This story revolves around 18-year-old Miyashita Yukino and her life as a former idol.
As a child, Yukino had always been fascinated with TV. And before she knew it, she wanted to be one of those idols behind the screen. At 15, she entered the entertainment industry and debuted as a member of the four-person group "She'sN." However the group wasn't very successful and they broke up shortly afterwards. Returning home in disgrace, Yukino was welcomed with people's curious looks and hurtful words.
Wanting to find herself, regain her pride, and perhaps experience love, Yukino decides to move back to Tokyo. There she meets a certain woman, former composer Iwai Setsuko. Together they embark on a very interesting and mysterious relationship.
It's always good to dream, to dream big and to follow your dreams; but those dreams don't always seem to work out as planned... Octave is a Mature, Yuri, Romance that clearly deals with such things as how innocent aspirations can bring forth such disdain, bitterness and unexpected joys.
Yukino Miyashita is the kind of person that felt the need for attention and to adored and it’s that mindset of hers that propelled her into the entertainment industry, as an Idol. There she thrived on the attention and admiration but as the saying goes; “what goes up must come down” and having returned back to earth,
from her quick flight into stardom; Yukino now lives a humble life but her dream to be beloved by someone is still there in the corner of her mind. So that’s how the journey began for Yukino and there are just a number of life’s journeys that Yukino will embark on during the duration of this manga, such as the life of a career woman and the hardships that come with loving another person so dearly. As you’ve probably guessed, this manga focuses on same sex relations; but unlike your typical yuri manga set in a predominantly female environment, where lesbianism is considered the norm, Octave is as real as it gets (well almost) but that can also takes away some of the enjoyment.
At least being able to see such a relationship bare fruit is enjoyable enough for any fan of the genre. It’s also more worthwhile since the 2 main characters are thoroughly developed and you’ll see how they struggle with their internal problems; like Yukino being such a self-conscious individual lacking self-confidence. Unfortunately not enough time and care is spent on other characters and they are used as mere tools for progressing the story and developing the main characters. But overall I consider the characters to be a strong aspect.
Even though the characters had a fair amount of depth, the artwork was quite the opposite. This manga had a very minimalistic look to its design and some may appreciate that, however this reviewer is all for: effort, detail, stylizing, etc. Yet none of those words corresponded with the art style found here. The art was still adequate in portraying what it needed to portray and is one of the better looking yuri manga I've come across, but it still felt somewhat lacking in my opinion.
In the end, what was found in Octave was a fairly realistic portrayal of a same-sex relationship, filled with hardships and insecurities. This manga deals with such issues in a profound and mature manner, never sugar-coating the issue but getting straight to the point. Sure I did find myself not enjoying some moments but life’s never guaranteed to be full of pleasantries and this manga clearly depicts that.
We want to be noticed. Some more than others. Whether it's desiring to be a national sensation or wishing that the girl at the laundromat would remember a shared handshake, that recognition does something. Keep that in mind during a reading of Octave.
Existing somewhere in the cracks of Tokyo's urban oblivion is Miyashita Yukino, a teenager who has dropped out of high school and works as an office assistant at a talent agency. There's probably nothing more that can cement you as a faceless nothing than having menial grunt work in a big, big city. But it stings
a lot more when there was a time you used to be somebody. For Yukino's past reminds her of that faint glow of somewhat-stardom. At sixteen she made a pop album with some other girls (basically one of those many girl-bands that Japan churns out and they matter for a year or two and then they're ground into obscurity). The band wasn't particularly successful and so they were dismantled. Having known what it's like to have everyone's attention and becoming an absolute nobody is enough to mess with anyone, far less an eighteen-year-old living on her own with a rather jaded world view. But loneliness, as Akiyama Haru sharply details in her work, can bring people together.
Despite lacking in visual impressiveness, Octave takes readers on a very real journey of palpable, recognisable emotions. In one of those "of all the laundromats in all of Tokyo" coincidences, Yukino happens to meet a woman who will change her life. It's not a stretch to say that she actually helps Yukino HAVE a life, one outside of the memory of past failures. Yukino meets a present and a future. This woman is Setsuko: older, rational and very cool. She sees in Yukino someone who wants just a bit of attention, and she gives it to her. What starts off as a one-night stand becomes a very hard lesson in life and love. Sometimes things just get fucked up -- there's no soft or pretty way to put that. But what matters is how much you're willing to pay some mind and put aside some pride in order to make things work. Octave might give you the lesson of a lifetime when it comes to relationships.
