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

September 18, 2010 by  



A more emotional second half  to this wonderful, classical music-driven anime series.  If you enjoyed the first half, you’ll definitely enjoy the second as “La corda d’oro ~primo passo~ – Collection Two” is a wonderful conclusion!  Definitely recommended!

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

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

DURATION:  Episodes 14-26 (325 Minutes)

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

COMPANY: Sentai Filmworks

RATED: TV PG

Release Date: August 10, 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

Kahoko Hino’s life has been turned upside down ever since she was given a magic violin and entered in the Seiso Academy’s prestigious music competition. Now she’s an outstanding new prodigy… but the problem is that, although only Hino knows it, she doesn’t play the same way as all of the other students. But is it really just the magic violin that makes the difference? Or are Hino’s growing respect and feelings for others in her class clouding her judgment? And then, just when she needs it the most, something terrible happens to Hino’s violin!

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.  That is until… she realizes that the music that everyone has grown and loved is not truly hers and now Kahoko feels as if she is not being truthful, her music is a lie, her music is fake…she is fake and this causes her to suffer emotionally.

“La cordo d’oro ~primo passo~ – Collection Two” explores Kahoko’s descent after her music has been loved and touched by so many, now she is feeling the guilt of people enjoying music that is not truly her own.  And now, Kahoko wants to quit competing and she considers quitting playing the violin forever.  But what she doesn’t know is that her quitting is affecting her friends as well, as they were all inspired by Kahoko.

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 darker 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 Two” features episodes 14-26 on two DVDs. Here is a spoiler-less summary of each episode:

DISC 1:

  • EPISODE 14 – Ayano believes that she would always marry Yunoki and Yunoki uses Hino to pretend that he has a girlfriend so Ayano would leave him alone.  Kahoko and friends also meet Yunoki’s strict grandmother.
  • EPISODE 15 – Kahoko meets Tsuchiura’s ex-girlfriend Sakimoto.
  • EPISODE 16 – Osaki asks a few of the concourse participants to help teach children in a violin class and Kahoko realizes that the music that the kids and her friends and everyone else is enjoying from her is fake and feels that she is fake.  But when she tries playing a violin, she plays terribly and she is unaware that Tsukimori was listening to her play.
  • EPISODE 17 – Tsukimori confronts Kahoko about why she produced a terrible sound on the violin and this causes her problems as the day nears for the second competition.  Others start to react towards her depression in the same manner.
  • EPISODE 18 – After trying to push her violin to overperform, the strings have broke during competition and now Kahoko no longer has a violin to play.  And she realizes that her violin playing days may be over.
  • EPISODE 19 – Kahoko has stopped attending her music classes and its starting to affect everyone close to her.  Meanwhile, another student is planning to withdraw in the competition.

DISC 2:

  • EPISODE 20 – Kahoko plans to return the violin back to Lili.
  • EPISODE 21 – Kahoko realizes that she loves music, she loves the violin and she will do all it takes to learn and play it.
  • EPISODE 22 – Everyone is reacting to how Kahoko’s violin playing has worsened but Kahoko continues to be persistent and practice.  Hihara tells her a story of how and why he learned to play the trumpet.
  • EPISODE 23 – While at the music shop, the owner has a video of Tsukimori when he was younger and we learn that the rivalry between Tsuchiura and Tsukimori has been going on for a long time.
  • EPISODE 24 – Tsukimori is learning that Kahoko has deeply affected him and he invites her to a charity where he is performing.
  • EPISODE 25 – It’s the day of the final competition and everyone is ready to do their best.  But is Kahoko ready to compete?
  • EPISODE 26 (SPECIAL DVD EPISODE) The principal arranges a training camp in which the musicians in the competition get to participate and perform to a theme titled “The One and Only Tune”.  All the guys each take their turns by playing their music to Kahoko and return, play a song for them.

VIDEO:

La corda d’oro ~primo passo~ – Collection Two” 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 Two” 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 once again by Tsukimori playing “Ave Maria” and seeing the other characters play their full musical piece during the competition.  I love the music for this anime series and anyone who loves classical music, can truly appreciate the series dedication to classic musicians.

Subtitles are in English.

SPECIAL FEATURES:

“La corda d’oro ~primo passo~ – Collection Two” 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.

But now, that guilt of deceiving everyone has took its toll.  She sees how everyone around her has dedicated their life in learning the instrument and performing the music they love.  Everyone has practiced and have gotten better and better and when they give thanks to Kahoko, she knows that she is fake.  She can’t play the violin but everyone thinks she can and when she sees children willing to learn, she is filled with regret and disgrace towards herself.  And when she does pick up a violin and tries to see how much she can play, she plays terribly and to make it worse, Tsukimori was there to witness it.

And now, for the second competition, everyone has trained so hard for the competition and yet, Kahoko doesn’t know how she can continue this charade and to make things worse, she overuses the magic on her violin and now the magic is gone.  Lili is unable to repair it and Kahoko must make a major decision in her life.

The second half of “La corda d’oro ~primo passo~” is much more emotional and serious than the first half of the series.  I absolutely enjoyed the first half and I enjoyed the second half even more as we see Kahoko’s descent and we can only hope that she can pick herself up.  But also, what I found interesting is to see how everyone has reacted towards Kahoko’s “slump” and news that she may never want to play the violin again.

The series does manage to end in a happy note and the special 26th episode (on the DVD only) is not more of a follow-up to the final episode but more of showing how Kahoko has touched the lives of people close to her.  In some ways, this series could have been the usual cliche of harem anime series but it doesn’t go there.  Sure, the guys may have interest in Kahoko but the storyline never strays to focus on any multiple complexities or relationships, it focuses on Kahoko, her love for music and her state-of-mind as she grown to love it and respect those around her to know that a magical violin is just a facade and the truth is that she is not good with a violin.

I’m not going to spoil the series but for the most part, “La corda d’oro ~primo passo~” does end in a happy ending and for the most part, I found this series to be enjoyable, fun and really worth watching.  As there are not too many anime series like it.  And if you are a classical music fan, you’ll definitely enjoy this series for its music and also those Lili pointers featuring a classical music quiz which was a fun addition to the series.

As for the DVD, it’s a series that doesn’t contain any special features except the textless opening and ending themes and that is the main reason why I have to lower my score for this DVD release but I hope this doesn’t discourage anyone from purchasing this anime series because “La corda d’oro ~primo passo~” is a very cool anime series!  Especially for those who are more into the dramatic-style of anime series and once again, I love how this anime series is classical music-driven and for me, that is awesome!

Overall, this second and final volume of “La corda d’oro ~primo passo~”is enjoyable, fun and addicting. I absolutely enjoyed this series from beginning to end and I definitely recommend both collections!






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