Wednesday, January 24, 2007

Why Takaaki Needs to Level the Hell Up

To Heart 2 was a series I was really looking forward to, since I really liked the original--but sadly, the second incarnation disappointed me compared to the first. Why? There's not just one reason, but the biggest one is that Takaaki is a lousy male lead. He's generally a nice guy, sure, but a complete pushover, and I don't remember him having a witty or amusing line of dialogue in the whole series. You could program a robot to take his place and no one would notice, like in the onsen episode of Happy Lesson. You might think the male lead in a bishoujo series shouldn't matter, since let's be honest--no one watches Love Hina because they want to see Keitaro naked in the onsen behind Hinata-sou. But when I look back on bishoujo series I've liked and disliked, there's no more critical piece that makes the series work or not than the male lead.

An example? Just imagine how much better To Heart 2 would have been if you replace Takaaki with Yuichi from Kanon. Tamaki vs Yuichi would be a battle of wills and wisecracks for the ages, while Tamaki vs Takaaki is like watching Mike Tyson beat the living hell out of a cowering, defenseless newborn kitten. Would Yuichi just roll over and do what Karin tells him to without a fight? Would Yuichi not come up with some good wisecrack when Yuuma runs over him with her bike? Would Yuichi react to Sango and her bratty twin with nothing more than sweatdrops, like Takaaki? Hell, no. Kenji from Lamune, Hiroyuki from the original To Heart, even Junichi from Da Capo all had a lot more personality and strength of character than Takaaki, and their respective series are much more fun to watch as a result.

Not having a strong male lead doesn't just detract from the interactions with the various bishoujo, it even makes the bishoujo less likeable. If Karin was trying to manipulate Yuichi, and he wiggles his way out of it, it could be funny--but when Karin successfully blackmails a hapless Takaaki over and over again, it just makes her look mean-spirited (see earlier kitten-beating analogy). Maybe it's the way the game was written, that Takaaki is a really weak-willed guy, I'm not sure since I haven't played the game--but I'm sure it would be more fun to watch if they gave him more of a personality.

There is some hope, it looks like--I saw the trailer for the To Heart 2 OVA (the first of three episodes coming out in February) thanks to Darr3n's post, and it looks like OVA Takaaki has a different character design. Here's hoping the change isn't just superficial--with the cast of characters TH2 has otherwise, if the OVAs can just address the weakest link and level up Takaaki, they could end up living up to some of To Heart 2's promise.


Anonymous said...

The first Hiroyuki from To Heart (1999) was still good, but ~Remember my Memories~ (2004) made him lousy too.

There are other things that made To Heart 2 fail, but I agree Takaaki is one of them.

And as for the OVA, let's just say I lost hope already, so I won't be disappointed if it sucked again.


Stripey said...

We are of the same hive mind! :)

Personally I believe the harem lead to be the single weakest link in many harem series. All the bishoujo series I enjoyed had credible male leads who are at least worthy of the female cast's affections. Falling in love with a invetebrate does not heighten a character's moe qualities contrary to popular belief. I'm with Sango's brat twin here.

Takaaki DIE!! XD

Thanks to Takaaki, another cast of wonderful bishoujos was squandered.

Hopefully the OVAs do better :)

Darren said...

Oh, I never expected To Heart was released back in 1999. Now you mentioned it, it seems a long time since I watched it. If not mistaken it was in RealPlayer format.

suguru said...

bluemist: I agree on Remember my Memories...I was glad to see more screentime for Multi, but Hiroyuki just wasn't the same, which was a real pity.

stripey: lol...invertebrate is probably too good a word to describe Takaaki, if his personality hasn't gotten an extreme makeover in the OVA I'm just going to hope he gets run over by a cement mixer.

darren: It's old, but finally getting a release in region 1, so I have my DVD pre-ordered, can't wait...