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Fairy Idol Kanon Vol. 1

Review

Fairy Idol Kanon Vol. 1

The sparkles and sweetness of Fairy Idol Kanon may make adults roll their eyes, but it’s written for young girls, and it’s best viewed through that lens. It’s about fairies, after all, and it puts a very important matter --- the fate of all the fairies --- into the hands of three girls who must accomplish a difficult, but rather fun, task --- they need to become famous singers.

Kanon, Kodama, and Marika are schoolmates, and they all love to sing. Marika is serious about it; she takes professional voice lessons and has ambitions of becoming a star someday. She’s also selfish, conceited, and shallow. Kanon is untutored but has great natural talent; when she sings, people say things like “I don’t know how to explain it, but your voice really makes me excited. It’s like you can make everyone happy just by being happy while you sing!”

The adventure starts when Kanon and her friends come across a little fairy lying on the ground. The fairy is ill, and she tells the girls that only one thing will make her better: Hearing the three of them singing in harmony. True to form, Marika demurs, but Kanon talks her into it, and together the girls sing the fairy back to health.

The fairy then explains that fairies get their energy from the sound of human singing. She gets a bit preachy here: “But lately, people do not appreciate songs as much. It’s all about trends and what’s popular. Fewer and fewer beautiful singing voices have been reaching the land of the fairies.”

The solution, of course, is to hijack that trend and have the girls become enormously popular singers. If there’s an especially weak point in this story’s logic, this is it: The only way to spread the beauty of song is to go on the Japanese equivalent of American Idol. So that’s what they do. Naturally, there are many obstacles to overcome: Kanon’s mother disapproves of the whole enterprise, their first competition is fixed, and the girls run up against a nasty competitor with some supernatural powers of her own.

This manga is actually a very familiar sort of kids’ story, dressed up with references to an American Idol-type show. The lead character, Kanon, is obviously the chosen one --- the other girls are good singers, but Kanon’s voice reaches people in a special way. The story actually sends an odd mixed message: On the one hand, Kanon has natural talent and is willing to work hard to attain her goal: That’s good. But Marika’s ambition is presented as bad. The difference lies in the fact that Marika is selfish and wants to be the star, while Kanon is self-effacing and team-oriented.

As with the other Udon books, the storytelling is kept simple, with expressive characters and just a few word balloons per page. Kanon is sweet, Marika is selfish, Kodama is nerdy. Evil is signaled by black clouds floating around a character. The grownups are loving but don’t always get it; only the girls know what’s really going on. And the fairy sprinkles just enough magic to keep things moving --- she leaves the serious problem-solving to the girls themselves. And that’s the best thing about this book --- the fact that the girls are empowered to work together (admittedly sometimes in goofy ways) to achieve their common goal.

Reviewed by Brigid Alverson on June 14, 2009

Fairy Idol Kanon Vol. 1
by Mera Hakamada

  • Publication Date: June 14, 2009
  • Genres: Manga
  • Paperback: 200 pages
  • Publisher: Udon Entertainment
  • ISBN-10: 1897376898
  • ISBN-13: 9781897376898