This is by far the hardest title I’ve had to rate this Summer.
The issue is, is it good? Or is it bad? These changes, these situations that arise in these two central characters. Their sudden, unexpected changes. They lead to growth, but there doesn’t ever seem to be any definition to them. It’s kind of like having instant gratification, except in this case, in the form of character development. But it’s not quite sudden, either. These characters mope and overthink every little thing. If anything, this story is an excellent case of why communication is key in a relationship. For two people who claim to be dating and/or are in love with each other, they don’t really open up to each other (emotionally) very often. There’s build-up, but to what? It almost seems like what they worry about doesn’t match what they learn in the end. Like trying to learn how to cook a pizza from scratch, only to discover that you’re really good at repairing refrigerators. But to have these characters face these unexpected developments is good for making their lives feel realistic, but it just feels like a letdown for those wanting genuine strides made between two people.
Even my thoughts are jumbled.
Let’s see if I can hammer this down one by one. Let me start out by saying that Octave is not what you expect it to be. To call it a romance is a stretch. From my perspective, this is a story about finding yourself. Romance is only an attribute used to further develop oneself. Sex, homosexuality, the former life of an idol, all of these things only attribute to the main focus of peering into the mind of the female lead. In a sense, this story is almost like following the female lead as she reacts to these new developments happening in her life. She is the main character, and you know it from the very beginning.
Every other character, other than the female lead’s partner (who is female, hence the yuri tag), are what I like to refer to as “role players.” They play their role. That’s it. Whether it be to assist the main character as a shoulder to cry on, a friendly advice giver, or one who challenges her to face her inner demons, they do their parts and do it well. But that’s all they’re there for. In fact, there are a few characters who only arise to provide conflict to the two leads’ relationship. A few notable characters (brother of female lead’s partner, specifically) get a little more attention than others, but for the most part, the characters feel like pawns as opposed to genuine people. It would be nice in a war, but this is Yuri manga, damn it.
Speaking of filling their roles well, why the hell is the main character so irresistible that not one, not two, not three, but four people magically fall in love with her after a single night of her company? This is what I meant above by “instant gratification.” This manga has no idea how to pace falling in love. But once the love begins, it’s masterful in trying to maintain that love. Except, y’know, three of those characters’ love is only used as plot drivers, so it feels almost like a slimy business proclamation. Even the female lead’s partner started out strange. Y’wanna know how their “love” bloomed? Y’wanna know what made them more than friends?
The female lead’s partner (I’ll just call her “Partner” from now on) kinda raped her. She stripped her naked and started suckling on her after making fun of her rant on men, despite the fact that she’s a virgin.
There was a comment about this story below the table of chapters on the website I use to read manga that stated that the story “developed too fast.” It was a subtle jab at something I find obscenely apparent, and is entirely correct: this story develops love faster than I devour pizza. Everyone just falls in love like it’s nothing. Though from there, the love remains and is handled, for the most part, well. The only thing is that while the love starts fast, anything past that develops slower than Internet Explorer. It almost feels… stupid.
Now then, were there any positives about Octave?
. . .
. . . . .
. . . . . . . . . .
Why can’t I think of anything? It wasn’t a bad story by any means. In a lot of ways it was insightful and had a lot of relatable storylines. So… why am I having trouble really relating to any of it? Fun fact: I almost dropped this manga by chapter fourteen. I was so sick of the lack of communication and irrational behavior by the main character that I was ready to toss it aside. But I didn’t, and I pushed on. By the end, I almost felt empty. Like, I had continued the story only because I was certain that the relationship would improve by the end. I had seen the potential in the relationship from the start, as the characters are the opposite of each other personality-wise.
Then again, their relationship started off with a maybe, maybe not consensual night of titty plucking. That should’ve been my first sign.
Octave is an intriguing story. It focuses a lot on how the music industry is basically run by managers and sex appeal as opposed to just music, which is a nice change of pace. It also focuses on why people would want to join the music industry and how it pulls people in, only to have them face failure early on, since it wasn’t what they expected. Not to mention the issue of jealousy, image, and attitude problems and all that typical music genre jargon. Unfortunately, this is only highlighted earlier on, as the later chapters are almost 100% dedicated to the relationship between female lead and Partner. As I’ve written this entry, I’ve realized that this story is actually fairly superficial. I suppose it’s easier for me to develop a definitive opinion as I gather the evidence for both sides of the coin. The character relationships are sporadically good, with almost all other characters being shrugged off for the sake of the main couple, unless they can provoke them. The story likes to focus on self development, among a variety of other topics, but doesn’t give sufficient amount of time to any of them, and even comes off as pretentious to some degree. It squanders its focus quite a bit. It makes the whole experience feel unnecessary.
One thing I never mentioned was the art. This is a rare occurrence where I wish the manga was done in color, because the colored pages felt a lot more refreshing than their black and white counterpart. It gave off a sweet, relaxing atmosphere that (usually) suited the mood of the manga. Without the color, it looked just like any other manga of its kind. It took away that mood, that blissful nature that would’ve made this story a tad stronger subjectively. Oh, and the sex scenes aren’t sexy, either. But I don’t think the sex scenes are supposed to be very impactful, anyway. None of them last more than a few pages.
Oh, and their nipples are just ovals. Two manga in a row where that’s happened.
I wasn’t sure what to think when I finished this manga. By the end of this entry, it’s almost obvious to me: it’s shit. It’s shit that tried to not be shit, but still had enough of a stench to reek itself out of its disguise. The whole focus of the manga, the relationship between the female lead and Partner, had almost no attention until the very end. And by that, I meant interactions between the two that didn’t involve fingering their pissholes. It felt conceited. It felt rushed. It began under stupid pretenses, and only developed after the female lead realized with ten chapters left that talking to your girlfriend actually does a lot of good, instead of overthinking everything and talking with EVERYONE ELSE about your problems. The other characters are plot drivers and throwaways. The art is typical, except when it’s colored. The other themes explored were intriguing, but left underdeveloped. It had potential. That’s really all the good that could be said.
Personal Score: C-
Critical Score: C-