|Last updated September 01, 2006.|
To Heart ~ Remember My Memories ~ reunites the viewer with the original cast of To Heart, now in their final year of high school.
Reportedly, the entire cast of voice actors is back. From the first episode, the only voice that sounded different to me was Hiroyuki, whose voice is slightly deeper now. However, this makes perfect sense; Hiroyuki has gotten older, and his voice would have gotten deeper, while the girls' voices would remain much the same.
It appears they advanced the sequel to the present day. I don't remember Akari having a cell phone in the original series. Although Japan often gets electronic gizmos a bit earlier than the rest of the world, I assume one like hers would have still been very uncommon back in the days of the original To Heart.
One should definitely watch the original To Heart before watching To Heart ~ Remember My Memories ~.
The original is thirteen episodes long, and ran several years ago.
To Heart has a reputation for being rather boring. This accusation is somewhat justified because pretty much nothing happens. There is no plot. It's just slice-of-life and schooldays stuff, kinda like Azumanga Daioh, only without the zesty humor. For example, a large segment of the first episode is dedicated to watching a secondary character tear strips of paper. Seriously. That said, the original To Heart is very endearing. The characters are quite likeable, and I found their lives interesting.
Technically, one could describe the show as a harem comedy. It is based on a hentai game, after all. However, there is no fan service to speak of, and it's not really a harem comedy in the usual sense because the girls aren't lining up to bone a reluctant male protagonist. It is about one guy surrounded by girls, but Hiroyuki is a good-natured (if somewhat lazy) high school kid. He's not intimidated by girls, and he's not a loser, and they aren't all trying to bed him—they just happen to be all around him.
To Heart is a series of small adventures consisting of Hiroyuki making friends with a bunch of girls. There are culture festivals, and sports festivals, and friendly (platonic) dates. It's oddly soothing, and very pleasant to watch.
The music is excellent throughout, too.
To Heart took forever to be properly subbed. The most common fansubbed copies available are very old, low-resolution, shitty encodes. Expect low framerate and improper audio sync. Several groups made attempts at re-subbing the series, but only B-F managed to finish getting the entire series fansubbed with proper encoding and in good quality. Somewhat miraculously, TRSI has licensed the original series for Region One. To my knowledge, no release date for the DVDs has yet been announced.
Early responses to To Heart ~ Remember My Memories ~ have been somewhat negative, almost all due to one reason: different character designs. Although I consider myself somewhat open minded in this regard, I also found the Remember character designs quite jarring. I suppose the new look is intended to correspond with the original artwork found in the To Heart video game, but the artwork from the first anime series is much more attractive.
Aside from that, the sequel is quite nice. The first episode reintroduces the old characters, allowing the viewer to catch up with them. Assuming the end of the first episode is indicative of the direction the rest of the series will take, Remember should have two notable differences with the original To Heart anime: One, it appears Remember My Memories will have a plot (presumably related to the title itself). Two, it appears Multi will play a more prominent role.
I think I'm more tolerant of the character design in To Heart ~ Remember My Memories ~ than most other fans of the original series, but these changes are really jarring. I can understand the decision to follow the character design of the original game, which has a large following of fans in its own right, but it's still really jarring. It's particularly bad when they show flashback sequences from the first series, except animated with the Remember character designs. REALLY JARRING.
The tone of the new anime is also different. The original series was much more laid back and leisurely, with essentially no sense of urgency. Hiroyuki seems rather frantic and anxious here compared to his previous incarnation.
To Heart ~ Remember also actually has a plot—in fact, it even has more than one. Besides the main Multi plotline, there's also an underlying Akari relationship subplot.
I don't know that these changes necessarily make the new series inferior to the original, but they do make it less unique, and that's unfortunate.
I'm still backlogged as all get out from my sabbatical, and only just started watching To Heart 2 yesterday. (Technically, I guess it is entitled ToHeart 2, but...Japan.) I guess it works out, since the series is not yet completely fansubbed as far as I know. I did finally finish To Heart ~ Remember My Memories ~, though.
