Attending music school isn’t easy when you can’t even read sheet music!
Writer/Artist: Chigusa Kawai
Translation: Jessica Cormier
Adaptation: Jessica Cormier
What They Say
Mondonville Music Academy attracts thousands of elite musicians' applicants from around the world, but only 100 students are accepted into the program every year. But this year, Alistair Lang - who doesn't know how to read a music score and has no formal music training - was, somehow, accepted into the program as the 101st student.
DMP delivers another fun read to their impressive line-up of Doki Doki titles. Alice the 101st flowed smoothly along, the dialog sounding very natural in the boarding school setting. The illustrations are detailed and expressive, leaving no room for confusion about how anyone is feeling. Aristide isn’t making much of an effort to fit in with his new surroundings, and every flash of temper and wave of self-consciousness are quickly communicated to the reader. The characters have a lot of personality, and their quirks really shine through the art.
Alice the 101st is a very engaging title, and it’s one that caught me by surprise. I thought the cover looked cute, so I was interested in reading it, but I didn’t really know what it was about until I sat down and starting turning the pages. I think that’s a good thing in this instance, because I get a bit tired of stories that revolve around school dorms. This one takes place at a music school for gifted musicians, and it seems at first that our protagonist, Aristide, may have been admitted by mistake. He can barely read sheet music, and his basics earn him the instant dislike of one of his teachers. Now Alice, as he’s been nicknamed, is fighting an uphill battle to prove that he belongs at the school.
I liked Alice right away. He is so energetic, and he doesn’t let other people’s opinions of him get him down. That’s a good thing, because everyone is starting to gossip about him. He’s the 101st, a special case student that has been admitted to the Mondonveille School of Music, and after hearing him play, nobody can figure out why an exception was made for him. He has dual weaknesses of not being able to read sheet music, and his basics are horrible. With only his grandfather to teach him how to play the violin, Alice is going to have to knuckle down to catch up to his classmates. After earning the ire of one of his teachers, he’s going to have to work hard just to stay in the school!
It turns out that Alice’s motives for attending the school don’t really have much to do with learning to play the violin. He is more interested in playing one particular violin, and when he learns that it has been sent out to be repaired, he’s more than a little put out. He doesn’t see the value in practicing endless scales or even understanding the symbols on sheet music. He just wants to play what he wants to play, when he wants to play it. This attitude earns him a lot of animosity, especially when he hasn’t proved to anyone that he can play at all.
I get tired of books that are set at boarding schools, but Alice the 101st is peopled with fun characters. Alice keeps you guessing because you don’t know whether he’s a musical prodigy or just has phenomenal luck and charmed his way into Mondonveille. The other students are much more dedicated to their craft than Alice, and this leads to some interesting interpersonal dynamics. Nobody is taking Alice seriously, and his attitude toward practicing isn’t earning him any brownie points from anyone. I am curious to see if this formula gets old, or if he will have a sudden change of heart and find the desire to seriously studying music.
Alice the 101st charmed me with its enthusiastic characters and expressive, detailed art. For a book I had zero expectations for, I enjoyed it a lot. I love discovering new titles, especially when they seem to drop completely out the blue like this one. It’s a solid first volume that left me wanting to read more of the series.