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October 5, 2009

Bento Bako Weekly: Captive Hearts

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Written by: Kristin
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captivehearts1Title: Captive Hearts

Author: Matsuri Hino

Publisher: Viz Media, Shojo Beat line

Volumes: 5, at $8.99 each

Vintage: Hino-san began the series in 1998; Viz’s first English volume came out in November 2008, volume 5 in July 2009.

Captive Hearts is the first serialized manga from Matsuri Hino (Vampire Knight, Wanted, MeruPuri), published in America by Viz Media’s Shojo Beat line. For those of you who have never read Hino-san’s books, she has a talent for writing some seriously silly and ridiculous story lines. Her most recent, Vampire Knight, is about a private school attended by humans during the day, and vampires at night. Wanted is a one-shot about pirates (including one cross-dressing girl). And MeruPuri is a story about a 12-year-old prince who ages 5 years whenever he is in the dark. I’ve read all of them (well, I’m reading VK as it’s released since it’s ongoing, and I own all except Wanted), and they’re all equally silly. Vampire Knight is a bit of an exception, because it’s Hino-san’s first attempt at a more serious, dramatic story, but she still sneaks some very silly elements in there.

20-year-old university student Megumi Kuroishi has been living a life of luxury in the mansion that once belonged to his father’s master and mistress (Yoshimi Kuroishi is a butler at the mansion), the Kogami family. 14 years ago the Kogami family traveled to China and disappeared. It was eventually determined that the family died of an illness in China, and the Kogamis had left the mansion to their devoted butler and his family. Megumi is living a carefree life until one day, the young daughter of the Kogami family, Suzuka (now 17), suddenly returns home. The moment their eyes meet, Megumi is stricken with an intense desire to serve Suzuka and becomes entirely devoted to his “Princess.” Unknown to Megumi, who had lived most of his life without the Kogami family around, the Kuroishi family is under a 100-generation curse to serve the Kogami family, body and soul. And since Megumi hasn’t been exposed to the curse in many years, he is extremely sensitive to it and frequently launches into over-the-top man-servant fits whenever his and Suzuka’s eyes meet.


Megu-chan having a typical man-servant fit

Somewhere along the way, Suzuka and Megumi fall in love, although it is unclear to Megumi if the feelings he feels are his own or from the curse. Seeing how tortured this makes Megumi (not to mention how troublesome the whole mess is), Suzuka vows to find a way to break the curse and free the Kuroishi family forever.

Things get truly ridiculous in this story. Even Hino-san makes mention of how extreme it can be, with side-bar comments like “Sorry this manga is so silly,” and “Don’t take Captive Hearts too seriously.”  I’m not sure if she’s making excuses, or just making sure that people understand it’s not meant to be taken seriously (it’s not, by the way). Basically, Megumi’s “man-servant fits” are off the deep end. When his eyes meet unexpectedly with Suzuka’s, he transforms into a doting, devoted servant, willing to do anything at all for her; he sparkles, calls her princess, and gushes over her. He’s always protective of her, and takes care of her, but the fits take it to an extreme, and they happen a lot.

A nice break from all the silliness is Suzuka’s tragic, troubled back story. The story of the curse’s origins (in the 3rd volume) is also a nice break, and is rather more serious than its later effects on Megumi. A couple of the volumes also have some unrelated one-shot stories that Hino-san wrote for various things, all romance stories of course (some are very sweet, others are so-so). Captive Hearts is, after all, a romance, with a lot of comedy thrown in. If you can get past how ridiculous it is, the story is actually decent, and Megumi and Suzuka’s relationship is very sweet. It’s not outstanding. The art is OK; it’s clear this is an early work, but it shows a lot of potential (and indeed she has improved a great deal since then). Sometimes there are continuity issues, or panels are misdrawn. It’s an average manga (meaning it’s not bad, but it’s not something you need to run out and read right away), but it’s short, so it won’t take a large time or monetary investment if it interests you.





  1. I had no clue Viz was still around. I have a bunch of their stuff from the 1980’s.

  2. Kristin

    Assuming it’s still the same company, they’re probably the biggest publisher right now. Tokyopop is still big but…. Viz has the biggest titles (Naruto, Bleach, Dragon Ball, Full Metal Alchemist). Plus they have their anime releases (which includes Bleach and Naruto, two of the biggest sellers), and the Shonen Jump magazine.

    From wikipedia:
    “…founded in 1986 as Viz, LLC. In 2005, the Viz, LLC. and ShoPro Entertainment merged to form the current Viz Media, LLC which is jointly owned by Japanese publishers Shogakukan and Shueisha, and Shogakukan’s licensing division Shogakukan Productions….”

  3. billy

    I hope you do an article/review on Vampire Knight.

  4. Kristin

    Well, it will be one of the titles I’m highlighting for my upcoming Halloween posts. One of the biggest secrets in the series will be revealed in the next volume though, so it will be a good time for a review of the series. Not to spoil the secret, but because I like understanding what it is I’m writing about, to provide proper objectivity…or something.

    I will certainly get to it eventually. I enjoy Vampire Knight for the most part, especially Hino-san’s art, which is beautiful.

  5. […] (When This Dream Is Over) in LaLa DX magazine. With the success of subsequent series such as CAPTIVE HEARTS and MERU PURI (both published domestically by VIZ Media), Hino has firmly established herself as a […]

  6. […] Vampire Knight Author: Matsuri Hino (Captive Hearts) Publisher: Viz Media Volume: Volume 10, $9.99 Vintage: 2009 in Japan (the series began in 2005); […]

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