Akari and Hiroyuki have been friends and neighbors since preschool. They have stuck together like glue every day since, but one moment in particular stuck in Akari’s mind: the time she fell in front of the stone steps and dumped the contents of her bag onto the wet sidewalk. Hiroyuki nonchalantly began collecting her belongings as Akari’s tears mingled with the rain. Ever since then she knew that she and Hiroyuki would spend the rest of their lives together. They’ll have to get through the trials and tribulations of high school first, though.
summary by Kain
Highs: As warm and inviting as your favorite blanket; beautiful character designs
Lows: Little depth; side characters come and go; one ridiculous side plo
To Heart is meant in every way possible to be a “snapshot” of the lives of your average high school students in Japan. The problem with the way it was approached was that the story conveniently focused on the innocent, sweet aspects of life as a student and intentionally veered away from real hardships. Oh sure, some of the characters faced some “bumps in the road”, but they weren’t anything to be overly concerned about.
This is not to say that every Japanese high school biopic (a popular setting for shoujo anime) must include some harrowing, chaotic element to it, but it’s hard to flesh out the personalities of the characters (especially the two main ones, Akari and Hiroyuki) without presenting some conflict. Life at their school is just a tad too serene. This problem was compounded by a chorus line of side characters that give new meaning to “one and done”; they fulfill their requisite one episode, then feel comfortable fading off into the background. Some anime manage to pull this off (His and Her Circumstances and Boys Be… spring to mind), but only when some progression to the main plot is made from having seemingly inconsequential secondary staff.
Most fans of shoujo anime will be able to look beyond To Heart‘s glaring faults, and with good reason. The whole series is an escape from everyday problems; every episode is supposed to leave the viewer with a warm, tingly feeling inside. This was really evident in the last episode when (finally) more is done with Akari and Hiroyuki’s relationship; until then it was sort of placed on the backburner.
Aside from one absolutely ludicrous sub-story added near the end involving experimental robotic maids (dear Kami-sama, please let the whole robotic maid fad just die already!), I found To Heart an adequate way to spend an evening.