Story & Art: Ryoko Fukuyama
Translation & Adaptation: JN Productions
Touch-Up Art & Lettering: Joanna Estep
Design: Yukiko Whitley
Editor: Amy Yu
What They Say:
Nino Arisugawa, a girl who loves to sing, experiences her first heart-wrenching goodbye when her beloved childhood friend, Momo, moves away. And after Nino befriends Yuzu, a music composer, she experiences another sad parting! Both boys promised Nino that they would find her one day through her singing, so she holds on to that hope and continues to reach out with her voice. Now in high school, Nino serendipitously reunites with Yuzu, but she yearns to see Momo again…
Content: (please note that content portions of a review may contain spoilers)
Anonymous Noise is as shojo as can be, from its separated childhood friends, to its unrequited loves, to its gangly-armed character designs. But author Ryoko Fukuyama is able to weave such standard shojo tropes with her own unique writing, making for an enjoyable first volume.
Starting from the main character’s childhood, we find that Nino’s had quite the history with music starting from singing “Twinkle, Twinkle Little Star” alongside childhood friend and literal boy-next-door Momo. Such doesn’t last forever, though, as Momo moves away, leaving Nino hesitant to sing alongside anyone else. This changes when she meets a boy by the shore—Yuzu—who takes pride in composing music but is in need of someone to actually bring his notes to life. It’s a sappy, typical sort of shojo set-up, but it’s how Fukuyama handles it that sets it apart from any other run-of-the-mill romance.
Since there’s little in the way of stunning visuals to drive the story, Fukuyama sticks to her protagonist having inner monologues. And while it’s typically better to show over saying in manga, Fukuyama’s dialogue flows naturally to the point that I don’t mind it. Between the utterly clueless Nino who has a booming singing voice, the spastic Yuzu, prone to drinking milk and being called out for his girlishly long eyelashes, and the lost but never forgotten pun-obsessed Momo, there’s a lot to offer in terms of colorful dialogue. It’s a minor touch, yes, but it’s in these minute details that the cast comes off as approachable and homely rather than standard cookie-cutter shojo archetypes.
Though for this same reason, it does make where the story goes a bit unbelievable. After a time-skip, the cast ends up finding each other attending the same high school—an already unbelievable but acceptable aspect of the story. What really pushes the limits of belief-suspension though is how each character is re-introduced using the exact same quirks they were initially given as children. Yuzu chugs milk while Momo still obsesses over puns, and while it works as a shorthand way to say they’re the same characters, it does lean towards being overly convenient.
Nonetheless, the story post-timeskip does do a lot of things right as well. Since there’s such a large gap in the character’s lives we don’t see, Fukuyama does an excellent job of incorporating what we do know about each character into their teenage personalities. Seeing that Nino and Momo have each taken an interest in choir while Yuzu has joined the pop music club as well as a fairly successful rock band offers an endless amount of directions for the story to go in. It’s a lot of set-up, but if anything it gives me hope that the next volume will really get to the heart of whatever the author’s means to get at.
Only time will tell if Anonymous Noise is something worth your time. While characters are endearing and the musical twist is enough to add some allure to the shojo formula, I’m still not fully on board with it. It shows promise, but could just as easily fall into substandard tropiness if it isn’t careful.
Content Grade: B
Art Grade: B
Packaging Grade: A
Text/Translation Grade: A
Age Rating: All Ages
Released By: Viz Media
Release Date: March 7, 2017