Love and Heart Vol. 4 (2021) by Chitose Kaido

A dark and intense tale of manipulation that is bound to get under the readers skin

“After being confessed to by both Haruma and Touya, Yoh’s heart is in turmoil. Meanwhile, Wakana, showing her true colors, reveals her plan to trap Yoh…? In an amusement park where each of their expectations clash, what will Yoh decide!? The story reaches a new stage with the conclusion of Wakana’s arc!” (Yen Press)

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*This review contains spoilers, please read our review of Volume 1 for initial, spoiler-free impressions on this series.

Over the course of the series, “Love and Heart” has proven to be a purposely uncomfortable experience as protagonist Yoh has been gaslighted and lied to by everyone around her. It is a life of continuous manipulation, as the tragic heroine plays an object of obsession to those who feel impowered from bending her will in their favor. The fourth volume, certainly, marks the most devious of manipulations that finally lands Touya in a relationship with Yoh. Things certainly get uncomfortable, yet, the title further establishes itself as a psychological nightmare comparative to the most twisted romances to have ever graced the pages of manga.

At the same time, this release reaches a pivotal turn as Touya destroys the life of Wakana by shuttering her popular reputation, Haruma’s confession of love goes unanswered, and one of Yoh’s best friends reveals her own evil ploy hidden behind a fake ditzy persona. Touya may have won the heart of Yoh in this volume, but there are multitude of open conflicts that elude to the book’s gripping and disquieting narrative continuing to escalate. Chitose Kaido excels at the building drama, and the constant sense of unease at malicious mind games has not abated since the inaugural release. If anything, the scaling sense of dread of what may happens to Yoh shows a mangaka who revels in playing with the readers emotions.

Visually, the work sees subtle changes in the artistic vision as it shows Yoh and Touya entangled romantically, yet the presentation stays consistent with previous releases. Notably, Kaido excels in conveying expressive characters and capturing intimate moments – the art pushing the emotionally fueled narrative perfectly. As mentioned in previous reviews, the lack of double spread panels to really highlight the artistic skill of Kaido feels slightly amiss, though this is more want for a ‘good thing’ versus a deterrent from the overall experience.

Whenever a new volume of “Love and Heart” is released, I find myself gravitating to the title over others. It is apparent why when the build-up in the series outdoes itself with each release, along with the (possibly morbid) fascination to see the deep web of deceit that is slowly sucking Yoh in. The book is about as dark and intense as you can get, with manipulation and disregard for fellow humans being part for the course. If that is your thing, every moment of “Love and Heart” will be sure to please.

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