I\'m no Angel (aka: Tenshi Ja Nai!!) Vol. #01 (Mania.com)
By:Eduardo M. Chavez
Review Date: Tuesday, November 29, 2005
Release Date: Wednesday, October 19, 2005
Translated by:Akira Tsubasa
What They Say
All Hikaru Wanted Was a Life More Ordinary...
In the play of life, all Hikaru Takabayashi wanted was to be part of the scenery, but fate had other ideas. When the 15-year-old introvert transfers to an all girls academy, her new roommate turn out to be the super-popular TV idol Izumi Kido! As if living with a celebrity wasn't bad enough, Hikaru discovers that there's more to Izumi than her "good girl" image - she's a he! Now Hikaru's the unwilling star player in a madcap tale of deception, abduction, humiliation and blackmail... you know the usual romantic stuff.
High school girl wants to be the most forgettable student in her class.
High school girl’s roommate just happens to be the most popular person in their school.
High school girl’s life is ruined, but her roommate’s life is not in good shape either.
For a first try Go!Comi’s Tenshi Ja Nai!! has some nice production values. Like practically all manga released nowadays, this is released in its original format (this one being right-to-left) in a digest sized GN (tall B6). Go!Comi uses the original cover art that is quite appropriate for the title. The cover features all three main characters - (from left) Inukai Yasukuni, Takabayashi Hikaru and Kido Izumi - with their arms wrapped around each other on a flower and checkerboard patterned background. The image definitely says “not an angel” as Izumi is almost licking Hikaru’s long neck, while Yasukuni appears to be getting ready to kiss Hikaru‘s hand!!! Hot stuff! The opposite cover features some more character art. This time we have someone who looks like Hikaru (much too happy with way too funky a hairdo for the current Hikaru) hanging out with the manga’s mascot Seiko the PUG!
Inside is where Go!Comi really shows off its stuff. First, they keep all of the chapter headers, mangaka notes, bumper art, and ato-gaki pages. At the end of the manga there is a Japanese staff credits page and a preview spread for volume 2. But where Go!Comi excels is the printing. For a new publisher to have such a clean print, I was surprised. Del Rey, ADV Manga and Infinity all had issues with this. Some experienced publishers still do. So to see the lines look strong and clear; the screen tone look sharp and free of distortion; and most impressive the pages that were once in color (IE the first 4 pages of this book) look clean, I had to tip my hat to them.
Shigematsu’s art is very much in the standard of shojo. While I feel her art is a little tighter than most, basic shojo principles are used in her character designs. Characters are long and lean for guys and gals. Everyone has longish hair and huge hands (maybe that isn’t typical shojo.) One thing that I noticed was how the body shapes were very similar for the leads. I make this point because the male characters are obviously bishies, but they are so good looking they could easily be girls. At the same time, if one were to change Hikaru’s hair and clothing a bit she could look like a guy (take a look at her on the back cover… woof). Now this is done on purpose because of the cross-dressing element to this story, but having the most of the male cast look like this was a little funny. As this manga is set in high school Shigematsu does not get much of a chance to show off her costume design skills. When she is able to draw dresses and casual wear, those designs look fresh and unique (particularly her dresses).
Backgrounds are quite stale. This elite academy looks like any high school from the inside. This is quite a contrast to the outside of the building which has an amazing fašade, straight out of European architecture design. The layout is nothing special either. The perspective is rather simple, though I did notice some variety in regards to panel size and the use of manpu. This manga hardly has any SFX; instead, Shigematsu relies on manpu placed in her backgrounds (tension lines and flowers are two frequently used).
I am always a little cautious when I read early attempts at translations by new publishers. Sometimes they can be a little stiff and then they might just go completely localized. Go!Comi appears to have found that middle ground from the start. I did not have any problems with the translation at all. I know some people will have their opinions about name order, but that would be knit-picking. This translation uses honorifics. There even is an honorifics page explaining the differences at the start of the manga. And it does a good job maintaining the individual personalities of each character. I found that important as the leads are complete opposites, each on the far extreme in regards to how open they are to others.
