So how often do we hear "shoujo" and "classical music" uttered in the same sentence? Both entities dwell in vastly different realms of substance, media, and mind, and after watching La Corda d’Oro, I am convinced that it should stay that way. For the average shoujo-loving viewer, this series will be nothing more than a delicious catalogue of hot guys (who, as a side note, all happen to play instruments, but that doesn’t really matter). For the classical music junkie, it will twist a dearly beloved genre of music into something more akin to bubblegum pop.
Kahoko Hino, a regular high school sophomore, stumbles upon a fairy, receives a magic violin that anyone can play, and promptly finds herself in the school’s prestigious music performance competition. Throughout the next twenty-five dragging episodes, she gets to know her handsome competitors even while she confronts jealousy and sabotage. She also struggles to cope with her unfair advantage and her lack of skill. Sound interesting? It’s really not. Hino meanders along in a romantically drugged haze, and the show quickly tires with its loose plot and lackluster characters.
For those who enjoyed the masterpiece that is Nodame Cantabile, I urge you take precaution with La Corda. Within this sissified, sugared depiction of a rich Old World tradition, one will be acquainted with more sparkles than musical notes, with more tantalizingly open collars than instruments, with more bishonen than genius composers, and with more squeal moments than enriching tapestries of an underappreciated art form. Well, perhaps the intent of La Corda has always been more about catering to female viewers than educating them. But even the series’ shoujo elements, while pulled off in an aesthetically pleasing manner, hold the dangerous risk of leaving even the least discerning fangirls unsatisfied.
Of course, virtually all slice-of-life shoujo anime treads that fine line where filler and plot happily blend together. La Corda is no exception. Actually, the show benefits from an overarching premise with its four-round music competition; the viewer will see how Hino grows as a musician throughout the months that the competition spans. However, instead of shaping the competition as an integral plot device, the anime takes a form similar to a stock chart – moments of brief culmination at the competition rounds that give way to plotless lulls. The relationships that form remain hopelessly one-dimensional. The drama so integral to a shoujo is, in a word, nonexistent. The conclusion is slapdash, leaving absolutely no closure.
Bottom line: this series falls short in its role both as a showcase of classical music and as a shoujo anime.
La Corda d’Oro has a soft, pretty look, owing to its fine use of color shading. The backgrounds are not particularly detailed, but that does not mean they are simplistic. Actually, the pastel-like texture combines nicely with the clearly definable lines.
However, the series decides to spend most of its energy on a plethora of close-up face shots, which, while unneeded, become an integral method for retaining viewers. Shiny lips and smooth skin run unbounded in this anime. In fact, everyone’s skin is so smooth that they all resemble porcelain dolls. This is the show’s greatest strength – the men are positive drool-mats, even if they are shallow and indecisive to a one. At least, the prospect of impending eye candy is the thing that kept me watching.
Incidentally, La Corda appears to forgo CGI animation, which is normally fine, but hurts the scenes of people playing instruments. The musicians' movements are out of sync with the soundtrack. However, there is no need to worry, as most of the time we only see picturesque still shots that run throughout the performances.
For an anime that is supposed to emphasize the “heart” of classical music, La Corda hardly presents the best of what the genre has to offer. From countless Ave Marias to Chopin clichés, much of the featured pieces take the form of generic favorites, utilized to elicit the “Hey, I know this!” reaction than to actually refresh an old form of music. What’s even sadder is that, half of the time, they muddle up the titles. On the other hand, the music composed specifically for the anime boasts an inexplicable yet noticeable charm; I never tired of the background music.
The Japanese voice acting stands out not so much for how it was performed as for the actors behind the performances. Each seiyu speaks with a unique tone that supplies their respective characters with individuality. For example, Masakazu Morita's voice, which resembles a happy duck, virtually defines the trumpet player for me. Contrarily, the cellist’s voice is annoying, because it only slows down the already sluggish pacing. Whether I love a voice or hate it, La Corda succeeds in this aspect because the variety of lilts all so greatly help define a character’s identity from the others.
