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Oct 01 2010

Watching All of To Heart

to-heart-konomi-akari

Sometime during spring I took it upon myself to watch the entirety of the To Heart franchise as one of my big anime projects. I started drafting this post after watching all the various series but never finished writing it. However with last week’s release of To Heart 2 adnext I felt inspired to complete this. Watching the transition from To Heart (1999) all the way to To Heart 2 adnext (2010) was surprisingly enjoyable and I’ll be going over each one of them so this is somewhat long. Let’s get started right away!


To Heart

to-heart-multi

Given the age of the anime and how I’ve been spoiled by Blu-Ray as of late the first thing that I noticed was how low-quality the video rip was. The video was incredibly shaky as if it were sourced from a VHS tape which it could have very well been and the scene transitions were quite rough. Even disregarding the technological limits the actual production seemed quite plain at first and the pace was strange which I will go into further detail.

To Heart is told from the perspective of Fujita Hiroyuki and is basically about how he interacts with a different girl each episode. However this guy really has no good qualities and is generally a jerk and an imbecile. I’ll take a generic nice guy main character over him since at least those kinds of people are likable.

As Hiroyuki interacts with the girls throughout the series the major constant is that childhood friend Akari always worries about it and has concerns over her place in his heart. It’s really sad to watch Akari since she can never get his attention. Later on when Multi is introduced things change a little bit and it brings Akari’s relationship with Hiroyuki to the forefront and also lays the foundation for the sequel.

Overall To Heart can be quite hard to summarize. Aside from the old school art which actually is okay, the various other aspects have honestly not aged as well. The character-specific episode formula has been used so much nowadays that much better examples of it have since cropped up. Character development was quite lacking at points and even given time constraints could have been handled better through better planning and pacing. This might just be a personal preference of mine but I also disliked the lack of music and ambient sounds which made the anime seem really empty at times.

On another note To Heart as an anime was not really a romance and more of slice of life show. Sure there were a ton of girls but Hiroyuki never really showed any interest in a majority of the girls nor did most of the girls express any romantic feelings. The only real exception was at the end of the series dealing with Akari and that was the only acceptable romance as it was actually developed or hinted at throughout each episode. This gets shaken up in the sequel but I’ll get into that later.

At the end of the day I would definitely say I enjoyed To Heart despite it’s faults. Akari and Multi were definitely my favorite characters most likely due to the fact that they got the most development. This didn’t really change during the course of ~Remember My Memories~ though it did address some of the issues I had with the original series.


To Heart Omakes

The specials for To Heart were kind of weird. All I can really say is that some of the side girls get more screen time in the form of silly skits. I think my favorite might be the one in which Serika summons a giant monster in the sky.


To Heart ~Remember My Memories~

to-heart-remember-my-memories

~Remember My Memories~ is an interesting change of pace from the original To Heart anime. Although it used the same cast it almost felt like a different show. This is not that surprising considering the five year gap between the two but still it does feel strange watching them back-to-back. Fans of the first series may hate the sequel and vice versa. Frankly I enjoyed both but for differing reasons.

First I’ll address the technical aspects. The biggest disappointment was how the art quality actually downgraded. Faces were really off most of the time except at certain critical scenes. Overall the music was better used. Background music is not necessary but in this case it helped set the mood during important events.

It was nice to see more interaction between the girls. It made the story feel more lively and also set the stage for more character conflict later on. Unlike the prequel ~Remember My Memories~ had an overarching plot and Hiroyuki actually was forced to make certain critical decisions towards the girls around him and his future. This all culminated into the drama-heavy final product.

~Remember My Memories~ was again a mixed bag. It tied up certain lingering loose ends from the original such as the Hiroyuki/Akari/Multi situation. However it had to shift gears suddenly to accomplish that which maybe a turnoff or a godsend depending on opinions about the original series. At the very least this is generally agreed upon as the weak link in the series.


To Heart ~Remember My Memories~ Special

Random fighting between characters goes here. Seriously I can’t really describe it any better.


To Heart 2/To Heart 2 TV Special

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Now we come to To Heart 2 which is for the most part superior to To Heart original while still maintaining the same overall feel. By this time the art and animation has improved and so has the actual arrangement of the series. I wouldn’t necessarily call it amazing but still an improvement is an improvement.

