Monday, September 1, 2014
Angel Nest (manga) by Erica Sakurazawa, translation by Yuki Nakamura
I'm not including any read-alikes or watch-alikes in this post.
This volume was composed of four stories, one of which took up half the volume and three of which were shorter. The first story was related to Sakurazawa's Angel and was actually fairly decent. It gave me hope for the volume as a whole. Unfortunately, the final three stories all turned out to be utterly pointless. I'll deal with each of them individually in my review.
I have to say, so far I'm not really that impressed with Sakurazawa's works. I'm also not impressed with Yuki Nakamura's translation work, which was a bit clunky in both this volume and in Angel.
(This story wasn't actually given a title in the table of contents, so I'll just give it the volume title.)
Natsu is a career woman who works a lot and whose marriage is on the rocks because of this – her husband, Ken, keeps asking her if she's really working late or if she's having an affair. She gets an opportunity to go home early, which is when she discovers that her husband's questions were actually a confession of sorts. Ken asks for a divorce and moves out. Natsu thinks that's the end of it, until Emi, Ken's lover, asks to stay with her because Ken is behaving like a clingy stalker. Both Natsu and Emi can see the gin-loving angel that recently moved in with Natsu, so Natsu caves and lets Emi move in. Surprisingly, Emi turns out to be a really good roomie and is more complex than Natsu originally realized.
I initially assumed this was Natsu's story, but it was actually very much Emi's. The revelations about Emi, her real reason for moving in with Natsu, and her eventual decision to become a more independent person were interesting, although the story was structured somewhat confusingly. I felt a bit let down that Sakurazawa didn't show us how Emi was doing after she left, and instead chose to end the story with Natsu.
I should mention that this is the only story in the volume with the angel in it.
“God Only Knows”
Tobio, a shallow and judgmental gay guy, wants to hook up with a new hottie, but his regular gay bar is filled with ugly guys. Tobio drags his straight friend Haru to another bar and, when he doesn't immediately find someone for himself, decides to be Haru's wingman. Although Sakiko and Haru go their separate ways, Haru later rescues her from potentially being raped. Haru, Tobio, and Sakiko have a nice night out, during which Sakiko reveals her reasons for trying to hook up with a guy, any guy, even though that wasn't really what she wanted.
Okay, this was just dumb, and I was horrified when I learned more about Sakiko and her motivations (spoiler: she's younger than she looks). Haru and Tobio should have been, too. There wasn't much point to this story, aside from the advice Haru gave Sakiko, which amounted to “Sex with someone you love is better than sex with strangers.”
Also, I disliked Tobio. He was incredibly immature and shallow, and it seemed like the only reason he and Haru were still friends was because Haru was a follower, sucked in by Tobio's stronger personality.
Taeko was supposed to go on vacation with her boyfriend of eight years, but he bowed out, saying he had to be at work. She knows that he has another girlfriend, but, even so, she keeps asking him to come join her anyway. Meanwhile, Kenny, Taeko's tour guide, is very nice and even comforts her when a phone call with her boyfriend leaves her in tears.
If anything, this was even worse than “God Only Knows.” It was so. Very. Depressing. I could see nothing but heartache in Taeko's future.
I cringed when Kenny kissed (and slept with?) Taeko while she was still upset about her boyfriend. On the one hand, it struck me as taking advantage of her. On the other hand, Kenny seemed nice enough that I both feared he'd get sucked into Taeko's relationship mess and wanted Taeko to ditch her boyfriend for him.
Had this story ended with some hint of forward movement on Taeko's part, I might have liked it more. As it was, it just depressed me.
“A Gift from the Heavens”
Shuji, a 19-year-old guy bummed about having no money, no car, and no girlfriend, sees a guy leave his car with the engine still running and decides, on the spur of the moment, to take the car. He later realizes that there's a woman in the back, and the two of them get to talking, role-play as two lovers eloping because their parents didn’t approve of them being together, and generally have a nice night out.
There was so much pointlessness in this volume, and “A Gift from the Heavens” only continued that trend. It's literally just the story of two people meeting and connecting via the adrenaline of doing something fun and illegal. The artwork was nice – I love Sakurazawa's curly-haired heroine designs – but that was about it.