Stolen Hearts Vol. #01 (Mania.com)
Review Date: Thursday, January 28, 2010
Release Date: Tuesday, February 02, 2010
A mismatched pair finds romance through a kimono shop.
Writer/Artist: Miku Sakamato
Translation: Sheldon Drzka
Adaptation: Sheldon Drzka
What They Say
It was a simple accident. Shinobu spilled milk on Miharu's bag that contained a kimono. All she had to do was apologize to him. But it's a real challenge because Miharu is known as the tallest and meanest person in the class and everyone is afraid of him! Miharu tells Shinobu that the kimono is very expensive, so she must make it up to him. But how? Shinobu must wear a kimono and help Miharu to hand out advertisement of his grandmother's antique kimono shop everyday after school. At first, she's somewhat reluctant, but she begins to enjoy the experience and finds herself coming to like Miharu. Gradually, Shinobu notices how sensitive Miharu actually is, not the mean person that everyone--including herself--thought him to be. Soon, Shinobu realizes that she has fallen in love with Miharu.
The front cover features Koguma and Shinobu in kimono (of course). Shinobu appears overawed by her hip kimono with its lace, bows, and bling accessories while Koguma looks over his shoulder with an air of protectiveness. As if to emphasize the stylish nature of their clothes, a retro flower pattern decorates the background. The title in yellow and black text is centered at the top with the mangaka's name just below in purple.
On the back cover is the color version of one of the splash pages. Koguma and Shinobu wear summer yukata while enjoying festival snacks. A synopsis takes up the lower right section of the cover. Publishers and age rating icons are placed at the very bottom along with genre and ISBN information.
The binding feels a little weak, and the printing is muddy for the illustrations originally in color. The formatting is sloppy; text was placed in the wrong speech bubbles on one page, and a word got cut off at the edge of another page. The translation retains Japanese honorifics, but a guide is not provided. Some, but not all, cultural references are explained through footnotes. Extras include four "Coloring Pages for Young Maidens" and embedded mangaka remarks.
When 17-year-old Shinobu accidentally spills milk on Koguma's bag, she's certain she's in trouble. He is the biggest, most intimidating guy at school, and to make matters worse, it turns out his bag contains an antique kimono from his grandmother's shop! To compensate for ruining the outfit, Shinobu agrees to model kimonos to advertise the shop -- alongside huge, scary Koguma. Shinobu is terrified at first, but as time goes on, she discovers that Koguma is unexpectedly cute. Before long, they're dating!
But will things work out? Their size difference aside (he's 6' 2" while she's 4' 10"), everyone's under the impression that Koguma's coercing her into the relationship. However, Shinobu's determined to give Koguma's image an overhaul!
Stolen Hearts falls into the category of girl-falls-in-love-with-misunderstood-boy romantic comedy. Although there's nothing earth-shattering about the plot, I was surprised at how much I liked this manga. The artwork's nothing to write home about; while the kimonos look fine, faces are bland, and it is difficult to differentiate between people, especially in group settings. The personalities of the individual characters aren't particularly unique either. However, their interactions are charmingly sweet, and their problems, which mainly arise because of people judging them on appearances, are easily relatable.
On a personal level, I enjoyed the fact that the story doesn't begin with the heroine insanely in love or at absolute loggerheads against the guy destined to be her love. Instead, their relationship actually develops from friendship to attraction. Their interactions also don't have the overly shy tone that characterizes a lot of first love manga. When Shinobu realizes how cute Koguma is, she comes out and says it as a matter of fact, and her confession of love to him is much along the same vein.
Interestingly, the strongest personality in the story is Koguma's grandmother. While Koguma is a self-described "peaceful, law-abiding citizen," the story hints that Koguma's grandma has ties to the Japanese mafia. She's a lively combination of capitalist, chic, and bully that keeps the story from getting saccharine.
Finally, if you have any interest in kimonos, you might want to pick a volume up just to see the variety of styles that Shinobu gets to wear. And if you happen to own a yukata, Chapter 3 is super helpful in that it provides step-by-step illustrations on how to wear one. For those who haven't tried, putting one on properly is like doing origami with your clothes, and you can be sure that I'll be referencing it the next time I wear mine.
Stolen Hearts is light, fun reading. The lead pair is quite charming, the way they know they have something special even though outsiders only see how mismatched they look. If you're hankering for romantic comedy about misperceptions with some fashion sense thrown in, Stolen Hearts may fit the bill.
This title is rated teen for Koguma beating the snot out of delinquents who abduct Shinobu.
Mania Grade: B+
Art Rating: B-
Packaging Rating: B-
Text/Translation Rating: C+
Age Rating: 13 and Up
Released By: CMX Manga
Orientation: Right to Left
Series: Stolen Hearts