Love and devotion to your craft
can be the most fulfilling pastime.
It’s shoujo week on Otaku Haiku! Well, truth be told, it’s always shoujo week, because I love the genre dearly. But I’m pleased as punch that I finally got the chance to finish a series that I began back in May of last year, and it turned out to be an excellent anime at that.
La Corda d’Oro: Primo Passo begins with a brief backstory about a musical fairy and a man who was inspired by it to open a school that honors music. Flash forward to modern times and Seiso Academy, which has a general studies course for regular students, but its pride and joy is the music department. Music students study, well, music, and wear special uniforms, and are considered the elite at Seiso Academy. One day a general studies student named Kahoko Hino is running late, and on her way to class she sees a living, breathing fairy, in fact the very same musical fairy who is immortalized as a statue in front of the school. The fairy, whose name is Lili, is delighted that a human can see it, and as a result the school bells ring, signaling that a new musical competition will soon begin.
A handful of very skilled students from the music department are chosen to participate, as well as Kahoko. Kahoko is understandably puzzled because she’s never played a musical instrument in her life. However, Lili gives her a magical violin that only she can play. Her hands will move as if by magic whenever she decides to perform; however, she has to have heard the song first so that the violin can play the melody that’s in her heart. Through the magical violin Kahoko is introduced to the world of classical music, and she discovers more about herself as she goes from reluctant participant to earnest music lover.
I loved watching this series. Since all but two of the competition participants are male and each forms a special bond with Kahoko, this anime is definitely classified as a reverse harem. Yet even though I find reverse harems completely delicious, what I really enjoyed was Kahoko’s growing love for music. Indeed, this series is, more than anything, a love story between a girl and her violin. All of the main drama revolves around her feelings of guilt at not being able to actually play the violin, and the guys are just eye candy in the background. That’s not to say that each of them isn’t a fully developed character. On the contrary, we see portraits of each participant’s life and how both music and Kahoko affect them. However, if you’re looking for romance, this shoujo is light on reverse harem love. Music is really what ties this entire series together, and as a music lover, I was utterly enchanted by that aspect.
The art isn’t vastly different from any other anime (though all of the main characters have interesting shades of hair colour) but the music, both in the storyline and what is actually heard in each episode, is what makes this series special. As soon as I read that this was a show about a girl who receives a magical violin from a fairy, I knew that I had to see this anime. I wasn’t surprised to discover that both it and the manga originated from a role-playing game. There’s not a lot to Kahoko other than her growing love of music, hence it’s easy to see how she would make an ideal video game protagonist. However, that combined with the typical (but still highly enjoyable) reverse harem cast of guys made it work as an anime.
Overall, I think that this would be an excellent series for anyone who loves classical music, especially for younger anime fans (there’s zero fan service, which is a bonus). There is romance, but as I stated before, the real story is a deepening love of music and learning to dedicate yourself to something that you’re passionate about. Though Kahoko seems a bit musically regressed to anyone who has ever listened to any classical music, she makes a good character to follow on her journey. This would especially be a wonderful show for anyone who has ever thought about taking up a musical instrument. There are two episodes that comprise a sequel series called La Corda d’Oro: Secondo Passo, which I have yet to see, but apparently it ends on a cliffhanger, as it was produced to drive up interest in the video game. While I can see it working on that level, and I do enjoy video games, I’m even more tempted to try my own hand at playing my favourite instrument, the violin. Watching these characters perform and deriving such joy from it makes me think that perhaps I’m not too old to give it a go for myself, and that’s the real magic of La Corda d’Oro.