Title: Piano Duo for the Left Hand Vol. 1
Author: Kenta Matsuoka
Release Date: March 15, 2022
Publisher: Kodansha Comics
Piano Duo for the Left Hand Vol. 1 is a drama manga with a unique setup. Sometimes, life is simply unfair, and, even so, we have to continue onward. When people feel lost and stranded, music can be a refreshing oasis or a chance to express oneself.
Not everyone has the opportunity to feel that magic connection to music, though. Piano Duo for the Left Hand tells the story of a young man called Shusuke Matoba. He’s a delinquent, or rather, someone who lives by his own rules.
He has an awful family situation, and trouble always seems to find him wherever he goes. Though he isn’t a bad person at heart, he just became numb about everything around him. But worst of it all, he lives in a world where he can’t see worth in himself.
However, his teacher hasn’t given up on the boy and decides to take him to the recital of the young talent at school, the pianist Akari Yuzuki. Unbeknownst to Shusuke, this event will be a life-changer to him. Even though at the moment, he acted just like usual, with his empty eyes and bored attitude.
Shusuke and Akari are opposites but also peas of a pod. Both of them believe in the importance of living by your own rules. However, while the boy went into a self-destructive path, the girl became a radiant ray of hope who lives her dream.
In but an instant, a tragic event changes their lives forever. Left with guilt and regret, the protagonist feels he has no right to live anymore. It’s then that the story takes a weird twist related to its title, though I won’t spoil that. Instead of dying, he decides to apply himself to music. Though the story barely dives into his psychological state, it manages to show pieces of it clearly. He finally has a goal in life, but he has no love for himself.
Even so, playing music is a form of expressing oneself. As he learns how to play the piano, he’ll have to find some spark of life in himself. As the volume reaches the latter chapters, we finally get a glimpse of his skills and learn that even his self-deprecating self can be a unique form of play.
While the story’s somewhat supernatural flair may not be for readers who prefer a more realistic depiction, the volume makes a good case for its characters. It’s easy to see how such an event could leave such a scar on the protagonist, and there’s a lot of room for growth in the following volumes.
Mangaka Kenta Matsuoka tends towards over-the-top dramatic expressions. His art style makes for vibrant pieces all around and complements character movement with the feeling that it carries a breeze. This gusty element forms a unique, whimsical aura for the instrument playing.
Piano Duo for the Left Hand Vol. 1 is a compelling beginning for a dramatical manga. When you’ve grown numb to reality, valuing yourself isn’t an easy matter, and music is a unique way to express oneself. I’m eager to see how the protagonist will grow and if he can find some joy through the piano.
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