Anonymous Noise Vol. 1 TP
Publisher: VIZ Media
Release Date: March 7, 2017
Price: $9.99
Creator: Ryoko Fukuyama
Format: 192 pgs., Black & White, Trade Paperback
ISBN: 978-1-4215-9420-0
Age Rating: 13+
ICv2 Rating: 4 Stars out of 5

Manga that features music as its central theme can be a very tricky thing indeed.  As the story plays out and characters break out into song, it's natural as a reader to want to hear that melody so that they can fully immerse themselves in the emotion being expressed through music.  This is just the burden that this particular genre carries and it can be a difficult road to traverse.

In the series Anonymous Noise, the story begins with a very young girl named Nino who uses music to escape her real life troubles such as her parents constantly fighting.  As she grows older she continues to sing with Momo, her friend next door, until one night she finds out that his family has moved away suddenly.  Night after night Nino continues to sing in the hopes that Momo will suddenly reappear and start singing with her before eventually realizing that he's not coming back any time soon.

Fast forward a couple of years and now she is in middle school.  While walking to school one day she encounters a boy named Yuzu who is drawing music notes in the beach sand.  Every Wednesday afterward the two meet up on the beach to create music together until one day Yuzu stops appearing and once again our heroine is left alone.  From there the story fast forwards to high school and the story really begins.

Starting the story with a lifelong flashback sequence was easily one of the most wonderful things this series could have done to get us involved with the main character.  Instead of coming back to it later or telling us in throwaway dialogue what this character went through in the past would never have worked.  Spending a couple of chapters on Nino's past and how she developed her love for music is an incredibly moving experience and will hook readers emotionally right away.

As good as the story and characters are though, this is still a music manga which will leave some readers desiring the full aural package that will be delivered in the Spring 2017 anime adaptation.  Regardless of which package you pick though, you'll be left in good hands as this series is off to an amazing start which will hopefully continue for many more volumes to come.

-- L.B. Bryant