La Magnifique Grande Scène
The Magnificent Grand Scene
絢爛たるグランドセーヌ (Kenrantaru Grande Scene)
Shounen – Slice-of-life, sports
1 Volume of 10 Volumes of 20 Volumes (ongoing)
Media Do (Akita Publishing)
When Kanade goes to see a ballet performance featuring her neighbor Risa, she’s enthralled. Young Kanade wants dance as wonderfully as Risa does as soon as possible! But while ballet is full of grace and beauty, the path to being a ballerina is hard and full of disappointment.
What’s the first sports manga that comes to your mind? Chances are it involves a team of boys (usually good-looking guys in middle or high school) sweating it out to eke out a victory in a tournament by even a single point. Manga involving the major sports like baseball (Ace of the Diamond) and basketball (Slam Dunk) are incredibly popular and thrive on this formula. However, the sports manga genre is much larger than the competitive events you see on TV or at the Olympics, like the popular Chihayafuru.
Regardless of which sports manga is your favorite, La Magnifique Grande Scène is hardly the type of manga you’d classify in the sports genre at first glance. Even though people have debated over the years where dancing is a sport, the beautiful ballerina on the cover exudes grace, unlike the passionate, determined players on the covers of manga like Ace of the Diamond and Slam Dunk or even the similar Welcome to the Ballroom.
The author does a good job of trying to make readers fall in love with the story right away, just as Kanade does with ballet. The opening pages are in color, and the smile Risa gives and then the flashy costume on the title page lets you know you are in for one artistic ride.
Before I go further, I want to say one thing: while the manga’s cover shows La Magnifique Grande Scène, which is also used as the non-Japanese title on Japanese volumes, this series is listed as The Magnificent Grand Scene on eBook stores. Confusing! Why use the full French name on the cover but go with an English title that is no where on the cover?!
Kanade wants to start ballet after seeing her high school-aged neighbor dance. Her parents are a bit skeptical that this isn’t just a fad, but Kanade persuades them. But after two months, Kanade becomes frustrated that her dancing is “ugly”, but it’s Risa who helps her. But ultimately, Kanade has to improve on her own. Several years have passed by the end of the volume, and while a couple of Kanade’s classmates like her friend Shoko have graduated into pointe shoes, she’s still in ballet flats. She has managed to get a solo, and both Kanade and Shoko have their own concerns about their next performance.
And that’s where the first volume ends. This is still an ongoing manga, so I am curious as to how many years of Kanade’s life La Magnifique Grande Scène covers. High school? Adult life? Like most sports manga protagonists, Kanade is seemingly average, but she has a natural gift: observation. So this could allow her to close the gap between her and more experienced or naturally talented dancers, but I’m guessing that there will be drawbacks to her ability. In addition, it’s men’s ballet that gives her the mental breakthrough she needed to dance her first solo, and maybe there will be some conflict between what’s suited for her versus her ideal.
I do like how the manga doesn’t jump right from Kanade getting interested in ballet to several years later. We get to see her being a child and not just a child prodigy, unlike in some other stories. Upon realizing it will be years before getting pointe shoes, Kanade “borrows” a pair from the lost and found and tries them on. She bursts into tears when she thinks her dancing is no good. Even at the end, she wholeheartedly admits she’s jealous of Shoko for wearing pointe shoes. But we also see her maturing, setting out to make her first solo a success even though she’s doing it in flats. The manga feels like it could be a wonderful journey of not only Kanade’s career but her personally. Like, the ending shows that Kanade and Shoko are close friends, but I’m sure eventually, they’re going to be auditioning for the same roles. As the stakes become higher in terms of finances and recognition, how will their bond be tested? Both love ballet, and I want to see them overcome their personal trials.
The manga has a sense of realism that other similar manga lack. Case in point: the parents. First of all, it’s almost a miracle that Kanade has two parents since it’s very common in fiction to have one-parent households. But — and hold on to your seats — they’re supporting their daughter. Like, they actually show up and volunteer backstage. Of course, they have a private discussion where they wonder how tough it will be if Kanade decides to go pro, but mom and dad know their Kanade is happy when she’s performing. This is a wonderful change of pace from parents who are either old-fashioned or are clueless about their child’s skills and dreams. I’m sure there will be conflicts since Kanade is being billed as a ballet otaku, but that adds to the believability of the story.
So far, though, the manga isn’t spending much time on the ballet basics. While reading, don’t expect diagrams explaining things like first position, plié and sauté. Perhaps more explanations will be included as Kanade and Shoko do more performances and advance techniques versus basic stances and practices. The end of the manga provides a little information, which is a start.
The art, as I mentioned earlier, is great. It’s very soft and clean, and the costumes are fabulous. Lots of emphasis is placed on the legs and feet, which is to be expected. The layout tends to be simple until it gets to the dances. I do like how Kanade’s observation abilities are shown as her literally picturing what she’s seen, as an outline. Chapters can end suddenly, like when Risa and Kanade get ready to perform The Nutcracker but then immediately shows the performance, but it’s actually the next chapter! It was almost like why are there named chapters in this manga if it’s going to connect like that.
Also, Cuvie is mostly an adult manga author, so after learning this, my mind kind of sees some of that in her characters’ expressions. Sorry if you cannot unsee this either!
Well, besides my complaints about the title from earlier…
No honorifics are used. The cast for The Nutcracker is left in Japanese. The names of the ballet poses are all kept in their native French. There were a few times that either the subject or the speaker of the line was misconstrued, as the expressions don’t match what is being said. There are some other typos as well, but it’s steps ahead of some other Media Do titles.
La Magnifique Grande Scène looks like a wonderful manga with a great aesthetic, realism, and yet is as passionate about its central “sport” as any other manga in its genre.
CMX released a part of Cuvie’s Dorothea. FAKKU has released many of her hentai stories including the compilation Alluring Woman.
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