During the course of this manga, we follow Yukino's highs and very low lows over the next year and some. This is not about her rise out of the ashes or rise to back to stardom. Octave doesn't do that to us or Yukino. It's about making her realise that life is worthwhile even when all you can afford is a ramen dinner. That it's worth more to have one person love you than have a filled-out stadium of adoring fans. It's understanding that you need to take care of yourself. Octave is about self-acceptance just as much as it is about accepting others. Yukino's growth is slow, often infuriating. But when she's able to smile at the idea of tomorrow, that's when you know, with relief and even with pride, yes -- she's done it. She's grown up.
Yukino's development takes centre stage, but Setsuko's evolution from just the object of affection to an extremely strong, complex character deserves a spotlight. Setsuko starts off reliably as the "cool older woman" who seems to have everything together and knows what she wants. And in a way, yes, she is always that. But she's not just that. She can be wounded as much as anyone else.With very little to care about and certainly nobody to think twice about, Setsuko got by making music and just going through the days. That changes when she meets Yukino. She experiences everything she doesn't want to; worry, betrayal, fear and heartbreak. But in that same breath, she also experiences what it's like to turn to your side and see a smile meant only for you.
The rest of cast is made up of Setsuko's kind-hearted but strange twin brother, a quiet, nice chef, and women who are big parts of Yukino's past and present life. These characters do well for support, and give us more perspective into the leads and their personalities. They don't take up much of the story, but without them, there'd be no Octave as this series is entirely about human interaction. We're often lost in Yukino's thoughts, and it's important to observe that most of the story is told from her understanding of the world. It's absolutely biased and flawed. Men appear to be monstrous at times, but that's not commentary on them; it's more so a very telling piece of information about the way Yukino perceives them. Because there are good men as there are bad ones, and good women as there aren't as well. We occasionally get the point of view of other characters, and this supplements how much of this manga is a reflective presentation of Yukino's experiences.
While the melodrama might be enough to make you want to slap Yukino to her senses, it's nice to remind readers that this is an eighteen-year-old with very little knowledge of the world to draw on. She'll make terrible, stupid mistakes. But the ending beauty of this is watching her own up to these and ask for forgiveness and try to move on.
It's easy to wallow in misery. It's hell and a half to try to accept your life. And Yukino comes to know, through a lot of things, that she can only be happy through that acceptance. Now isn't that a grown-up thing to do?
Proof to me there’s nothing exciting in the Yuri genre. After all, Octave was just another drama with no merit what so ever. Sure it might be hailed for its realistic representation of a same sex relation, but does it make actually better? Author Haru Akiyama had dozen possibilities to venture the ground of Yuri at an interesting level, but instead she stubbornly decided to remain in the same circle of drama over and over again after each volume.
What I mean by having no merit is that the story itself doesn’t push itself any further when it should have. Simply put, Setsuko and Yukino
will often be in a fight for various reasons such as misunderstandings, jealousy, “do you love me or love me not?” or “let’s move together”. Quite so, nothing here is a situation that a normal couple wouldn’t have. Don’t get me wrong, I do admit that a same sex couple will have the same problems as any couple in the world, but my problem is how the manga actually deals with dilemmas directly related to lesbianism. The author did dare to venture carefully into some subjects such as what would the others think or the impossibility of having children. Yet, these problems are simply put aside to bring us another uninteresting and dull dramatic situation. After the last volume, it really shows how much nothing really happened in Octave other than awesome sex scenes. That is not surprising since the characters never had the chance to be well developed and never had the possibility to push the story into something enjoyable.
The characters of Octave lacked the depth that this manga actually needed. To put it in simple words, the couple of this manga were after all straighter than a fast lane. This shows a lot when almost everything in the manga relies on their relationship. Sure their relationship progressed in a realistic way, but there has to be something more than that. I admit that the author did develop the characters individually, but it was either rushed or completely uninteresting. After all, Yukino would be the most well developed character of the two since the manga is told from her perspective, which is to my eye the biggest problem that this manga had. Since she always hides from her problem and almost refuses any form of communication, Setsuko is still as mysterious as she was in the beginning. I am not against characters with a lack of confidence, but in this case it was more a burden than anything else. As for the side characters, let’s just say that they don’t really matter other than giving the story more chapters.
