Sunday, August 31, 2014

Angel (manga) by Erica Sakurazawa, translated by Yuki Nakamura

Angel is, I guess, a slice of life manga. It was published by Tokyopop. I think it counts as a one-shot, although I have another volume that features more stories involving the same angel - just not the same human characters.


Well, this was a letdown. I was expecting something a bit...more. More interesting, more depth, more emotion, just more.

This manga starts off with Kato, an ordinary young man who works as a convenience store clerk. He also happens to be living with a mysterious, mute angel who doesn't eat and who only drinks gin and lime. She's not technically his girlfriend, but she occasionally kisses him, so he kind of thinks of her that way. Whenever she kisses him, he grows wings. No one else can see her, or his wings.

No one, that is, except for a small number of people who need the angel for one reason or another. One of those people is Mizuho, a 14-year-old girl who has recently become the victim of bullying and who is considering suicide. Another is Chi, a little girl who is being neglected by her mother.

Mizuho's story didn't really affect me much, emotionally. Which feels like an awful thing to say. She was depressed, she felt disconnected from her mother, and she stood by and watched others bully a girl until she became a victim of bullying herself. The whole thing was so brief, from the start of the bullying to the resolution (which basically boiled down to “don't let what the bullies say about you bother you”) and Mizuho making new friends, that I just couldn't bring myself to care. The angel's “help” mostly involved just existing. She distracted Mizuho just enough for her to be jolted out of her funk, and that was that.

Chi's story had a little more emotional impact. The overall simplistic feel of the volume worked better during her part, I think, because she was just a child. She mostly focused on her life as it was – missing her father, wondering why her mother drank so much if it always made her sick, trying to be good so that her mother wouldn't become any unhappier, and wanting to play with the angel she'd seen while at the convenience store. It was a sucky situation all around. Chi's mom wasn't sure she'd wanted a child in the first place, and she certainly hadn't wanted to raise one on her own. At the same time, her pride won't allow her to go back to her parents, who kicked her out after she got pregnant, or ask her next door neighbor for help. Unfortunately, this story was resolved just as easily and simply as Mizuho's. Literally all the angel had to do was be there and be seen for things to change for the better.

Every time the angel was off seeing other people, Kato was left alone. During one of the angel's longer absences, Kato developed a crush on Miho, the woman on the cover with the gorgeous curly hair. Again, I couldn't really connect with the characters or story. It ended very abruptly. At least this part had Miho's amazing hair and Boo, her cat.

All in all, this manga wasn't exactly bad, but it wasn't good either. The angel somehow changed people's lives for the better just by being around and occasionally hugging and kissing people, and I still don't understand why Kato grew wings whenever the angel kissed him.

Read-alikes and Watch-alikes:
  • Wish (manga series) by CLAMP - This is another "sweet manga featuring angels," although it has more story, less of an episodic feel, and a bit more romance.
  • Bunny Drop (manga) by Yumi Unita; Bunny Drop (anime TV series) - I've only seen the anime, which was lovely and very sweet. I don't know if I'll ever get around to reading the manga, because spoilers tell me it goes places I really would rather it not go. Anyway, those who enjoyed Chi's story may want to check this series out. I've written about the anime.
  • NANA (manga) by Ai Yazawa - Those who'd like something else that looks at the lives of young adults trying to make it on their own may want to give this series a shot. I only read a little of it, but I remember it having more drama and angsty romance than Angel.
  • The Secret Notes of Lady Kanoko (manga) by Ririko Tsujita - Those who liked Mizuho's story may want to give this series a try. It's episodic and looks at the worries and drama of various teens, through the eyes of a girl who insists that she's an impartial observer. I've written about the first volume.

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