Captive Hearts 2

February 1, 2009

You know, I’ve had pretty good luck jumping into series without reading the first volume.  For a shoujo series, there’s only so much that can go on in the first volume, and only so many ways to start a story.  But this one started way different, enough to think that I probably should have attempted the first volume first.  It does have a very unusual plot, and everything is explained fairly clearly in the intro to the book, but I was lacking a basic knowledge of the characters, which probably hurt my enjoyment of it.

I actually kind of fell in love with it a bit at the beginning, because the plot is that the main male character Megumi’s family is cursed to serve the main female Suzuka’s family for 100 generations.  Whenever he is given orders, or whenever their eyes meet, he goes into an extremely sparkly “manservant fit” that made me laugh everytime I saw it.  Since he’s got a crush on Suzuka, these fits don’t make him particularly angry, but I like that he sometimes feels embarassed by them.

I also liked that Megumi and Suzuka were actually in love, and sort of a couple.  That can be sort of rare in a short shoujo series like this.  Of course, they can’t officially be a couple because of the curse, and because of Suzuka’s family’s status and all that, but they act all couple-y, which is what counts.  They make for a good couple.

Suzuka’s family isn’t actually all that prestigious anymore, both her parents died and she was thought to have passed away with them and was actually raised by a foster family in China.  There’s also a weird and uncomfortable sub-plot involving child slavery that came up suddenly towards the second half of the volume that perhaps was discussed briefly in the first volume.  It… was not something I was expecting.

The main thing was that I wasn’t sure what to expect of the characters.  I felt I was missing out on knowing Megumi better by not seeing how he acted before Suzuka came back and the curse was activated.  I’m willing to bet his personality is not all that different, but some part of my brain is telling me it really should be since he’s basically being forced into servitude, whether he loves her or not (a big question is whether his love is part of the curse or not.  It’s not, but the characters bring it up frequently).  I also can’t quite get a bead on Suzuka’s personality either.  It leaves me a little lost when trying to figure out how and why they are reacting to certain situations.  I’ll give it the benefit of the doubt and say it’s because I didn’t read the first volume, but I suspect I would have had the same problems with the characters even if I had.

The other problem I had was with the really cramped page layouts.  It’s not as bad as some series I’ve seen (Go Go Heaven is literally the worst, but I still love it), but it makes it a bit harder to read.  I know it sounds silly, but I like to be able to read a light shoujo series like this quickly, and a dense page layout that slows me down hampers my enjoyment unless the story is excellent, which is not so much the case here.

I’m willing to bet this was Matsuri Hino’s first series, or close to it, because a lot of the problems I have with this were definitely not present in Wanted.  There are some cute moments and funny moments, and some stuff you can expect from all shoujo series (a romantic rival for Megumi, both Megumi and Suzuka dragging their feet about their relationship), but overall I wasn’t particularly fond of this title, and it may just be because it’s an early series of hers.  I’ve got one more volume of it though, so I’m going to try a little more to see if maybe I can figure out the characters or if the story takes off.

This was a review copy provided by Viz.

One Response to “Captive Hearts 2”

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