As he reads a “murder encyclopedia,” a boy reflects—”I’m really messed up in the head.” And indeed, Ichikawa’s inner life is filled with a voice speaking murderous intentions toward the boys and girls all around him in class, but specifically toward the beautiful Yamada. However, circumstances keeping putting them in each other’s path, and as Ichikawa learns more about her—that’s she messy, that she’s absent-minded, that she’s eager for praise, and that she’s kind—his thoughts become conflicted. Ichikawa is the weirdo in class, the type that tears apart his own project and rolls his bike downhill to make a distraction. But could it be that’s he’s kinder than he gives himself credit for, and that Yamada is worthy of kindness rather than his scorn? It’s all so confusing to be a teenage boy.
What an unexpected delight! The mismatched coupling genre of anime romcoms is packed to the brim these days, but here’s the rare one that seems to actually have something meaningful to say. And that something seems to be that adolescence can be cruel, but wouldn’t it be kinder to us if we could see the good in others and if we could see the good in ourselves? Episode one of The Dangers in My Heart dives into the difficulty of the teenage years. In case you’ve forgotten, it’s crude, foul, and charged with sexual talk and urges. Ichikawa doesn’t like the talk going on around him, but his thoughts are even worse. He is troubled in a way that feels authentic: he literally believes that he’s going to snap and kill his classmates. It’s scary, and he realizes it. The title is no throwaway phrase—there’s violence in Ichikawa’s mind, an obsession with death and murder. We all unfortunately know how that can turn into real violence, but I would also remark that many boys go through high school thinking similarly terrible thoughts without acting on them. But just because they don’t act, doesn’t mean they aren’t any less broken. Ichikawa needs help, and the bubbly and off-kilter Yamada might be his aid—though I love how this series doesn’t seem to point at her being a savior but rather as the machination that turns his gears and gets his heart working, and maybe overpowers the evil thoughts he has. I should note, too, that while this review may make the series sound dark, it really isn’t; the tone is charming, humorous, rather peaceful, and wistful. This is a coming-of-age slice of life, beautifully animated and compelling already. I’m excited to see where it goes.
The Dangers in My Heart is streaming on HIDIVE.
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