Tuesday, November 15, 2005

To Heart (original) 12-13

The original To Heart ends with a two-episode storyline that focuses on Shiho, Hiroyuki, and Akari, the three characters who get the most screentime out of the cast. Akari and Shiho are talking about how Christmas is approaching soon, and how they want to hold a Christmas party--but things get more complicated when Shiho starts to realize she likes Hiroyuki too.

To Heart ends the way most of its individual episodes ended, by putting a smile on your face as you watch it. It's not a profound, Earth-shattering series that will make you think about the nature of mankind or the meaning of life, but it does what it does very well, giving a snapshot of a bunch of people as they're growing up, and how they all interact together and support each other. The animation was great in the end as it was throughout the series--that's one other area where To Heart excels, it doesn't suffer from the inconsistent animation that plagues a lot of other series these days. And although I know To Heart: Remember My Memories had character designs closer to the game's, I still like the original To Heart anime's character designs far better.

I'm definitely looking forward to seeing this on R1 DVD when it comes out next year--supposedly the source was in pretty bad shape but it's going to be cleaned up to "look even better than the Japanese DVD release", and I hope they aren't lying. The fansubs look gorgeous, so I can only imagine how this will look on DVD. It's just a fun story to watch, that just draws you in despite the laid-back pace. With a great cast, good pacing and atmosphere, and good character development, the original To Heart is easy to recommend--this is one of those shows that makes me thank Kami-sama I'm an anime fan.

spoilers for the ending (although the screencaps are probably spoilers enough):

In the last episode, although Akari doesn't tell Hiroyuki she likes him, it's pretty much implied that Hiroyuki and Akari are going to be together. If I have any complaint with To Heart it's that they could have given it a more definite ending--I'm not a big Akari fan, but would it have killed the writers to have Hiroyuki at least kiss her after 13 episodes? Or have Akari actually tell Hiroyuki she likes him? But I guess Akari's made some progress, since she tells Shiho she likes Hiroyuki, and Shiho comments that's the first time Akari's said that, even if it is stating the obvious. Shiho kind of resolves the triangle herself by bowing out of the race and not taking any action, beyond the one shopping trip for the party she took with Hiroyuki. It'd kind of sad Shiho didn't at least get to tell Hiroyuki how she felt, but Shiho's not stupid, and probably realized she'd "lose". If Shiho confessed that she liked Hiroyuki it would make things more awkward between the three of them, and maybe to Shiho, Akari's friendship was more important.

Akari, to me, seems like the least mature of the cast, since she doesn't have any major goals of her own, other than being with Hiroyuki. She doesn't have Multi's enthusiasm, or Aoi-chan's determination, but she does have the osanajimi (childhood friend) card to play, and that's tough for the rest of the cast to beat. The last scene was well done even if it lacked a confession--Hiroyuki goes to pick up Akari and stops by the staircase where in first grade Akari had fallen in the rain and he'd helped her pick up her books. It's an important memory to Akari, but Hiroyuki hadn't been able to remember until now. And of course, since it's a Christmas episode and the two main characters are together, it promptly starts to snow--I think that's one of the Rules of Anime ^_^ To Heart really showed that game-to-anime conversions don't have to be generic harem shows, I just wish there were more series like it.


dsong said...

Didn't Shiho go on a date with Hiroyuki in episode 3? And it doesn't seem to be the first time they've gone out, either.

But in the end, Shiho certainly makes the smart choice. It was a lose-lose proposition - she would've lost the friend and the guy.

suguru said...

In ep 2 Shiho, Hirouyuki, Akari, and Masahi all go to a concert together, but I don't think he ever went out with just Shiho. I agree, though, I feel bad Shiho didn't get to tell Hiroyuki she liked him, but it would have been a definite lose-lose for her.

dsong said...

No, I'm talking about the trip to the arcade center in episode 3 - and it looked like they were going to go to the karaoke center afterwards.

However, Akari cut it short, so that Hiroyuki could attend Serika's demonstration.

suguru said...

You're absolutely right, I forgot about that whole scene. Shiho probably saw that as more hanging out w/ a guy friend than a date, though, since she hadn't realized she liked him yet.