To Heart 2 follows the daily life of Kouno Takaaki who’s a pretty nice guy. Sure this has been done before but like I mentioned I will take him over Hiroyuki any day. For the most of the series he helps and interacts with different girls each episode in a similar fashion as To Heart. However there are a few key differences. For example Takaaki actually is seen talking to the other girls even if the focus is on a particular one in a given episode. This is because part of the series is not told in completely chronological order. Essentially the first few episodes would cover the same span of time just with events with a different girl. This was nice to see as it seemed just a tad bit more realistic while maintaining focus on specific characters.

Compared to To Heart I liked To Heart 2‘s characters and their interactions more. Unfortunately however this sacrificed development of the principle romance with Konomi. I could fill in the blanks but more time could have been spent alluding to it earlier in the series. I did appreciate how the other girls gave advice to Takaaki in the final episode though. In the end however it works out and sets up shenanigans in the sequel OVAs.


To Heart 2 OVA

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This is the first of the seemingly never ending series of To Heart 2 OVAs. Honestly I am perfectly fine with this as it expands the world a little bit, gives development to new and neglected characters and of course entertains me. This pertains pretty much to all subsequent OVAs so I won’t repeat the same thing for each entry. The first episode gives some more screen time to Tamaki and Ilfa and the hi-jinks are quite amusing. Episode 2 introduces the other Komaki sister while episode 3 has student council members Sasara and Maaryan. Overall fun times.


To Heart 2 ad

to-heart-2-ad

Continuing the trend of mixing the girls together for random fun, episode 1 features the misadventures of an amnesiac Takaaki. When the girls find out chaos ensues as they all try to take advantage of him. I quite enjoyed this episode. The second episode features Yuma in New Year nonsense with fortunes and amazake.


To Heart 2 adplus

to-heart-2-adplus

The first episode features the three maid robots. In particularly it focuses on the strange antics of socially awkward Silfa trying to go outside to buy ingredients for curry while bumping into the other girls resulting in cardboard box shenanigans among other things. The second episode featured swimsuits which I’m pretty sure I don’t have to explain.


To Heart 2 adnext

to-heart-2-adnext

Finally here’s the latest episode of the To Heart franchise. It revolved around Manaka who happens to be my second favorite girl. Throughout the episode she has delusions of having intimate moments with Takaaki. This is due to “practicing” with him to get used to talking to boys by calling each other by their given names. Mix these together and in typical To Heart 2 fashion things get crazy after the other girls get the wrong impression and try to get closer to him as well. Manaka was so cute this episode. I really can’t wait until December for the next episode.


Other Thoughts

Without a doubt the To Heart franchise relies on the strength of its characters. Otherwise it’s hard to get into since in several ways it’s the precursor to many of the common things we see in anime today. (As an example I don’t really think I have to remind people of Tama-nee’s influence on the modern tsundere archetype.) For me anyway I found To Heart 2‘s characters in particular to be wonderfully entertaining. Now that I think about it it’s kind of surprising how much I’ve fallen for some of the characters. In the end I really am a To heart 2 fan. In fact I remember checking out the To Heart 2 game page before it was released and ever since I’ve always meant to experience it in one form or another. It took years to get around to it but I’m glad that I did. If Aquaplus were ever to announce To Heart 3 you better believe I’d be all over that and preorder it. In the mean time I have at least one more episode of To Heart 2 left plus the visual novels if I ever decide to play them.

Permanent link to this article: http://honya-ch.com/2010/10/01/watching-all-of-to-heart/

5 comments

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  1. Southrop

    It might have been worth waiting for ReDone to finish fansubbing To Heart ~RMM~ before you started. I’ve always thought that a good fansub can improve the viewing experience.

  2. Honya

    Maybe but I finished it half a year before they even started that project. At least from the DVD comparisons they posted the art is still iffy.

  3. Charles

    I’ve only watched the original, and I agree that it’s quite dated. Almost stunningly outdated, in fact. And it is deeply flawed…so much so that I vowed to quit watching a number of times (I caught it on Anime Network On Demand). But despite (and maybe because of) the flaws, I really did enjoy the series. It carried a nostalgic tone, and I grew to care about the characters. It’s a lovely little show.

  4. C.R.

    hahahaha, I recently got done watching all the kiminozo stuff since I was super excited for the muv luv alt anime in the spring and decided I’d try toheart as well. So much material to watch…

  5. Honya

    @Charles: Agreed. It has a surprisingly charming “back in my day” nostalgia to it.

    @C.R.: KimiNozo is great too. I didn’t hear anything about a Muv Luv anime though.

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