A Manga Close to My Heart

The Violinist of Hamlin
Watanabe Michiaki

Today I'm sharing a manga series that is near and dear to my heart. The first time I read it my head wasn't in a good space and recently I got some troubling news about one of my cousins, he will be losing his right foot in the near future as a blood vessel in his leg was severely damaged several years back and his foot is now slowly rotting away due to lack of blood, and I thought I'd share with you guys a series that not only puts a smile on my face but I think is well written and drawn!
^-^ After all as my avatar states "Laughter is Healthy"

Ok so as mentioned I wasn't in a happy place when I first read this, nothing serious, but hey everyone has those bad months, and I stumbled upon The Violinist of Hamlin. Also, little fun fact, this is the only series that has made me cry both in laughter and in sadness. Another little fact, this series tends to be a love or hate it series. People either love the off beat humor mixed with amazing action and touching moments and totally unserious ones, and others hate it… a lot!
I am on the love side! ^-^ (I was reading the last chapters at like 3am and into the wee hours of the dawn pacing around my room worried about the characters like they were real people. I was all crying and going "If things can't end happily for them what chance does my life have?!' <--- Waaaaaay being over dramatic. lol My roommate thought I was craaazy) I get very attached to series when I marathon them and since I read this series in an amazing 2 day marathon of barely seeing daylight (or sleeping) I got my emotions all tangled up in the epic story!

Anyways lets get to the nitty gritty, before I ooze too much about why I think think this series is great, and talk about the plot. At its heart Violinist is a Dramedy (comedy drama)
The story follows Hamel a goofy (for lack of a better word) young man and anti hero, with a dark past, as he travels to the Northern kingdom of the Mozoku (the demons). He travels carrying a giant violin which he plays and uses its music to defeat foes. He eventually meets up with Flute and other new friends that will eventually help him on his quest to destroy Kestra the king of the Mozoku. (Kestra's name is a terrible pun for Orchestra and most of the characters are named after an instrument of some kind)

Sounds pretty standard for a shounen series right?
Well in some ways it is. Where this series breaks away to be, in my opinion, one of the best series, is in its character development. All the characters have serious personal flaws. (I've had a friend tell me she hated the main character because he is an ungrateful #@$^@&!.) However, how each character starts off the series with whatever flaws they may have be it selfishness, pride, cowardice, one minded vengeance, or uncertainty just makes how much they change through the course of the series seem so amazing. The author does this so skillfully and slowly you don't even notice it until you're at the end looking back. Unlike in some other series I've read, grudges are not easily let go and sadness not easily lost.
I really buy that these characters could be real people. I buy their emotional struggles, I buy their reasons for over compensating their sad times with humor and I buy their changes and growth as people. At the end Hamel says something that never fails to make my heart melt with how sincere it is. in fact, all the sincere moments just feel all the more impactful due to the way it is.
Oh and let's not forget this manga is hilarious and jokes hit just right most of the time!

Violinist plays with the extremes of comedy and drama having them play off each other and this is where the love it or hate it aspect comes into play. The very dramatic scenes and the very bloody scenes often get broken into by humor, jokes, and puns. Personally this doesn't bother me. (Think of a YuYuHakushou that is both more extreme, in terms of how much there is, with the drama and with the humor.) I think laughter in the face of great odds or sadness is important, not just to cope, to actually heal and thats so often looked over. So it doesn't bother me when they do this in the manga.

At any rate, this series made me laugh, it made me cry, and it made me hopeful again. It will always have a close place to my heart and I hope you will give it a read!
If you decide to give it a shot please give it until chapter 6, thats where it really gets the plot rolling!


For a serious moment preview check out my little phone wallpaper Death of a Dragon here.

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