Originally posted: Tuesday, January 20, 2009 on Blogger

A lesser known 4 volume series; tracking it down was difficult, but I finally managed to find the third volume in a comic shop. But there is a slight problem, this is the second edition, and I own first edition of volumes 1 & 2. It’s a little inconsistent, but the books are the same size, so it isn’t as bad as Viz’s first and second edition differences. =)


After her fall in the last volume, Diana is recuperating in the hospital, where Aya and Akira come to visit her. Aya meets Mr.Jones again, and he comments on her substitution; Aya is shocked and flustered that he noticed it was her. After the visit, life continues as usual; COOL is practising extra hard for their anniversary performance. Akira invites Aya out, and Aya, although ecstatic, is also suspicious of his motives. And rightly so, it seems he wanted her to talk to an old CEO in order to convince him to sponsor COOL’s performance. The reason? it turns out the old man is a pervert and likes girls, but Aya doesn’t let him touch her up and yells at the old man. Akira is a little annoyed that she blew their chance.

However, during one of their practices, the old man shows up and agrees to sponsor their performance. But on one condition, Aya cannot dance in the performance. It seems that Mr. Seihiro was quite taken with the video Akira gave him, but he sees that Aya is unable to match the power of the other male dancers, which in his eyes throws the whole performance off. Surprisingly, Akira agrees to these conditions, which causes Aya to get angry at him and she throws a bucket of water on him.

The next day, Akria calls in sick. It seems because he was wet and it was winter, he caught a cold. Aya feels terribly responsible, so she rushes over to Akira’s place and takes care of him. When Akira awakens, Aya is laying her head on his bed, while he is holding her hand. Flustered he quickly untangles his hand from hers and takes a look at the clock. It turns out to be one in the morning. He awakens Aya and calls a taxi for her. As Aya waits, she begins crying and tells Akira that she has given up dancing with COOL and him. He calls her silly and tells her that if he wasn’t interested in dancing with her, he would not have let her join COOL under any circumstances. This cheers Aya up. After Aya leaves, Akira notices she left her mittens, so when someone knocks at the door, Akira assumes it’s Aya. However, when he opens the door Diana, tear-eyed and shoeless, stares back and then slumps her head on his chest and says she wants to die.

Aya continues to train hard, even though she will not be performing. Meanwhile, Akira goes to visit Diana at the hospital and sees her tying to slit her wrist with a peace of broken glass. When leaving the hospital, he meets Aya and tells her not to go visit Diana because she is in bad shape, then he also tells her that he’s is taking Diana back to England, which shocks Aya. Later when Akira mentions this to the rest of COOL, Aya asks him if Diana is so important that he’s willing to throw away his dream to send her back to England. Akira tells Aya that for six months the two of them lived together relying only on themselves and now he cannot leave her to die.

Nevertheless Aya heads to the rehearsal studio where Diana sees her practising and comments on her dancing. After their little talk, Diana thanks Aya for cheering her up. Akira walks in after Diana leaves and dances the solo with Aya, the solo they were suppose to dance at the anniversary performance before Mr.Suehiro insisted that Aya be excluded. Right when Aya begins to tell Akira how she feels, he pulls her in close and gives her a kiss. He then heads out of the studio, but not before saying that he will try his hardest to get back as soon as possible, leaving a stunned Aya on the floor.

Due to Akira’s trip to England, COOL is now short one dancer. Yamane takes over as leader and tells Aya see must fill in the void left by Akira. When the others voice concern over Mr. Suehiro, Yamane tells them that he cannot know Akira is gone, for if he were to find out, he might pull out the funding. So in preparation for the anniversary performance, Aya and the other members train to exhaustion. Meanwhile in England, Akira takes Diana home and after an emotional dialogue, Diana’s mom tells her she still loves her, even if she cannot dance. Back in Japan, Aya approaches Mr.Jones again, this time to sort out the relationship between Akira and Diana. It turns out Akira is very much like Diana and sees his worth only in dancing, and he also has traumatic experiences with his mom. According to Mr. Jones, Akira’s mom committed suicide when Akira’s father left her. Yet Mr.Jones tells Aya he is glad Akira has COOL, it has allowed him to open up, and now he worries about the devastation Akira would experience if COOL were to break up. As Aya sits there and listens, she can’t help but worry even more about the anniversary performance.

This volume of Forbidden Dance has a one-shot at the end called Princess Line. The story revolves around Misaki and her boyfriend Sahara, who has money problems. Saraha even resorts to selling drugs, but Misaki convinces him that he doesn’t have to, and he leaves her promising to return as a better person.

My Thoughts

Volume 3 is mainly tying up loose ends in the plot before the finale in volume 4. Diana’s story is resolved and concluded and she will probably not make an appearance in volume 4, if she does, it will be in a minor role. We also finally learn about Akira’s past, but his characterization is still rather weak. Aya grows up a little, but not much, she’s still rather innocent and naive. However, I don’t fault her for it; Ashihara does naivety in females well. The only low point in Aya’s character this volume was her questioning Akira’s choice to leave COOL for Diana; here she acted rather shamelessly. She’s clearly jealous and doesn’t want Akira to spent time with Diana, but she never considers Diana’s inner turmoil. It annoyed me a little since Aya knows how tough it can be when one cannot dance, but since no one is perfect, I overlooked this aspect of her character. I rather love the ballet panels, they are beautiful as always. Overall a decent volume, if somewhat a little less intense than the previous two.

The one shot at the end was also well done; a cute love story if a bit cheesy. Surprisingly, there was characterization (albeit very little) and the whole story felt complete, there were no loose ends. At the end, I was glad it was included with the third volume of Forbidden Dance.

Finally, Ashihara’s art is a little rough around the edges, but it isn’t horrid. It’s very wispy, but well depicted; there aren’t any panels that are undecipherable. I like it, but it’s very distinct, so there may be some who don’t; my advice, flip through the pages to see if it “floats your boat”. All in all, I’m excited about the forth volume. I’m curious about the ending and if Ashihara will develop Aya and Akira’s characters even more. Being only a four volume series, I’m not expecting drastic changes, but a bit more growth would be nice.