I can’t quite remember why I originally put Norio Sakurai’s The Dangers in My Heart on my “To Buy” list, but I can say that the promotional blurb I read about this manga didn’t do a very good job of explaining the plot.
I think I thought this was going to be about a paranoid guy, who thought the world was out to get him, finding love. I guess, I must have thought that sounded funny. Regardless, that’s not the story that I got, and I’m seriously questioning my judgement right now.
Kyotaro Ichikawa is your typical shy and awkward teen who spends all his time pinning for his popular and beautiful classmate, Yamada, and imaging what it would be like to murder her.
Okay, so he’s not exactly typical…
Ichikawa’s gets a rude awakening from his sociopathic fantasies when he begins to realize that Yamada isn’t exactly like what he imagined her to be. Instead of being a stuck-up snob, she’s kind of a ditz and a bit of a slob. What’s more, after he lends her his box cutter (which is a totally normal thing for a high school boy to constantly have on his person) for a project, she starts acting really friendly towards him. Could there actually be hope for this pathetic (and probably dangerous) boy to find love?
Okay, so I think it’s probably clear that I wasn’t crazy about this title. The truly tragic thing about The Dangers in My Heart, though, is that it could very easily have been good.
I actually liked Yamada quite a lot. She’s quirky and clueless in a way that is genuinely fun. Just about every time I laughed while reading this manga, it was at some weird or stupid thing she did. Her careless attitude can sometimes lead her to be a little rude, but you can tell that it’s not intentional and that she’s a nice girl at heart. She’s friendly with everyone, even with kids, like Ichikawa, who are at the bottom of the school’s social hierarchy. She also has a really cute dynamic with her best friend, Kobayashi, who is constantly playing the straight man to her silly antics. Ichikawa even thinks of her as “Boyfriend-san”, since Yamada usually has her dancing to her tune.
Despite being somewhat put upon, you can tell that there is genuine affection between Kobayashi and Yamada and that Kobayashi really doesn’t mind having to put up with her friend’s weirdness. They’re a sweet pair, and it wasn’t long before I began wishing that this manga was told from Kobayashi’s perspective, instead of Ichikawa’s.
And, thus, we come to the crux of this manga’s obvious and debilitating problem.
Ichikawa is such a noxious presence in this manga that is saps most of the enjoyment and humor out of what could otherwise have been a perfectly amusing high school comedy. His murder fantasies are off-putting, to say the least. He also incessantly internally rages over the ribald comments his male classmates make about Yamada in a manner that’s incredibly obnoxious, considering that we can see that he’s thinking things that are either equally perverted or far worse. Granted, Ichikawa’s inner-monologues about Yamada become progressively less violent over the course of this manga, and he does try to help her out on more than one occasion. Unfortunately, he still objectifies her and has near constant unsavory thoughts about things like trying to see her bra through her shirt or smelling her sweaty gym top.
In short, Ichikawa is a gross little hypocrite and I’m not sure why exactly anyone thought this character would make a good lead for a romantic comedy. I didn’t find any of Ichikawa’s twisted murder fantasies or inappropriate boners to be funny, and none of this nonsense was really necessary for the story. So, why make him a possible psychopath, when having the main character be a normal nerdy boy wouldn’t change anything fundamental about the plot and would have made this manga much more enjoyable?
I initially thought that the creator was trying to make the story edgy, but reading the blurb on the back of the book leads me to believe that we’re supposed to be under the impression that Ichikawa isn’t as dark and twisted as he thinks he is and that this is, like, a persona he’s adopted, or something. So, we should just assume that Ishikawa imagining himself killing a girl he finds attractive on a regular basis is just an adolescent phase he will grow out of and not worry about it?
Sure, there are some people who are creeps when they’re teens who change for the better as they grow up and mature mentally and emotionally, but there are also people who don’t and who instead become actually violent adults. So, sorry, but I can’t just shrug my shoulders and say “Boys will be boys.” Also, if Ichikawa is supposed to be just playing at being a troubled teen, the manga didn’t do a good job establishing that. He seems to be a full blown creep to me.
In short, The Dangers in Heart is a manga that squanders the appeal of its charming female lead by forcing us to observe her through the eyes of its turd of a protagonist. Off the top of my head, I can’t think of another manga that could be so vastly improved by simply removing its main character from the equation entirely. Sorry Yamada and Kobayashi, you two deserved a better manga.
Final Score: 5 out of 10
(All of those points are due to my love of Yamada, by the way.)
For more information on this manga, visit Seven Seas Entertainment’s website.
What did you think about this manga? Does anyone think I should give it another shot? Or do you agree that a version starring just Yamada and Kobayashi would have been way better? Let me know in the comments.
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