Manga-ka: Fumi Yoshinaga
Rating: Older Teen (16+)
Released: March 2007
Synopsis: “Kugayama is a gifted music teacher, but a man with little ambition or desire. Born to a wealthy and prominent family, Kugayama passes his days simply going through the motions and existing. When ex-student, Azuma Tanaka, requests his help in studying for a prestigious music school’s entrance exam, his budding youth and enthusiasm invoke a passion in Kugayama that he has never experienced before.”
Kugayama is a talented music teacher from a well-off family, but his life lacks passion and he lives each day without much thought about it. Then one day everything changes when a previous student of his returns, asking for his help in preparing for a music school’s entrance exam. He finds the student’s enthusiasm refreshing and inspiring, but the feelings budding between the two cause more than a disruption for their lessons.
I found the characters in Solfege to be as believable and genuinely flawed as I’ve come to expect from Fumi Yoshinaga. This isn’t a fairytale romance but instead is a story of life-grounded interaction between student, teachers and friends that cross the line of platonic with all the strings attached, both good and bad.
Tanaka, the student, is honest, innocent and determined. With the story spanning several years, readers are able to watch him grow and mature. That was my favourite part of the book, seeing Tanaka mature not only in age but in his musical skill. And we not only watch Tanaka grow, but Kugayama as well, plus a small but surprisingly fleshed-out feeling set of secondary characters, such as an observant young girl from Kugayama’s music class.
I also loved how the musical aspect of this book always remained prevalent, flowing seamlessly as both backdrop and plot-device for the character-driven story. The characters share their passion not only for each other, but for the music they care so much about as both hobby and career.
Come the end, while I’d have to say that I didn’t find Solfege as strong as some of her other works, it’s none the less still a balanced and charming life story that’s driven by strong emotions and character correlation. It’s always refreshing having a story that doesn’t rely entirely on the boys’ love romance to a hold a reader’s interest, and instead builds the lives of this interesting cast of characters using it as a starting point over a lifeline. Solfege is a musical tale of love and passion and one that makes for a low-key and enjoyable read.
Review written September 8, 2008 by Lissa Pattillo.
Book purchased from vendor at Fan Expo 2008