As with any reverse harem anime, the male cast becomes vital to La Corda 's survival. Each typecast is faithfully administered, from the cold prodigy to the friendly jock to the heartwarming nice guy. They fling into the mix the ever-popular “angel of light” who happens to have a dark side, as well as the aloof cutie pie. It’s as if nothing could go wrong with this tried-and-true arsenal of bodacious boys.
And yet, things do go wrong. Instead of the bishies coming into their own, they dig deeper and deeper into their preprogrammed personality modes. As a result, their bonds with Hino never grow. For example, the icy, talented Tsukimori continues sawing away at his violin, forever out of reach. The cheerful Hihara’s conversations never evolve past small talk. One could forget that the sleepy, supposedly endearing Shimizu even exchanged words with Hino on more than three or four occasions. At the end of the series, Hino’s friendship with each male does not seem to have expanded in any dimension.
This is not to mention the utter tedium that is the protagonist herself. Hino seems affable enough in the first episode. Yet as the anime continues, she judders into a completely static character, never progressing beyond the spouting off of pleasantries like “Oh, Hihara-kun!” or “I am going to try my best!” Then, to make things even more irritating, everyone begins to crush on her. Nothing connects.
Evidently, La Corda's superb art and well-gauged voices somewhat recompense the poor storyline and characterization. The series as a whole teeters on a precarious edge, and it all boils down to variances in taste and reasons for deciding to watch in the first place. One thing is sure: La Corda d’Oro has firmly planted itself within the ranks of the utterly mediocre.
La Cordo D'Oro ~primo passo~
In my opinion as an otaku; it was decent considering the pint-sized budgets most anime have. Its animation and sound choice were withstandable me being one for very high quality animation and catchy tunes. As an anime, its an overall ok.
On the other hand, as my opinion as a musician; It was horrible. I'll just be gracious and save my amuture musician rant for the end if any other musicians would like to know.
Honestly in my opinion, they could have made the story more developed. It's the classic reverse harem plot:
She goes to a new school, she falls in love, she falls in love with multiple hansome men, she gets mood swings, and then she starts forming into a big ball of stress. Who hasen't seen this basic plot at least a thousand times?
I really don't have much to say on the animation. It's the typical quality for an anime at its time. There were a few scenes that did have some good quality animation.
Not much to say about sound either. The opening and ending themes were ok in my opinion, but there not exactly catchy. The classical music the characters play with they're slightly deformed instruments we're just too recognizable for me to enjoy. I really wanted to hear something I haven't heard as background music in Spoungebob.
Oh my goobers, the lack of creativity in the characters kind of makes me discusted. Every single one of the characters is a common character type. You know what they're going to say, what they're going to do, and they're reactions. The characters are just to hollow and predictable.
So know that I've finished talking about the anime in an otaku perspective, I would like to make a rant on the musical arts portion of the anime. You probly won't even bother to read this. I just need to get this out of my system, You don't need to read it. I'm not forcing to read it. I'm not forcing you to read the review.
Just don't yell at me for my hate-rant. I know I'm putting my rant in a review, where it obviously shouldn't belong. BUT if I, as a musician, were looking for a decent anime involving musical arts, I would want to know which ones are good.
What the doodles are these people thinking? It doesn't even look like the characters are playing the instuments at all! You can obviously hear that they are not playing the notes, not even the same song as the audio! The violin form is very wrong! I would like to know where the Hellman's Mayonaise is any viola players? We viola players need love too!
Sorry for my rant. I really just needed to let it all out as sofisticated as I could.
I had started this anime a while back but never finished it because every time I played a certain episode it was freeze, so I stopped trying and moved on. But then I thought about it and decided I'd try again. I started over, not really remembering which episode I was on. And this is only the second day that I've watching and I'm already done with. Anyway I have been ingulfed with the music and the story line. (I kinda have this thing about fearies :D). But I have to say that I will never be able to watch this anime in english because the original is just too good!
