*Please note that this review contains spoilers for Volume 4 of Wave, Listen to Me!*
Wave, Listen to Me! is a series by mangaka Hiroaki Samura (Blade of the Immortal) which centres on Minare Koda, 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 4 picks up right where we left Minare as she finds herself the participant of a late-night rendezvous with Chishiro, who shares an unexpected document that turns out to be a major event for Moiwayama Radio Station (MRS) which is being held next year in collaboration with other Affiliate stations.
Chishiro’s backstory is fleshed out here as mangaka Samura draws some parallels between Minare and an invasive figure from her past whom she saw as a rival – consequently placing this position on our lead who reacts to the situation in a manner befitting the character we’ve come to love so far.
There is some poignancy to be had here as a borderline passed-out Chishiro is escorted home by Mizuho who picks the drunken duo up as she remarks, “No matter how talented a writer is, that talent has to dry up eventually – that or they can’t keep up with the times”. Despite this, Mizuho is anything but dejected and declares that she wants to do everything she can to become a Chief Director within the next two years.
Alongside the backstory presented in the previous volume, these moments help paint a clearer picture as to just who Mizuho is – someone determined to do more than just work on the sidelines, and much like Minare, is determined in her own way to succeed.
It adds more depth to the overall narrative as the seeds are being planted for what I hope is a developing storyline for Mizuho’s development within MRS and beyond. It also ties into the overall key themes that have been presented so far within Wave, Listen to Me! in succeeding, despite a competitive and unforgiving industry – aspects that are pinpointed within flashbacks we’ve witnessed thus far.
We also cut away narratively to the conflict between Makie, her brother Tohru and Nakahara, who find themselves in a standoff which escalates but eventually reaches an understanding, allowing us to learn more about Tohru and just what his relationship to Makie is.
The setup that follows sees Minare still strapped for ideas, before a worthy script by Kureko comes along, spurred by his upcoming departure from the station which initially deflates Mizuho due to his mentor-like role in her life.
Despite this, (and with some prompting from a supportive Minare who reads the room) she eventually finds herself alone with Kureko and resolves to help him gather material for an upcoming project.
Another development seen this volume is a heart-to-heart between the dense but likeable Nakahara and Makie who, following the events with her brother, starts to show signs of attraction that the former only realises once Minare gives him a dressing-down the following day. It plants the seeds for some potential conflicts further along the storyline.
Of course, there is still humour sprinkled throughout like Minare phoning up her father to discern the origins of her namesake, only to receive a response she doesn’t want to hear (complete with a fake-out which gives way to a more humorous conclusion).
The aforementioned radio play that Kureko puts together is also memorable as it sees Minare reading emails from listeners whilst acting out being chased down by a large brown bear, hereby giving mangaka Samura an opportunity to again add some visual flare to the early morning broadcast.
A humorous event also takes place as Minare’s manager at Voyager, Yashiki, has a request to play some of his nephew’s music on the air in return for keeping her on as staff in the restaurant. His plan turns out to be nefarious as the music contains subliminal messaging for the restaurant, resulting in a retake that barely makes it to air on time.
Volume 4 wraps up with both Minare and Mizuho being requested by the wry station manager Mato to accompany Kureko on the Material-Hunting Trip for his book mentioned before. The last two pages, which I won’t spoil here, could lead to some interesting new interactions next volume.
Wave, Listen to Me! has once again been translated by Adam Hirsch (with additional translation from Kevin Gifford), and outside of a peculiar use of the term “politically correct” early on which stuck out a bit when reading, I was again impressed with the results, especially the effort put into the translation notes found at the end of the book.
Volume 4 feels more subdued in some ways than what’s taken place in preceding volumes, though this isn’t necessarily a negative as we continue to see character developments and Minare on form despite some struggles as she takes on a supportive role for Mizuho.
The content here felt like set-up for some bigger upcoming story events like Kureko Minare and Mizuho’s research trip, which I look forward to reading through in upcoming volumes.
In summary, Wave, Listen to Me! Volume 4 builds upon some of the developments found in #3 and sets up events that should be interesting to see play out, hopefully with the unique humour and character we’ve come to know so far from the series.