When I started this blog in 2013, I had the thought that I’d try to avoid books based on TV shows and video games, but after reading My Girlfriend is a Nine-Tailed Fox last year, I’ve decided to amend that rule. Not only do some of those books have legitimate pedagogy behind using them, they have interesting premises, and if the franchise hires a good writer, they can even be high quality. It’s with that in mind that I decided on this series’ new selection, one of the two or three novels associated with La Corda D’oro, called I Can Do It For Your Sake by Megumi Fujino (藤野恵美の”金色のコルダ:君のためにできること”).
La Corda D’Oro was originally a dating simulation game that was later turned into a really good anime, manga and two novels. The title translates literally in Italian to The Golden String. The game was originally created by Yuki Kure, who also drew the manga version. They hired an experienced novelist, Megumi Fujino, to write the books for the franchise; she was reported to have won the Junior Adventure Fiction Award in 2003 for one of her first books, and she writes for both children and adults. Here is her personal blog for those who can read Japanese, and her listing of complete works is on the 著作リストpage:
This is her page on Amazon Japan showing her complete works that are available for purchase in Japanese:
There’s not much out there in English on her particularly, but maybe if I have some extra time I’ll do a quick profile of her on my affiliate blog and get some more info for you. Here is where you can buy the book we’re reading now:
The anime version is available to stream for free here:
Now that I’ve gotten the preliminaries out of the way, without further ado, let’s get started with the novel. The basic story of La Corda D’Oro is that high school student Kahoko Hino is in the general studies program of a high school, Seiso Academy, that has a special department for musicians. One day, Kahoko is given a magical violin by a fairy named Lili, who encourages her to play it in the upcoming competition being held by the music studies program. She finds she can play almost anything on the violin even though she never studied it, and her sudden ability and appearance at the contest with mostly bishonen (pretty boy) male contestants from the music department makes her the focus of their curiosity and competitiveness. It’s a fun series, full of Western classical music of course, and I suspect that the main character of Kahoko is as bland in the books as in the series, functioning more as a Mary Sue, but we’ll see. The other music students in the original contest whom she befriends include Len Tsukimori, Azuma Yunoki, Keiichi Shimizu, Kazuki Hihara, Ryotaro Tsuchiura, and the lone girl, Shoko Fuyuumi.
The novel of course picks up long after the original story is established, and it runs to 284 pages with five chapters called scores, each chapter focusing on a different one of the boys. They seem more like vignettes or short stories and don’t appear to have an overarching storyline. The book starts off with a very brief prologue explaining the school divisions and the music contest, which I already mentioned above. It also mentions the golden statue of a fairy gleaming that morning on its pedestal. This of course is Lili.
Chapter one focuses on second year music student Len Tsukimori and is titled “A Lullaby for You.” The action starts in a classroom after lunch. A window is open with a faint breeze blowing through it as the strains of a violin can be heard. The song that the student Len is playing is Gabriel Fauré’s “Lullaby.” Here is the song:
It’s Thursday fifth period, which is his technique class. Some of his classmates have already dozed off during his practice session and didn’t see his skillful playing, but since it was just after lunch, this was to be expected. Len bows once he finishes the piece, but he thinks back on all of the mistakes he made while playing it. He thinks of Kahoko playing that piece the day before and assesses her playing for a little bit here. However, Kahoko doesn’t make much of an appearance in this chapter outside of Len thinking about her.
There is a contest or more than one contest, but for the most part, the chapter doesn’t focus on those. It’s a fairly slow, slice of life scene where Len talks with his teacher about musical technique and musical selections for performance. The teacher thinks Len gave a good performance in class, and his fellow students clap for him. Class ends, and he takes his violin out with him, thinking it needs tuned. He goes to a music shop near one of the train stations where they can test it to see where the problem is since he can’t figure out which string is the problem on his own. He talks with the shopkeeper, noting the other stringed instruments for sale around them. Taking his violin out of its case, Len thinks about violin makers.
As Len checks the various strings on his violin, someone enters the shop, a girl carrying a cello case. She has flaxen hair and green eyes, maybe is ten years old. They strike up a conversation. Len notices that she has a German accent, and they decide she should play a song on the violin, which brings back memories for him. He finishes up his business at the shop, but the girl disappears.
The next day in English class, he tries to pronounce the words and thinks of the girl at the shop and her violin playing. After class, he goes to the practice room with other music student, but today he doesn’t have his violin and needs to go pick it up after school. He comes across Shimizu sleeping on the school lawn with his huge cello case. Former Seiso student Oosaki appears, too, among the crowd of students. They discussion how Shimizu seems to dream about music, walks around in a dream world, and the gentle quality of his music when he plays. They wake Shimizu and discuss having a concert with Kahoko, who again is not in the scene, as well as what music to select for it.
After school, Len is waiting for Kahoko, but she doesn’t show. He sees a nice car and wonders if it is rich kid Yunoki from the music department, but it isn’t. It is that German girl, whose name turns out to be Anna. She’s with two men in black suits, and an old woman is in the car with her. She jumps out and grabs Len’s hand, pulling him toward the school. They sit at a bench, and she asks him about sheet music. When Len gets around to introducing himself, the text does an odd thing and uses katakana for his name from then on when it has used kanji up to this point.
For some reason I’m unclear onwhohas, Anna has a letter and is looking for her mother, who is Japanese. Then they discuss going to a train station to play the violin there in addition to other topics like Paganini, concerts, practicing at the hotel and performing. Finally Len mentions the golden fairy statute in front of the school and how it really likes music. They are soon joined by music teacher Kanazawa and a cat that runs playfully around the lawn, meowing, and getting Anna’s attention. I think she is speaking German with Len for some of this because he has to translate at times for Kanazawa.
Kanazawa organizes the contests, and they discuss a junior contest that Anna can play the violin in. It seems there is some sort of alumni issue that arises and that her mother might have graduated from Seiso, but I’m not clear on the meaning of that part. She does give him her mother’s name and then thanks him profusely, so that must have taken care of the problem.
Len leaves school with Anna and takes the bus with her after she escapes with him out of the rear door leading from the school to avoid her entourage at the car. They talk more about “Lullaby” on the way. Then they ride the train and talk more about her parents playing music when she was small and it was time for bed, and Len thinks “Lullaby” suits that situation. When they get out at their destination, they’re looking for the place Anna’s mother lives. They find it, and Anna says she wants Len to meet her mother, but they don’t meet her mother just yet. There’s a contest the next morning, and after it’s over, she’s supposed to be returning to Germany. They talk some more about music.
When they stop at the violin store, Len’s violin is fixed, and he returns it to its case. After spending a little time there, Len leads her to a train station and tries to figure out which entrance her mother might arrive through. Anna is looking for her mother, but Len can’t really help since he doesn’t know what she looks like. He takes out his violin and starts playing “Lullaby” since it is significant to both mother and daughter. As he plays the song a few times, people gather around and clap. He thinks briefly of Kahoko and continues playing for a long time, but he’s interrupted by Seiso graduate Oosaki, who also takes out his violin and joins him in a duet. Anna’s mother arrives and sees the concert, and she is reunited with Anna.
After class the following Monday, Len is again playing “Lullaby,” and he just generally feels happy. It’s a very sweet short story, but this is a series that really does have a lot of that feel good appeal in general, though the anime series really focuses on Kahoko and her problems with the new magical violin that she’s given. This novel so far has a lighter story and appears to develop the male characters a bit more. Next time we’ll cover two more of the boys’ backstories.
Part one of a three part series.