Wednesday, February 25, 2009

The Heart-Melters #6 - Sheena Fuijibayashi


Who is she?
Sheena Fujibayashi (known in Japan as Shihna or Shiina) is a character in Namco's epic RPG, Tales of Symphonia. She hails from the mysterious ninja village of Mizuho in Tethe'alla. As the granddaughter of the chief, she was trained from an early age to become a Summoner, but for her final exam she had to make a pact with Volt. The mission ended in a failure, and Volt killed off half of the village to punish their insolence, and her grandfather ended up in a coma. This spectacular failure had haunted her for the next several years until she befriended a Summon Spirit by the name of Corrine. With Corrine at her side, Sheena was slowly able to turn her life around. She was later hired by the king to murder Sylvarant's Chosen, Colette, to preserve Tethe'alla's prosperity. By then, Sheena had put the failure behind her and assumed a tough, no-nonsense personality, although there is still a tender side underneath. She had kept it up fairly well, but her insecurities began to resurface when she failed to accomplish her task. However, she joined forces with her former enemies and helped them achieve their goal of world regeneraton, making use of her perfected summoning skills. Sheena is also cursed by her attractive appearance. Most people tend to notice her body instead of her mind, especially the Chosen of Tethe'alla. Needless to say, the two don't get along too well. However, she does seem to have something for Lloyd, because he may be the first person outside of Mizuho to respect her as a human being.

Sheena's Influence (June 2006 - September 2006)
I must admit that I'm not much of an RPG fan. Sure, I like Pokemon Blue, but I've never been a major fan of RPG games, as I was not a major fan of leveling up. I don't remember when I had first heard of Tales of Symphonia, but one thing I do remember is that I wasn't really interested in it. I didn't get the game when it was released in the summer of 2004. While other people in the #nintendo chat room were talking about the game, I ignored them and talked about other things. Even though I had no interest in the game, my sister was very interested. She constantly listed Tales of Symphonia as one game she wanted to try out, but she never wanted to spend $20 to get the game. However, one of our gamer friends at college agreed to lend us a copy of ToS, and we started playing the game in late June 2006.

While my sister enjoyed the game, my initial reactions were not so positive. The real-time multiplayer battle system allowed me to join my sisters while playing, but I just couldn't get into the game. Playing the game just wasn't a very fun experience in the beginning, but the game started to appeal to me after playng it a few more times. Why? It wasn't because of the storyline, because I'm usually doing my own thing whenever a major cutscene happens. It wasn't because of the battles, because even though the battle system is nice, the repetitiveness of battles makes it extremely monotonous. My change of heart most likely came about because of the characters. ToS has pretty strong character development, and each of them slowly began to appeal to me, even the annoying Zelos (whom my sister despises.) Sheena quickly became my favorite for a variety of reasons. At any rate, she undoubtedly became a Heart-Melter by the end of the summer.

The Age of Sheena
There are many reasons why I like Sheena. I liked using her in battle, especially her balance between A-attacks and techs such as "Demon Seal" and "Life Seal." I like her no-nonsense personality; how she is tough yet tender. I like her looks, even if she looks as though she just rolled out of bed in the Z-cutscenes. I like her costumes, including how her bow floats due to Bernoulli's Principle as she runs along the world map. (I was a bit disappointed with her formal dress. I was hoping it would be more of an actual dress, but oh well.) I even like the voice acting by Jennifer Hale, even though I'm not normally a very fan of dubs. One thing I don't really like is that Sheena doesn't look too good in the actual official art. Nevertheless, Sheena is one of the biggest reasons why I quickly grew to enjoy ToS.

Unfortunately, this Age of Sheena couldn't have come at a worse time. Summer 2006 was supposed to be the season where I dedicated all of my time and energy into studying for the MCAT. (That turned out to be summer 2008.) I was fairly diligent early in the summer, but once I finished reviewing all the basic information, the only thing I could do was practice problems and more reviewing. I was a bit too lazy to do all of that. In the end I spent most of the summer doing practice problems in the morning, and so I can play as Sheena at nights. In the end my scores on practice tests dropped precariously until my real score was pretty terrible. And the worst thing is that in the end, I felt as though it was worth it.

