Steel Angel Kurumi Vol. #01 (Mania.com)
Review Date: Wednesday, July 21, 2004
Release Date: Monday, December 01, 2003
Translated by:Kay Bertrand
What They Say
Designed for military use, the Steel Angel Kurumi is a fearsome android warrior. But she's designed to obey the person who activates her. When a young boy inadvertently does so, he finds himself with an adoring - and adorable! - new companion, and quite a headache. You see, the military wants Kurumi back, and she definitely doesn't plan to go quietly...
This is a nice, colorful cover with a picture of the three Steel Angels introduced in the book set under the logo of Steel Angel Kurumi that is used in the anime. A smaller photo of Ayanokoji and Amagi is in the bottom left corner while a chibi-sized Nakahito is in the upper right. The back features a shot of Karinka waving to the audience, set against a background of gears. While it's a busy cover, it is attractive and does a good job at conveying the overall mood of the story.
The printing is dark throughout the book, but it is still legible. There's a good amount of fanservice here, with upper body nudity, panty shots and luscious body poses for the girls. The character designs themselves are pretty average for the genre, but retain the same quality throughout the book. The panels are laid out well and are easy to navigate in the first part of the book. In the second, some of the kanji is left in even though a translation is provided, causing the panels to be cluttered and somewhat confusing. As is typical by now, ADV reproduced the initial color pages of the book and those turn out nicely. Oh, and expect chibis. Lots of chibis. They're pretty cute.
The text is unflipped and the SFX is subtitled. A smaller font is used than what I've seen in other volumes, and it takes a bit of getting used to. I found myself having to squint at times with some of the paragraphs. They keep switching back and forth between Steel Angel and Steel Soldier, which makes me wonder if it's one or two projects. I was thinking two, but then the beginning of chapter two made me rethink that.
Content (MAY CONTAIN SPOILERS):
I often see the name of this series come up in the forums as a fan favorite and it's easy to see why.
The story is set in the period after World War I, during what seems to the Roaring 20s - a setting also utilized in Chrono Crusade. Nakahito Kagura is the second son and a mystic in a famous family, but he seems to be a bit of a Mama's boy. He's been harassed by some of the neighborhood boys when he falls down a hole and sees a strange doll hooked up to a machine.
But that's not his biggest worry. The owner of the doll - known as a Steel Angel - comes rushing in. Dr. Ayanokoji is on the run from the government, who want to develop the angels as an instrument of death. But an accidental kiss winds up activating Kurumi, the doll that Nakahito first saw, and Kurumi immediately claims the shy boy as her new master and saves his life in the process.
Dr. Amagi, who is chasing Ayanokoji, manages to find something that's to her advantage - a second Steel Angel, or Steel Soldier as they call her in this instance. Saki, this Angel, is Kurumi's sister and now the two Angels must square off against each other.
But in the aftermath of this, there are consequences to be have for running away from the army - and Ayanokoji must face them. In the process, we learn about a third Steel Angel, and she is also after Kurumi and Saki
Kurumi is a pretty cool character. She immediately gets up and destroys the large robot that the government has sent to assist in capturing Ayanokoji. But, throughout most of the book, she reminds me a lot of Belldandy from Oh My Goddess, especially during the fight with Saki after she learns they are sisters. Even though she was technically following orders, her passion for Saki is geninue.
I enjoyed the supporting cast as well, especially Ayanokoji and Amagi. At first, things seem very black and white, especially on Amagi's end. But, that changes as we go through the book and you learn that Amagi isn't all that she seems. The action scenes were pretty captivating, but I was blown out of the water by the story. I wasn't expecting much of one and was pleasantly surprised to find a riveting tale about androids and how the government views them that left me wanting more.
But, the side stories are also pretty funny, and this is mainly anything that involves Nakahito. We take a break from the heavy action toward the end of the book as Kurumi messes around with a gun that changes sex and turns Nakahito into a girl. And, as sissy as Nakahito acts, I just can't bring myself to dislike him at this point.
Steel Angel Kurumi has a pretty good backstory to it that draws you in from the first page. At first, I was afraid that it would concentrate too much on Nakahito and an obsession with Kurumi, but I was pleasantly surprised to find the majority of the book focused on the Steel Angel project itself, the nature of the Steel Angels and a larger story starting to unfold. This concept is unique enough that I enjoyed reading it a lot, and it's easy for me to recommend to others as well.
Mania Grade: A
Art Rating: B-
Packaging Rating: A
Text/Translatin Rating: B
Age Rating: 17 & Up
Released By: ADV Manga
Size: Tall B6
Orientation: Right to Left