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Reviews » DVD Video Reviews » To Heart, Vol. 3: Bonds of Friendship
To Heart, Vol. 3: Bonds of Friendship
Right Stuf // Unrated // June 26, 2007
List Price: $19.99 [Buy now and save at Amazon]
Review by John Sinnott | posted July 3, 2007 | E-mail the Author
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The Series:

Volume three of To Heart is pretty much more of the same, three more stand alone episodes about a young girl going to school who has a crush on the boy she's been friends with for years.  This is a quiet and very sedate show, one where nothing exciting ever happens. In this volume the main characters study together, help with the school cultural festival, and come to the aide of a maid robot.  While it's not the most earth shattering series, it is nice change of pace.

Series recap:

Akari Kamigishi is a young quiet girl who generally wears her heart on her sleeve but is very kind and thoughtful.  She's been friends with Hiroyuki Fujita ever since they were in kindergarten.  One day early in the year she dropped all of her books in a puddle and he, chastising her for being so clumsy, gave her all of his books so she wouldn't get into trouble.  Ever since that day, she's had a crush on him, but she's been too shy to say anything.  Now that they are in high school however, she's trying to work up the courage to tell him how she feels.

Hiroyuki on the other hand is pretty oblivious to how Akari feels.  He's a bit sarcastic to everyone in school, but he's a good friend who will really come through in a pinch.  Hiroyuki and Akari also hang around with Shiho, a rather loud and boisterous girl, Lemmy, who grew up overseas and is always saying clichés incorrectly and Masashi, a nice boy who is one of Hiroyuki's best friends.  Together the four students try to help each other survive high school.

This volume:

The disc starts off with an episode entitled A Tranquil Time, and that pretty much sets tone of the disc (not to mention the series.)  Akari sets up a study group at her house, but the only one who doesn't cancel at the last minute is Hiroyuki.  The pair ends up in Akari's room, where the hapless Hiro starts to realize how much he means to his friend.  She cut her hair because of a casual remark he made, started collecting teddy bears because he gave her one, and has pictures of him plastered all over her room.  They spend a quite afternoon studying and talking about old times.

In the next episode the school's cultural festival has arrived.  Class 2-B is going to have a tea room, but when their request to cook some fancy food to serve is denied they start to panic.  Someone talks the class rep, Tomoko, into letting them decorate the class as a high class tea parlor with accessories that they'll borrow from a student's parents.  The truck bringing the decorations is very late however, and they won't have time to set everything up in time.  Oh no!

The final episode on this disc was a bit different.  The class has a new student named Multi.  She's not an ordinary student however, she's a prototype robot.  She's been assigned to the school as test to see how she does interacting with real people.  If she passes her programming will be downloaded into countless other maid robots.  If she's unsuccessful however, her personality will be scrapped.

This volume was pretty much like the first two.  If you enjoyed that one, you'll dig this one too.  I'm not sure how much adding a SF theme helped the show.  Not only that but if a company designed a robot maid, would they really test it in a school?   I also understand that this is supposed to be a show with a relaxed atmosphere, but this is so relaxed the show needs CPR.  The conflict in the first episode is how much studying the two will get done.  You can't get much more sedate than that.

I was also pretty disappointed that there were only three episodes on this volume, but the price point is low enough that I won't lower my rating because of that.

The DVD:


The next three episodes of this series are presented on a single sided DVD which comes in a clear case with a reversible cover.  Right Stuf added a nice touch when it comes to the closing credits.  They left the original closing titles alone and then translated them (and added the English voice credits) afterwards.  I really liked that.

Audio:

This disc presents the show with the original Japanese soundtrack and an English dub, both in stereo.  I alternated audio tracks while viewing the DVD, and found both to be acceptable.  I enjoyed the Japanese track a lot more however.  The female voices in the English dub were high pitched and squeaky especially when they were excited, something that is common in anime but irritating none the less.  The Japanese voices were the same, but it wasn't as annoying since I couldn't understand what they were saying.  Both audio tracks were clean and clear with no distortion.  There are optional subtitles in English.

Video:

The 4:3 image was fine.  Made in 1999, the program has good colors but the image is on the soft side, making it look a little older than it really is.  The lines aren't as tight and crisp as they usually are in recent anime.  On the digital side, there is only the most minor amount of aliasing in the background, with fine lines having a stairstep effect.  This isn't a problem however and it doesn't greatly affect the picture.

Extras:

This disc also contains some texts character biographies, a line art gallery, and trailers.  There are also some translation notes which were very informative.  These explain some of the traditions that often take place during a school cultural festival, and how important cram schools are.

The next two "mini episodes" are also included.  These three minute shorts (with two additional minutes of credits) take place outside of the show's continuity and weren't actually that entertaining.  It was nice that they included them however, as I'd be the first to complain if something like this was left off.

Final Thoughts:

This show isn't for everyone.  There is very little conflict, hardly any humor, and not much drama either.  The program is sort of cute and charming, but that's not enough to carry the whole series.  Frankly, I was hoping that the story would have picked up a little by new.  This would make a good rental.
 

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