Perhaps I spent so much time playing Tales of Symphonia because I didn't think I had much of a chance to play it much anymore. My sister and I were were back at college once the MCATs were over. We had our own copy of the game, but no system to play it on. My sister decided not to bring the Gamecube since we have another sister that may have wanted to play it. And yet even this predicament was only temporary. Two months into the school year, the friend who lent us ToS in the first place let us borrow her Gamecube. Nevertheless, considering most Heart-Melter ages last for two to four months, two months is an extremely long time to go without doing anything to prolong an age. I was able to extend the ages of some of the other Heart-Melters a large number of pictures that I was able to save, but most Sheena pictures I could find are official art. And as I said before, I'm not a fan of the official art. We eventually got the chance to play Tales of Symphonia to our hearts content in a few more playthroughs of the US GCN version plus the Japanese GCN and PS2 versions, but by then Sheena had lost the Heart-Melter status. She still made 2006 a summer to remember.

Strength: 6 - I never regarded Sheena as a very strong Heart-Melter, since there's a massive drop-off in this category from #5, but it was a stronger age than I remembered. I willingly played hours of Tales of Symphonia when I should have been studying for the MCAT, and continued to do so even well into 2009. And it was all for seeing Sheena. She was a special part of my life for a period of time, even if she never quite reached the level of obsession.

Duration: 7 - Sheena's prime period as a Heart-Melter started in late June and faded pretty quickly after going back to college, meaning it lasted pretty much only a summer, or in other words, just about two to three months. That's about the same length as Tomo, but Sheena has the advantage for one crucial reason, which follows.

Recurrence: 4 - Sheena may have never regained her status in the two and a half years following her period as a Heart-Melter, but I have certainly not lost any of my admiration towards her. I have continued to enjoy Tales of Symphonia just so I can play as Sheena, first in a second and third playthrough of the US version, and then in the Japanese Gamecube version and finally in the PS2 version (where unfortunately we haven't seen her yet.)

Overall: 17 - As I mentioned earlier, I never really took much notice of Sheena's Heart-Melter status when it was going on. The age fizzled up shortly after reaching college, and it was blocked by my later Azumanga obsession. But Sheena helped to turn a game that I can't say I really enjoyed into a major part of my gaming life. Seriously, I've never had as much discussion with my sisters regarding any other game than Tales of Symphonia. And it's all thanks to Sheena. Thank you, Sheena. We have to do something special for you. (Okay, I'm clearly quoting Super Mario 64 by now.) Putting her at the sixth rank is pretty darned special.

Next Up: A princess of a sister

The Heart-Melters #7 - Buttercup


Who is She?
Sugar! Spice! And everything nice! These were the ingredients chosen to create the perfect little girls! But Professor Utonium accidentally added an extra ingredient into the concoction: Chemical X! And thus the Powerpuff Girls were born! Using their ultra-super powers, Blossom, Bubbles, and Buttercup have dedicated their lives to fighing crime and the forces of EVIL! Yes. As you may have guessed (and feared for sake of my sanity), Buttercup is indeed the Powerpuff Girl. Created by Professor Utonium, Buttercup may not be the commander and leader (that title would have to go to Blossom), but she is the toughest fighter. She's highly no-nonsense, and loves nothing more than a good fight with a bad guy. Although her name comes up last, all signs point to her being the middle child. She had a rebellious side that often leads to friction with her friends and her families, especially her sisters. Yet despite her impulsiveness and attitude problem, she is not the Powerpuff Girl with a criminal record.

