Sayonara Piano Sonata Review
Sayonara Piano Sonata is a light novel series illustrated by Ueda Ryou, and written by Hikaru Sugii, who had also written for one other series called Kamisama no Memochou which I’m sure most anime viewers would recognize, since it had an anime adaption.
Sayonara Piano Sonata puts us into the shoes of Hikawa Naomi, a son of a music critic, who, almost by a stroke of luck and accident, met Ebisawa Mafuyu, a famous young prodigy pianist who suddenly disappeared from the music world. At almost around the same time, Naomi’s childhood friend and senior in high school, Chiaki and Kagurazaka was making preparations for a new club – the Folk Music Research Club which was essentially just an excuse as a get-together to form a rock band. A series of events led both Naomi and Mafuyu into joining the rock band as well, and thus starts off a musical journey of both turbulence and tranquility; rock and classical.
Sayonara Piano Sonata portrays a simple slice-of-life romance, and a beautiful coming-of-age story. The characters really grow on you, although Naomi’s denseness, almost typical of most harem leads may be slightly disappointing to some in terms of characterizations preferences, and indeed drama ensures around his folly, denseness and inferiority. Aside from him, some other characters had interpersonal issues as the story progresses, and the story balances these frustrating dramas with great character developments and resolutions, especially Naomi and Mafuyu, transforming all those melancholy into a bittersweet ending.
Indeed, what I like about the story as a full package, is it’s pacing – it does not drag out any further than is necessary. Throughout the four volumes (including some extra chapters from the additional fifth volume, please refer to the note below), we can definitely see the bumpy developments the characters underwent along the course of the story, and the story managed to conclude these developments in a very beautiful conclusion in the span of four volumes.
From the synopsis above, you must be assuming that there would be lots of music scenes, and indeed there were and aside from the story, these scenes are another aspect of Sayonara Piano Sonata that I really love, especially since there are both classical music and rock music in the series, which both genres of music are some of my favorites. One might ask though, how can a light novel series with only text and a meager amount of pictures, depict these musical scenes? Well, wordplay. I didn’t watch nor read a lot of Hikaru Sugii’s works, in fact, I didn’t even watch Kamisama no Memochou, but Hikaru Sugii’s style with words during the musical scenes are really unique – what he could not do with sound, he replaced it with poetic monologues and textual abstract symbolism. During these parts of the scenes, he may even touched on the history and origin of how these specific pieces came about, referencing composers, classical musicians and rock bands like Mozart, Beethoven, Paganini, Eagle and Led Zeppelin. Personally speaking, if there is an anime adaption, one thing I would love to see, or hear, for that matter, is Mafuyu playing classical pieces on the electric guitar – something she consistently did during the beginning parts of the story.
Other than that, there may be some musical terms and theories in the story that may be not too “info-friendly” to some, but I feel these don’t really ruin the overall series much. Still, since there were so many musical references, it does bring to mind another question – is it necessary for readers to appreciate classical and rock music to a certain degree to like this light novel? I believe no, although even aside from this aspect of the novel, the slice-of-life part of the story itself already tells a great tale by itself. Who knows, perhaps this novel would light a newfound interest and passion in music genres you almost never came into contact with.
The illustrations of the light novel looks really good – bright and vivid colors were used in the front covers and introductory pages. Both of the characters and backgrounds were very nicely defined, down to the very intricate details like the lining, lighting and angle. I did found the illustrations, especially the black-and-white ones inside the novel to be a bit more rougher during the first few volumes, but in the newer volumes, the illustrations themselves changed into a more softer and smoother look, which is definitely a welcoming change. Overall, I had only praise for Sayonara Piano Sonata’s artwork, if nothing more. The illustrations are beautiful – reflecting the magical ambiance that the light novel conveyed.
Sayonara Piano Sonata is a really great light novel, and it may very well becomes my next favorite title from the ones I had read. It is an endearing coming-of-age tale – a journey of hardships, self-discovery, romance and music.
Note: Aside from the four main volumes, there is an additional fifth volume called “Encore Pieces”. Bonus stories are told in this volume and two chapters here: “sonate pour deux” and “Nobody sleeps tonight”, continues the main storyline of Sayonara Piano Sonata, and I really recommend everyone to read them as well. It gives the series a much more stronger sense of closure.