Stolen Hearts 1
August 28, 2010
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!”