Buttercup's Influence (May 2002-Late 2002)
Back in the middle of 2002, I was quite obsessed with a dating sim called Tokimeki Memorial. It was an intense experience. Dating sims are all about the cute girls, and I used up a good 50MB of hard drive space just saving pictures of these cute girls. However, this isn't about Tokimeki Memorial. Rather, it's about the entity that broke up Tokimeki Memorial's stronghold in my life: The Powerpuff Girls. It makes sense, I suppose. The Powerpuff Girls are an American product, so it is much more accesible to somebody living in America. There would be no need to save 50MB worth of pictures to get my fill of the Powerpuff Girls, since all you have to do is tune into Cartoon Network. (However, I still eventually saved that many pictures.) Before May of 2002, I was admittedly somebody that did not understand the allure of the Powerpuff Girls. I saw Meat Fuzzy Lumpkins in 1997 and again in 1998 on the old What a Cartoon Show, and while it was amusing, I didn't think it was anything special. I had scoffed in February when I read that they were coming out with aPowerpuff Girls Movie. There was no way I could have imagine becoming a Powerpuff Girl fan by the end of the year. And yet, all that changed with the arrival of cable TV in my household. All of a sudden I had access to hundreds of channels that I was able to see only at a friend's house. One of the channels being Cartoon Network.

With Cartoon Network, I was finally able to watch the Powerpuff Girls TV show. I was flipping through channels when it came on, and I decided to stay and watch. The first episodes I saw were Collect Her and Supper Villain. They aren't exactly among the better episodes (although Supper Villain was well edited), but I was impressed enough with the show to watch it while waiting for the TV movie "Path to War" to begin. It was then that I saw the greatest of all Powerpuff Girls episodes: Moral Decay. Moral Decay is a classic. It had witty humor, a fun storyline, and a darned great montage. And of course, it had Buttercup in a great role, if not a little bit anti-heroic. In the episode, she falls in love with the power of money after earning her first dollar. When she finds out the legend of the tooth fairy, she became a personal but selfish campaign to rid the city of villains...and their teeth. Sure, it wasn't exactly the most flattering depiction of Buttercup, but after I saw that episode, I knew I was hooked on both the Powerpuff Girls and Buttercup. On June 1, 2002, the night before the ACT exam (which I did rather poorly on), I stayed up until past midnight watching a Powerpuff Girl marathon. It was intense, but I was happy because I got Moral Decay on tape. The Age of Buttercup had begun.

The Age of Buttercup
"The Age of the Powerpuff Girls" is probably a more appropriate name for this age, but Buttercup is undoubtedly the representative Heart-Melter. Sure, Blossom is cuter and more elegant, but it was Buttercup that melted my heart. Not only was she the main focus of Moral Decay (still my favorite episode), but I liked her tough, die-hard attitude. I seem to have a soft spot for people with a rougher edge. Most of the Heart-Melters I had up to the summer of 2002 fit that description. Anyways, thanks to my attraction to Buttercup, I became fascinated with the Powerpuff Girls. I had three video tapes of episodes, and later recorded three audio tapes, which I listened to while I was in China. There's nothing better than listening to the Powerpuff Girls while walking amongst the Terra-Cotta Warriors. Blossom and Buttercup became names of C++ variables in my Computer Science class, and the three Heroes of Time in my copy of Ocarina of Time were christened as Blossom, Bubbles, and Butercup. By the end of the summer of 2002, I was able to give a general recitation of up to five episodes.

My obsession with the Powerpuff Girls even led to a change in my internet habits. I was still a user of the UPNetwork forums. However, the rise of the Powerpuff Girls led me to other sites, and I eventually found myself at the PPGWorld forums. It became my new home for the time being. Even when I was in Taiwan, I was still eager to post on PPGWorld, although I probably shouldn't have been wasting my time. One of the key features of PPGWorld was its confluence of excellent PPG fanartists, including a professional artist named Christopher Cook. This was also when I discovered the charm of fanart. I've typically liked screenshots as opposed to fanart, because screenshots are essentially pictures from the original source of the attraction, and fanart are more often than not poorly done. However, while I can easily watch the original episodes on tape, fanart, if done well provides an opportunity to explore whole new world with whole new storylines. I began saving Powerpuff Girls fanart, and the pictures soon accumulated...25 pics...75 pics...150 pics...pretty soon my collection took up over 10MB of space, the same as Tokimeki Memorial.

