Sunday, November 06, 2005
To Heart (original) 10-11: Multi
The original To Heart is one of those series I hesitated to check out, based on reviews that implied it was about as exciting as watching paint dry on a cloudy day. But it's almost impossible to be an anime fan and not see references to To Heart, and Multi in particular--Comic Party and Abenobashi, just to name a couple, both have Multi references. So finally last year I took the plunge and watched it, and I'm glad I did. In a lot of ways, it's your typical renai game-to-anime series, with Hiroyuki, the male lead, Akari, his childhood friend, and a bunch of other girls who each get their own episodes to shine. What makes To Heart different is it's really well done--the characters are interesting, the pacing and atmosphere is great, and it doesn't follow the "girls fall all over male lead" syndrome a lot of these kind of series fall into. In some episodes, Hiroyuki barely shows up at all. The pacing is like Aria or Yokohama Kaidashi Kikou, and if you find those series slow then I can see how you'd find it boring. I thought To Heart was great though, it does a good job of taking you somewhere else and immersing you in that world--it's not a roller coaster ride, but more like relaxing in the sun on a warm day.
Episodes 10 and 11 of To Heart tell Multi's story--Multi is the green-haired maid robot in the screenshots above, and she's a unique character since she's a robot who's also a doji-ko (clumsy). She's always genki (energetic) and works harder than anyone else at keeping the school clean, and impressed with her dedication and seeing her struggle, Hiroyuki helps her out. Their relationship is really like a big brother-little sister ought to be, I thought--Hiroyuki helps her out and generally looks out for her. Although when Multi's sweeping the halls you better look out or she'll just run you the hell down. Multi's a prototype for maid robots that are about to be mass produced, and there's a competition of sorts between her and Serio, another model robot who boasts a wide array of features but has all the personality of Vanilla H. Multi's almost the exact opposite, getting things wrong often, but always being cheerful, outgoing, and sincere.
It's hard not to like Multi's character, as earnest as she is, and her un-robot-like clumsiness and struggles to do things like cook pasta correctly just make her more endearing--it's easy to see why there are a lot of references to Multi in other series and in the anime fan community. Even if you don't like slow-paced series, when it comes out on DVD, I'd recommend putting at least the disc with episodes 10 and 11 on it in your Netflix queue. One of the lessons I learned from To Heart is you just have to see anime for yourself to tell if you're going to like it or not.