Been There, Done That...,
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This review is from: Erica Sakurazawa: Angel (Paperback)
I've been hearing glittery raves over Erica Sakurazawa's `mature, profound' works for quite a while now & finally decided to check out `Angel,' supposedly one of her best.
The story is of three arcs, each connected by the presence of a silent, luminous woman who is only visible to a certain few whom she comforts unconditionally until they no longer need her. One of these arcs frames the story, so I'll save my evaluation of it for last.
Arc Two concerns a miserable youth who's miserable for no reason. Having read literally dozens of stories focusing on lonely, alienated teens & having been one myself, there needs to be some spice behind the character---cause I can spot an author faking in an instant. Give me reason for their angst, give me personality beyond pissiness, otherwise I won't give a crap. Instead of being someone I could understand & pull for, this girl came across as shallow & artificial. The Angel should've ignored this pitiful emo (get over yourself!) & instead soothed the soul of a child who genuinely needed love.
Arc Three is hands-down the best, for the simple fact that it displays the most emotionally-complex character of the volume in a stressed, despairing woman who both loathes parenthood & loves her daughter & finds herself crushed between the two. I will admit to finding her five-year-old daughter, Chi, to be rather irritating---I don't like children...---but I won't fault the chapter for my silly prejudges.
Arc One/Four follows the daily life of Kato, & I'm really not sure why he needed the Angel's friendship as nothing in his life seems at all bad unless you consider being single a token of hell. & here the manga turns into something of a romance, as Kato falls for a woman (the one on the cover) new to the neighborhood whose pet cat has run away. Far from what I would expect from josei, Kato & this girl share bland, depthless conversations without much chemistry. The ending left me scratching my head a bit though. Even though Kato is no longer single & therefore no longer needs the Angel, the final panel shows her still in the room with him.
The art isn't what I was lead to believe either. Instead of spare & elegiac, there is no less detail than the average manga. The only difference is that instead of crisp, inked lines, the illustrations are soft & hand-drawn. There's nothing wrong with that, but I wouldn't exactly call it poetic.
For my money, I'll stick to the stories of Mitsukazu Mihara, which are both much fresher & lyrical. This volume just didn't do anything new for me.
If you must have it, buy a used copy.