Hands Off Don't Call Us Angels Vol. #01 (Mania.com)

By:Sakura Eries
Review Date: Monday, October 06, 2008
Release Date: Monday, October 01, 2007

A teenager who is burdened by his psychic powers finds himself at odds with a schoolmate who also has supernatural abilities but has no qualms about using them for his own selfish purposes.

Creative Talent
Writer/Artist: Kasane Katsumoto

What They Say
Flashing back to their high school days, this Hands Off side story unveils more about the psychic powers of Udou and Kiba. Udou has been using his skills in unsavory ways and Kiba is in deep denial about his powers until circumstances bring them together to deal with the problems going on around them. Cameo appearances of the Hands Off kids are included in the bonus material!

The Review
Packaging:
The cover design is somewhat drab.  Tokyopop took some random black-and-white drawings of the four main characters -- Kiba, Haruhi, Yari, and Udou -- from the pages of the manga and cobbled them together against a light orange and purple background decorated with handprint outlines. For those familiar with Katsumoto's previous Hands Off! manga, the orange and purple logo for this manga is exactly the same with the addition of the line, "Don't Call Us Angels," along the bottom. The title logo is placed towards the center top, and the volume number and mangaka credits run along the bottom of the cover in orange lettering outlined in purple.  The Tokyopop logo in purple is aligned vertically at the top right edge.

The back cover continues with the same purple and orange color scheme.  The background is predominately light orange, and the title logo is placed at top center. A black-and-white illustration of Yari lifted from Chapter 1 of the manga is placed to the right, and aligned to the left is the story synopsis in purple text.  At the bottom are ISBN, genre, and age rating icons.

The print quality, binding, and materials are satisfactory. Extras include a five-page bonus manga "Don't Call Us Devils" and ads for other Tokyopop releases.  Regarding the bonus manga, the mangaka makes several references to his previous Hands Off!  work, and the jokes will be best understood by those familiar with his previous work.

Artwork:
The character designs for this manga aren't particularly impressive.  Girls tend to look alike with round eyes and often no noses or just a couple dots for nostrils.  Yari's supposed to be strikingly pretty, but all that differentiates her from the other girls in the story is her long black hair and an acre of bangs.  Facial expressions often end up simplified or distorted, and the mangaka makes frequent use of chibi characters.  In terms of clothes, boys and girls seem to be dressed in messy, baggy attire.

The panels tend to get kind of crowded and small in places.  However, both basketball and fighting action scenes are easy to follow.  In addition, the mangaka does a good job of illustrating the teens' psychic powers at work and communicating Kiba's emotions with close-ups and screentones.

Text/Translation:
As with most Tokyopop titles, sound effects are not translated. Computer screen text is replaced by overlays.  Tokyopop has retained the honorifics in this translation; however, there is no explanation of Japanese honorific terms nor are any cultural notes provided. Tokyopop uses a decent variation of lettering styles, but the font size gets really really small in a number of places.

Tokyopop does a good job with adapting the dialogue to American slang, making the girls sound like Valley girls and the boys sound like toughs. 

Content:
Atsushi Kiba has a special gift.  When he touches someone, he gets a glimpse of that person's future.  Most of the time, he finds it merely annoying, but when he touches his basketball teammate, Kouichi Udou, he always sees a bloody future.  The images that he gets are so disturbing Kiba resolves to keep his distance from Udou.

However, Kiba is forced to change his attitude when he witnesses Udou warding off an attacker without even touching him.  As it turns out, Udou also has supernatural powers! However, Udou's abilities are much more powerful than Kiba's, and he has no qualms about using his powers for selfish reasons, whether extracting information from others or getting girls to sleep with him.  Kiba, who has a strong sense of justice, can't stand such abuse of power and vows to do whatever it takes to stop him.

Meanwhile, Kiba's childhood friend and neighbor, Haruhi Fujita, befriends Yari, a girl from another school.  Yari is an admirer of Udou, and although Kiba repeatedly warns her that Udou is bad news, Haruhi goes out of her way to get Udou to meet with Yari.  But though Yari looks sweet and innocent on the surface, there is more to her than meets the eye.

Comments:
Tokyopop categorizes this title as a drama, but though the entire cast is comprised of highschoolers, it isn't adolescent angst that fuels the story but the conflict between three individuals with different supernatural abilities.

The story is told predominately from Haruhi's and Kiba's points of view so we know the exact nature of Kiba's abilities and his feelings on everything that happens.  However, we are not privy to either Udou's or Yari's thoughts, and most of the suspense comes from not knowing the extent of their powers and the reasons for Yari's interest in Udou.  For the time being, Kiba is the self-proclaimed good guy with Udou as the bad one, though he's not necessarily out to take over the world.  The tension between the two boys seems to be building towards some sort of showdown, and in the meantime, Yari appears to be up to no good in the background.

I personally would find this tale about teenagers with supernatural abilities more enjoyable if it were not for Haruhi, the one "normal" main character in the story. The mangaka might have meant for her to be comic relief, but the way she continuously gushes and idealizes Yari is more irritating than anything else. In terms of the plot, she doesn't play much of a role aside from creating opportunities for Yari and Udou to meet, and she is stupid and shallow on top of that.  Even after seeing Udou get into a fight with some shady characters with her own eyes, she still demands that Kiba explain why she should stay away from him. Personally, I think that the story would have gotten along just fine without her.

So there's no romance going on in this drama (except for whatever figments are going on in Haruhi's head).  But if you want to watch two teen boys snarl over how superhuman powers should be used, go on and check this out.

This title is rated 13+ for swearing, violence and gore, and mild sexuality.



Mania Grade: B-
Art Rating: B-
Packaging Rating: B
Text/Translatin Rating: B-
Age Rating: 13+
Released By: TOKYOPOP
MSRP: 9.99
Pages: 192
ISBN: 978 1 4278-0363-4
Size: B6
Orientation: Right to Left
Series: Faust Anthology