When Tohko suddenly suspends club activities in favor of studying for her college exam, Konoha finds himself helping his classmate, Nanase Kotobuki. One day, Kotobuki shows up in school crying and sobbing. She says that her closest friend, Yuka, has gone missing. The last known appearance of her was at music practice at her school, when all of a sudden she had changed, obsessively proclaiming that her teacher is an “angel of music”
With Tohko suddenly suspending club activities, we are reaching a turning point in the overall plot where Tohko announces that she will be away studying for her exams, leaving Konoha mostly by himself for future possible mysteries. Book Girl and the Corrupted Angel puts Konoha and Kotobuki in a mystery case, inspired by Gaston Leroux’s The Phantom of the Opera, dealing with the acknowledgment of the truth, the adverse effects of being talented, and escort prostitution.
It has been four volumes since we’ve been introduced to Nanase Kotobuki and she’s been given a position as a major character for the first time. She puts on an act of being harsh but we know that she’s actually pretty awkward with her gentler side. This volume reveals even more of her charm as Konoha pairs up with her to try to find her friend Yuka. Kotobuki’s genuine concern for Yuka is the driving force for a couple of characters involved in this plot, which is a fundamental pillar for this series. Her interactions with Konoha are heartwarming yet straight-forward; expressions very fitting for the girl that she is. For a character that spent a majority of the volume crying her heart out concerned for her loved ones, thanks to her, she’s become the emotional support for those distressed from the whole situation.
A new character introduced in this volume is Shiro Omi. Immediately, Omi has an antagonistic nature towards Konoha, and is the only person in the series to openly criticize Konoha. By attacking his inner cowardice, he’s making Konoha come to terms with his half-hearted actions and feelings towards Kotobuki. This takes a massive toll on Konoha as he’s still hung up about Miu. He’s conflicted about knowing the truth behind Miu’s actions; why she threw herself off the roof, the meaning behind her smile, and how she really feels about Konoha. He finds solace in Kotobuki’s relationship with Yuka and why she decided to disappear, to which Omi criticizes for taking advantage of Kotobuki feelings. So over the course of the volume, Konoha is challenged to discern his own feelings about Kotobuki, wondering if his assistance to her is just an act of self-gratification and hypocrisy, as well as how to move forward in accepting the truth about Miu.
Other new characters introduced are Keiichi Mariya and Shoko Kagami. Both are music teachers who gets wrapped up in the disappearance of Yuka. Shoko comments on the sheer talent that Keiichi Mariya had back in college. Now however, Keiichi Mariya now works as a music teacher at Konoha’s school. Konoha is naturally drawn to Mr. Mariya due to his past reputation as a opera genius, but that also means that Mr. Mariya has his own unfortunate circumstances. Throughout the volume, references are drawn between Konoha, the once critically acclaimed genius female writer, and Mr. Mariya, a rising star for Japanese opera, and the “Angel of the Music” itself. Resemblances from these characters to characters in The Phantom of the Opera are also present.
While I did say Tohko would be away from the plot, it wouldn’t be Book Girl without Tohko coming back in at the critical moments. This isn’t enough to negatively affect the book, but with Konoha slowly but gradually moving away from his previous traumas, having Tohko interfere anymore would undermine Konoha’s growth a bit.
Book Girl and the Corrupted Angel has been building up the pieces for the next volume which is expected be a big confrontation for Konoha. But until then, this book ends on a lukewarm note, presenting that while the characters’ talent lead to tragedies, there were some positive outcomes as well.
Rating: Highly Recommended
Author: Mizuki Nomura
Illustrator: Miho Takeoka
Translator: Karen McGillicuddy
English Publisher: Yen Press