to tell. Because as we all know, “happily ever after” is just a phrase and real happiness takes work.

That work ends up being figuring out what it means to be “dating” and how that changes their previous relationship. Both Himari and Yori are blissfully happy to have secured the affections of the girl they love, but neither of them is quite sure what it means for them specifically. Both notice that they're pretty much just doing the same things now that they were before they were going out, and while Himari's mostly okay with that, Yori has the feeling that maybe things are supposed to be different – and that she could lose Himari if they don't make a change. But neither girl has ever been in a relationship before, and so Yori doesn't have many options (she thinks) for where to look for ideas about upping the romance content of their relationship. This leads to one of the more spot-on moments of the book, when Yori heads to the internet to see if she can come up with a plan – and then doesn't know if she's supposed to be looking at advice for guys dating girls or girls dating guys. She and Himari are both girls, and there's no information about that. Her attempt to turn to yuri manga doesn't fare much better: she stumbles upon a Class S series, which is about as far removed from reality as you can get.

Whether or not creator Eku Takeshima is intending to make a statement about the paucity of information for non-heteronormative relationships or not, that's precisely what this section does. The norms are so heavily skewed towards male/female relationships that there's virtually nothing for Yori to find that dispenses real-world advice, and the fact that the yuri manga she finds is of the Class S subgenre feels like a sly nod to the fact that even stories purportedly about two girls dating are geared towards an idealized portrayal of women as somehow instinctively “pure” and “innocent.” Heaven forbid Yori was looking for sex advice or information; the dearth of plain old lesbian dating facts indicates that anything more “adult” would be even harder to find – at least, in the sense that it's realistic and not catering to an audience more inclined to fantasy. (Is Sex Ed 120% published in Whisper Me a Love Song's world? That's about the only place outside of Oni Press' Quick and Easy Guide series I've encountered that takes on fetish vs reality.) Yori and Himari might as well be charting entirely new territory, and that just serves to make Yori more concerned and confused.

Not that Himari's much better, but she also has fewer expectations, and it's only when a movie date that she's treating as a Date but Yori isn't goes down that she gets worried. There are major growing pains for both girls, and the lack of anything to base their relationship on makes it both scary and full of possibilities for them. But there's a bigger issue looming on the horizon that could have different, but no less serious repercussions for them, and it relates to how they even got together in the first place: the band, SSGirls, that Yori became the singer for. We knew she was replacing someone else who quit abruptly, but that was about it; now in this volume, we actually meet the girl in question, and wow, is she ever going to be a problem.

Shiho is one of the most instantly unlikeable characters of the series, and possibly in recent memory if you're feeling hyperbolic. She comes flying back into the plot like a missile, showing up in an audition for one of the very few slots to perform at the school festival. Naturally SSGirls is willing to try, but Shiho is the ultimate confidence underminer – something that she's very, very deliberately doing. Why this should be isn't fully clear yet, but looking at the way that she stormed out of the band and the all-star lineup she's assembled for her new one, it's not hard to guess that Shiho feels the pressing need to be the absolute best in the room at all times – and that she needs everyone to acknowledge her superiority. She wanted SSGirls to fall apart when she left, because that would have proved her right in her decision while also promoting the self-aggrandizing idea that she was in fact the best thing about it. That it didn't collapse and in fact is doing quite well with Yori as the singer is like poison ivy on the skin; it an itch that Shiho can't help but scratch. Unlike with a rash, however, Shiho is scratching at the other people in an attempt to scare them off or at least make them fail.

It is entirely possible that Shiho has a good reason for being this way. It's also looking an awful lot like she may have a crush on Aki and resents her for being just fine without her, to say nothing of jealous that Aki and Himari like Yori. But none of that excuses her behavior towards, well, everyone, and it's easy to see how Shiho was friendless and alone until Aki took pity on her, something that Shiho almost certainly isn't happy remembering. Right now she's more of a threat to the band than to our main couple, but since Himari initially fell for Yori's singing, that may be enough to push Yori deeper into insecurity. Love and music are very much intertwined in at least the characters' heads, and Shiho stands to do a lot of damage.

So maybe the series didn't need to keep going after volume three's happy finale. But this book introduces a new storyline that's just as compelling in a different way, and that makes me think that it's a good thing that we get to follow the characters a bit longer.

Grade:
Overall : B+
Story : B+
Art : B+

+ Friends are supportive of Himari and Yori, they're still a very sweet couple. New storyline has promise.
Shiho is unlikeable even for a villain, a bit more meandering than the first three volumes.

discuss this in the forum (1 post) |
bookmark/share with: short url
Add this manga to
Production Info:
Story & Art: Eku Takeshima

Full encyclopedia details about
Whisper Me a Love Song (manga)

Review homepage / archives