REVIEW: The Dangers in My Heart Lost My Interest Halfway

Season aired: Spring 2023

Number of episodes: 12

Watched on: HIDIVE

Translated by: ?

Genres: Romance, Comedy, Drama

Thoughts: The Dangers in My Heart earned quite a reputation in the beginning few episodes, thanks to its protagonist, Ichikawa. The anime opens with a cringey inner monologue about how he’s super edgy, into murder, and only likes to imagine Yamada, the hottest and most popular girl in his class, as a murder victim. Ichikawa quickly brought about a consensus from the audience who found it easy to laugh at and mock his character. However, as the series progressed, and an actual romantic relationship began to bloom between him and Yamada, the audience started to change their minds and began to support the anime instead. I, on the other hand, started to lose interest.

The charm of the beginning lies in his cringey behavior — especially since his self-perception lies so contrary to his actual behavior. Ichikawa stands in the library angling his book about murder for his classmates to see, thinking that they are staring at him in horror when in reality no one even notices him and he stands completely alone. He claims to be above his classmates, uninterested in the drama and sexual awakening happening around him, yet he outright squirms in anticipation when he overhears a classmate confessing to another one. This desire to appear like a character trope while behaving exactly like a normal middle school student harks back uncomfortable and hilarious memories of my tween days, and I actually love how well the anime captures it.

Body positivity

The charisma that defines the beginning of the anime also shows up in other aspects of the characters and story. A plus-sized girl who wishes she had Yamada’s body figure is actually the first one to receive a confession. The classmate explains it’s precisely her fuller figure that he finds attractive. Because Yamada is a child model, it is imperative that she remains a certain size, yet because of her growing teenage body, she is constantly sneaking away to eat as many snacks as she can. Ichikawa observes that the girl friend groups are more complex, operating through a system where each girl plays a specific role in the friendship, while boy friend groups tend to be a free-for-all. Those small moments add a ridiculous amount of flavor to an otherwise bland setup of a quirky, popular, and extroverted girl who has once again taken an interest in the self-insert boy character.

The turning point of my enjoyment in the series, unfortunately, happens after two of the strongest episodes. Despite Ichikawa’s best efforts to commit to the “I am a loner” bit, he and Yamada constantly find themselves in hilarious social situations that lead them to interact and inevitably befriend each other.

It’s precisely this friendship that leads to one of the most romantic and selfless gestures of the series. When Yamada hurts her nose badly in an accident, Ichikawa catches Yamada crying by herself. Ichikawa places a pack of tissues on the library table she often sits at. Worried that she would feel called out by this gesture, he places the remaining packs of tissues on all the library tables too. This genuine act of kindness is what jump-starts Yamada’s romantic interest in Ichikawa, and in fact, I was excited to see how their romance would unfold.

Genuinely kind gesture

Unfortunately, that is when all the charming moments of the series end. The quirky moments between other characters all but disappear except for a small scene here or there. Yamada devotes herself solely to flirting with Ichikawa, and we no longer see the sides of her that made her so three-dimensional in the first place prior to her romantic interest in Ichikawa.

Most egregious of all, the visual direction of the show dramatically shifted. Every episode, I was assailed by constant fanservice shots of Yamada’s large bust, thighs, and butt, made even more uncomfortable by the fact that she’s only in middle school. She starts with the usual anime cliches of holding Ichikawa’s head to her voluptuous boobs, forgetting that she was only wearing a bra, and even in moments of sweet sincerity, the anime becomes more concerned with showing how sexy she is rather than concentrating on the romantic meaning of the moment.

This is especially unfortunate since, according to manga readers, the source material leans towards a cuter art style where all the characters look adorable, and the visual storytelling is far more innocuous than the fanservice-dripped direction of the second half of the anime.

One of the less egregious moments and with a weird blurry filter over it still

So to my disappointment, what started off as a series I was pleasantly surprised by instead turned into boredom. The other aspects of the anime didn’t stand out enough to make up for what was lost in the process. Neither Ichikawa’s nor Yamada’s voice actors gave standout moments to the characters and remained relatively flat in performance from start to finish. Even when certain scenes looked beautiful, there was a strange blurry filter that I found diminished the actual art. The soundtrack was the only thing to remain consistently well done, with a particular piano motif that sticks out in my mind, but it still compares little to the rest of Kensuke Ushio’s work.

The biggest irony of my experience watching this anime is that while I fell out of love with the anime, people fell in love with it. Not only was it evident on the Anime Trending charts, but all over social media people started to talk more about it at the end of the first season. So despite my conclusion that this series is no longer worth following into the second season, I am certain the anime will, unfortunately, continue to remain successful until another copycat takes its place.

Rating

Plot: 6 (Multiplier 3)

Characters: 6 (Multiplier 3)

Art/Animation: 6 (Multiplier 2)

Voice acting: 6

Soundtrack: 7

FINAL SCORE: 61

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