*Please note that this review contains spoilers for Volume 3 of Wave, Listen to Me!*
Wave, Listen to Me! is a series by mangaka Hiroaki Samura (Blade of the Immortal) which centres on Minare, an almost 30-year-old woman struggling with her personal issues and frustrations, who happens upon circumstances which lead to her becoming a popular radio personality.
Volume 3 begins as Moiwayama Radio Station (MRS) is broadcasting another late-night piece of Real-Time Fiction, wherein the storyline takes a turn for the worst as the fictional lead’s seemingly dead ex comes back from the dead to haunt them!
Samura could be drawing some parallels here between Minare and the character within the play as they both struggle with relationship issues, Minare’s relating to her encounter with slimy ex, Mitsuo, last volume, venting through her performance in the process.
There’s also more growth here for Minare as a performer as, following the play, her manager, the wry and sly Kanetsugu Mato, continues to push her further by providing some blunt but useful advice about the importance of adapting to new ideas.
Scenes like this add nicely to the overarching story as Minare is keen to learn but sometimes needs guiding in the right direction, which Mato provides through an unorthodox working relationship as he clearly has hopes for her, but knows it won’t necessarily be a straightforward process.
Speaking of character interactions, Minare looks for story inspiration from her Voyager work colleagues and we get some nice moments with Nakahara, and Tachibana (whom I mentioned previously as a character I’d like to see some more facets of as the story progresses).
The quest for a new story idea leads to a bizarre chain of events involving Minare’s reclusive neighbour, Shinji Oki (whom you may recall carried the drunken Minare back home and almost got arrested in the process) sending a weird fax to the radio station – a cry for help as his girlfriend, who had disappeared a year ago, was now allegedly haunting their apartment.
This spurs Minare and her colleague-come-flatmate Mizuho to investigate further, turning up to the apartment donning shrine maiden and onmyoji costumes, and filming the entire event like a found-footage movie. If this scenario wasn’t enough to sell me on the idea, then Minare’s initial reaction to the entire situation definitely did (“Occult shit again?”)
Samura incorporates some striking imagery here as the apartment, cloaked in protective talismans, soon becomes the stuff of nightmares as blood starts dripping from the ceiling as Oki loses his mind – all whilst Minare is more concerned about not getting a good story out of the ordeal.
Now the actual reasoning as to how blood ends up dripping from the ceiling is a great reveal, but I won’t spoil it here – needless to say though there’s plenty of egg-on-face reactions during the aftermath of this whole excursion, to solid comedic effect.
Despite focusing on these bizarre events, Samura once again balances out the eccentric with some quieter character moments, including a touching heart-to-heart between flatmates as Mizuho tells Minare how she not only looks up to her but also divulges some self-doubt issues of her own.
We also get some welcome backstory following Mizuho’s journey as a quiet high-school student who becomes inspired by the scathing yet honest lectures from none other than Katsumi Kureko, the veteran writer for MRS. His dry observations drive most students away but motivate Mizuho to study and become a part of the industry.
This is a nice way to wind down after such a hectic set of events, and though the final chapters see some conflict involving Makie (and someone I assume to be her brother), and a benchside chat between Minare and Chishiro, who has a new story outline to share, it’s a more subdued conclusion overall than we saw with Volume 2.
This third volume has been translated once again by Adam Hirsch, who does a good job of getting across the characterisations and humour without losing any aspects. We also get several pages’ worth of translation notes which provide some nice insights into references that may not be obvious to Western readers.
In summary, Wave, Listen to Me! Volume 3 continues to balance out bizarre situations with touching character moments as the ever-flawed yet likeable Minare tries her best to get story inspiration for a new radio play.