Monday, January 26, 2004

To Heart

Genre: Romance
General Audience
1999 Ukyou Takao, Naohito Takahashi, AQUAPLUS, Oriental Light and Magic, Chiba TV, KIDS STATION, Sun TV, TV Kanagawa, TV Saitama, KSS

To Heart DVDs
To Heart Art Books & Manga
To Heart Music
To Heart Toys, Accessories
Everything To Heart

Manga Cover Description:
Akari is a cute but somewhat inhibited teenage girl who attends high school with her childhood chums, Hiroyuki and Masashi. Regarding these two along the lines of siblings, Akari world becomes troublesome as her adolescent affection for the generous and warm-hearted Hiroyuki begins to grow into something more.The complications only thicken when a beautiful senior, Serika Kurusugawa, steps into the picture. Akari finds her solution in an unlikely place.An android named Multi, who happens to be training to become a full-fledged maid robot, just might be able to use her machined mind to help Akari overcome her shyness and win Hiroyuki's love!

(13 episodes)

I don't get it... >>> by MarkPoa

Okay, I finally got around to writing this review. Honestly, I'd have preferred to rewatch the entire series before going on and on about something I disliked when I first saw it. I saw To Heart a few years back, but I still remember some of my feelings for it. I really really REALLY wanted to rewatch the series before writing this, just to give it a second chance. But, I can't seem to bring myself to do it.

To Heart is an anime based on the shoujo dating game of the same name. In case anyone living in a cave asks, yes, it's a hentai game. I've seen the screencaps, but I digress...

The story basically follows the "exploits" of Hiroyuki, a guy who can be described as a slacker. The basic premise is that, in each episode, Hiroyuki meets a girl in their school, gets involved in their lives, and, by some magic caused by his mere presence, helps the girl out with some problems. The fact is: Hiroyuki barely does anything.

The girls are various shades of cute. Unfortunately, I found them to be too... two-dimensional. I reserve my deepest regret for Akari, the main girl interest. I can summarize her character with two traits: likes Hiroyuki and is cute. Heck, all of the other girls are cute as well, with only one or two traits.

...Well, except for one. I thought that only Akari's friend Shiho had any good character development... and that was only during the series' last few episodes.

Part of the problem may be that each episode focused on one girl and developed her story from there. So the animators had one episode to flesh out the character (this doesn't really excuse Akari, who appears in all episodes). But I've seen series which developed characters in one episode as well. That's not really a good excuse. It merely makes it appear that the developers assumed that the viewers will already be familiar with the characters based on playing the game... which would be weird, because, as previously said, the game was a hentai game. I hadn't seen the hentai game before seeing this, but I'm pretty sure that if I had, I wouldn't have a wholesome image of the girls while watching this.

The show is lighthearted, cute, and fluffy and... that's it. I happen to like lighthearted, cute, and fluffy. I said so for Azumanga Daioh. But in that one, I liked the characters as well. Here, the series seems to try to get me to like the characters and take them seriously, but I didn't care for the characters here at all. In effect, I wasn't inspired when Aoi won her contest, I found Multi annoying, and, although I thought she was the cutest girl in the series, I found the psychic Kotone to be dull. I didn't even bother to watch the resolution of the Akari-Hiroyuki love angle in the last episode.

If there is one thing that amused me when watching the series, it was those little episodes with the cast in Super-Deformed mode. At least, those didn't even try to make me know more about the characters and were really funny.

Okay, one good point: To Heart's art is its best feature. The character designs are clean and good-looking. Animation is consistently good, despite this being a TV series. The animation's mood was appropriate for the series' serious and dramatic points. But good art and cute girls do not a good anime series make.

Aside from the opening music, though, I didn't find anything special about To Heart's music. I'm not particularly averse to teeny-bopper idol music like the one featured here (I listened to Sailor Moon soundtracks, for gosh sakes), but it just didn't catch me. Maybe it's simply because I didn't enjoy the series, so even the soundtracks sounded lame.

I know I might be the one dissenting voice in a sea of good reviews (believe me, I've searched the Net and all I've found were good words for To Heart), but these are my thoughts. Maybe it's the shortness of the episodes. Maybe I'm just expecting too much from the series. Maybe I just didn't get it. But I really can't bring myself to watch it again. And for me, that's already a big blow against it.

Sidenote: My younger brother is an ardent To Heart fan and this leads to a lot of "discussions" between me and him. "Discussions" meaning he tries to tell me To Heart's virtues and convince me that it's a wonderful anime and I just shaking my head and pointing out the points I made above. So please don't try to tell or convince me about this series' good points. I already have someone doing that at home.

Individual Rating: Art/Animation 9; Story 6; Characters 5; Sounds 7

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