Every few years, the prestigious Seiso Academy holds a prominent musical competition, and only the very best students at the Academy are allowed to participate. Though all are eligible to apply, only students from the music department actually make it to the competition...until now.
First of all, I would like to clarify that I am an avid fan of romance, to the point that I have become quite strict with romantic works (especially the shoujo ones), since I have read so many. That being said, I can still find them enjoyable and easy to read even if there are flaws. That is more or less the case with Kiniro no Corda (La Corda d'Oro); I enjoyed the ride, but cannot honestly say it was really good. I would say my biggest problem of all was that the start gave me a ton of expectations that unfortunately… were not favorably
Up until the ending, I am not sure if there was a definite plot, other than the really vague theme that was used at the start of the series, “share the joy of music”, which honestly does not hold much throughout the story, since the focus jumps around and is not handled properly. The start is promising with an arc that seems to be going somewhere. The main character, who is inept at music, is “forced” to compete with the violin against actual musical prodigies. The reason is, as said, to promote music to people that did not care much before, which is as vague as it sounds and we do not get to know anything else about it. Nonetheless, it is interesting to see her hurdles entering an unknown world and it seems like it is going somewhere, but it kind of is not in the end. The pacing is very abrupt at many times, changing locations from one chapter to another out of the blue, not expanding some stories that should have more attention or putting some events that should have been in the main story as extra chapters and overall, something feels like it is missing every time something happens leading to no real ending to anything.
The romance part is also mediocre. It has the foundation of a harem, but it does not work that way much. I did not expect great development, but I did expect some done in the right way and this feels sloppily executed; just romance for the sake of romance. Some blushing faces here, some cute moments there, but that is all there is to it. There are moments that something more than cutesy stuff happens, but again it is left up in the air most of the time. Despite that problem, the feeling throughout is not bad and at least it gives room for imagination to do its magic, as well as the fact that there no bad cliché tropes.
As for the characters, I find them all likable, which makes it even worse since some of them haven’t gotten proper attention. Everyone is basically a different stereotype (cold and cool, good on the outside and bad on the inside, energetic and innocent, etc.) and has a different background and different worries and even though there is plenty of time when the focus is on them (not all of them; some never get any real screentime), there are many more things that I would like the story to have explored in a straighter manner, but instead, we get more cutesy/heart throbbing panels. The main character, Kahoko, has of course the most attention out of everyone and her development is not really bad, it is just that the manga cannot decide what to do with her sometimes and she changes attitudes pretty fast and it feels superficial, only to create a dramatic feeling. Their general development was not much and when there was some, the reader is more of a faraway bystander seeing the results with hints along the way, rather than really getting into their problems. One could be satisfied with that, since it is not terribly bad, but it could have been so much better.
The art is beautiful, it was certainly one of the things that made the reading even easier since every character was pleasing to the eye and there was a good amount of detail in the musical instruments, clothes, their faces and reactions, etc. The characters are distinct and the backgrounds are pretty generic most of the time without any wow pieces, but nothing feels off.
All in all, I believe it needed more attention to its various stories/characters and more concluding endings. I guess it seems like it tried to show certain situations and reactions without giving proper consideration to their surroundings, so the outcome leaves a lot to be desired. I cannot say that I generally did not enjoy it, though and I think that if I played a classical musical instrument I would maybe enjoy it even more. It definitely has worth as a light read; the chapters go by really fast, because even if the manga lacks the right recipe for a great story, the ingredients make a decent job on their own.
This can only be described as a beautiful manga, the art was drawn so well, you could see each character grow as well. Personally this manga just made me really happy while reading it, the author put so much passion into the story and it's made me want to headphones on listen to classical music (something I very rarely do) close my eyes and just feel the music.
There are very few manga series I've read to completion. And this one kind of took me by surprise. I picked up the first three at a convention about a year ago, mostly because the booth was having some kind of sale, not because the story sounded like something I just had to read. But after just two volumes, I found myself sucked in, already quite attached to the characters and the story's potential. I'll admit it. I'm a bit of a sucker for the kind of stories that center around the characters being really passionate about whatever their craft is. I mostly find that
kind of plotline in the sports genre, but in this case, the craft is music.
Although La Corda d'Oro does fit the bill of a reverse harem, the love story really takes a back seat, which scored it a lot of points with me. (Not really being a fan of romance.) They really kept the focus on music, and used that to develop each of the characters. In general, I find harem stories to be the most believable when the characters aren't all immediately falling over themselves for the main protagonist. The romance has to be believable, and it can be hard to really develop the dynamic between the protagonist and each potential lover. Which is why I prefer stories like this one, where it's clear that they don't ALL fall in love with her. She has a definite connection with each competitor, and the author did a good job of developing them that way. I just wouldn't call it LOVE for all of them. We really get to learn about the other competitors based on what their music means to them and the different reasons why they each put so much time and effort into their instruments. Even once the love story really has become the focus, there's still a huge emphasis on the music. ...Which I guess is kind of how it has to be, given who our heroine ends up with.
Like I said, the story is a little sappy overall, but if you like that sort of thing, you'll probably enjoy this, as I did.