Review by: Sophie Stevens
Publisher: CMX Manga
Author: Miku Sakamoto
Genre: Graphic Novel (Shoujo)
MSRP: $9.99 US
Rating: T (Teen)
Release Date: Available Now
Opposites really do attract.
People really do judge a book by its cover and more so when it concerns other people. Take Miharu Koguma, for instance. He’s a tall, lanky and somewhat scary individual who – with but a single glance – can send even the toughest thug looking for the exit yet despite the scary frame is a something else entirely as we find out in Volume 1 of Stolen Hearts.
It started out as a normal day for the short yet lovely High school student Shinobu Okuma who – while passing Miharu Koguma’s desk in class – manages to spill milk right inside a shopping bag that belongs to Koguma. Petrified with fear, Shinobu is only able to stutter her apology. Like everyone in her class, Shinobu is scared of the tall student and even more so since he seems to glare at her every day. Instead of wringing her neck, Koguma produces a lovely kimono from out of the same bag and tells her that the kimono she spilled milk on is expensive and that she must make amends to rectify her blunder.
So showing up at the shopping district where a chain of stores can be found, Shinobu shows up at a store called Koguma that just so happens to sell a number of beautiful kimonos for young women and men. The store is run by Koguma’s business-minded grandmother who has Shinobu model various kimonos to help promote the store. Helping her pass out flyers is Koguma who very slowly begins to reveal something Shinobu didn’t expect. You see, Koguma is actually very kind, considerate and very handsome.
It doesn’t take long for Shinobu to come to like the big man whose name literally translates to “bear cub” and she even comes to enjoy working alongside him. Even when she realizes that the kimono wasn’t as priceless as she thought, she still sticks around working for the shop. After all, she’s having a blast trying on different kimonos and cute ensembles. The store even starts seeing some customers thanks to Shinobu.
When a group of thugs grab Shinobu and take her to an abandoned warehouse, Koguma comes to her rescue and decides to have her stay far away. Of course, Shinobu doesn’t because she comes to realize that she’s fallen for the big guy. Not caring what people think – especially since they think they’re quite mismatched – or that she might find herself in situations like being used as bait to lure Koguma – she wants to be with him and the two become a couple.
What begins next is Shinobu’s plan to make all their classmates and her friends to see Koguma the way sees him. She finds perfect opportunities such as the day that Koguma’s grandmother plans on renting kimonos for a day to spark interest in them. Thinking this is a great opportunity for classmates to see her boyfriend in a better light it fails but instead it reassures her that Koguma actually worries about her. In another moment, she wants to go on her first official date but the day of the festival she and Koguma have to work.
The real moment, however, comes when the school festival is underway and their class decides to go with a café with all the ladies dressed in kimonos from Koguma‘s shop. Unfortunately, a mix up has Koguma’s grandmother with men’s kimonos but it’s Shinobu who has an idea of having all the boys in the class perform waiter duty. While Koguma starts scaring off customers, Shinobu offers pointers that work to the point that he finally shows the side of him that Shinobu sees.
As I said, people really do judge a book by its cover and the students that see Shinobu and Koguma together think that she’s a captive being sold to slavery and – at one hilarious point – confuse them for father and daughter. Stolen Hearts is actually quite funny and the love story is actually quite charming in an innocent way that makes the story sweet and cute without overdoing it. Besides that, both Shinobu and Koguma really are great characters that make them a couple that you can’t help but like right away.
Stolen Hearts is already an irresistible and considerably amusing story and this is but the first volume of this series. Few shoujo manga manage to make you laugh and immediately fall in love with the characters on the first volume alone but this one pulls it off famously and, I might add, with a sweet innocence that makes this an endearing romance-comedy manga well worth checking out. It’s certainly good enough that we can’t wait for Volume 2.
MANGA REVIEW BREAKDOWN
Diminutive and adorable Shinobu Okuma spills milk into the bag of the scariest boy in class named Miharu Koguma containing an expensive kimono. As a result, the girl is intimidated into working as a model in a kimono store run by Koguma’s grandmother and comes to learn that the big brute is actually quite adorable himself. As a result, love blossoms and did I mention there are some lovely kimonos?
The art isn’t completely original but it does manage to be good enough to make each character stand out. Koguma’s embarrassed expressions really are downright cute.
Volume 1 of Stolen Hearts is a delightfully cute shoujo series that is genuinely funny at times and completely charming throughout. The concept is simple yet Miku Sakamoto makes it work on so many levels that makes the story and characters appealing enough that you’ll have a blast reading this one. If the series continues to be just as appealing we’re fairly certain this one will turn out to become another favorite.