And yet, my fascinaton with the Powerpuff Girls was not eternal. Fads come and fads go. In November of 2002, I saw the movie, and I was fiercely disappointed. No new episodes aired between 2002 and 2003, and the lack of new episodes caused the old episodes to become stale. My interest in the Powerpuff Girls had slowly faded to nil by the end of 2002. The Age of Buttercup seemed to disappear along with it. I continued to watch the show a few more times, including earlier this year when I purchased the 10th anniverary DVD collection, but my attraction towards Buttercup never seemed to resurface. The Age of Buttercup is now only a shadow of what it once was, but it still has a claim to fame for those special months in 2002.

Strength: 8 - Buttercup's tough-girl personalty won me over initially, but it wasn't enough to fully suppress Blossom's superior looks and intellect. So even though Buttercup was my favorite Powerpuff Girl, her influence wasn't as powerful as some of the other Heart-Melter who had all the attention to themselves.

Duration: 3 - My attraction to Buttercup began in May of 2002 and ended in November of December, a period of approximately six or seven months. That may not be very long on a grand scale, it's still an extremely long period for somebody who switches interests as often as I do. Very few of the other Heart-Melters had melted my heart for this length of time.

Recurrence: 8 - Buttercup wasn't a very strong Heart-Melter, so once I got over the Powerpuff Girls, I never really looked back. By late 2002, it became doubtful as to whether or not Buttercup was my favorite Powerpuff Girl. I never felt the same sort of attraction even after I rekindled my fascination with the show, even if she is probably still my favorite Powerpuff Girl.

Overall: 19 - Here's a fact that shows exactly the sort of Heart-Melter Buttercup was: When I originally wrote The Heart-Melters in Gallery in February of 2005, Buttercup wasn't even in this list. I had picked Blossom as the representative from the Powerpuff Girls. It wasn't until 2006 that I realized that Buttercup was the true Heart-Melter. It's quite surprising that she ranks as high as 7th on the list, but that just goes to show that she is still a valued member of the Heart-Melters Gallery.

Next Up: The Rose of Battle

The Heart-Melters #8 - Mona


Who is She?
Mona is the super-attractive developer of bizarre games in the popular Wario Ware game series. Besides being a developer, Mona also spends her time doing a wide variety of odd jobs. She played in a band, served as head cheerleader for the Diamond City Roughs, operated a pizza delivery chain and a gelato shop, and rode a motorcycle to escape from policemen with her monkey. She goes into each of her job with gusto and pizzazz, and has supreme confidence in her abilities. However, while she has a lot of positives, but she has a preference for guys is just about as messed up as my preference for girls. It is no secret that she holds a mega-crush on Wario, virtually looking up to him like a god. Why anybody would have a crush on Wario is beyond me. He's ugly. He's selfish. He's arrogant. Waluigi is so much better than Wario in every way possible except for maybe brute strength. Mona is good-looking, and she has a charitable heart. She should seriously stop wasting her time with Wario and go for somebody a lot better, although the choices in Diamond City are a bit limited.

Mona's Influence (March 2004, January 2007)
Mona is the one that is different from most of the others. Her face is cute enough to melt anybody's heart, but she's the only one without a particular age dedicated to her. Rather than an extended age, my attractions to her were quick, ephemeral flashes. My earliest memories of Mona came during a Gamers Club meeting in early 2004, which was the first time I ever played Wario Ware: Micro Mini-Games. I quickly noticed that one of the developers was a lot better looking than the others. In her amusing but long introductory video, we see her tossing banana peels at police cars trying to stop her from getting to her destination. Yet who was she? I didn't pay attention to the names of any of the developers. Wario was the only person I knew in Wario Ware, because I knew him from his past appearances in Wario Land and Mario Party. And I never really did bother to read about Wario Ware in any of my Nintendo Power issues to find out. I suppose I could have done a Google search to find out who she was, but I never had a chance to do so. I found myself chatting with Mac and Taylor on the Nintendo of America NSider chats instead of researching the mysterious but cute developer.

