When it comes to my iPad and buying digital content, I tend to spend the most money buying ebooks. While it is great that Viz is one of the few companies to put multiple manga series on the iPad, the initial offerings were either series that I wasn’t that interested in or manga that I’d already collected in print format like Death Note or Kenshin. But the month of March is Manga Madness Month and ALL VOLUME ONES ARE .99 cents in the VIZ MANGA APP(picture me saying that in the voice of a crazy car salesman). Viz has also added a few series that I haven’t already read, and at .99 cents it is very cheap to sample the first volume of a manga I might find interesting.
Captive Hearts Volume 1 by Matsuri Hino
Captive Hearts is the first series by Vampire Knight powerhouse Matsuri Hino. I’ve read the first few volumes of Vampire Knights, traded them away, regretted it, and am slowly building up my print collection again. I’ve also read Hino’s frothy fantasy MeruPuri. Captive Hearts is very cute, but the first volume shows very little traces of Hino’s detailed art style and the story is fairly predictable. Megumi is the son of the butler to a rich family. He grows up in an empty mansion because the Kogami family went missing on a trip to China, and the late master’s will (written before the birth of his daughter) left his fortune split between his wife and his butler. Megumi’s lesiurly life as a student is interrupted when his father announces that the Kogami family has been found. The long-lost daughter Suzuka has been found. Megumi’s father makes dark pronouncements about Megumi finding out about his fate and a family curse, and when Megumi meets Suzuka the curse takes effect.
As soon as Megumi sees the new mistress of the house something is triggered in his brain, and he becomes the perfect servant. He finds himself saying “Welcome home, Princess” and kissing her hand while on the inside his thoughts are protesting. It turns out that one of Megumi’s ancestors tried to steal from the Kogami family and a guardian god appeared to place a hundred generation curse on Megumi’s family, forcing them to become the perfect servants. Megumi spends his time helping Suzuka adjust to life in Japan, and his tendency to have random attacks of subservience hinders their relationship. Does he care about her because of the curse? What would happen if the curse was broken? Suzuka seems to like Megumi, but she’s extremely distressed about the effect she has on him and just wants to spend time with him normally the way they did as children.
There are faint suggestions of Hino’s eventual drawing style, which features plenty of detail and characters that all seem to be wearing a healthy coating of eyeliner, but Captive Hearts isn’t nearly that refined. As a first volume, I would expect that the art gets a lot better as the series progresses. Hino’s later facility with extreme angst isn’t really on display here either. Instead there are plenty of sweet and humorous moments between Megumi and Suzuka as they strike up a friendship in between his uncontrollable servant attacks. For .99 cents, I was happy to have the chance to try out this series. Even though there were quite a few cute moments it didn’t really draw me in, partially because I think that while Hino’s other series might be less funny they are executed much more competently. Although after seeing the sense of humor on display in Captive Hearts, I am tempted to reread Vampire Knight again as paranormal romance parody.
I had no problems downloading and reading this manga on the iPad, and the pages looked very clean and crisp. Even though I wasn’t hooked by this first volume, I wouldn’t hesitate recommending it for anyone who wants to sample some insanely cheap shoujo manga during this March promotion.