For having average characters, there is also an average artwork to support it. However, unlike the characters, there’s nothing wrong with the art since I actually think it’s the one reason that made this manga an easy read.
In the end, some may scratch their head and still wonder what the whole point of Octave is. Actually, it is nothing more than your typical SOAP, but even though, that is not a reason to ignore this manga after all. More precisely, the drama lovers will appreciate this manga since it is an easy read and it is relatively short. The male audience can also find a liking since there’s a lot of lesbian sex scenes. And as we all know, men totally approves of this.
As for me, let’s say I wasn’t the target audience.
I was searching for a manga to read, and then, after reading many "top 10 shoujo-ai manga" lists, I decided to start the manga "Octave".
A "raw" image of life.
The story focuses on Yukino, a former idol in the Japanese music industry. After the end of her musical career in a girl's band, who's success was short, she is 18, without the necessary education, as she dropped out of high-school to fulfill her dreams, trying to survive in Tokyo. She still has a job in the industry as an assistant, but her life is not that easy. Yukino has always been "against" -in a
way- men. She has always considered them manipulating beings whose's minds are only in sexual relationships. One day, while being at a laundry shop, she meets a girl -the owner's sister- and her life changes drastically. Suddenly, after having an intimate night with that girl, whose name is Setsuko, every part of her life takes a big turn. The manga talks deeply about so many things. It talks about success, about the industry and gives the audience a very realistic view of life. It shows that dreams don't always come true and that success is not guaranteed even if you really want it and try hard. It also talks deeply about sexuality, confusion, struggling in finding your true identity. The main character goes through so many different things and truly gives you a raw image of life. As a teenager, while one would believe life is easy and that this manga is exaggerating, I truly disagree. The problems the characters face are a part of life and reading this manga could easily make you be more realistic and down-to-earth without meaning that it makes you less optimistic and hopeful. I found the story very good. The development was more than enough. It covered many issues and as I have never really read anything like this before, I was truly amazed and impressed. It is a slice of life manga and shows the everyday difficulties one has to deal with. I remember there were few times when I skipped some pages just because I was tired of reading about her past in such detail, but in general, the story was quite interesting and anything but boring. There are a few sexual scenes but nothing too sexual. This is not a hentai in any way. As for the ending, I was very pleased with it. I wanted that to happen for a while and I am happy the author did it and presented it in such way.
I did not really like the artstyle. Its very simple and although simple doesn't always mean bad, this was not good. The characters didn't have the art I would have liked to see.
As I previously said, there is a lot of development. The main two characters get the most of course. The side-characters barely get any development to be honest. But that is not bad, as it wasn't really important or needed for the story. Yukino's character does evolve, but throughout the story I just couldn't get myself to like her. She was a bad character to me. She always made the same mistakes, she was not as loving as she should be, she was ashamed of who she was, although I personally believe you should be exactly who you are and if others don't like you, then just move on, and to put it in simple terms - she was a really antipathetic character. I would have never been able to be friends with a person like her. I constantly found myself face palming to her actions. Setsuko from the other side, was a great character. We see her character change as she becomes more and more loving and sensitive to the point where you truly admire her love for Yukino. She is a great musician, with perseverance. She is a very strong character, with flaws but always very nice and fun to be around. I really don't get how the two of them end up falling in love, but I guess this is also a true part of life, and shows that love is truly blind.
I really enjoyed this manga series. It was a different experience and made me reconsider many things in my life. It made me see more clearly that success isn't easy to reach and that sometimes the career you choose is not really what you are meant to do. So, while reading the manga, I was thinking and in-a-way taking a lesson in life.
Octave is a great manga. I am not just limiting it to just a great shoujo-ai manga, because what it offers is truly much more. Its not just a nice and realistic romantic story. It is, as I already said couple of times, a raw image of life. I highly recommend anyone to give it a try.
Story - 7/10
Art - 5/10
Character - 7/10
Enjoyment - 7/10
Overall - 7/10