A story that begins with a shout.
Title: Anonymous Noise (Fukumenkei Noise)
Publisher: Hakusensha (JP), Viz Media (US)
Artist/Writer: Ryoko Fukuyama
Translation: JN Productions
Original Release Date: March 7, 2017
A review copy was provided by Viz Media
Nino Arisugawa has always loved singing, but she’s been betrayed by it twice.
First was when her best friend and singing partner Momo moved away with no warning, and then a second time when her friend and songwriter Yuzu equally suddenly stopped hanging out with her.
Now in high school, Arisugawa wears a face mask at all times to keep herself from screaming out but when Yuzu suddenly reappears at her high school and circumstances force the two of them into performing together, it seems like her voice is one more people want to hear.
This is a bit of a chaotic first volume; setting up a love triangle by having Arisugawa repeat nearly the exact same circumstances with Yuzu as Momo feels like a lukewarm set-up and it also makes conveying the basic premise much more confusing. As the volume progresses it turns out that both boys also apparently have connections to the music industry and they both want to use Arisugawa’s voice as well. Slow down Ryoko Fukuyama, you gotta make the guys in a love triangle at least a little different after all!
This first volume has quite a few rough patches even outside of the love triangle. For instance, Arisugawa’s face mask-wearing convention feels very soap opera-esque even for a shojo manga (The story shows that her parents are going through a rough patch but geeze, could one of you take this poor girl to a psychiatrist just to make sure everything is alright?).
The background characters blur together and the art is also very busy. That may be intentional however — the crowded, almost claustrophobic art fits the musical scenes where Arisugawa pours out her emotions very nicely but for the rest of the story it feels like a bit of a mismatch.
After reading this volume I’m very curious what kind of music the anime will be using, with the way the manga conveys Arisugawa’s singing not as a series of lyrics but as a mess of notes. I imagined a rather raw sound like death metal, or even a really intense j-rock sound. Peppy J-pop will not cut it for this series and in my opinion any music without really strong vocals wouldn’t be enough to reflect the wild and unconstrained feeling Arisugawa unleashes while singing.
Despite the uneven edges to Volume 1 of Anonymous Noise, there’s enough intrigue for me to read the second volume and I’m curious as to how the anime translates all of these musical scenes. The love triangle fills me with no confidence however, much like the rest of the story and its art seems overly complicated and not nearly as interesting as the manga-ka believes it is. But if the story continues to focus on the ways that music has given Arisugawa both comfort and rejection then this could be a great manga.