To Heart Vol. #02 (Mania.com)

By:Mike Dungan
Review Date: Wednesday, June 29, 2005
Release Date: Thursday, July 01, 2004



Creative Talent
Writer/Artist:Ukyou Takao
Translated by:Kay Bertrand
Adapted by:

What They Say
Beach Party! The adorable and lovesick Akari is still madly in love with Hiroyuki, a childhood chum whose attention tends to wander. While an innocent trip to the beach may breed new hope for the smitten Akari, her euphoria is cut short when Hiroyuki befriends a sophomore named Kotone Himekawa. The playing field is getting crowded and the competition tough, and one innocent crush might become two girls' desperate battle for Hiroyuki's attention!

The Review
Packaging:
The cover features Multi smiling adorably, 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 blue. The back cover is simple, with black text in a friendly font against a white background. In the middle is image of Multi and Akari enjoying some hot potatoes in winter clothing. Inside, the first page is in full color, which is always appreciated. A page of translator's notes is included in the back.

Artwork:
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 the beach, and later, a Christmas party, allows Takao to show off his fanservice skills.

Text/SFX:
Sound effects are translated on the page. ADV has attempted to make the English sound effects resemble the Japanese sound effects, with mostly successful results. The downside is that, because they also attempt to recreate the sound effects in the same size as the original, there's an awful lot of extra ink on the page. The English adaptation read well, with nothing standing out as obviously forced or Americanized. As with the first volume, side conversations are translated, but the text can be enormous next to the small handwritten Japanese text.

Contents: (please note that content portions of a review may contain spoilers)
It's summertime, and Serika has invited Akari, Hiroyuki and Multi to one of her family's beach houses, along with their family butler, Sebastian. Serika is looking for something in the house, and Hiroyuki is enlisted to help her find it. Later, after an especially scary ghost story as only Serika can tell it, a surprise visit by Masashi, Lemmy and Shiho has less than the desired effect. Once back at school, it's time for the school culture fest. Hiroyuki is feeling a little snubbed by Akari as she assists nearly every club in the school. While waiting for her, he notices a lone girl, Aoi Matsubara, attempting to recruit members in her martial arts club. There's already an established karate club, and as she's the only person in her club, she's having a hard time. Hiroyuki isn't the sort to let someone go without helping them, so he offers to spar with her to help drum up some interest in her club. But when Ayaka, Serika's younger sister and a martial arts expert shows up, she get more help than she bargained for.

At the end of the year, it's Christmas time, and Akari's throwing a party. Everyone is invited, even Serio, the competing maid robot that is sort of Multi's sister. Shiho has a hot date and won't be able to make it, unfortunately. But Masashi shows he's got more on the ball than people give him credit for. Back at school, Hiroyuki meets Kotone Himekawa, a beautiful young woman that everyone seems to be afraid of. She works hard at keeping people at arms length, because she's afraid of hurting them. She has the power of telekinesis, but she has no control over it. It builds up until she can't contain it any more, and it lets loose with frightening results. Hiroyuki being Hiroyuki, he can't let her go through life with no friends, so he decides to help her learn to control her powers. She has a change of heart when Akari gets hurt, but Hiroyuki won't leave it alone.

Comments
The second volume of To Heart is just as charming as the first. Hiroyuki's kindness and devotion to his friends makes for a pleasant read. The small moments between Hiroyuki and Akari keep the romance going in the right direction. This title is unusual in that there really aren't any villains. The conflict comes in Akari's attempts to confront her own feelings about Hiroyuki, and how Hiroyuki will, sometimes unintentionally, help the people around him with their problems. When you're tired of too much angst in your manga, To Heart will make a great diversion.



Mania Grade: B-
Art Rating: B
Packaging Rating: B-
Text/Translatin Rating: C+
Age Rating: All
Released By: ADV Manga
MSRP: 9.99
Pages: 178
ISBN: 1-4139-0070-4
Size: B6
Orientation: Right to Left