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
This one is still playing the right keys.
I love musical themed shoujo manga and read my share of them to the point that some feels very similar in tone but Venus Capriccio – so far – doesn’t fall under the familiar and predictable patterns right away and the characters are actually entertaining. In the first volume, we got to meet the Akira Sasaki and Takami Habara but in Volume 2 we get a closer look at the beautiful and talented Akira who has been something of a mystery.
In the first chapter of this second volume, Takami learns that Club Blue, the very establishment that Akira invited her to see him play during the late hours, is temporarily hiring. Seeing this as a chance to earn some money, Takami decides to take the job. The problem is that Akira is against the idea of her working at a place that is a café by day and a nightclub/bar at night. Of course, Akira’s protests fall on deaf ears since Takami is a very stubborn girl.
To her annoyance, Akira starts working at Club Blue as a waiter as well as play the piano. Takami thinks that he’s there because she knows she’ll screw up orders and break dishes but, to Akira, the place can become a bit rowdy after hours and two drunken customers prove this one late night. While Takami has grown up with a household filled with older brothers and grew up boyishly tough, she’s still a girl and Akira – while wanting to protect her – also wants her to realize this point.
At the Aoyama Piano School, their old piano teacher is retiring to focus on becoming a stay-at-home mom so as a result a new teacher has been hired. As it turns out, though, Akira knows who the tall and handsome new teacher is and judging by his reaction this isn’t a pleasant reunion for the boy. It’s clear that Akira doesn’t like Shinobu Oda and there’s a very interesting reason for that but I won’t go into it. What I will say is that we learn something about Akira as a result. Oda-sensei is actually a very likeable person as Takami finds out and – to Akira’s further annoyance – the teacher begins to playfully flirt with Takami.
Meanwhile, Akira tries to avoid his old teacher as much as possible but Oda-sensei wants to hear how the young man improved over the years. Goading him into a friendly little competition when Shinobu Oda discovers Takami’s favorite song, Akira attempts the song only to make it sound angry to Takami’s ears. Compared to their teacher, Akira has talent but he definitely has a long way before becoming a truly brilliant musician.
In the last two chapters, Oda-sensei and the school’s founder asks Takami to compete in the annual piano competition that’s coming up. He wants Akira to participate as well despite the fact that the younger boy hasn’t been in one in a long time. With Takami agreeing to compete, though, Akira begins to reconsider but there’s just something not right. As Akira begins to act a bit strangely, Takami gets to the heart of the matter by looking back at a memory of a competition they both participated in when they were younger.
It turns out that Akira doesn’t have very happy memories of piano competitions despite a number of First Place trophies. As Takami attempts to understand her friend further, Oda-sensei reveals an interesting tidbit about Akira’s family. Yet during the competition it becomes clear to Akira that there’s a reason he loves playing the piano now and that reason is the one that makes him want to compete for a very different reason now.
Volume 2 of Venus Capriccio continues on the right path of being entertaining and fun to read without being too formulaic but whether or not the series will change notes to spice things up remains to be seen. As we learn more about the characters, they’re becoming more likeable to the point that you’ll actually care about them. Still, the story remains to be interesting enough to look forward to the next volume in this series.
MANGA REVIEW BREAKDOWN
To Takami, Akira seems to become more overprotective of her and more so now that she gets a part-time job working at the café/nightclub where he plays the piano. Then a person from Akira’s past becomes the new piano teacher for him and Takami and it doesn’t sit well with Akira as the pair enter a music contest.
The art is still quite good although not quite original either but – as Nishikata-sensei mentions – it’s becoming easier for her to draw Akira and it shows because he’s looking better and better.
We get to see a new side of Akira in Volume 2 of Venus Capriccio as the talented young piano teacher he despises comes back into his life as his and Takami’s new teacher. We learn a bit more about Akira but just enough to keep the rest of him a mystery and that’s Ok with us. Venus Capriccio is still a fun read as we continue to warm up to the characters. How this romance will turn out is something we look forward to in the next volume.