To Heart Vol. #03 (Mania.com)
Review Date: Wednesday, June 29, 2005
Release Date: Wednesday, December 01, 2004
Translated by:Kay Bertrand
What They Say
With Love From Hokkaido. Akari and Hiroyuki are made for each other - Hiroyuki just doesn't know it! After waiting for the perfect moment to show up, Akari will have to shout out her feelings to the clueless Hiroyuki before he seeks love elsewhere. And while a school trip to Hokkaido may be the perfect setting for the confession, cold feet might spoil the deal. Akari will have to put her fears aside and capture Hiroyuki's heart, or face the consequence of a high school romance gone wrong!
The cover features Hiroyuki and Akari as a smiling couple, against a background collage of the various characters. The logo is in English, with the Japanese title in a banner underneath it. It's a bright and effective cover featuring a lot of red. The back cover is simple, with black text in a friendly font against a white background. The bottom half is a fetching image of Akari in a swimsuit enjoying a fruity drink. Inside, the first page is in full color, which is always appreciated. A page of translator's notes are included in the back.
Ukyou Takao's art is loose and light. It makes for some breezy and light-hearted imagery, very much in keeping with the story. The character designs are very cute. His backgrounds tend to be mostly absent, with only the occasional background to set the scene. The composition of the panels is straight-forward, resulting in a smooth flow of imagery and dialogue. A trip to an open air hot springs gives Takao to show off his fanservice skills.
Sound effects are translated on the page. The translation is much smaller and less intrusive, working much better than the previous efforts. The English adaptation is quite good, with a nice flow to it, and no obvious pop culture references thrown in.
Contents: (please note that content portions of a review may contain spoilers)
Rio Hinayama is Hiroyuki's paper girl. She works a lot of odd jobs in order to make ends meet. During the previous Christmas, Hiroyuki helped her out when she was trying to sell excess Christmas cakes. His unexpected kindness made a strong impression on her, enough that she's decided to declare her love with a letter.
The next chapter focuses on Lemmy, their Japanese-American classmate. There's a nice bit of back-story to when she first arrived in Japan and couldn't speak the language very well. Even back then, it was Hiroyuki to the rescue. Now, Lemmy belongs to the archery club and may be more Japanese in spirit then her full Japanese friends, despite her blonde hair and blue eyes. Like the very similar Tina Foster in Ai Yori Aoshi, he struggle with fitting in makes her a very sympathetic character. Unfortunately, now that she has good friends and feels like she's found a place to belong, her family is moving back to America.
Hiroyuki has never met a classmate he couldn't befriend, but he may have met his match in Tomoko Hoshino. She's a tough talking girl from the Kansai region, who is openly contemptuous of her classmates. All of his efforts to break down her walls are rebuffed. Even Hiroyuki begins to doubt himself. But with Akari's encouragement, he vows to not give up.
The class goes on it's school trip to Hokkaido, and one of Hiroyuki's classmates let him know he's going to make a play for Akari. Suddenly Hiroyuki is forced to deal with his feelings for Akari. When she gets sick on the trip and he stays behind to take care of her, they both confront their feelings. Things don’t' go smoothly, but they both have a big group of friends to support them, whatever happens.
This volume closes out the story with a nice ending. It's handled well, with all the closure one would want. A nice touch was having all the female characters who ended up being friends rather than rivals provide the final push. I enjoyed the whole series. Hiroyuki's almost supernatural ability to befriend even the most difficult of people made the story a lot of fun. The humor is gentle, never getting in the way of the romance. This volume was the strongest of the three, not just for the satisfying ending, but the two chapters about Lemmy and Tomoko were excellent as well. If you want a good romantic comedy that doesn't go on forever, this is a good book to check out.
Mania Grade: B-
Art Rating: B
Packaging Rating: B-
Text/Translatin Rating: B
Age Rating: All
Released By: ADV Manga
Orientation: Right to Left