Review by: Brenda Gregson
Publisher: CMX Manga
Author: Mai Nishikata
Genre: Graphic Novel (Shoujo)
MSRP: $9.99 US
Rating: T (Teen)
Release Date: Now available
Music can bring people together.
We’ve seen it all before in other manga, haven’t we? That gorgeous almost feminine guy who steals the heart of a diamond-in-the-rough girl or that tough guy who happens to fall for a really cute and dainty girl. These stories have been done to death but there is still talented manga-ka who take the concept and make it their own and this is exactly what Mai Nishikata does with Volume 1 of Venus Capriccio.
Venus Capriccio tells the story of a tomboy named Takami Habara who grew up with four older and very rowdy brothers and, as a result, is boyishly rough. She even shows up to a date wearing jeans, an athletic top and a ball cap … a fact that makes the guy who asked her out to dump her on the spot. It doesn’t take too long before she turns to her childhood friend – Akira Sasaki – for comfort. At 14-years old, three years older than Takami, Akira is a piano prodigy. On top of that he’s an absolutely gorgeous half-Japanese-half-Caucasian who seems far more wise despite his age.
He also seems to be interested in Takami in the romantic sense but, alas, Takami seems to think of him more like a little “sister” than anything else. Poor Akira, she doesn’t even acknowledge his gender, although the Akira is gorgeous in that softly feminine way seeing as Nishikata-sensei draws him with delicately to the point that we can see why Takami confused him for a girl when she met him so long ago. Yet girly frame aside, Akira – after he asked Takami to wear a dress and see him play at a club – literally sweeps her off her feet and announces that Takami is his fiancée just to get people to see how beautiful she is but instead it just freaks out the girl.
In another chapter, there’s a cute girl named Sayuki who has a major crush on Akira and wishes to play a duet that Akira and Takami’s piano teacher would like them to play at her wedding. Seeing Takami as a rival, however, Sayuki confronts the taller girl and asks her how she feels about Akira. The truth is, Sayuki has fallen for Akira ever since she caught sight of him playing the piano at the school. She is determined to win his heart but it becomes clear that Akira indeed is in love with Takami.
Meanwhile, in the next chapter, Takami’s school is holding its annual school festival and Takami witnesses Mori (the same guy that dumped her in the first chapter) dump a cute girl because she’s just not cute enough to help him win the Prince and Princess Contest. Surprisingly, the girl Mori dumped asks Takami to help her show Mori that she’s able to win the contest. The catch is that it is Takami is to play the role of the Prince. On the day of the festival, though, Mori manages to convince the same girl he dumped to become her Princess simply because he couldn’t find a replacement in time. As a result, Takami enters the contest with Akira playing the Princess role.
After the events of the Prince and Princess Contest, Akira rightfully becomes popular in Takami’s school. Soon, Akira has even more female admirers, many of which find it unfair that he spends way too much time with Takami … a girl who isn’t even his girlfriend. Things get ugly when two fans try to sneak behind Akira and clip a lock of his hair … an act that angers Takami.
In the final chapter, Akira and Takami double date with Takami’s best friend and her boyfriend at an amusement park. Takami comes to realize that Akira has never been to an amusement park before and tries to make the visit memorable but things just keep getting in the way. She also comes to realize a few things about her friend as she also comes to find that Akira was more interested in spending the day with her.
Volume 1 of Venus Capriccio is actually an entertaining shoujo manga that might feel familiar but thanks to its characters and fun story it does stand out among similar titles. I’m a sucker for shoujo with a rough tomboy character who is too stubborn to realize that love is staring her straight in the face and Mai Nishikata handles it fabulously. It’s a fun story that’s worth a glance.
MANGA REVIEW BREAKDOWN
Takami Habara and Akira Sasaki have been childhood friends since they were both students at Aoyama Piano School and while the tomboyish Takami has always seen the beautiful and talented Akira as a little sister (despite the fact Akira is a boy), the half-Japanese piano prodigy has fallen in love with the rough girl.
Nishikata-sensei’s art isn’t particularly original but it is still quite lovely … especially when she’s drawing Akira who is definitely the most visually striking character in this series.
A fun shoujo manga with interesting characters and even more interesting possibilities, the first volume of Venus Capriccio is actually a very promising series with a lot of heart. The playful storytelling style and the cute characters trying to make sense of their changing relationship towards each another makes this a fun read. That’s not bad for Nishikata-sensei’s first series.