I'm only two episodes down in To Heart 2, but I have to say those first two episodes are inferior to the first two episodes of the original To Heart. Likewise, all of To Heart ~ Remember My Memories ~ is vastly inferior to the original To Heart anime, but I'll get to that in a bit.
The thing I really enjoy about the first episode of the original To Heart is its ability to devote an entire episode to something kinda trivial. It sets the tone and pace of the show very well, and has a warmth to it that captures Akari's hopes and feelings in such a big-little thing as classroom seating arrangements. The episode's critics typically lament that "nothing happens" and that "it's boring," but I find it rather blissful and unique.
The first episode of To Heart 2, on the other hand, is pretty unremarkable. Really the only thing I can say about it is that it is so overtly moe that I think it gave me cavities—a dubious compliment at best.
The second episode of To Heart 2 at least introduces Tamaki who, like Rin of Fate/Stay Night, is an absolute triumph in character design. (Rin would still have the edge on Tamaki, even if the latter qualified for 2006 judging.) Being familiar with the game and fan art, but completely ignorant of the game's plot, I was surprised to learn Tamaki is the "childhood friend" character. As far as her role as the childhood friend character goes, Tamaki is no Akari, that's for sure, although I do appreciate her pushy, friendly demeanor in its own right.
It'll be interesting to learn if Tamaki can overcome the "first-girl-he-sees" clause of harem anime. I'll probably discover end-of-series spoilers before I get to watch the final episodes, though. I suspect Tamaki could probably prove to be an exception, even if that is not the way to bet.
I should probably explain the dogmatic "first-girl-he-sees" clause some more, but surely most of my readers should have little difficulty determining its meaning, if they aren't already familiar with the concept. This brings me to my biggest complaints about To Heart 2 so far: It seems generic and formulaic.
Male Lead Character is also a stereotypical harem anime puss, and that's a bit tiring. He's not nearly as likable as Hiroyuki from the original To Heart anime, with his lazy good-natured demeanor. Somewhat sadly, To Heart ~ Remember My Memories ~ Hiroyuki is also rather unlikable, again for not being the lazy good-natured chap from the original series, but instead being a high-strung and somewhat insensitive doof. While I'm on the subject, I should mention that Hiroyuki of the To Heart manga also lacks the first To Heart anime's Hiroyuki's charisma. It's tough being a harem anime male lead, I guess.
Despite its faults, I'm still fully on board for watching ToHeart 2 to completion, but I have to think that this is more indicative of the affection I have for the original To Heart anime, than a reflection of the qualities of ToHeart 2 itself.
The third episode of ToHeart 2 is truer to the first series, and Manaka is a sweetheart very befitting the To Heart-verse, but it really feels overly forced. I'm also not a fan of the voice acting for Manaka. It's too deliberately soft and unnatural. Tamaki's voice is richer than I envisioned, but at least it sounds natural.
The fourth through seventh episodes basically follow the formula used in the original anime by introducing new characters individually and showing how they interact with Takaaki.
To Heart 2 is pleasant enough, but does not do anything exceedingly well. I think Tamaki and Manaka could use some more screen time. It's no surprise that they are the two most popular characters, and should be utilized more. Perhaps the remaining episodes will shift focus back onto them once all the character introductions and basic structure are completed.
The OP is very pleasant in the same sort of way the To Heart and To Heart ~ Remember My Memories ~ OPs are pleasant. I also like the part where all the girls whip off their seifuku scarves and toss them into the air. In a way, it kind of reminds me of the skyward arms part of the original Mobile Suit Gundam OP (which is echoed in the Jinki:Extend OP).
Good Lord, To Heart 2 has THREE consecutive episodes about the annoying twins. I want to smack their hair buns into center field with a fungo bat.
Thankfully, it appears episode 11 is a Tamaki episode, although there is no indication that it features any hammocks.
There needs to be more hammock anime. Does Japan even know about this wondrous device?
Oh, Goddammit. What in Hell?
I have to say that I liked the original To Heart considerably more. If I were to bounce around among various worlds, Magical Shopping Arcade Abenobashi-style, the original To Heart wouldn't be a bad place to end up. The To Heart 2 world, on the other hand, is much too insipid, and surprisingly cruel. At least as far as the anime version is concerned.