Sunday, March 13, 2011

Manga-- Doll

Another ballet manga! There are many of these! This particular manga is called Doll is is written and drawn by the same mangaka as Mars. It's about a New York ballet company and a young amateur dancer auditioning for the company. This is a short story, only being five chapters long, but it's a nice story that I enjoyed reading. So let's take a look into the story of this manga.

As usual, spoilers ahead!

A amateur dancer named Muriel Blaire tries out for a musical. When she accidentally kicks her dance partner during a tricky move, her partner is replaced with a famous Russian, dancer named Alosza. They dance so well together, that the company decided to fill the recently vacated leading role to her.

Unfortunately, the person who Muriel replaced comes back to haunt the partner. Her name is Ginger, and she likes to put Muriel on edge, especially, since she is jealous of Muriel's closeness with Alosza. She interrupts their dinner together to basically make them uncomfortable. Despite Ginger's set backs and the looming doubt of other dancers, Muriel fights her own fear of falling to keep up with Alosza.
Though they are improving, their practices are getting harder. Articles in the newspaper doubt the casting. The directors try to push the dancers further by trying to have them dance from emotional, past experiences. Muriel has trouble with expressing emotions and goes to take a break. On her break, she overhears Alosza say "I love you" in Russian to their ballet director, Ira. Muriel is so upset when she hears this that it throws off the rest of the rehearsal. Her jealousy costs her the role, and they end up asking Ginger to return and play the part.

The musical they put on, Doll, is similar to the ballet, Coppelia. Ginger plays the Doll and Alosza is the boy who falls in love with it. However, as all performances go, there are set backs, and Ginger leaves the stage in a huff. Muriel is asked to replace her mid-act.

Muriel is in the costume closet when Ira, the ballet director, runs in the room. She begs Muriel to dance. When Muriel comments on her begging, saying that Ira must really love Alosza, Ira admits that Alosza is actually her son and that she had to leave him in Russia years ago. Since Alosza was kind enough to forgive her for leaving him, she wants to make Doll perfect for him, and that would require Muriel to dance.

Muriel decides to dance, and of course, it's a great success. Alosza, during the doll's death scene, confesses his love for her and then the curtains fall.

Muriel and Alosza are now a couple, and can stay together since Muriel is offered a part in the company due to her great performance. Now there are new problems, such as competition. Not only are there talented dancers, but Alosza's new partners are threatening their romance.
This ballet would be the new Da Vinci Code
The company is putting on (and I laughed for a good five minutes over this one) a ballet featuring Jesus and Judas. Did I mention that the dance company wants gay-undertones since it's an all male cast? Hahaha, could you just imagine?

This production is a success (though it makes Muriel jealous of men now, as well as women) and the next ballet they put on is a rendition of Shakespeare's Twelfth Night. Muriel, since she dances so well with Alosza, is given the principle role. Her competition wonders why she was given the part when she's a weaker dancer, but when they see her with Alosza, it becomes clear. But the director decides later that the roles they've been given are too mismatched, and so Muriel must swap dance partners.
Muriel ends up hearing from the grapevine that it was not the director's idea to swap partners, by Alosza's own planning. When she confronts him about it, he tells her that he didn't tell since he knew she would cry, and he thought them dancing separately would help them grow as dancers. She starts crying and arrives to practice the next day looking terrible. Her new dance partner, though mean to her before, shows a more sensitive side.

Though Muriel doesn't take the heartbreak well, she does manage to connect with her partner more as he tries to cheer her up. Her and Alosza split more and more, and though her new partner tries to lift her spirits, she just can't imagine dancing without him. She thinks about quitting the company, but her partner tries one last time to keep her dancing by explaining to her that she should dance for herself, not for Alosza.

She takes this advice and dances for herself. Once she was able to dance strongly without Alosza's support, he dances the final act with her on stage. Muriel and Alosza make up when he tells her that he split up because he didn't want to make her into a doll that obeyed to his every word. The story ends with them together.

*end spoilers*

I'm suspecting that this mangaka, author of the manga, knew a lot about American/Western culture, and I'm guessing she may have lived here for sometime. She does a great job with English, cultural influences such as Shakespeare; for instance, their ballet, Twelfth Night, is being performed during Christmas. I wouldn't expect someone from Japan to get such a small detail, which not many English-speakers even know about, correctly.
 This was a really nice story. I loved how the dance was drawn and the story was sweet. Despite the fact that this wasn't a pure ballet manga (there were other forms of dance here, too, like gymnastics), I still loved the dance sequences since there was still a strong ballet vibe. And even though there were some places that made me raise an eyebrow, it really wasn't too bad and I highly recommend reading it if you're interested in this type of thing. Since this isn't released in the US, you can read it here for free.

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