My path crossed with Mona a few weeks later, when Mega Party-Games was coming out in the States. I was browsing the NSider forums when NOA Greg posted a thread announcing the Mega Party-Games site. I had nothing better to do, so I went to check it out. Voila! That was when I found out the name of the mysterious developer: Mona. Mona, eh? The first thing that popped into my head was the Mona Lisa, but this Mona is a lot more attractive than the Da Vinci one. When I unlocked the desktop wallpapers, I saved them the ones with Mona onto my hard drive. Even though I never used them, I guess this is one way in which Mona is similar with the previous Heart-Melters. However, unlike the other Heart-Melters, I did not go out and buy the game to get my Mona fix. While I hadn't come up with the term Heart-Melters at the time, I never felt very compelled to look at her, so if I had written about the Heart-Melters at that particular moment, Mona wouldn't have made the list. However, that would change in a few weeks.

The Age of Mona
The moment that solidified Mona's position as a Heart-Melter came sometime in early 2004, possibly in February. I no longer remember the exact date (which is a major shame), but I was at Clemons library one night to see what was going on at the Nintendo HQ chat on NSider. Somebody on the chat mentioned the latest Wario Ware game, which would be released in America later in the year under the title Wario Ware: Twisted. I was curious to see what the mega-cute Mona would look like in this new Wario Ware game, so I headed to the Wario Ware: Twisted page on the NCL website. One of the first things I saw Mona, and it blew me away. There she was, wearing a yellow shirt with a cute, blue skirt skating around on rollerblades. I was smitten by her attractiveness and left with my heart melted. The feelings faded later that night, and I never did go out and buy Wario Ware: Twisted, but that particular event made such an impact on me that when I first wrote about the Heart-Melters Gallery in 2005, Mona made the list as one of the eight.

Even though I included Mona as one of the Heart-Melters, I still felt that she was a questionable one at best. I made implications within the thread that the Gallery will have a cap at eight. I was thinking of excising somebody when a new Heart-Melter appears on the scene, and I had targeted Mona to be the first to go if it ever happened just because her hold on the spot was based primarily on the events of one night. While I eventually changed my mind about the maximum list, Mona remained the weakest of the Heart-Melters for about three years. This too would change. Wario Ware: Smooth Moves was released for the Wii in January 2007, and it became the first Wario Ware game that my sister and I purchased. Although I hadn't been very impressed with the official art released on the NCL website, but once I played the game I knew Mona would stay as a Heart-Melter. It was the first time I had a chance to play a Wario Ware game thoroughly, and Mona was without a doubt my favorite part of the game, even if her appearances were quite sparse. However, Wario Ware: Smooth Moves wasn't a very long game. My friends and I had unlocked practically everything within the space of a day. Once my sisters and I accomplished this feat on our game, we eventually stopped playing the game, and Mona's second age quickly drew to a close. This took approximately a week or two, making the age extremely short lived as well, but I no longer see Mona as a very tentative Heart-Melter.

Strength: 9 - Mona initially earned the position as a Heart-Melter as the result of a relatively short-lived flash of feeling in one random winter day, so she probably would have ranked 10th between early 2004 and December 0f 2006. However, her second age as a Heart-Melter following the release of Wario Ware: Smooth Moves allowed her to push past Kiki to claim the #9 spot. 

Duration: 10 - Mona's first period as Heart-Melter in early 2004 was at most only a day long, although it probably didn't even last a day. Her second period in January 2007 was not much longer, coming to an end after only a week or two. Most Heart-Melters last for a couple of months, and even the Age of Kiki lasted approximately a month, so Mona drops into the cellar in this category.

Recurrence: 3 - While the Ages for most of the Heart-Melters last for a few months, but once the Ages come to a close, the attraction pretty much fades away for good. Mona is one exception in that she had an even stronger Age several years after the initial one. Even after this second Age came to a close, I continued to follow the releases of new Wario Ware games closely just to see what Mona would be doing in the newest entry. That pushes her near the top of the Recurrence list, although the top two spots are held by two of the strongest Heart-Melters, and for good reason.

