What’s it about? Ichikawa Kyotaro is the quiet edgy kid in class who carries a murder encyclopedia and thinks about killing annoying classmates. Most of all, he wants to kill tall, popular model Yamada Anna; except the more he observes her, the more he starts to realize she’s a weirdo too.
There’s having a rough first chapter and then there’s hurtling past the mark so hard that you hit the far wall and liquify your organs. The first five minutes of The Dangers in My Heart are a uniquely unpleasant experience, with Ichikawa giving a Patrick Bateman-grade monologue about dismembering Anna as he pictures her artfully nude corpse surrounded by flowers. It’s downright muted in approach when it desperately needed a level of absurdity to distinguish it from the many misogynistic edgelord series where those eroticized violence against women would be offered in sincerity. No amount of joking about business cards could make me feel clean. Then that scene ends, and the rest of the episode is about how Ichikawa is a shy cringelord who is kind of awkwardly trying to get close to the girl he’s in denial about having a crush on.
75% of this premiere is harmless-to-charming school rom-com shenanigans. After the explicit murder fantasies drop away Ichikawa is the kind of embarrassing faux-deep outcast a lot of us probably remember being, with no small amount of shame. He’s snide and quick to judgement, but subsequent scenes are quick to undermine him when he’s a jerk (like speculating that all women are shallow and jealous of one another when Yamada’s friend redoes her group project poster, and then immediately cutting to the friend pointing out a big chocolate smudge on Yamada’s original version). The episode takes an even dimmer view of the boys in Ichikawa’s class, whose conversations revolve exclusively around the fuckability of their female classmates. True to life? Maybe. A good side avenue to getting me back on board with the murder fantasies? Very possibly.
It’s not all casual inclusion, either. The episode’s climax is a very realistic scene of Yamada trying to politely play off a guy’s attempts to get her contact info that gets more and more tense—and because Yamada is trying to keep it so playful in order to keep the dude from getting mad, it makes sense for Ichikawa to just be kind of incidentally creeping along behind them and for other students not to notice. It has some dramatic craft behind it that kindles a bit of hope Yamada is being considered as a character rather than an object of desire. Our two leads also do have some sincere chemistry and nice interactions, since Ichikawa’s uglier thoughts are relegated to scenes where he’s way too much in his own head.
“You got to something nice, but did you have to do it that way?” is the theme of this premiere, with one more major scene to flag up. One of the girls, Hara, has a very adorable chubby design, and she gets asked out by one of Ichikawa’s classmates. The lead-in to what ends as a rather sweet scene is said dude talking about how fat girls are his fetish. They’d clearly make a nice couple, and yet I dread the show deciding it would be more fun to, for instance, set up a dynamic where she wants to go on a diet to be conventionally attractive and he wants to push food on her so that she gains more weight than she’s comfortable with. Like the looming threat of more murder-boner jokes, it all depends on whether these are early writing missteps that will quickly fade away or a slimy-feeling status quo that sincerity manages to claw its way out from now and then. Basically, I need to know where this is on the spectrum of The tale of outcasts to Miss Kobayashi’s Dragon Maid.
Hanada Jukki’s name makes me slightly more trusting (a who’s who of solid school stories, from Bloom Into You to Love Live! Superstar!!), and while it isn’t to my taste many people regard director Akagi Hiroaki’s Teasing Master Takagi-san warmly despite a similarly choppy start. I’d give a very cautious wait-and-see call on this one. If it can lean into the strengths it displays here and drop the Actual Future Serial Killer vibes, it might turn out to be an okay “shy smol boy, boisterous tol girl” sort of series.