Tetsugaku Letra is a manga about Flamenco. The spanish style of dance is full of energy and temperament, inspiring lots of people. But it’s not exactly the dance who does that, it’s the dancer, singer and guitarist. “What kind of person is one who’s capable of changing a person’s life?” is the question this manga poses and answers.
In elementary school, Kimitaka Ichinose played Basketball. In middle school, he was able to teach his classmates the rules, but despite his experience, they quickly got better at the game than he was. After an accident caused by his frustration and jealousy, he overheard those “friends” talking about how he should just kill himself.
“He can’t go on playing Basketball”, he decided and went to throw out his new, red shoes. That’s where he met Takara Fujimoto, a tall girl with big hands, who just got her dream of dancing Flamenco crushed and wanted to throw her own red shoes away. “You have such big hands, I’m sure you could hold a ball well.” is what he said to her, and after some words, instead of throwing out their respective shoes, they exchange them. “I have a sister who could maybe grow into them one day, and mine should fit you”.
Without realizing it, Kimitaka managed to change something, but he himself hasn’t changed. Until the entrance ceremony of his high school, he hides and doesn’t talk to people. He’s horrible after all, only managing to make things worse. That’s when through some events, he leads an old woman to the gym, where a friendly match between to female Basketball teams is held, who talks to him about her daughter. The skilled, yet timid girl can’t even throw without her charm. “It’s all because of her prince, that boy she once met”, she says.
When Kimitaka sees that girl, being Takara Fujimoto, he can finally see that he himself was able to change something. And to become someone worthy of Fujimoto, he decides to pick up her dream and become a Flamenco dancer in those red shoes she wanted to always wear, even if they aren’t meant for men.
Tetsugaku Letra isn’t about the hardships on his journey to become a dancer though.
It’s about the people he meets, befriends and influences, while being influenced himself. And there’s just as well people he won’t ever interact with, who influence someone else and get influenced by someone else.
Be it the chubby Tsubura Ichikawa, who falls in love with a girl who won’t even look at him, or her story about the guy she herself is in love with. Be it Kikuchi Hana and his problems with attention after he hit puberty and his wonderful singing voice went rough. Or even stories of the past where Kimitaka managed to influence someone, but never realized it.
Even if the art style might not always be pretty, the stories are. Tetsugaku Letra manages to capture the beauty of human relationships, from siblings and parents, to lovers, friends and rivals.
My personal favourite would be between Kimitaka and Namari, his little sister. It’s a story of how Kimitaka was never really a horrible person and without noticing, made Namari adore her big brother all her life, while he thinks she hates him.
And not just in the end, but overall, the central question gets answered.
You don’t have to be someone special, everyone can change other people, and not just for the worse. Do your best, be yourself, and you’ll make someone smile.