Review: Stolen Hearts

Ever since February or so, I’ve gotten a lot better at spotting editorial changes in manga that I’m reading outside of work. Often it’s something little, sometimes it’s a bit bigger, so I’ve decided to include my notes on where I find the editorial decisions to be a bit lacking along with a review. Sure, I’m only a beginner at this whole editor business, but I figure my two cents can’t hurt and it gives me a little practice on the side! All I really want is to assess a different side of manga in the U.S., so I hope you readers enjoy this little extra perspective and my new take on reviewing manga.

Stolen HeartsStolen Hearts volume 1 by Miku Sakamoto

Shinobu Oguma is a regular high school girl until she spills milk onto one of her classmate’s bags. Unfortunately for her, the classmate just happens to be the scariest dude in class, Miharu Koguma. Koguma then ropes her into helping his grandmother advertise her kimono shop by walking around in kimono and handing out flyers. Shinobu quickly learns that her terrifying classmate is actually a big softie and the two fall in love. The rest of the volume follows their relationship working at kimono shop together, on their first date, at their school festival and in similar situations.

I have to say that this manga has one of the cutest couple-getting-together scenes I have ever EVER seen. It might be a little too contrived for real life, but you can really tell how Koguma feels about Shinobu as well as what Shinobu’s feelings are leading up to this scene. In that sense, it feels very very real. It definitely goes down in my book as one of my favorite shojo manga scenes ever.

The rest of the book progresses nicely with the couple going about their usual business and getting involved with Grandma’s schemes. I find it so adorable that they are just happy to spend most of their time together outside of school that they don’t even noticed they haven’t been on a proper date yet. I also enjoy Shinobu’s little schemes to show her friends how charming Koguma can be, which is something I think every girlfriend who is really in love with her boyfriend kind of does automatically. Fujiko, the grandmother, is also a treat as she is fiesty and a little bit of a slavedriver/obstacle, but is still considerate of the young lovers. I really hope to see her get fleshed out more in the next volume.

What I liked best about this story is how it used common cliches (a grand scheme to push the main couple together, school festivals, first date mishaps, etc.) but didn’t make a big fuss about them unlike some shojo manga. (ahem, ahem Love*Com) I also enjoyed the fact that it didn’t take Shinobu and Koguma very long to get together. I have to say I am starting to get a little bit sick of shojo that takes forever for the leads to hook up! Hopefully this will not make their romance go through one big cliched hurdle after another or that, at least, those hurdles will seem more original.

Another fun part of the story is the emphasis on kimonos, and kitsuke, the process of dressing oneself in kimono. It was great fun to see all the inventive ways you can wear kimono, especially since most shojo heroines don’t bother with kimono save for a yukata during a summer festival. While the manga is definitely a romance, it’s great to get a little bit of cultural education in the same package.

I love the cover, but was a little disappointed by the inside art. Most of my disappointment has to do with Shinobu’s face, which seems a bit off balance too me with her long bangs and super-big eyes. I felt a little bit of the same thing with Koguma, although I feel like Sakamoto will be able to draw him looking handsome more often in upcoming volumes instead of portraying him as scary with those lines across his face. Perhaps Sakamoto just needs time to feel comfortable drawing the characters. Other than that, I was delighted by the rest of the art, especially the attention paid to the kimono, and although the faces bothered me, I wouldn’t say no to this manga just because of that.

On the editorial side, I noticed a lot of little mistakes that I would have changed.  There was an aside that hit the edge of the art, blending it in with a black background. Another page had part of a letter cut off, although there was plenty of space where the entire word could have been moved to. And finally, on one page I noticed that there was an ‘Uwaaaa’ before a line where a side character was teasing Shinobu. The ‘Uwaaaa’ made no sense there, as the line should have been said straight with a sense of slight disgust,and took me out of the book, as did the other incidences despite their insignificance to enjoying the rest of the book. It says something to me that the editors weren’t able to catch the first two errors, although the last one isn’t an error so much as a stylistic choice.

Overall I am really really really looking forward to the next volume where we apparently get to deal with Koguma’s own brother trying to steal Shinobu away! If anything, I am looking forward to excellent way Sakamoto makes such cliches seem original. I would definitely recommend this book to girls who love shojo and anyone who’s open to the idea of shojo, but turned off by the idea of a cliched romance story.

Review copy provided by the reviewer.

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6 Comments

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6 responses to “Review: Stolen Hearts

  1. lys

    I like reading the editorial thoughts along with your review of the manga itself :D Nice idea! I can’t check the book myself just now, but I wonder if maybe the “Uwaaa” should’ve been in another bubble? I have found examples of text in the wrong spots before, reading manga… (and being the silly perfectionist that I am, I usually make a pencil note of it so I won’t be confused next time I read it).

    Anyway, the manga itself is SO cute, I agree. I wasn’t even that interested from the plot description, but after reading the first chapter I was completely hooked. And the kimono-theme of this work is just delightful. I got so excited when I saw the cute bonus colouring pages in the back :D

    • I’m glad you liked it! I don’t know if the ‘Uwaa’ would have fit elsewhere. Perhaps as an aside? But I did not see any room for it or any clear indication it had once been elsewhere (Which means CMX’s touchup artists might be better than their copy-editors.) I wish I had the Japanese to compare, but I’m not going to buy a Japanese copy JUST because.

      I saw part of it before…I can’t remember where though. I liked it so I’ve been excited to see it out for awhile. It is just so terribly cute, I love it.

      • lys

        Maybe you saw a preview in the sampler CMX was giving out last summer? I think that’s where I first got a glimpse of it.

  2. I believe so. I remember only seeing part of it, so that makes the most sense as opposed to scanlations.

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