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Review: Pure Heart (Vol. 01)

Reviewer: Shannon Fay


Manga-ka: Hyouta Fujiyama
Publisher: June
Rating: Mature (18+)
Release Date: February 2009

Synopsis: “Tozaki is a freelance writer who, through a coincidental assignment, is reunited with his first high school crush, Kurata. Certain that the once-popular athlete doesn’t remember him, Tozaki confesses his past feelings after a night of drinking together – but Kurata does remember. Curious enough to agree to a one-night stand, will Kurata develop the romantic feelings Tozaki always hoped for? Or is the relationship that follows between them merely Kurata’s way of humiliating his bookish, former schoolmate?”

If there’s one thing I like best about Pure Heart volume one, it’s that the characters are adults. Maybe it’s because I’ve been on a bender of high-school romances lately, but there’s just something refreshing about characters that have to worry about their career as well as their romantic entanglements.

Work is what brings the main characters back together after not seeing each other since high school. Back then, bookish Tozaki used to watch track-and-field star Kurata practice and Tozaki developed a crush on the other boy but never told him. When they meet again years later because of a business deal, Tozaki is surprised that Kurata remembers him. He’s even more shocked when Kurata guesses that he was Tozaki’s first love. Kurata continues to tease Tozaki about it, and convinces Tozaki that they may as well give sleeping together a try. What starts out as a one-night stand becomes something more as Kurata keeps visiting Tozaki.

While Kurata claims to be straight he grows more possessive of Tozaki every time they see each other. One person Kurata’s jealous of is Miyata, Tozaki’s boss, close friend and ex-lover. There’s also Yoshioka, an old college classmate who wants Tozaki to ghost write a book for him. Yoshioka also makes it clear he has designs on Tozaki himself.

Kurata’s rivals don’t play a big part in this volume however. This book mostly sets them up for future plotlines. The focus is largely on Kurata and Tozaki and their relationship. Kurata is a manipulative jerk who milks the fact that he’s Tozaki’s first love for all it’s worth. He’s a bastard, but he’s so good at it that I couldn’t help but like him. An interesting part of the book is that even though Kurata is very good at getting what he wants (i.e. Tozaki) he’s not a 100 per cent sure why he wants it.

Tozaki is also an interesting character. It’s neat to see the contrast between his high-school self and how he is now. He’s still bookish and a bit of a space-case, but as an adult he’s become more confident and assured. Of course, he’s still a push-over when it comes to Kurata.

The characters are adult not only in how they act but how they look too. Tozaki may be slightly more innocent than the other characters, but he still looks like a guy in his late twenties. Everyone else also looks their age. It’s a nice change of pace from adult yaoi characters that look like jailbait (I’m looking at you, Shuichi Shindou).

Speaking of different ages, the manga-ka does a good job of drawing the high school flashbacks. In them, Tozaki and Kurata actually look like teenage versions of themselves, and not just the same character designs dressed up in a high-school uniform.

The art was a pleasant surprise. There’s a sketchy look to all of the characters, but it manages to be pretty instead of messy. The manga-ka, Hyouta Fujiyama, does some interesting panel layouts, such as slanting a scene sideways. There are also some inventive layouts during the sex scenes. It’s nothing mind-blowing, but it does manage to give them a kind of artistic flair.

I was disappointed when I came to the end of the volume, as I really wanted to see what happens next. Will Miyata try to win back Tozaki? Will Tozaki accept the ghostwriting job? And most importantly, will Kurata see that there’s more going on between him and Tozaki than sex? The first volume was very entertaining, and the sub-plots it hints at make me especially curious to see where the story goes from here.

Review written June 23, 2009 by Shannon Fay
Book provided by Digital Manga for review purposes

Shannon Fay

About the Author:

Shannon Fay has been an anime and manga fan ever since junior high when a friend showed her a raw VHS tape of ‘Sailor Moon Stars.’ After watching it, she knew she didn’t want to live in a world that didn’t include magical transvestites and alien boy bands. Along with her reviews on Kuriousity, Shannon Fay has also written manga reviews for Manga Life and Anime Fringe. She is also a freelance manga adapter and is currently working with the manga licensor Seven Seas.



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