SFX are all translated. I had a hard time telling just how they went about this, since you can go for almost a chapter without running into one. Go!Comi uses a mix of overlays and subs. They seem to know just when to use which and by doing so they do not compromise the art.
Contents: (please note that content portions of a review may contain spoilers)
All Takabayashi Hikaru wanted was to live a quiet life. She really does not want fame or popularity. She did not want attention of any sort. If she could live alone with her pet pug Sumikko, she would possibly jump at the chance.
None of that is possible now.
Hikaru’s parents have left to go live in France and she has been enrolled an elite high school girls academy. Hikaru’s family is not rich or famous, so she thought she would have a chance to just be another face in the crowd. That wish was quashed on her first day of school, when she literally had trouble fall upon her from above. She ran into the idol of her school, Kido Izumi, as she was running away from a mob of hysterical fangirls. Not even a day into her new school and she might already be on the bad side of a few people. And if that was not enough, Hikaru is going to room with that same Izumi that ran over her earlier.
Now every day is a little version of hell for Hikaru. She is now the center of attention. Everyday she has people in her face forcing presents and letters for Izumi on her. Everyday she has classmates and reporters asking her for the latest dish on Izumi’s personal life. And if Hikaru refuses them in any regard then she has to face the wrath of the fangirls that feel she is keeping Izumi to herself.
As Hikaru begins to get to know Izumi better, she wishes did not know Izumi at all. You see, Izumi has something she is hiding from everyone. This is something really serious and Izumi has felt that Hikaru has known about it since their first encounter on day one. So serious is the matter to Izumi, the kid has resorted to blackmail to keep his secret under wraps. (Yup, I said his!) And in typical shojo style madness ensues. All based on a bad first impression and a little miscommunication.
Poor, poor Hikaru! Will she ever get to live her peaceful life? With rabid fans on one side and a twisted cross-dressing super idol roommate on the other, all signs point to no.
Imagine having to live in constant fear. Fear that your privacy is being intruded upon. Fear that your secrets will be shared with the world and your life will be ruined.
The main characters in Tenshi Ja Nai!! have to live like this. They go through some extremely stressful times everyday and there is very little either one can do to remedy the situation.
Takabayashi Hikaru is someone who is desperately trying to live her own life. She does not want outside interference, because has experienced that when she was younger and it caused her tremendous pain. She doesn’t need too many friends. She doesn’t need attention. She forces herself to ignore the rest of the world, to attain that peace she wants. I
Kido Izumi lives for attention. Well not really. However, he needs the power of attention to accomplish his goals. See he needs money for some reason. And if he does not get it he’ll be in great trouble. So while on one hand, he is a superstar on TV and in magazines, then he is also someone who has to maintain an image of someone he is not. The stress has forced him to do some crazy things. Some of them Hikaru wishes she could forget.
Together these two create a dynamic that is rather electric. I think the contrast of how Hikaru and Izumi approach attention and fame is really interesting. In almost every chapter where the two work together, Hikaru ends up surprising herself and Izumi by how easy she adapts to stressful situations. This is much like how Izumi has to when he works. Yet, Hikaru does not want any of that; while Izumi has to live for that. Still that chemistry is much more entertaining than a lovey-dovey romance… its fun and exciting. Izumi’s life can take these two anywhere (and it does) and then in turn Hikaru can surprise by how versatile she is and how much of a mushroom she might really be. (note: The mangaka describes Hikaru’s personality - introverted and a little weird; give her air and light and she can grow into something special.)
Even though I have no clue where this manga is going right now, I had quite a bit of fun with Tenshi Ja Nai!!. Shigematsu has an entertaining way of storytelling that draws readers by setting up scenes that are exciting and dramatic, but she keeps readers coming back through the interaction of her main characters. Together Shigematsu has created a fun fast read that takes some old devices – cross dressing, saving up money for some undisclosed reason, kids with potential getting bullied… - and makes them fresh her own sense of humor and style.
Not a bad first shot from a new publisher.
Mania Grade: B+
Art Rating: B
Packaging Rating: B
Text/Translatin Rating: A-
Age Rating: 16 & Up
Released By: Go! Comi
Orientation: Right to Left