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La corda d’oro ~primo passo~ – Collection One (a J!-ENT Anime DVD Review)

June 12, 2010 by  



Fun, emotional and addicting!  “La corda d’oro ~primo passo~ – Collection One” is definitely recommended!

Image courtesy of © Yuki Kure, Hakusensha, Koei Co. Ltd. All Rights Reserved.

DVD TITLE: La corda d’oro ~primo passo~ – Collection One

DURATION: 13 Episodes (325 Minutes)

DVD INFORMATION: 16:9 ANAMORPHIC WIDESCREEN, Japanese Stereo, English subtitles

COMPANY: Sentai Filmworks

RATED: TV PG

Release Date: June 22, 2010

Original Manga by Yuki Kure

Series Composition: Reiko Yoshida

Storyboard: Shin Katagai

Music by Mitsutaka Tajiri

Character Design by Maki Fujioka

Art Director: Chikako Shibata

Chief Animaton Director: Maki Fujioka

 

Featuring the following voice talent:

Daisuke Kishio as Azuma Yunoki

Jun Fukuyama as Keiichi Shimizu

Kentarou Itou as Ryotaro Tsuchiura

Kishô Taniyama as Len Tsukimori

Masakazu Morita as Kazuki Hihara

Reiko Takagi as Kahoko Hino

Akemi Satou as Shoko Fuyuumi

Hideo Ishikawa as Hiroto Kanazawa

Kaori Mizuhashi as Lili

Katsuyuki Konishi as Shinobu Ousaki

Yuki Masuda as Nami Amou

Talking to invisible people only you can see can get you into unusual situations, so when Kahoko Hino encounters a tiny fairy named Lili on the way to school, she’s shocked to find herself entered in a competition for her school’s elite music program! That might be wonderful, except Hino doesn’t even play an instrument, let alone own one! But Lili has a solution for that as well, and he attempts to give her a magic violin. Hino refuses at first, but weakens, perhaps noticing how many good-looking boys seem to be in the program.

The problem is that now Hino is competing against a host of other talented students, and she really can’t play a note! Now she’ll have to work double-time in order to justify her place in the orchestra! Will Hino become the musical prodigy everyone thinks she is, or will she just end up playing second fiddle? One way or another, she’ll have to face the music!

In 2003, the Koei RPG video game (for the PC and later for the PS2 and PSP) “Kin’iro no Korda” was released.  The popularity of the video game led to its manga adaptation by the video game’s character designer Yuki Kure and was serialized in LaLa Magazinein 2004 and is still ongoing.

In 2006-2007, the anime adaptation was created by Aniplex with the Italian title “La corda d’oro ~Primo Passo~” (The Golden String ~First Step~) and is now being released on DVD from Sentai Filmworks in 2010.

The anime series features series composition by Reiko Yoshida (“Dragon Ball Z”, “Kaleido Star”, “Maria-sama ga Mieru”, “K-On!”), music by Mitsutaka Tajiri (“Asura Cryin'”) and character design by Maki Fujioka (“Fullmetal Alchemist: Brotherhood”, “Itazura na Kiss”, “Neo Angelique Abyss -Second Age-“).

“La corda d’oro ~primo passo~” revolves around a high school general studies student named Kahoko Hino who attends Seiso Academy, a school in which students are divided by those in General Studies and those in the Music Department.  At Seiso Academy, there Music Department are usually musically talented and the students tend to see themselves as better than the General Studies students.

One day, Kahoko sees a musical fairy named Lilli and at first, she thinks she is seeing things but she finds out for herself that she is the only person who can see it.  Lilli tells Kahoko his story that he wants to give his respects to the person who founded the school and that because she is the only one that can see him, he has chosen her to be the student to be given a magical violin and participate in the school’s annual music competition.

Kahoko is apprehensive about it because she doesn’t know how to play the violin but Lilli pleads with her and Kahoko decides to help Lilli out by participating.  And soon enough, she is the only General Studies student put into the competition along with the four other Musical Department students.

Of course, many of the Musical Department are disgusted that a General Studies student, let alone an amateur is put into the competition and immediately, she receives support by another General Studies student named Ryoutarou Tsuchiura, a soccer athlete who happens to hold a secret that he was formerly a gifted pianist who quit playing for some unknown reason.

Because of her involvement in the competition, Tsuchiura decides to defend her and also help her out with advice from time-to-time.

As Kahoko learns to play the magical violin with the emotions from her heart, she starts to appreciate the music and those who play it and becomes serious in trying to learn the basics of the instrument and to participate in the musical competition, which will eventually change her life forever.

