Hello, and welcome to this week’s manga review of my series I Read It So You Don’t Have To. In this segment, I’m going to review Shonen Jump titles that are fully available on Manga Plus, where you can read official releases for free. I aim to cover whatever fits this criterion in their library, whether I enjoyed it or not. I might compare the titles to well-known series, but it’s to give the reader a taste rather than pitting them against each other. The reviews will contain light spoilers. Hope you can come across a title you might enjoy.
Title: Heart Gear
Genre: Action, Adventure, Comedy, Ecchi
Author & Artist: Takaki Tsuyoshi
Release Year: 2019
Status: On hiatus for health reasons, has 29 chapters.
It’s been 200 years since World War 3 has wiped off humanity, leaving barren lands and ruins of modern civilization behind. The story opens up in a land that resembles a farm where our protagonist Roue, a human, and her Uncle Zett resides in. She calls Zett ‘uncle’, but it’s a robot with a highly-developed AI. These robots, or ‘gears’, all have a base program that serves as their purpose, or to explain with human concepts, their reason of existence. These base programs are put in these gears by humans. One day when Roue is out and about, she comes across a gear that has no base program, and just like a lost puppy, she takes it back home. From there on, Zett, Roue, and Chrome start living together.
They are happily getting along, until one day an insane gear, runaway AI’s that haven’t been maintained or repaired over the years, show up and attack them. Zett’s been blown off, and Chrome uses its huge body to protect Roue as well, and right when Roue falls into despair another combat gear that looks like a male human emerges from Chrome’s body. He says he wants to make protecting Roue his base program and asks for Roue’s approval. Roue doesn’t have much time to think thoroughly and affirms Chrome’s decision. After the insane AI has been dealt with, Chrome takes off Zett’s core and they embark on a journey together to find somewhere where they can restore Zett.
Phew! That’s a lot of stuff happening right off the first chapter. Takaki Tsuyoshi’s previous work Black Torch seems to be quite well-known and was licensed by Viz, although this is my first time reading their work. As you can probably guess from the summary, Heart Gear is a series that delves into human-ly notions such as identity, belonging, purpose, and ‘inefficiency’ (emotions, food, art, etc.) through a gear’s perspective.
What works in Heart Gear?
- As Roue and Zett don’t have any other connection with humans/gears aside from one scientist they’ve visited a long time ago, we know nothing about what lies out there, and getting to explore together instead of verbal information dumping was something I appreciated. The backgrounds speak a lot about the history of the land and other specific details in post-apocalyptic stories, and they were designed in incredible detail and beauty.
- Not just the backgrounds, but the gear designs were jaw-dropping too. Since the main focus with the gears is their functionality, there was a lot of variety in styles depending on their base program.
- Movements in the fight scenes were very easy to play out in my mind and looked really cool!
- Roue and Chrome’s dialogues were well-written and highly engaging. AI’s, both micro and macro scale robots used for various purposes from medical to service to militaristic, or robotic rights, security concerns, and the possibility of co-habitation are topics that are relevant to us now. Although they may not be a part of our current everyday life, they are not too far in the future either. Pondering on these also means having to think about the human condition, and when handled well, the story should provide good food for thought. I think Heart Gear might have that potential.
What doesn’t work in Heart Gear?
- If I knew ecchi was amongst the tags for this title, I’d most probably think twice (or thrice, even) before going in. I have to say, ecchi is hardly a yes for me, I tend to stay away from it, more so in animated form. Upon seeing the stark difference in male and female gear designs, I felt dejected. With that said, the ecchi tag was only on Manga Updates and the content is currently not in the very center of the story. So it was bearable, with one exception.
- Roue’s age is 11 at most. Professor Isaac said in the second chapter that it’s been 10 years since Zett has brought her in and she was a baby back then. When Chrome’s humanoid form came out I remember going “Yikes…”, because I was already thinking of the possibility of a romance sub-plot emerging later on. What’s worse was, there were a couple of illustrations of Roue that, because she was a child, I felt uncomfortable seeing. For the personal reasons I stated above, I wished the manga have steered away from there, specifically from Roue, because the rest has great potential.
- There are one or two events in the story that is too convenient to happen early in the story. This might be intentional to speed up a little to get the reader more invested early on. I personally don’t mind the slow pace, specifically when it comes to characters going on a long journey together and taking their time.
I’ve kept comparing this series with Made in Abyss in certain aspects. I’ve read Made in Abyss’ first volume and saw the half of the first season. I can’t stress how far and beyond the sound, colors, and the overall ambiance took the story, I wasn’t too fond of the manga itself. With Heart Gear, the manga already looks superb and I couldn’t help but want to experience that additional depth. Given that it’s handled by a good studio that’ll do justice.
I’m quite excited to see how it will all play out and I’ll certainly continue reading Heart Gear once the artist comes back from the hiatus. I doubt it’d become big as Jujutsu Kaisen or anticipated as Kaijuu #8 however, seeing this title in motion would be amazing!
What did you think of Heart Gear? Is it interesting enough to pick it up? Let me know in the comments! The next title I’ll be reviewing is Soloist in a Cage by Moriya Shiyo. As always, thank you for reading, and see you later!
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