Those Snow White Notes Vol. 1 Review – Shamisen, Dreams and Comedy

    Title: Those Snow White Notes Vol. 1
    Author: Marimo Ragawa
    Release Date: March 30, 2021
    Publisher: Kodansha Comics

Those Snow White Notes is a manga series that tells the story of a young boy who plays a Japanese instrument known as shamisen. However, more than that premise, the first volume is a work that focuses on developing the main character’s current situation.

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It all starts with the death of the protagonist’s grandfather. When that happens, Setsu finds himself grieving for that loss. Not only was he the person he liked the most, but he also had an immense admiration for his grandpa’s skillful shamisen play and wanted to be like him.

To try and find some sound that could inspire him, he decides to move to Tokyo. Once he gets there, Setsu finds himself lost in the middle of the lights and noise. However, he finds a girl called Yuna who saves the boy from trouble and takes him to her house.

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Living with her for a while, Setsu gets to see a little of Yuna’s life and has some experiences he wouldn’t have by staying home. Her story is an interesting one, as she also strives for her dream, which is to become a famous actress.

Their encounter is one of those events that feels a little like fate. Both of them are at their lowest, trying to achieve something in life. It’s a short and intense situation, and they simply can’t stay the same.

Because of what’s going on in the narrative, the story is quite emotional, with scenes in which the characters are thinking deeply being normal. This also works naturally well with the mangaka’s art style. It’s soft, intimate, and frequently detail-oriented.

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However, humorous events are also counterbalanced, some of which feel entirely surreal, unrealistic, and frankly stupid. Especially after the first chapter ends and Setsu’s mom is introduced, who is a force to be reckoned with.

Loaded with cash, she has no common sense, and she tries to get everything and everyone to play her tune. Though that might not work for some readers, I found this contrast very entertaining, as these wacky and comical situations helped alleviate some of the manga’s heaviness.

The story also covers a little of Setsu’s past and his troubled family situation. It’s interesting to see that Setsu’s brother also plays the shamisen and them having other people who could be considered rivals because of it. I’m looking forward to seeing how this side will play out and if the series will cover some more specific trivia on the instrument over time.

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It’s still early to judge where Those Snow White Notes is going. The first volume alternates between serious, emotion-heavy thoughts of “looking for one’s self and worth” and some events that are hard to take seriously. However, I’m inclined to say it’s an entertaining start.


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Ivanir Ignacchitti

Random Japanese games are my jam. Handhelds, RPGs, VNs and PC banzai.