Around about half way through I was starting to have my doubts about this being a good anime... I annoyed and frustrated but I was also addicted. I couldn't stop watching. I was completely star struck. I also have to ask myself how the manga is, but when theres music envolved in a manga I just can't seem to get into it. I have to hear the notes! I know there is probably alot that you miss when you just watch the anime but I can't help it. I love music. I wish I could play the violin. And anothing thing, this anime is different from the anime I normally watch. But that can be a good thing. I enjoyed it, alot!
I'm going on and on about it and I haven't yet told you what I love about it (a side from the music part). I loved the fairy tale aspect. There were alot of truths to this anime, like believing in yourself, going back to the basics, opening up.
Story line: This girl who knows nothing about music has an encounter with a fairy who loves music. He gives her a magic violin. She's entered into this sort of musical contest and at first she does great. She starts to create friendships with the other conteastents and they start to open up just a little. But then she starts to feel guilty becuase she never really learned how to play the violin. And that's she begins to feel very bad and everyone who looked up to her, start to do the same. When everything feels like it couldn't get any worst, her cords break and the fairy can't seem to fix them. She tells everyone that she quit. But after they all express to her that they want to hear her music again she really starts to realize that she had fallen in love with the violin. She becomes welling to start at the beginning and take things slow, she learns how the fix her cords. And with everyone around her guilding and her love for music she stands on the stage again and plays the first peice she ever learned on the violin. This time she's not alone.
Beautiful story, I'm pretty sure that these words don't come anywhere close to describing it for you. But if you even made it to this line then please watch the anime for yourself. It truely is a wonderful story! Thank you for reading.
I think I am going to create a reverse romance!
First thing, I need a hapless heroine who is attractive to the males in the title for no in particular reason other than she is of the opposite gender.
We now need some guys. Let's make one A brawny sporty type who is into her, a fun guy who you can laugh at (but chances are slim the girl would end up with him) now we need the guy who acts like he doesn't like her at first, yeah just like that. Oh and a quiet cute boy.
Me: "You know what we are missing?"
Audience: "An Asshole guy?"
Yeah we need one of those. If we have enough time let's throw in some teachers that are way too old for the girl. Hmm, we have too many guys, time to add some useless extra "girlfriends" who hardly help the story. Now where is the mascot? Yeah you know the magic in the story? OK, now we have that let's get rolling. See, I can make the ingredients of a poorly constructed reverse Harem.
STORY: When one watches a reverse romance once must be careful not to run into an unending story of pretty boys who love the lackluster girl, but if you do look for a good hook. This one relied on the "magic" of a violin that is suddenly dropped in the hands of a girl who previously had no intentions of playing. Now I am not saying the initial premise was bad. For a title that came out when it did it tried hard to give us a reason to want to see the girl do well, but it does stumble a bit searching for an end. There are some strong moments and surprises as the top musicians play at 4 separate performances in which they are graded. It threw a few moves I did not expect and some issues with how the magic worked. But for the most part it was only a chore to watch once in a while, it hummed along well enough... But lord! Have a fucking end, please! It is not like they were ruining some fantastic piece of literature by ending it.
Animation: Quality standards are set by a 4 year old in an art school. This really is a title that completely needs to revisit hair designs. Half the guys have a moppy pointy mess in a rainbow of colors, while a couple dudes at least enjoy stiff long hair. And speaking of stiff, welcome to bad movement altogether. Luckily if they play instruments, the art team wisely chose a shot over a shoulder, or hands covered by a piano. Now there were a handful of violin plays that look like they gave that art to the A-team but as for the rest? D-team.
Sound: Now this is where the review part of the new format might need a change. The overall sound is different from the music, but seeing that the Music is the main strength of this title, I have to go there. There is music a plenty in this title, and a lot of the short arrangements were perfect for the instrument they were chosen for. Outside of hearing Ave Maria a wee bit much, I thought many of the choices were spot on. If you ever wanted a great classical OST seriously check this one out. Also the intro song, while 90's adult contemporary in sound, was compelling, and I found myself listening to it each time it played.
