AI no UTA ni NARITAI (To Be a Love Song)
MAHARA Itsumi (麻原いつみ)
Description: 16-year-old Hako has loved music for as long as she can remember. Now, she’s a songwriter and keyboardist, and she’s planning on becoming a professional musician with her best friend at her all-girls high school. One day, while practicing one of her songs at a piano store, which got Ren’s attention. Ren promptly decides that she is the element his band has been missing, and he must acquire her at all costs. How far will Ren and Hako’s ambition and dedication to music be able to carry them? (From Baka-updates)
Story: There were two core parts in this story. The first three volumes focusing on Hako and band trying to win the competition. The second part when Ren’s father stepped in, and the band trying hard to overcome any barrier in order to meet his father’s conditions….
1. Introducing Hako to the band
After hearing her music, Ren wanted Hako to join his band. Not wanting to upset her best friend however, Hako refused to join. But Ren was undeterred; he would do anything just to get Hako to say a “yes”, even if it meant jumping off the bridge on a motorbike….
Hako was rehearsing some last minute changes at school, just few hours ahead of the competition. To beat the road traffic, Hako ran back to the venue in the snow. Ren was touched by her efforts and commitments. He took her hands in his and warm them up for her, before playing their new song on stage for the first time….
3. How a guy protects a girl ….
Hako ran into trouble – the “villain” (who was actually a competitor in an upcoming music tournament) threatened to harm her right hand. Hako’s team mate stepped in to help, with a broken glass, cut his own right hand in exchange for her safety….
4. Hako was in trouble again….
This time, the girlfriends of the competitors tried to stop Hako playing on stage by kidnapping her. Though Hako managed to escape from the car, she ran into an accident and broke her left hand fingers. Would she be able to play in the competition, in just a few hours time? (cry out loud, of course not!)…. What would the team do without the pianist?
playing together but on one hand each,
singing their Song of Love, on stage,
like they did before.
5. Father and the villain…. (Just why? Why were the parents the villains and badies all the time? (ehem, in shoujo world that is….) Anyway….
After winning the national music tournament, Hako and band was invited to sign a contract with a famous record company. It turned out to be a trap set by Ren’s rich father, who wanted to stop his son from “being exposed in public like a commercial crown” any further. In the father’s eyes, a music career in the entertainment industry would only bring “shame and humiliations” to the family. Later on, Ren has even been confined at home, or could not go anywhere else without those body guards.
Ren was missing his music, his band (and Hako of course)…. and vice versa. With a little bit of help from Ren’s little brother, Hako and band decided to rescue their “princess Ren”. But first off, they needed to get into the “dragon’s den” and let their “princess” know that they would be there waiting for his return. One day, Hako involved herself in a fake bike accident, so to get into Ren’s car and be with him…
It was a wake-up call for Ren after seeing Hako. He knew he must do something for himself and if he was to return to his music ever again. It was clear to Ren that, there was only one way of dealing with the situation, especially for his father who has neither paid attention, nor would he ever listen to his wishes… So, Ren took the gun and slowly walked to the home office where his father was..
Ren never intend to kill with the gun. But his father’s coldness towards his action has angered him. He got his father’s attention when he made the first shot. But when his father coldly replied, Ren then pointed the gun at his head, released the trigger and fired. It was an empty bullet… and Ren triggered again…..
Eventually, it was Ren’s little brother who came to rescue (well done boy! you managed to rush in to the room exactly right in the last minute! Ha!) and begged the father to let Ren go….
At last, the old man semi-gave in; Ren could return to the music industry and be free from all family duties, but on one condition. Within one year, Ren and band must release an album and top the charts nationwide. This would prove to be a tough challenge for them. Despite of them winning an earlier competition, the band has become a disposable in the industry, especially as their contract for a record deal has already been sabotaged. They must start from bottom and re-build their fan base again. But without a manager (let alone a record deal) and any financial support, how would Hako, Ren and band manage to stay alive in the industry, as well as topping the chart within just one year?
I read this series in 2 separate occasions. One when I was so tired that I fell asleep half way through reading it, the other I fell asleep half way through it because I was ill….. I did manage to finish reading the series at the end, but in an “on and off” way.
So I am afraid my review on AI no UTA ni NARITAI is going to be quite biased, base on my scattered impression of it ^^: To make up for it, I have tried to put a bit more details and images in the story descriptions above. Anyway…..
I picked this series, originally because:
1. I was lured in by its fancy book cover (a handsome blond hair dude on top of our heroine… and was he about to kiss the girl??????? 😄).
2. I was obviously sucked in by its theme, i.e. a mixture of music and romance – remember Kaikan Phase? and Fuyumi Soryo’s THREE.…..
3. It was chosen by the editors and readers in Japan as one of the best shoujo under the music genre. (*based on the Editors Preview(?) 編集会議, April 2003… note the question mark).
But I have to confess, this story somewhat fell short of my expectations.
Albeit the manga’s music/romance mix, the series did not woo me as much as Highteen Boogie did. The story ended just as the winner of the chart was about to be announced. It did not bother me so much without knowing it for sure if the band has won the chart or not (It was pretty obvious anyway, wasn’t it ^^)
But, I was disappointed by the ending.
By ending the story this way, i.e. just as they have reached one (and perhaps the first of many) milestone, it was as if they were saying, “yup, done that been there, did our best, and we beat Ren’s daddy’s unreasonable conditions. So now, Ren could continue with his own life.” …. and? what’s next? would the band continue with their music? What would Ren do? What would happen to Ren and Hako? Would their music career affect their relationship? (if they were going to continue a music career that is!)…. and of course, since it’s not so “black and white” in the entertainment business, would the band manage to survive, or would there be any changes in their music/ career??????? Too many questions unanswered, and I was disappointed that the story was ended so early.
Also, the other characters did not really show up – I was hoping to see more of other band mates…. what were their characters really like? They could have their own stories to tell, right? (I can’t even remember their names now..)
I cannot conceal my disappointment re. the ending. I suppose the story could have been continued in a second series and so forth (I don’t think there is a second part to the series… but please do enlight as I could be wrong).
Having said those, some parts of the story were still remarkable (especially seeing how determined Ren could be, and he was not afraid to throw a few death threats on others and himself! Yes, he was still a teenage and not afraid to die! )
Though the romance between Hako and Ren was not anything spectacular, it was sweet seeing the two kindled up together, or when Ren displayed his support and comforting Haka…. It was a very sweet romance for two sweet teens, even though it lacked passion and sparkles in someway…….
I have no desire to read the series for the third time again, though I wish I have had appreciated this manga a lot more for what it probably deserves. From what I read in some (Japanese) websites, it has received many positive reviews (and probably explains why this series has been chosen by the editors and readers as one of the “best” shoujos).
Motto of the story: Never pick a potentially good manga series for the first time when ill….