For Yoh, her college life is not starting out on the right foot. There’s the schoolwork, finding out her boyfriend was (at the very least) messaging other girls, and she lost her house key.
Oh, and a childhood friend she doesn’t remember has suddenly moved into her house. A male childhood friend to boot.
Yeah, it’s no surprise an older Yoh narrates this day was unforgettable.
Yoh gets into an argument with her boyfriend about some texts she received, and a bystander she literally bumps into manages to catch her boyfriend, Noguchi, in a lie. A still-angry Yoh arrives home to find her key missing…and the bystander living in her house. He introduces — well, reintroduces, I guess — himself as Haruma, her former neighbor who has now been given permission by her bad-at-communicating mother to live there while he attends college in Japan. Haruma seems rather easygoing and considerate, but every now and then, Yoh gets an odd feeling. So does her friend Touya, but their other friend Sawako just thinks it’s exciting.
Yoh does seem to get proof Haruma isn’t some stranger masquerading as a former childhood friend, but he does have his secrets. Turns out Noguchi’s ex, the one who texted Yoh, has been in communication with someone who told her Yoh was seeing someone else, and the volume ends with a smirking Haruma deleting the account that was texting the ex. Readers also get additional clues that Haruma’s gentle persona is hiding a darker self, like beating up his friends who felt insulted by Yoh.
Trying to figure out how to deal with her ex-boyfriend and handle the harassment she’s facing takes up most of the volume as Yoh’s suspicions toward Haruma builds and then subsides. Readers may feel a bit annoyed by Yoh’s rather easy acceptance of Haruma’s presence, but honestly, her mother takes most of the blame for not being a more responsive parent. For much of her life, Yoh’s mom has been a workaholic, and Yoh has had to be self-reliant. This likely gives Haruma an emotional opening since he is offering to be her support.
Yoh’s friends are a nice addition to this mystery. Sawako is a high-energy, fun-lovin’ gal, but she suspects Touya’s feelings run deeper than that of a friend. Whether she’s right or wrong, he is rightly concerned about Yoh, and he’s not likely to just accept Haruma’s various explanations. They seem like they’re going to actively participate in the story in their own way and not just be occasionally paraded around by the author like so many other manga.
I do have to say the art inside does make the leads (and others) look closer to their ages than the cover does. When I first saw the cover, I assumed this was another high school story, maybe middle school as the cover has a The Bride & the Exorcist Knight crossed with Ani-Imo vibe. Love and Heart‘s characters do tend to have babyish faces, but I think it also helps contrast with some of the suspense story aspects. In addition, chapters pick up the pace toward the very end. Many are only about eight pages long, and the series has already reached chapter 13 by the end.
Love and Heart could have some supernatural elements, or maybe the male lead is just a yandere. Either way, the manga playing its cards close to its vest at this point. And for a first volume, I like it like that. I’ll be coming back to see what Haruma is after.