Cross Infinite World's first digital light novel release aimed at girls may go down a familiar path, but the later chapters of My Favorite Song ~The Silver Siren~ show that there's more to this story than first meets the eye!
Title: My Favorite Song ~The Silver Siren~
Publisher: Cross Infinite World (US)
Creators: Kairi Aragusuku (story), Ako Tenma (art)
Translation: Charis Messier
Release Date: May 16, 2016
Review copy provided by Cross Infinite World
Quick! Name a light novel!
You got one?
Did you guess Sword Art Online? Kizumonogatari? No Game No Life? Something else? Well, I am not psychic, so I can’t guess the title you chose. But I am almost 100% positive you picked a series that targets males. It’s not that females can’t enjoy these series, but light novels for females have been nearly non-existent in the English-language market.
Well, Cross Infinite World hopes to end that trend. Their first release is My Favorite Song ~The Silver Siren~ Vol. 1, the opening volume to Kairi Aragusuku’s web-published series.
Available only as a digital ebook, My Favorite Song ~The Silver Siren~ stars Kanon, a normal girl preparing for graduation and the real world outside of school. Instead, thanks to some mysterious sheet music, she finds herself in another world, the land of Reveur. The people here are recovering from war, but they believe Kanon is the legendary Silver Siren who will destroy their country with the power of song. Kanon is quickly imprisoned, but a mysterious man promises to return her to Earth. With the help of a Sorcerer named Rag, his pet monster Boo, and the mercenary Serene, the group sets off on a journey.
The basic plot has been done before: protagonist ends up in another world and is part of a legend feared by many. However, while in most cases the main character is the legendary hero, Kanon is the legendary villain. My Favorite Song ~The Silver Siren~ further puts a little spin on the tale with Kanon’s abilities being linked to song. (Think Mermaid Melody Pichi Pichi Pitch.) While I am definitely not musically inclined, it’s hard to imagine a world without charming little ditties or emotional ballads. Reveur is not only hunting for the Silver Siren, but they also are treating the people of their conquered lands cruelly. I can actually understand why Kanon agrees to travel to another country and try to help them out.
That last part is really surprising since My Favorite Song just kind of drifts along for much of the beginning. Kanon acts as the volume’s main narrator, and she is pretty lax on details. Even now, pretty much only thing I could tell you about her is that she loves music. I don’t know her other likes or dislikes, and I honestly can’t even remember if she reveals what she’s doing after graduation. After almost 30 chapters, I feel like I should know the protagonist well.
Then, about a third of the way, it hit me: it isn’t the story I wasn’t enjoying; it’s the medium. While all the random singing would make My Favorite Song seem better as an anime, I actually think it’s closer to an otome game. OK, the series is a little low on eligible bachelors, but the short dialogue and descriptions really would suit a visual novel. I felt like I should be holding my Vita instead of my iPad. At many points, I could just picture the options pop up on my screen:
(Oh, no! That little boy is injured! What should I do?)
- Jump out.
- Keep hiding.
- Shout out.
Once I started reading My Favorite Song as a visual novel script rather than a book, the entertainment factor went up. (The series even has a doujin visual novel on the author’s website.) Kanon, as the heroine, is a pretty blank slate since the “player” can fill in parts of her personality. It all makes sense!
Meanwhile, her main allies represent some familiar tropes. Rag is the common acts-like-a-jerk-but-is-sweet-deep-inside love interest. Serene is a scantily-clad female warrior with a weakness for cute boys, a form Rag takes whenever he uses his abilities. While Serene’s obsession with Rag’s boy form is supposed to funny, it comes off as almost creepy.
The story picks up once Kanon finds her way to the country of Verklart. These chapters are heads above the rest. Reveur finally starts being its own land instead of Generic Fantasy World. Events start to connect together instead of being a random string of occurrences. The characters start to break out of their one-dimensional shell. With a little bit of drama, romance, and action mixed together, the Verklart arc is what I want to see in a good shoujo fantasy. Even a familiar damsel-in-distress scene is implemented well. We get to see Kanon as an ordinary girl caught up in a world with different rules and has real reasons to be scared. This is a stark contrast to her too pragmatic attitude when she was first imprisoned upon arriving in Renforcer. This arc really is good.
On the downside, the volume goes for a little too long. Arugushuku just doesn’t quite know how to wrap up this tale and set up for the next adventure. Kanon and her friends go on a quick journey that is mostly skipped in the text anyway. It’s a bit disappointing to see the writing take a step backward. I wish the author had just ended My Favorite Song with Kanon saying she’s ready to visit other places and started the next volume with Kanon and crew ready to properly depart. Perhaps if Arugushuku had an editor, she could have tightened up these sloggish parts.
From what I gather, the illustrations are something new added for the English-language version. As My Favorite Song has no official Japanese release, Cross Infinite World took the step to make this more like a typical light novel volume. Tenma’s art is a bit different from the gallery on Aragusuku’s site, but Tenma’s version of Kanon definitely looks more like a mature young woman than the cheerful version online. Several images are scattered throughout the book, and a color character page is included. I am really impressed the company went the extra mile to give this release a professional (i.e. standard light novel) presentation.
The translation was of higher quality than I had expected. Leise’s speech, for instance, comes across as more formal than her brother’s. The song lyrics aren’t rewritten to add in rhymes like most Western songs have. Even the honorifics’ replacements are consistent. I did notice a few extra commas and a few other errors, but I felt like this translation comes alive more than many other anime, manga, and even light novel adaptations.
Ultimately, I think visual novel fans — especially otome game fans — will enjoy My Favorite Song ~The Silver Siren~ Volume 1 the most. The fact that Kanon is a narrator with a minimal personality and background just reinforces that feeling. If you prefer more defined narrators or tend to primarily be an anime watcher, then you might want to sample this book before buying. Just be aware that the later chapters are what make this worth buying, not the beginning.