Inside the printing is good, though I have to say I do not have the originals to compare this with. Lines look sharp and the tone looks fine, but I feel this series really relies heavily on line work for there is very little detail to the art. I did notice some alignment issues. I was surprised by this as the previous volumes seemed fine, but my copy has a few dialogue bubbles that are slightly cut off. This volume features all of the chapter headers, the original volume header featuring Genzo in his coolest shades and a summary of the previous two volumes.
I do want to point out one thing that bugs about this release and that has to be how the volume description on the back of this book is for volume four. Nothing mentioned in that blurb happens in this volume. I have noticed Viz do this before for other titles, and boy is that annoying when you are typing a review.
Nishimori's art is similar to some of the more popular yanki manga of the eighties and nineties. Where his work differs is the use of thick lines and tone shading techniques (older yanki artists would use ink to shade with some pretty dramatic results). His character designs have a very flat feel to them, but in general, they have good sense of proportion and style. Nishimori tends to excel with his facial expressions and action scenes. With characters like these both of these aspects are used to the fullest, keeping the pace up, and brightening up some plain looking art.
Nishimori's backgrounds are stale and are often half done. The layout is also simple, so overall the art does little to support Nishimori's writing.
With this title, Viz decided to translate the SFX by using overlays. The retouch is pretty good, but with the funky art the new FX sometimes looks a little too fancy for Nishimori's designs. (I find it awkward having to say that the best art in this title comes from Viz and their FX.)
The translation is solid. It sounds and flows really well. This can be a funny series with the personalities involved but Yamazaki and Gary Leach have done a good job keeping the context for this teen comedy.
Contents: (please note that content portions of a review may contain spoilers)
It has been how long since Megumi's anatomy defined him as a man. But as we get to see in this volume, Megumi is much more of a man than most people who have the proper genitalia. Meg seems to understand that being manly is not only about the physical and superficial. Meg is a person who is emotionally and physically strong, honest, honorable and dependable who does not hesitate to step up for those who are in need. Being a man can mean different things to different people but as we see, Meg's version of manliness seems to be the best of what those around him consider manly.
Unfortunately, for some reason most guys are a little slow to understand that manliness is a culmination of ideals not individual concepts. And if they have any chance on winning Meg's attention the must learn to pick that up.
Well there is no better time than the present to figure that out. Turns out Megumi has a small project that should be able to help these guys grow up a bit and help him with his own plans. Megumi knew he might be asking for too much, but from his perspective, these guys are still the best option he has. If there is one thing his "Megumi Musketeers" are, it is dedicated. These four would likely do almost anything he asked. And with their collective intelligence being on equal with one Miki-chan, they should not question what Meg is asking for - to locate the key to changing the kid back into his manhood. Moreover, he will be doing them a favor by giving them an opportunity to help their idol and develop as a man along the way, right. Who knows they might even get a chance to get a special reward from Meg and find out about his personal life along the way. The guys should treat this could be like going on a date while on a scavenger hunt.
But what will they do if and when they find what they are looking for? Are the guys man enough to help a fellow man when that means losing the "girl" of their dreams? And is Megumi really manly enough to give up and risk the life he has lived for so long? And most importantly are any of these young men willing to step up the responsibility of the curse tied into all of this?
As I have said in previous reviews, Amatsuka Megumi has some major problems he has to deal with. The most obvious one has to deal with his body. While some people his age are worrying about facial hair, voices changing and growth spurts, Megumi's problem can only be found in the world of manga/anime as he has been cursed with the body of a woman. As an old plot device that has seen mild success, I was wondering just how Nishimori was going to make Megumi's version unique. You have possibly heard of a character named Ranma with a similar problem. That person at least could be a man half of the time, but Megumi has to live like a woman full time. Moreover, he does not even know where to start when it comes to men his age. That is how Nishimori makes his mark in this sub-genre. By simply giving this story a plot and actually working on the characters a bit Nishimori's Angel seems to already have something special going for it.
If the first volume introduced the main characters and second volume began to introduce the world they live in as new supporting characters are brought into fold. Then this third volume details the conflict these characters have to overcome. Pretty good progression for a 20 volume series, huh. The chapters are no longer one and done, so each story has a bit of time to flesh itself out and better tie in with the overall plot. Nishimori takes full advantage of the characters he has introduced along the way, as everyone now has their roles defined giving the story more structure. From comedic relief to best friend to rival, each character is now set... well we do not have romance interest yet, but I do not expect that to be settled for a while.
Then there is the character development of the main character. Amatsuka Megumi's personality is perfect for this type of role. Nishimori has made him into some sort of samurai, always willing to risk his life for the weak. A running joke in this manga is how Megumi is a "hero" even though his musketeers have promised to protect "her". Megumi is strong, agile, smart and caring easily able to care for himself, but he is selfless and appreciative at what his gang has offered him (even though he knows they are doing this for strange selfish reasons). He is a model student and person who should be attractive to anyone. Nishimori makes him even more alluring by making him a beauty that is clueless about what men are like. This little contradiction makes him an intriguing character that can be cute, even though he is capable of kicking the drool off your lips.
As readers get a better look at the conflict the cast are now facing in Cheeky Angel, I feel this story is on a roll. A plot can do that to a series; especially, if that series is a long shonen comedy. I also feel the stories though filled with action and a lot of machismo can really appeal to female readers as well. There is something about a story filled with dudes falling in love with another dude that seems to appeal to fangirls. But what I find most enjoyable about what Nishimori has done are the characters. They are a blast - dumb to the core but sweet. Nishimori has given them life in this volume and their bright attitudes and bizarre devotion are enough to entertain me. Sure, the concept has been overdone and the art might be lazy, but seeing these people have so much fun becoming friends when their lives are slowly going to hell always seems to bring a smile to my face.
Definitely worth a look.