A small five-year-old girl named Subaru no longer has time for friends and play. Why is this? Her twin brother Kazuma is dying...and gradually forgetting everything. Even Subaru. And so the girl visits him every day, talking with him and dancing for him, trying to make him remember her. And he always does by the end of the day. Encouraged by a friend to join ballet classes, the girl does so and falls in love with the dance.
I'm amazed there is only one review for this series!
It's march break, and i have been going through series like mad, and stumbled on this. And wow, am i ever glad i did! This series made me cry, throw things at the wall and smile, and i enjoyed every minute of it. This is a series with so many messages, i think it should be a must read on everyone's list.
Story-9/10. The story is amazing, flows well and draws you in. You get hooked on what will happen next, and it's never what you expect. The only reason it's not a 10/10 is because the
ending to me seemed very rushes, and i think it could have been drawn out more.
Art-8/10. The art was good, though started off very rough in the beginning. It's not particularily to my tastes, but grows on you as you go along.
Character-10/10. This is the shining star of the series. The characters, while some of the things they may do are a little unbelievable, their personalities are real. There's no characters where you go, a person like that doesn't exist. Especially Subaru. She's not perfect. She can be selfish, rude, annoying and childish, and i can't hate her for it, because it turns this character, in my mind, into a real person. She has weaknesses, and strengths. The characters in this story are the center of it.
Enjoyment-10/10. I loved this series all the way through, and the feelings it invoked in me. A truly enjoyable series.
Overall-9/10. Would have been a 10/10 if it wasn't for the ending and art.
Subaru outlines one of the greatest paradoxes of a certain kind of person in the most revealing light possible – namely it’s a fact that there are people who receive the greatest talent, and are hopelessly bored with it. This is because that mere fact has shuttled them into one – and only one – path in life. Society cannot view them as anything other than what they have been gifted with.
Exemplar of this would probably be Rimbaud, who had a ridiculously natural ear for poetic cadences to the point where he created his major output during his teenage years, and then abruptly quit the
profession in order to travel.
It also aims to outline one of the greatest paradoxes of genius overall – the fact that a lot of them are just plain assholes. Why was Rilke one of the best poets out there, and also a horrible father? Why was Mozart an infantile scatologist despite being able to generate the most wonderful cadences of music? Why was Dali a perpetually kooky shit-stirrer and pervert? Why was Proust a pervert and masturbator? Why was Picasso a womanizer, and why was he able to create such amazing paintings despite some of them being mere caricatures of ex-lovers he hated? Why is Woody Allen, a director who is able to depict such mature examinations of romance and endlessly makes fun of human foibles and infidelity – such an utter calamity in his own personal life?
Some of these questions are actually answered within Subaru. The manga is able to create a vision of that idealized transcendent reaching out that occurs with genius, while still showing its utterly banal reality.
For one, being born with a talent that immediately places you on the top without much effort, that makes both eager businessmen and admirers fall into your lap (while the rest of the world has to struggle to reach that post) is bound to make you think – oh wow, how easy this thing called life is! All Mozart had to do was to do that thing that appeared so naturally inside his head, and he received access to the highest courts of German Aristocracy. No matter how you wish for them to be humble and compassionate – there is literally no reason for them to feel that way. The marketplace and auctionhouse is separate from morality – if you don’t want to patronize Picasso and get a slice of the pie from his ‘production’, then you lose out. If a Mozart should appear in this era and be a complete jerk, and your orchestral house denies him entry – all he has to do is to go to one whereby the need to get tickets is more pressing than the need to cater to some higher ‘compassionate sensibility’.
There’s a moment in Subaru where our protagonist has just given one of the most stunning performances of her lifetime, and she turns to the side and just says something along the lines of “all in a day’s work, isn’t it?” – for people outside this sphere of existence, we cannot imagine it. Sustaining a tune is something that most people take ages to even strive to accomplish, and creating a beautiful variation on a tune to shake the hearts of our fellow men around us is just plain out of our reach. Most people are stuck in the domain of cover bands, but Mozart comes up with symphonies as easily, to put it in his own words, “as sows pissing”.
(There is actually an analogue to this in meditation. Initially, extensive meditation provides a kind of wonderful experience in your head that seems otherworldly and unique when you go through it. Certain books on Buddhism describe the process of reaching Nirvana as no longer being fazed by the beautiful and ecstatic visions you received in your earlier stage of progress. You must view your most ecstatic moments as no different from your worst moments – all of these moments constitute equal banality in everyday life. Similarly, an artistic genius is in on the secret from the start of his existence – some of them probably find it strange that people are clinging so fervently onto them although they experience their talents 24/7)
So Subaru is a manga that aims to dramatize that schism as much as possible by having the main character be placed in a state whereby her talent is causing her the greatest amount of annoyance. Masahito Soda does this brilliantly by having the birth of her talent be caused by a melodramatically tragic event – but having the tragedy of that event bear absolutely little impression on Subaru by later parts of the story.
In other words, the birth of Subaru’s talent in relation to that early event – causing her to become eccentrically obsessive about it – is mere chance. From her point of view she sees it as no different than if she had taken an interest in dancing through the normal route of doing it with her peers. The problem is that now she has to deal with unwanted annoyance of having the activity be linked to a traumatic memory. Afterwards she no longer feels any compassion or grief towards the event, and merely views it as a stone that is stuck in her shoe – that she has to carry throughout life. So having to take on unnecessary psychic stress in doing the thing that everyone wants her to do turns her into a dancer with a victim complex – which is quite a great twist on this kind of blatantly emotionally manipulative cliché. In fact, when the event itself is abused by paparazzi and the media to pull the heart-strings of the fanbase, she is beyond pissed about it. Whether Soda has intended it or not – the plot critiques its own melodrama that it used in the early chapters.
