Morimura Yuuki, concertmaster at Fujimi Citizens Orchestra, loves music and his small, amateurish, but tight-knit group at Fujimi. His world is shaken up when a brilliant, new conductor, Tounoin Kei, is recruited to breathe life into their music and orchestra. Yuuki feels Tounoin's high demands will do nothing but chase away the members, but when he draws more from them than they ever thought possible, Yuuki reconsiders his own motives for staying at Fujimi. Obviously, the newcomer Tounoin understands Fujimi more than Yuuki ever did and even has the girl that Yuuki's been in love with for the past three years, at his feet. Nursing a wounded pride Yuuki wants to resign from Fujimi, but Tounoin has other ideas...
Ch. 1-3) Cold Front Conductor [ 寒冷前線コンダクター], Vols. 1-3
Ch. 4-5) Do You Like the Concert?, Vols. 1-2
Based on the novel series by Kou Akizuki and illustrated by Sei Gotoh, in honor of the 10-year anniversary of the original novel.
I hate yaoi! No, that's a lie. I really like that I can read manga about cute boys in love on a regular basis. What I really don't like is how the concept is usually executed. Is it too much to want to read about gay men that actually act like gay men? Or at least like normal, logical human beings? Apparently so, or at least Fujimi Orchestra certainly gives that impression.
As you can guess, this is a manga about an orchestra. What you may not expect, however, is that it's not a polished professional orchestra but a group of musicians that aren't experts but
really enjoy playing. As an amateur actress myself, I really like and can relate to this setting, and I know that a lot of neat things -- almost anything, really -- can happen to a group of artists. Throw in Kei, the orchestra's new conductor who wants to improve the orchestra with his strict methods as well as start a relationship with Yuuki (the best musician) and the plot becomes one with tons of potential.
However, somewhere along the line, someone (either the mangaka or the author of the original novels) decided that a one-volume romance title should also include lots of music-related plot. Inherently, this isn't a bad thing, since music really plays into these characters' lives, but in execution there's way too much happening: Yuuki dislikes Kei's conducting style and personality, but Kei likes him and drama ensues with the orchestra, related to music and a love triangle with a woman and the hook up and have issues with music and issues with each other and they hate each other except they love each other and they still need to make the orchestra sound decent! The plot is just full of various events, and yet nothing really stands out as different from any other yaoi title. As a matter of fact, there's absolutely nothing happening that would make the reader want to keep reading! As a result, the plot is nothing more than a jumble of events.
But a great cast can help enhance a mediocre plot, right? Heck, tons of great manga function on cast alone! However, Fujimi Orchestra fails to do this. Rather, every character is painfully one-dimensional and forgettable. If you're familiar with the ups and downs of yaoi, you'll understand what I mean when I say the one's the seme and one's the uke, and that's all the characterization they get. Yuuki is helpless, overemotional, and whining while Kei is large, tough, and stoic -- and rapes Yuuki. And yet we're not only supposed to believe that they can develop from having a rivalry to being madly in love over the course of one volume, but we're also supposed to enjoy it! These two are underdeveloped and cliché, not to mention have a rather unhealthy relationship. Not the best way to make a love story!
There's also a Fujimi Orchestra OVA, which makes me wonder about the world's standards nowadays. Abuse, a confusing plot, and characters with the depth of a kiddy pool are what makes a manga worth reading nowadays? If that's the case, why bother reading at all? Fujimi Orchestra isn't a great manga. It's not a good manga. It's not even a decent manga. It's just a bad manga that everyone should stay far, far away from. Maybe the novels are better?