To Heart, Vol. 4: Love and Truth
Right Stuf // Unrated // $19.99 // August 28, 2007
Review by John Sinnott | posted September 2, 2007
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Graphical Version
The Series:

The fourth volume of To Heart wraps up this short series in a fairly satisfying way.  The show has always been very low key, and the last three episodes that are contained in this volume are just as sedate as those that went before it.  Looking over the series as a whole, it seems to be a bit of a missed opportunity.  Many of the characters are never developed as fully as they could have been and a lot of the situations that crop up are never fully examined.  Still, it's a show that's worth watching when you feel like something simple, calm, and sweet.

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 that wraps up the story about Multi, the robot maid that has come to school as her final test to see how she interacts with people.  Akari and Hiroyuki have grown very fond of their metal friend, and with only days before she has to report back to the factory, they start to feel bad that she'll be leaving.  What's worse than her departure is the fact that if she hasn't preformed better than the other model that the company made, she'll be scrapped!

After she departs Hiro has a very difficult time coming to grips with the fact that his friend is gone, and that Multi wasn't even human.  Is it right to miss a robot?

The disc concludes with a two-part final story that examines Akari and Hiro's relationship a little.  The term is almost over and Christmas is coming.  Shiho wants to end the semester with a bang and talks the class into renting a club for a big party.  As she, Akari, and Hiro work on the preparations, Shiho starts getting a little quite.  She starts to look at Hiroyuki in a new light.  Could she really be in love with him?  When Akari comes down with a cold, the two get to spend a lot of time together and they think beck to the time that they first met.  Could it be Shiho's destiny to end up with Hiro instead of Akari?

This was a bit of an odd show.  There were parts that just came out of left field that didn't seem to fit at all, like the Multi subplot.  That whole section seemed like filler, especially since they ultimately didn't do too much with the character.  The robot-maid story could have been interesting and fun, but it just sort of went no where.

The show is also pretty slow in parts.  There were more than a few times that I was just waiting for the plot to start moving.  I realize that this was supposed to be a sedate show, but it really was too laid back.

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 puns and jokes that many Americans won't get.

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:

After watching the entire series I'm confident in stating that 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 for more of a story and supporting characters that were more developed.  This would make a good rental.
 



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