Friday, July 16, 2010

Stolen Hearts Volume 2

By Miku Sakamoto. Released in Japan by Hakusensha, serialization ongoing in the magazine The Hana to Yume. Released in North America by CMX.

The second volume of Stolen Hearts is just as adorable as the first one. Koguma and Shinobu are the perfect odd couple, and meeting Koguma's odd family seems like an excellent capper. He and his four brothers grace the cover of Volume 2, in blatant female fanservice, but it works well.

In fact, things might be a little *too* adorable. There's not a heck of a lot of conflict here, with most of the series being devoted to the couple trying to get moments where they can be close and deepen their relationship. There is a crisis mid-volume involving Koguma's older brother, but this much-needed drama is quickly cut off after only one threat from Shinobu - which is almost nothing by shoujo manga standards, where misunderstandings are bread and butter.

Of course, their love is stronger than a mere threat from an older brother. Indeed, we see in the last chapter of the volume how much closer the two of them want to be. Staying the night in a hotel is a standard manga trope, but there's a certain sensuality to it that makes it work here - you can feel Shinobu and Koguma's desire, and it's always nice to see a cute, adorable relationship that also acknowledges a healthy dose of desire. It also leads to a fantastic kiss.

As you all know, CMX has shut down, so this is all we're going to get of Stolen Hearts, which is still running in Japan. It's a crying shame, but at least this volume didn't end with a hideous cliffhanger, so we can gain a false sense of closure here, knowing that the two of them are going to work things out. Of course, you'd already realize that just reading this.

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