Overall: 22 - If you're going to pick one Heart-Melter that's not like the others, Mona takes the cake in just about every way possible. She came out of nowhere to melt my heart for a day, and while the degree to which my heart was melted was relatively minimal at best, but that was enough to put her into the list that Lyn, Nami, and Rukia couldn't crack. And then she melted my heart a second time after a long hibernation, an achievement only the top Heart-Melter can boast, and even though it wasn't enough to push her eighth, it completely changed my opinion on Mona as a Heart-Melter.

Next Up: Spice Up Your Life

The Heart-Melters #9 - Tomo Takino


Who is She?
Somewhere in the middle of Azumangaland, there is a group of six friends that spends high school together in Miss Yukari's homeroom class: Chiyo Mihama, the 12-year-old prodigy with the intellect of a college student but the naivete of a 12-year-old...Ayumu Kasuga, the slow-minded transfer student from Osaka that is always trying to get it together...Sakaki-san, the lover of all things kawaii yet is cursed with physically mature body...Kagura, the athletic tomboy and self-proclaimed rival of Sakaki-san (who really couldn't care less)...Koyomi Mizuhara, the seemingly normal girl whose only goal is to get out of high school...and Tomo Takino...the other tomboy. Tomo is the wild one in the bunch. She calls herself the Bousou Joushikousei, or the "Wildcat High School Girl," and it definitely fits. She possesses an endless stream of energy, which probably helps her get through school, but it doesn't give her any athletic advantages. Her personality is the direct opposite of the cool and composed Yomi, whom she often goes out of her way to annoy. Not surprisingly, they have been classmates together since elementary school. Even though Tomo fulfills the basic criteria for ADHD, plus the positive illusory bias that folks with ADHD often exhibit, she can still focus her energies when she wants something done. It helped her get into the high school (which is no easy task), and it may help her fulfill her dream of becoming a police officer with ICPO. The problem is...she just isn't motivated. It explains why she is the central member of theBonkuras...the Boneheads. (Interesting enough, her name Tomo means "wisdom." So much for having a name that fits.) And even though she is often seen tormenting Yomi, Ayumu, and Chiyo...and has a running rivalry with Kagura, she still cares dearly about her friends. Even though Tomo is not among the most popular characters in Azumanga Daioh, her mere presence injects life into the series.

Tomo's Influence (November 20, 2006 - Early 2007)

So the first question is...why Tomo? First of all, this is not the same case as Sister Princess or Tales of Symphonia, where my interest in the source developed after the heart-melting experience. It's more like Pokemon, where the heart-melting experience developed after initial exposure to the source. The Azumanga Daioh is 90% female, so the Heart-Melter could have been anybody from Ayumu (the popular choice) to Nyamo to Kagura. So why Tomo? She's wild. She's crazy. She's impulsive. She's a baka. She's even shorter than Kattixie. She's vain to the point where it becomes almost delusional. She is never seen dressed up outside of school. Her method of showing affection would drive most people up the wall, so I'd feel sorry for whoever would become her boyfriend in college. Her interests and personality are completely different from mine? So why would I not mind being that unfortunate boyfriend? I've given some thought, and the reason that pops out is because unlike me, Tomo Takino is a free spirit. Whereas I continue to carry unnecessary burdens, she seemed to have dropped them all and is now living life to the fullest. Sometimes when I am caught up in lethargy and hours of doing nothing, I think about how nice it would be to break out of the shackles and enjoy life as Tomo does...or maybe it's because it's just that I find Tomo heart-meltingly cute.