Neither in Chihayafuru, nor in 3-Gatsu no Lion, both great sports & talent manga, do you get to see so blatant and cohesive a picture of a genius character who is selfish, petulant, egoistical, and narcissistic. In order to see better portrayals you have to turn to Woody Allen films – like Sweet & Lowdown or Stardust Memories – and Amadeus of course. Kyoko Okazaki takes this kind of treatment towards feminine beauty with her manga Helter Skelter.
In other words, if you ever see one of these sorts of persons inside the media (besides Kanye West of course) – don’t even bother with carrying out the usual castigations and self-assured moralizing inside your head, that you will never fall as low as this person. In fact, it’s the other way round. They’ve been hijacking a biological/neurological structure that’s been given to them since the start of their lives – one that society happens to cave around and submit to. In their viewpoint, the world is an open road with minor inconveniences. They will never fall as low as you.
A little girl can only communicate to her dying brother through dance.
Surprisingly powerful and enjoyable: this is Dance! Subaru.
I don’t know why, but I had this preconceived idea about Dance! Subaru. Maybe it was the fact it was a sports seinen, or that it’s cover art appeared to be very old, or even because it was about a girly sport called ‘ballet’. So imagine my surprise after I finished the first chapter: I did not expect it to be like this. It wasn’t just about ballet. It was about artistic expression with the body as a medium. Chapter after chapter, I soon found that I
wasn’t just trudging through it for my own experience --I was hooked.
The story begins with a heartbreaking tragedy, showing you that Dance! Subaru is going to be one hell of a ride. The chapters literally fly by; the pacing and plot were just so intriguing! After one mini-arc finishes, there is nothing stopping you from immediately starting the next one. It stays on track, and it has a purpose. This story is about human expression, but it is also about metaphysics and transcending the nature of dance. It was extremely powerful, and in the way it was narrated captured the essence perfectly.
This manga isn't going to be about some prodigy Mary-Sue making her way to the top. In fact, Subaru is such an interesting character. She’s a bitch, she’s a narcissist, she’s antisocial... she could even be called arrogant. I wouldn't want to be her friend. In fact, Subaru doesn't even make it to the top in this manga; she only has a purpose: to express all she can through dance, and bring the audience with her into the “other side”. Concerning the support characters: at first, the mangaka scrapped them here and there to advance the story, but I really appreciated it when they were brought back for further development. They never fall into stereotypical cliches. All of them are unique with their own purposes (maybe some admire Subaru, some want to use her, and maybe even some like her --which I doubt, because Subaru isn’t very likable). In this story, the character development of Subaru was the strongest point.
The setting in Dance! Subaru isn't static --meaning that it constantly changes. It doesn't really bring the whole story together, but it doesn't weigh it down either. However, during the most important moments (which are on stage) you know exactly where the characters are, and what kind of atmosphere they are in.
In fact, the whole atmosphere of Dance! Subaru is nice and airy, probably because of the sketchy lines and big eyes. During it’s more powerful moments, those sketchy lines are exaggerated, hard, thick, and really pronounce the atmosphere. So if you couldn’t notice: the atmosphere of Dance! Subaru is really dependent on it’s setting and art.
To sum it all up, Dance! Subaru was a great read with some powerful moments. It’s creativity was extremely high (who has ever read a compelling, palpable ballet manga?) that literally went far beyond all expectations. I would have reached a 9.0, or maybe even higher if it wasn’t for one thing: the ending. While it wasn’t bad (it was actually kind of interesting), it was really sloppy, with no planning whatsoever. It really butchered the greatness this manga achieved, probably the biggest disappointment ever. That brought my final scoring to an 8.0, a fair enough rating for this.
You really get absorbed into this story, and like dance, it’s all up to interpretation. If you get absorbed into it too much, you’ll definitely take something with you once it’s finished.
Let me just start this review right off the bat with the fact that in the first 10 minutes of me reading this manga I was literally in tears sobbing. Now idk if that's cause i'm just an emotional wreck but I think thats still amazing regardless. And I'm seriously not exaggerating when I say I was sobbing.
I only got into this after seeing it under suggestions after finishing Glass Mask, and there are definitely similarities. But this manga, unlike Glass Mask, is intense and in a sense really morbid. I would definitely recommend this only for the mature readers. If you're
looking for something with the same vibe as Glass Mask I wouldn't say this is for you. The only thing similar is the irregular talent both mc's have but other than that its a totally different feeling. I was kinda depressed reading this story. I realized as I read further and further that there was something so disconcerting about the main character but I couldn't express it in words. It's kinda weird the vibe I was left with upon reading the last chapter. (But theres a sequal of sorts so I'm going to read that after finishing my review)
The overall plot is interesting and as I explained above it made me, the reader, pretty uncomfortable. But I think the ability of the mangaka to draw out my emotions like that is what made me want to read on. The manga is very real. Now I'm not saying the manga's plot is realistic but it's very real in the sense of the characters emotions and their reactions to things. It's very human. The mc is a girl who has many tragic flaws and it's almost as if her life is literally her "destiny." She is going to end up where she ends up and it's futile to change her course. Idk if this is the direction the manga is going to go but the feeling I get after finishing it.
Now I wouldn't say this is a masterpiece but I think it was a good read. If you're interest is piqued based on what I've said above I would recommend this!