Manga Review: Two of Hearts

"I never knew touching could be so warm.  And that even my touch... might feel warm to someone else, too. " - Maki

I found this manga to be a nice change of pace.  It follows Haruya, an unmotivated writer in his early 30's, and how his life changes when he meets Maki, an emotionally unstable teenager who suffers from Obsessive Compulsive Disorder.  After their chance meeting, Haruya feels the need to protect the frail young man, and the two form a unique friendship.  Maki does not lead an easy life - his mother is an alcoholic, he is bullied in school, and he has no friends or self-esteem.  However, for some reason, he finds it easy to talk to Haruya, who is more than happy to offer an ear to listen or a shoulder to cry on.  After finding a friend in Haruya, Maki slowly comes to realize that his life does have value, and he is able to begin to work through his insecurities.  Haruya, in turn, is able to find a source if inspiration in Maki, and begins to put effort and passion back into his writing.  The course of their friendship slowly turns into love, and although the transition is not smooth, both Haruya and Maki are willing to give it the time that it needs.  The book ends with a scene taking place three years later, and it is nice to see how much of a positive impact their relationship has had on both of their lives.

I thought there was really a lot to like about this manga.  The setting and characters were different from what I'm used to reading, but I thought it was a nice change.  This is the first book I have read from this artist, and I thought the art was really lovely.  I enjoyed the characters and the story, and thought it was actually a very full story for only being a one-shot.  The characters were well-rounded and had good development throughout the book.  One scene that I found particularly interesting was when Haruya went a little too far with Maki after Maki told him to stop.  Haruya eventually did stop, but Maki was justifiably angry afterwards, which I thought was good.  It is way too common in yaoi for one character to take things too far and for the other character to immediately fall madly in love with them.  It was nice to see some more realistic actions here.  I also liked the ending a lot, and felt that the epilogue brought the book to a satisfying close.

Deux Press has really been impressing me lately.  I picked up a couple of their books in the Dealer's Room at this past Otakon and really liked the quality of the manga, and have since started collecting some of their other titles.  If they keep putting out manga like this one, I'm going to have to get some more bookshelves!

- Liz