Deep in the country of South Africa, there is a famous master instrument repairer whose skills draw musicians from all walks of life. While she works, she asks the players to tell their stories, immersing herself in their tales of sadness, love, tragedy, and hope as she restores the instruments behind them.
This may seem like a lighthearted work at first glance, but it does not pull any punches as it hits the reader straight away with its sad stories and its focus on serious themes, such as poverty and war. It is time to feel self-conscious and guilty about the world around us.
The work consists of various short arcs which are all connected to give way to the main plot towards the end and they all deal with tragedy stemmed mostly from the world’s unfairness, but there are some others that just deal with pure emotions and various everyday circumstances more or less. The focal point
is music which, as said, it unites the world and it could not be truer in this case as it blends really nice to every story with more or less importance.
Although the main story is set in South Africa, the arcs take place all around the world from mountains to an older New York giving a diversity in the scenery, but every character has a regret and a sad tale to tell. The pacing itself is just as it should be, delving as deep as it should and evoke the sympathy of the readers without any feeling of it being rushed. There is no linear timeline exactly, as the arcs connect through the past/present with others to form a whole story.
Comedy is also included and is as soothing as it is deceiving, since regardless of the balance of different emotions and the transition from one another being good, the sad parts will always be there and take you by surprise. It is not a rollercoaster of emotions, however it does deliver well what it intends to as it focuses a lot on sensitive subjects, for example war and how twisted lives can become. Despite showing that there is always hope in the next corner, it does make the reader painfully aware of people’s hardships who did nothing wrong, something that happens every day in our lives which makes it very relatable. The ending is maybe not a true ending, but it is certainly welcome after tragedy over tragedy.
The characters do not have any great development as most just come and go, but we get glimpses of their lives and why they do what they do and the feelings they have for things they want to protect. Feelings that any person could have and this is what makes it a sad read. The main heroine is in the spotlight for the longest time as she has her own sad narrative to share, which is not over yet and the last arc is centered on her. Her past and personality are shown throughout the work and she is the beacon of hope, something that attracts everyone around her to help her when in need. Everyone is likable and more or less relatable and as there are many arcs with various characters, it is easy to get attached to someone.
The art has mainly warm colors that fit the South Africa initial setting and while it is not that remarkable and there are some weirdly drawn parts, it is easy to the eye. The backgrounds do not have any amazing detail, but everything fits and the quality remains the same throughout the webtoon. In contrast, there is additional detail when it comes to musical instruments or anything that requires more attention. The colors definitely bring this to life even more than how it could be in black and white.
It is surely an enjoyable read, it is just that it can be a bit hard as it stabs your heart in various ways and can make you feel sad about how bad the world is and how ignorant we choose to be. There are also explanations about instruments/songs after every arc which also make someone appreciate this even more.
Westwood Vibrato is a different sort of manhwa that I would recommend to readers who appreciate some variety in their reading. I did not know anything about it when I started reading it, so did not know what to expect but I’m glad as that made me pleasantly surprised. This is an ongoing so I will not be reviewing the whole thing or the end.
First of all, it is set in South Africa. Next, it involves music. If anything, I would say the theme is the healing power of music.
There are separate stories, but also a main story. The main character is a young woman who is a renowned musical instrument repair person. So, she wants to know the story of the different instruments she repairs from all over the world. But often it’s the owner of the instrument in need of repair or healing as much as the instrument itself. The stories take us to different places such as concentration camps, the streets of NY or villages in South Africa. But the main story of the mc and her doctor forms a backbone to the story as well. I like reading stories with music and art myself, but I know some others hesitate because they cannot hear the scores. Well the writer does us the service of telling us what pieces go with the stories. Most of the music in this is old school jazz or classical music so you could youtube it if you don’t know the pieces and are curious. Most of the instruments are wind ones like trumpets, saxs or flutes and most of the stories are rather sad and bittersweet like blues.
I liked most of the stories but my one criticism is that some of them are a bit too much of the peace and love variety for my tastes but that could be my own jaded viewpoint. Most of them I enjoyed but some seemed to be pushing a pacifist viewpoint However overall, I really do enjoy this and I found most of the stories quite moving.
The characterization is the type that slowly builds throughout the reading as we get to know her, the past and her doctor more through her approach and through flashbacks and current interactions.
The art is not comical or flat like some webtoons although it is full color, but it’s emotive and it handles some of the sensitive subject matter that this brings up quite well.
I guess you would think of this as a seinen or josei although those terms do not really apply to webtoons or manhwa. Also it is free of the typical moods of those genres. Overall, I would rate this an 8.
Reviewed by Inzaratha for reviews for the unreviewed.