Anyways, I had first read the Azumanga Daioh manga around the time when I wrote the original Heart-Melters Gallery thread. It may have been slightly earlier or slightly later. But at any rate, it was an enjoyable experience, and somehow I kind of knew that I would be hooked to the anime if I ever saw it. Maybe that wasn't the reason, but I went a year and a half to two years without seeing the anime. And then three weeks ago, my sister was able to borrow a copy of Disc 1 from a friend. I had resisted watching it because I had a biochemistry test to study for, but she insisted, and it was no use. I was hooked. It was so much that while waiting for the Wii on November 18, I walked to Best Buy and picked up the boxset. And the gig was on. For the week of Thanksgiving, even though I had gotten a Wii, I had actually spent more time watching Azumanga Daioh than playing the Wii. My urge was not "Gotta play Zelda," but "Gotta watch Azumanga." Even when I was playing Zelda, I had Azumanga Daioh running on my computer. So what does all this have to do with Tomo? Well, throughout the entire week, I noticed that Tomo seemed to stand out. Despite all of her faults, I found her strangely endearing. The more I had watched the series, the more I felt attracted to her various quirks. In the end, I had no choice but to declare her a Heart-Melter.

The Age of Tomo
If we go by the manga, Tomo would have graduated sometime in spring of 2002, which means she would have been born in 1983 or 1984. Of course, if we go by the anime, the class had gone to Okinawa for their senior trip in 2002, which means her graduation would have come in spring of 2003, so she would have been born in 1984 or 1985. This would mean she is between the ages of 21-23 by now. Of course, we have no documentation of her life after high school (except that she is possibly going to the same college as Ayumu Kasuga...roommates, maybe?), so it really doesn't matter in the end.

The Age of Tomo burned bright for a while in the latter half of 2006 and early in 2007. For about two months, Tomo and other Azumanga Daioh-related media are the only things that I can think of. I was re-watching Azumanga Daioh episodes, listening to Azumanga Daioh songs, reading Azumanga Daioh fanfics, and enjoying Azumanga Daioh AMVs. Yet was this too much? In the 10K run for the second sports fest, Tomo had zoomed out of the starting line, yet by the end she barely finished ahead of Chiyo and Ayumu, her energy obviously sapped out. A similar analogy can be seen in stars. The massive stars shine brightly, yet die off quickly. The red dwarfs don't shine quite as brightly, but they are able to remain present for literally trillions of years. Could the Age of Tomo have been like the luminous, massive stars? Unfortunately for Tomo, all signs point to yes. I had felt my affections for Tomo dying down even as early as January 1, 2007. Getting hooked on Twilight Princess didn't help, as it took my attention away from Azumanga. The more damaging thing is my slow realization that Tomo is nothing more than a hyperactive and sadistic creep once the honeymoon period wore off, especially after Tomo became a vindictive, unforgiving wildcat in the stories I did with my sisters. My attraction towards Tomo fell off the cliff, and didn’t return even after I got back into Azumanga Daioh that summer. Tomo’s status as a Heart-Melter ended almost as abruptly as it started, but it was still a fun ride.

Strength: 7 - Tomo was an interesting personality, and I was definitely attracted to her past minimum point of becoming Heart-Melter, but it never really went beyond that. She never truly dominated my thoughts, and I never stayed up late at nights thinking about her. She was just somebody that melted my heart.

Duration: 8 - It's hard to judge the duration of most Heart-Melters, since their end dates are usually so undefined. However, most of them generally stay Heart-Melters for three months. Tomo was Heart-Melter for two to three months. It's longer than Kiki and the person in the 10th spot, but still short compared to everybody else.

Recurrence: 10 - Tomo is an interesting case where I do fall back in love with her source (in this case Azumanga Daioh), I don't necessarily do the same for the Heart-Melter. Thanks to Thingys, the stories I do with my sisters that include characters from Azumanga Daioh, I can no longer stand Tomo. You may even say that I've developed a dislike for her. That may not be entirely fair, but it goes like it goes.

Overall: 25 - One thing about the Heart-Melters Gallery is that once you get in, you don't leave. I mean, it's a Gallery. The fact that I don't really like Tomo anymore doesn't mean she loses her spot. The important thing is that once upon a time, I was really attracted to Tomo Takino. I can't say I understand why anymore, but it was pretty intense.

Next Up: Lisa in Nintendoland