16 Life, by AIKAWA Saki

16 Life, by AIKAWA Saki
Title: 16 Life
Author: AIKAWA Saki
ISBN# 4978-4-09-133226-4
Flower Comics, 2010

It’s time to venture back into the world of the Japanese entertainment industry as depicted in shoujo manga! I guess manga about idols are really popular, if publishers keep having authors churn out so many similar series. Here is AIKAWA Saki’s take on the idol world type of story. I have already talked about a few of this author’s works on here. I really like them, even though she has a habit of making most of her female characters look nearly identical, and the guys are almost identical too (they will usually have 1 of 3 possible hair styles). Still, even though all the characters look the same from series to series, they ARE pretty characters, so I won’t be too critical there. I do hope she eventually does something to differentiate them some more. Anyway, this is the first volume of a series, and it’s pretty fun so far.

The heroine of our story is a high school girl named Saya. She is cute, reasonably smart, and has a lot of friends at school. However, she has one problem — she is not sure what she wants to be when she grows up. Her teacher has passed out one of those career guidance forms where you’re supposed to write down a few possible future goals for yourself, and Saya isn’t quite sure what to write. She is envious of some of her classmates who have drive and know exactly what they want to do. Saya’s friends think she should put down ‘singer’ as her career choice, because Saya is a great singer. But Saya disagrees. Her voice isn’t all that, and she doesn’t have the confidence to do that sort of thing and sing in front of an audience.

Even though she lacks the confidence to sing in public, it doesn’t stop her from singing to herself. Truthfully, Saya does love singing, and she frequently goes to karaoke booths by herself to sing in private. It is during one such trip that Saya’s voice is heard from outside the room by just the right person, and she gets discovered! Takase-san is a young man in his 20’s, who is a top producer for a talent/record company. He is at the karaoke shop in search of one of his signed talents, Naoto (who has an infuriating habit of going to karaoke booths and singing his own songs, lol). When Takase hears Saya sing, he immediately finds her room and introduces himself to her. He gives her his card, and wants her to come meet with him at his record company.

Naturally, Saya is skeptical of this strange guy and his claims of being an agent/producer/record company guy. Can she really trust him? Not that it matters, she doesn’t want to be a professional singer anyway. But one slight accident resulting in Saya crushing Takase’s very expensive custom-made glasses, and Saya is suddenly in a lot of debt to him. To help her earn what she owes him for the glasses, she must come to the recording studio and work part time. Saya is extremely reluctant, but she has no choice. Of course, we can see that this is an obvious attempt to get Saya to come to the studio and sing for him. Takase really believes she has what it takes to be successful!

Why is Saya so shy? Where is her self-confidence? Everyone says she is a great singer, but she just can’t believe it. She is oblivious to the looks of amazement at the recording studio when the techs in the recording booth hear her voice. Takase has found a major talent here!

Saya lives up to her obligation and works at the studio, and sings for Takase. As she spends more time there, she begins to get an understanding of how important a person Takase is. He is actually a very famous and sought-after producer and songwriter! Realizing what an important person he is is a bit intimidating. He’s very good looking, too. She is not unaffected by his presence. As for Takase, he is touched by the genuine joy Saya shows when she is singing (he actually blushes when he watches her!) and really wants to build her confidence. There is a budding attraction between this awkward pair… and he soon makes a surprising proclamation! Oh, but things aren’t that easy, there are obstacles, too!

The first is the age and status difference between Saya and Takase. She’s a young novice singer, he’s a seasoned pro. Then there is the adorable Yunosuke, a cute guy at Saya’s school who is good friends with her. They have been classmates since junior high, and it’s obvious that he has feelings for her. For a dash of fun, we have the antics of hot idol singer Naoto, one of the guys under Takase’s label. He has a way of bringing Saya out of her shell. Next is Saya’s issues with believing in herself. It turns out that the source of Saya’s weakness is her own family. In fact, it’s her older sister, who is also a singer. Saya can never quite live up to her sister’s greatness…. or can she?

What will the future hold for Saya? Things are just getting started!

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