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To Heart
Reviewer: Rowena Lim Lei 11/12/2002

Synopsis:
Akari and Hiroyuki have been best friends since pre-school. Both are now in high school, but Akari's actually been in love with Hiroyuki for as long as she can remember. Hiroyuki has absolutely no idea about how Akari feels though...

Review:
Shallow as it is, To Heart really made me question myself and my somewhat evolving taste in anime. I mean, romance in a series has always been a big plus in my book... and I distinctly remember scouring anime shops and catalogs for any anime title which had even the slightest hint of being romantic. Right... I should be excited about To Heart, but after watching the first few eps I was put off by the sickeningly sweet female protagonist Akari, her irritatingly nonchalant best friend Hiroyuki, and their constant companions -- the annoying pest Shiho, and the incredibly generic Masashi.

Comprised of 13 episodes, To Heart is a collection of short stories which show us the life and times of four friends -- Akari, Hiroyuki, Shiho, and Masashi. The focus is on Akari and Hiroyuki more than any of the others though. I found To Heart altogether dragging and repetitive, because most of the episodes would feature Akari's growing love for Hiroyuki, and then Hiroyuki meeting and spending time with some other girl in school. It's strange because Hiroyuki has a knack for getting acquainted with all kinds of girls without coming off as a playboy, and we have to sit through this repeatedly until the last two or three episodes. It was such a bore, especially since I was expecting to see some development on Akari and Hiroyuki's relationship... not watch Hiroyuki make friends with like 6 or 7 other girls for most part. We do see some semblance of a plot twist near the end when Shiho finds herself falling for Hiroyuki as well, all the while knowing how strongly Akari feels for him. It's just too bad this subplot wasn't fully explored, and I couldn't help but feel the writers took the easy way out with how the situation was handled.

The art and animation are cutesy in style, characterized by round-faced and doe-eyed character designs. I felt the urge to retch whenever I had to look at Akari's face for too long however, as she tends to look too cute and the expression on her face is always too sweet. Don't get me wrong, the visuals are not bad by any measure, just too... well, cutesy.

Overall, To Heart is slow-paced, humorless, and dull. While I wouldn't go as far as call it crappy, it's an average series at best. If you're looking for a good romance in a school setting I'd suggest either "Boys Be..." or "Karekano". Pick any one of the two... just not this.

Miscellanies:
To Heart is based on a bishoujo game of the same title which is widely considered as one of the best bishoujo games ever released.

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Review Title:
To Heart
Type:
TV
Episodes:
13
Duration:
325 Minutes
General Rating:
2.5 out of 5 stars
Aired:
1999
Suitable For:
Older Children
Genres:
Comedy, Drama, Game,
Romance, School, Slice of Life
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