Megumi Kuroishi’s father is a butler, but Megumi’s never had to worry about working. The Kogami family his father worked for disappeared in China years ago and all their wealth was left to Megumi’s family. So he’s a carefree student…right up until Suzuka Kogami is found in a rural Chinese village and Megumi discovers the truth about his family. They are cursed to serve the Kogami family in any way possible. But can the growing feelings between Megumi and Suzuka survive Megumi’s manservant tendencies?
This is the first manga by Hino, popular creator of MeruPuri and Vampire Knight, and that is abundantly clear in both the plot and the art, neither of which are as strong as in her later volumes. The main problem with Captive Hearts is that it can’t decide if it wants to be a humorous, silly romance or if it wants to be a struggling-against-the-odds romance. There’s no reason, of course, why it couldn’t be both, except that it never manages to be strong enough to realize even one of those goals, much less both of them.
The first part of Captive Hearts seems like a complete one-shot, which it probably was originally. It sets up the idea of Megumi having to serve Suzuka, but fails to fully develop their relationship, so their feelings for each other come too abruptly to be believable. The second half of their story begins to feel more like a wacky comedy, but the introduction of a subplot about Megumi being forced to obey any orders from Suzuka is too scattered to be fully understandable.
The last half of this volume is comprised of two short stories, “Real Love” and “Let Time Freeze.” ….
Captive Hearts, vol. 1
VIZ, November 2008