The main characters of “La corda d’oro ~primo passo~” are:

  • Kahoko Hino – The main character who is the only student at Seiso Academy who can see the magical fairy Lilli.  She plays the magical violin given to her and participates in the musical program and competition but also learns about the music and learns to appreciate it and also the determination from her fellow competitors.  She may be oblivious to a lot of the things that are going on but she eventually begins to create friendships amongst her musical competition peers.
  • Ryoutarou Tsuchiura – Kahoko’s friend from the General Studies Dept.  A soccer athlete who is also a gifted pianist.  He asks Kahoko to keep his secret but due to circumstances, ends up becoming the second student from the General Studies Dept. to take part in the musical competition.  He hates the arrogance of the Musical Dept. and is a rival of violinist Len Tsukimori.
  • Len Tsukimori – Seen as arrogant even from his own Musical Dept.  The son of a popular professional pianist and popular violinist, Tsukimori is stoic, arrogant and seems as if he is playing music to impress his parents.   He strives for perfection and is bothered of how an amateur like Kahoko is able to play at such a level.
  • Kazuki Hihara – Loud, obnoxious, fun and always hungry, Hihara is a trumpet player who is very outgoing and quickly befriends Kahoko.  He also seems to have an attraction towards her.  Hihara plays the trumpet.
  • Azuma Yunoki – The most popular guy at school, a good friend of Hihara and plays the flute.  Seems like the coolest guy on campus but he starts to reveal his dark side to Kahoko.
  • Shoko Fuyuumi – The other female competitor  who is extremely shy.  Befriends Kahoko and plays the violin.
  • Keiichi Shimizu – The youngest competitor and does things of his own pace.  He lives to play and sleeps and doesn’t break out of that routine.  Always seen sleeping and sometimes seems as if he’s in a dreamstate.  He comes to respect the people around him especially Kahoko, because she’s new and an amateur who can play at a high level.

“La corda d’oro ~primo passo~ – Collection One” features the first 13 episodes on two DVDs. Here is a spoiler-less summary of each episode:

DISC 1:

  • EPISODE 1 – Kahoko encounters a magical fairy named Lilli who gives her a magical violin.  Kahoko enters the musical composition to help out Lilli.
  • EPISODE 2 – Kahoko and Tsuchiura encounter Tsukimori.
  • EPISODE 3 – Kahoko finds out Tsuchiura’s secret.
  • EPISODE 4 – Kahoko needs a piano accompanist for the competition.
  • EPISODE 5 – The first of four in the musical competition.  Kahoko receives a big surprise right before her performance.
  • EPISODE 6 – Tsuchiura joins in the competition and all seven members are taken on a trip for practice and bonding.

DISC 2:

  • EPISODE 7 – Kahoko tries to help an ill Tsukimori.
  • EPISODE 8  – Kahoko’s friends feel that she never has time for them anymore because of her music involvement.  Will Kahoko choose music over her friends?
  • EPISODE 9 – Kahoko is having difficulty because she doesn’t know if she can play in front of the public quite well.
  • EPISODE 10  – It’s the day of the second music competition.
  • EPISODE 11  – Students that have a grudge against Tsukimori decide to act on revenge against him during the competition.  Meanwhile, Yunoki reveals his true self.
  • EPISODE 12 – After finding out how Yunoki truly is, Kahoko doesn’t know how she should go about it and how to take his threats against her.
  • EPISODE 13 – Because it’s midterms, Lilli takes away Kahoko’s violin and wants her to focus on studies.  But for Kahoko, she doesn’t know how she can live without playing her violin.

VIDEO:

La corda d’oro ~primo passo~ – Collection One” is presented in 16:9 anamorphic widescreen. The animation and art backgrounds are very well-done for this series.  At first, I was wondering if this was going to be a low-budget style of anime series but I was surprised to see how much detail went to creating various scenery, the shading of the characters and the overall character designs.  A colorful, vibrant anime series with solid production!  Aniplex did a wonderful job!

AUDIO & SUBTITLES:

“La corda d’oro ~primo passo~ – Collection One” is presented in Dolby Digital Japanese 2.0. The series is front channel driven although if you have a receiver and multiple channels, one may want to set their receiver on stereo on all channels for a more immersive soundscape. It’s important to note that the series is dialogue driven and with each episode, there is quite a bit of classical music played in each episode.  Depending on one’s passion for classical music, personally for me, I loved how music was utilized throughout each episode.  To see Kahoko touched by Tsukimori playing “Ave Maria” and then her learning the song and being emotionally touched by it and playing it with all her heart or when Kahoko plays Chopin’s “Canon” was awesome.  Again, I definitely enjoyed how classical music is integrated into this series.

Subtitles are in English.

SPECIAL FEATURES:

“La corda d’oro ~primo passo~ – Collection One” comes with Section23 Films/Sentai Filmworks trailers and clean opening/closing animation.

For any fan of classical music, “La corda d’oro ~primo passo~ is an anime series full of heart, a lot of fun and definitely building up to be an enjoyable series.

In many ways, what makes “La cordo d’oro” so entertaining is that the viewer roots for Kahoko.  She is definitely the underdog and at the same time, because she is doing so well with the violin, she regrets the success because she knows she is deceiving everyone around her.  She doesn’t know how to play the violin but somehow the music and the emotion from what she feels from the music is what drives her.

At first, it seems as if the lie is too much to bear but in truth, for a General Studies student to do so well in the competition, let alone do quite well against the Music Department, inspires many people.

Every character has their own quirk, their own style and for the most part, it’s one of those anime series in which the characters bring out the life of the anime series.

I do get a sense that this is a series in which the male characters may find themselves falling for the female protagonist but what makes “La cordo d’oro ~primo passo~” quite interesting is to see how Kahoko inspires each other character in a different way but also a sudden twist in the story when one of the characters that you thought was cool, is actually revealed to be anything but.

Overall, this first collection (the first half of the TV series) is enjoyable, fun and also quite addicting.  I absolutely enjoyed this series and I can’t wait for the second half.  For those who are passionate about classical music, definitely give “La corda d’oro ~primo passo~” a try!






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