Tuesday, February 23, 2010

Stolen Hearts, vol. 1

By Miku Sakamoto
Published in the US by CMX Manga

Slugline: Despite years of reading manga, I am still not sure what the difference is between a kimono and a yukata.

Koguma is the stereotypical big tough guy that exists in every teen manga, so when Shinobu spills something on his package she fears the worst especially when she learns it contained an antique kimono.  Shinobu agrees to work with Koguma to pay for the damages, but rather than doing hooligan-related activity she expected she instead learns that she will be joining him in working at his grandmother's kimono shop.  Given the chance to see him outside of the school where all anyone can see is his looming size Shinobu sees that he is more and they enter into a relationship.  But they both have a lot of work left to do in their relationship and get their schoolmates to see past both Koguma's reputation and the odd appearance they present when together from their height differences

This is a fairly light and fluffy school romance manga, mostly because the relationship is in the honeymoon period where everything the other one does is cute and perfect.  This manga feels more like an all ages title due to the combination of a somewhat educational storyline about the kinds and a how-to of wearing kimonos, and in that Shinobu's focus seems to be getting others to see past Koguma intimidating appearance rather than their own romance.  Koguma is a softy, an emotional blank that happens to look big and tough who is anything but.  His grandmother as a background character who is obsessed with money, seems to be more interesting than him.  Despite the weak romance element, there is still something about the manga that keeps readers' interest despite the face the elements and characters individually do not.

Stolen Hearts, vol. 1 is also available from Right Stuf, Intl., an online retailer specializing in anime and manga.

- Ferdinand

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