Characters As I have mentioned, there are some good and some truly awful characters. The fact that the space cadet blond kid was my favorite character is not a good sign. Many of the characters seem to get their time in the sun with the heroine, but none get more than an episode of development... EXCEPT (Spoilers)
The asshole. Yes, the one guy in the title that is somewhat verbally abusive and surprisingly evil, gets the most dynamic story with his Grandmother (another asshole),
Overall: I watched this with my wife and searched it out because she enjoyed another reverse harem that I actually disliked worse than this. In fact after we completed La Corda, I did look for all the sequel parts, such as the dreadful Summer episode, and the odd OAV ends, but in the end, if you like a reverse Harem, it is not as good as Fushigi Yugi or Fruits Basket, but it is loads better than Diabolic Lovers or Amnesia. The music helped, much like sugar making the medicine go down.
Story: I’ve been playing the piano for over 9 years. I have a deep love for a lot of music and great appreciation for classical music. So when I heard of La Corda D’Oro, I was very excited. Two of my favorite things (shoujo and music) put into one. I thought that if at least the shoujo part turned sour, I had the music to look forward. I was disappointed in both aspects. The plot doesn’t connect or doesn’t fully flesh out. The relationships are shallow with little reason behind them. Hihara, Len, and Tsuchiura all seem to like Kahoko for some unknown reason and that’s only one of the inconsistencies. I noticed a lot of inconsitencies because the plot was just boring and not good to say the least. I had to force myself to finish this. It definitely lacks development in the shoujo section because all these guys like her but don’t do much about it leaving it incredibly open ended. The most they do is make her blush but just any guy looking at her makes her do that. The music aspect was just as bad. They didn’t do justice to the music and that really disappointed me. My favorite part of this show was the little section where Lili tells you trivia. Also, the fact that people could hear the sounds of instruments from a mile away in the store or in a soundproof room was just beyond me even though they can’t hear footsteps coming really got to me. I probably wouldn’t notice all of these if there was enough in this anime to enjoy but there isn’t.
Animation: The animation was nice for the most part. The character’s skins were glossy and very pretty. However, the hair colors were just gaudy and garish. I also didn’t like the costume design for a lot of the characters. The colors were vibrant and bold and so were the backgrounds. However, when the characters played their instruments, it looked off.
Sound: Surprisingly, La Corda D’Oro had a very generic soundtrack even though music is fundamental aspect of the show. I did like the classical pieces that they chose and I even looked them up afterwards. However, some of the music played during scenes wasn't chosen well. Either they were too much or just forgettable. The seiyuus did a good job for the most part. I was not fond of hearing Kahoko’s “ehs” but that was probably because I didn’t like her. The rest of the voices were fitting.
Characters: The females are just downright annoying. The journalist seems to pester everyone and her presence just doesn’t seem necessary or helpful. Fuyuumi is just pathetic. I may not have a lot of confidence playing in front of people but to hide behind someone when people are complimenting you is just pathetic. She is an incredibly weak character who doesn’t get much stronger throughout the show and let’s not forget about Kahoko. She makes little logical sense in her decisions, is shallow, pathetic, not intelligent and selfish to name a few. I don’t see why so many males in that show are attracted to her. They never really give a reason.
The males are showstoppers is this anime but are undermined by the fact that they care so much about her. I don’t understand Tsuchiura’s reason for stopping the piano in front of people but this plight with soccer was understandable. Hihara added a lot of humor but he, like the other three, really liked Kahoko for some unknown reason. Yunoki and Lili happen to be my favorite. It’s as if Yunoki can read my mind and says exactly what I’m thinking. I don’t understand why he isn’t liked when he’s the most honest out of the group of guys. Lili is just an adorable fairy. One of my least favorite casts up to date.
Overall: Not enjoyable for either shoujo lovers or music lovers. There are much better options than this one, even if you wanted to just watch some fluff or some bishounens. It’s not a complete waste though. I did learn a lot of classical music trivia and some really nice classical pieces. Not a complete fail but far from good.