Title: A Devil and Her Love Song
Author: Miyoshi Tomori
Publisher: Viz Media (Shojo Beat)
Volume: Volume 3 (of 13), $9.99
Vintage: 2008 by Shueisha, June 2012 by Viz Media
Genre: Romance, drama, comedy
The choral competition is fast approaching, but Maria still hasn’t managed to bring the class together. Most of the boys in the class have followed along with Yusuke, who is doing his best to help Maria. Shin has also, reluctantly, offered to play accompaniment for their rehearsals. Maria attempts to ask their teacher for the key to the music room, but he denies her request outright, intent on making things as difficult as possible for her. Two female classmates in the orchestra club offer the use of the club’s organ, and things start looking up. Then Hana Ibuki, an overly cheerful and friendly classmate who had been out sick, returns to school, and receives Maria’s precious necklace from the teacher (he took it away in the previous volume and refused to return it to Maria). Wearing Maria’s cross cluelessly around her neck, Hana returns to class to the delight of the other girls. When Hana sees that the class has split over the choral competition, she becomes upset and insists that the class work together. Maria is baffled by how easily Hana can smile and get everyone to forget their differences; she immediately feels inadequate, but is grateful for Hana’s interference. However, despite how friendly Hana is acting toward her, Maria can’t get over a feeling of increasing uneasiness. When Yusuke fawns over an injury Maria receives in PE, Hana steps in to help instead, and reveals her feelings for Yusuke to Maria. Maria doesn’t understand the purpose of their conversation, though Hana insists that all friends share such things, and convinces Maria to share her feelings, too. Maria denies both having feelings for someone, and having someone confess to her (which isn’t true, but Maria thought it was a kind of joke). When Maria later asks Tomoyo about this, thinking it’s what one does with their friends, the rest of the class overhears, and reveals Yusuke’s confession. Hana immediately turns on Maria, accusing her of lying and betraying her trust, and the class once again splits apart. Meanwhile, the teachers learn that their school will soon be visited by a television show that wants to film the choral competition, and the begin to plot to use Maria as a shining example of the merits of their school (rehabilitating a troubled student). Maria continues to be troubled by how easily Hana draws in those around her, and how she is unable to make people happy herself. Until Yusuke, Shin, and Tomoyo appear to give her a pep talk, and Maria realizes for the first time that she can have a positive impact on the people around her, have true friends, and smile and laugh with them. Unfortunately, the girls aren’t thrilled about the turn of events, and begin to plot against Maria. Hana unites the class once more, but plans a scheme with the others girls to first ostracize and then force Maria to come to them, where they’ll accept her and look like the heroes. To make Maria look bad, the girls return her necklace, but remove and hide the charm, and write bad things about everyone in Maria’s choral book. When Maria goes out to stop Hana from searching for the charm, the other girls empty out her bag, revealing the supposedly lost charm, and the book, which they read to the class. Unfortunately for them, they attempted to break the bonds of Maria’s closest friends, those who know her well, and they immediately notice something is wrong.Hana’s scheme quickly unravels, and Maria announces that not only are they not friends, but she feels uneasy and cynical about Hana’s approaches and acts of “friendship.” She’s confused, because she wants to accept Hana’s kindness, but can’t seem to get rid of the bad feeling she has around her. She thinks it’s her fault, when it’s really quite obvious that Hana isn’t the angel she appears to be; but Maria wants to believe in her regardless.
It’s so nice to see Maria acting happily with friends. That’s all she’s wanted for the longest time, and now she has three of them who have her back, and who believe in her. One of the best parts in this volume is when the girls “reveal” the insulting things Maria has supposedly written about her friends, and Shin immediately speaks up and says that such a thing is completely unlike her. For one, she would always say something like that to their faces, and for another, she’d be much crueler. It’s a little sad, but also funny and heartwarming. He’s standing up for her by pointing out that she’s way worse than they’re making her out to be. Seeing Maria smile, though, genuinely smile, is enough to warm the coldest heart. She’s just so damn happy, for probably the first time in her life. She has people she can call friends, people she can trust. She can laugh with them, tell jokes, be sarcastic, argue, smile, touch, be herself. And they accept her completely. Shin, Yusuke, and Tomoyo are also slowly changing due to her influence. Tomoyo has become more outspoken and forward with her feelings. Yusuke has found someone who sees through his facade to his true self, and still accepts him. Shin…well, he’s sort of coming out of his shell a bit. Or dragged, more like. They’re an interesting group of friends, that’s for sure. Hana Ibuki, on the other hand…. Maria is right to feel uneasy around her. Hana appears to be a master manipulator, knowing just the right words to say to who, when to turn on the tears, how to wrap the teachers around her fingers. She’s the opposite of Yusuke with his “lovely spin,” who genuinely tries to be helpful and friendly with everyone, even if it’s forced at times. And even Yusuke is uncomfortable around Hana; likely he sees straight through her, since he’s known her the longest. Everyone else is either completely fooled by her act, or is playing along. With Maria around, she probably won’t be able to keep the act up much longer, since she has a knack for revealing a person’s true self. I just want to see Maria happy, you guys. To see her feel good about herself, to believe she’s not an evil or wretched person. Those moments are some of my favorites, and I hope there’s plenty more to come.
Review copy provided by Viz Media.