What I Read Last Week: "The Heart Thomas" by Moto Hagio
My Initial Thoughts:
Although the hardcover presentation is gorgeous, the book is so big that I couldn’t be read in a relaxing position, so I mostly read this on the “throne”. The two tone color pages are kinda awkward… but meh, okay. As for the story itself, this is another series that took me a long time to get into. I didn’t get hooked until I was about a quarter of the way into it. Before then, it was a struggle to stay awake while reading this. There’s a lot frivolous chatter and every child character is beyond prissy. After getting beyond the initial chatter, the individual story arcs of the main characters are interesting.
I innately backlash against the idea of romanticizing suicide. No matter how “beautiful” and Christ-like Hagio-sensei tries to make Thomas’ suicide appear, I see nothing but adolescent foolishness and ultimately selfishness on Thomas’ part. In that sense, I disliked Thomas and felt that he was the villain running through the whole narrative. That was the only way I was able to square the story in my mind.
The drawing style is from the 1970s. I don’t like the character designs, but the background artwork is very pretty.
The boy’s love aspect… meh… I didn’t think EVERY character had to be so overly prissy. And at that, I didn’t get romantic love off of this, despite what I felt were forced kisses to force “the romance”. This very much felt like a story about deep friendship amongst some deeply wounded young men. Yeah, the kissing makes it “revolutionary”, but ultimately the BL aspects add nothing to the story. In fact, I found myself laughing, because the kisses came out of nowhere for shock value and titillation. Anyhow, I liked the examination of these bonds amongst the characters and the character studies themselves.
Artwork: A — The character designs are typical 1970’s shoujo. I don’t like this style of character design, but separating my preferences from the quality of execution, this is a lovely comic.
Presentation: B+ — I love the hardcover, the cover art, and the archival construction. This book looks gorgeous on my bookshelf, but it’s a TOME that’s too heavy to read while relaxing. I think to help that, it would have been nice to have it broken into two volumes.
Story: B+ — The friendships are lovely, and the main characters and their story arcs are interesting and well written. The boy’s love aspect feels forced for the sake of shock value, and ultimately felt throw away to me. The first 120-pages were boring. I was using this book as a sleep-aid for about a month before I pushed my way on to the interesting stuff. Once I got to the interesting stuff, I finished within a week.
Overall: B+ It’s an interesting story after the first 120-pages. Don’t let the promise of BL scare you away from this title. There are only 4 or 5 pointless kisses. Disregarding the kisses, it felt to me more like a story about deep friendships than romantic entanglements. Go buy this while you can in this lovely hardcover presentation.