Stolen Hearts 1

Miku Sakamoto – CMX – 2010 – 5+ volumes
only two volumes were published in English

Holy crap, this was cute. Tooth-rottingly so. Most of that has to do with the main couple (of course). Koguma is a very tall, scary kid that nobody dares approach at school. There are lots of rumors about how tough he is, and a single glower in any direction sends people scattering. So of course the volume starts with diminutive Okuma spilling milk on a very expensive kimono he happened to have in his bag. He demands that she take responsibility, and drags her off to his grandmother’s kimono shop, where she’s put to work as an on-the-street kimono model to advertise the business.

Of course, Koguma isn’t nearly as scary as his size and sour face make him seem, and Okuma quickly sees that he’s a very nice and very misunderstood boy, they fall in love, blah blah blah. There’s nothing new here, but it’s just the right mix of sweetness, romance, sensitivity, and humor to be absolutely endearing. The thing about a lot of CMX shoujo is that there’s nothing special about it, but even somewhat shallow characters have chemistry, and relationships aren’t glossed over with bad jokes and accidents making things advance. I like that kind of story too, of course, but these younger CMX shoujo titles really do it for me because the writers really nail the nuances of the little relationships. It’s the sensitivity part that matters most.

What also helps this series is the unusual kimono theme. Each of the chapters is a one-shot story about something happening while Okuma and Koguma are modeling kimono or at kimono-themed events. There are lots of details about the styles and how to wear them, even when the plots of the chapters don’t directly relate to kimono fashion. Kimono are heavily featured in all of them, but another big theme is how well Koguma’s tough-guy image fits him. Okuma sees many different sides of him, and later tries to help the way others see him.

I think my favorite part of the volume was the last chapter, which is the usual school festival chapter. I’m rather sick of these, and rolled my eyes when the students wanted to do a maid cafe, but the theme of the series is kimono, so they decide to have a kimono-themed cafe instead. That took it up a notch (though not unexpectedly, given the theme of the series), but what made it great was a last-minute detail that meant the boys were the ones wearing kimono (for men), and not the girls. It wasn’t a big twist, and I’ve seen plenty of “butler cafe” stories too, but it was nice all the same.

It’s super-girly, unbelievably adorable and romantic, and has the unusual kimono theme, to boot. There’s not a whole lot to chew on plot- and character-wise, but it more than makes up for it in charm. It’s definitely worth a read for anyone into shoujo manga, and it’s yet another loss from the late, lamented CMX. Two volumes made it out, and I would try to pick them up ASAP since the second volume was cancelled out from under me at the first retailer I tried. They’ll probably disappear sooner rather than later.

As a bonus, this also contained my new favorite shoujo manga line: “Uwaaa! You fail as a teenage girl!”


4 Comments on “Stolen Hearts 1”

  1. Oliver says:

    Heh, that is a good line! I regret not checking out CMX when I had the chance (I still have the chance since the books are still available, but I don’t like buying incomplete series). I halted buying Swan volumes in hopes of saving my money for a new release of it from a new pub.

    I’m starting to resent the flashiness of the Shojo Beat titles (I became less and less impressed with Love Com and Kimi ni Todoke which both seem superficial to me). I want something different!

  2. Estara says:

    I actually thought this series had the potential to be more than just cute because of its incredibly direct, but not obnoxious or tomboyish heroine. She communicates directly, taking people off guard and they respond – this seems to be very much a rarity in Japan society (judging from other manga) and makes me understand much better why the hero likes her so much.

    I am SO SAD that DC screwed over the CMX line, they consistently had out of the average shoujo. Not everything was to my taste, but there was always some added quality.

    In particular I curse DC because of SWAN.

  3. lys says:

    Oliver, for what it’s worth, Stolen Hearts is pretty episodic (though well done—I usually don’t like episodic so much and I adore this series. it’s not that the characters are static and don’t develop—they do, but each chapter is fairly self contained (often seasonally-focused, which fits for a series about traditional kimono-wear) and comes to a neat conclusion) so it really doesn’t feel incomplete at two volumes. I’d definitely encourage you to check it out! I agree with Estara—the protagonist Shinobu is so refreshingly direct, and the relationship between the two leads is that incredibly adorable and enjoyable because of it.

    I kind of know what you mean about the Shojo Beat line, although I still enjoy many of those titles. CMX’s shoujo just had a slightly different flavour, very refreshing and somewhat subtle. But “flashy” is what gets people’s attention and sells. Sigh…

  4. cmxgirl says:

    It was a delight to see CMX reviews! Thank you posting it – you made my day :)


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