Flock of Angels 3

December 15, 2008

Aurora Publishing, via their LuvLuv and Deux imprints, will be presented in a much happier context later in the week.  Let me also say that I’m really looking forward to some of the newly licensed series for their main imprint next year, as well as the next volume of Walkin’ Butterfly.  For now though, I’ve been holding onto this volume for six months, and it’s time to get this out of my system.


I honestly don’t understand.  So until recent history in the timeline of the series, nobody knew that there were people with wings.  The main character has been working for acceptance for such people, and has been cracking them out of slavery et al.  Wings apparently come in all colors, not just white.  SO WHY IS IT THAT BLACK WINGS ARE ANY DIFFERENT?!  If there have been no wings at all until, like, a year ago, and there are white wings and red wings etc, why would black wings be any different if you’ve already established it’s the wings that make people stand out?  I don’t understand why it is that everyone’s so hesitant to let the black winged people assimilate into society, especially the other people who have angelosis.  I just don’t understand at all.  Isn’t the point of having angelosis to have a story about ostracising people for something they can’t control and helping people get over their prejudices?  Why break that down further?

Obviously, the plot diverges.  The main character is living with the black-winged people, then feels the need to go home.  He swears that he’ll find a way for them to live among regular people.  Except, again, I don’t understand, because the black winged people can hide their freaking wings, unlike the others.  Why don’t they just live with regular people, if this is what they want?  They can hide what they’re afraid will stand out.  I DON’T UNDERSTAND.

So then, due to some genetic mutation and some men who live with regular people who do just that, hide their black wings and live a normal life, babies with black wings start being born.

Everything ends happily.

Just… no.  This was total crap.  I’m sorry.  Not even good for kids, even as an aid for teaching about racism.  There are things that do that better.

Flock of Angels 2

March 31, 2008

I’m sorry friends, I just can’t do this one. I thought that maybe after introducing Angelosis and explaining that this was hidden from the general public so that the people who suffered from the disease weren’t ostracized and exploited, volume two would move onto other things. I was pretty sick of having nothing but the pure struggle for Angelosis acceptance beaten into my head again and again last volume, but it goes on for another half of a volume here.

Don’t get me wrong. I don’t think that what it’s trying to do is a bad thing. As I said, I think approaching the “outcasts” element as people with wings is really strange and random, and there are better devices to use if you want to tell a serious story like this one. Angelosis can be a stand-in for a lot of other things (racism, classism, political divisions, etc), but I think something more serious-minded would have worked better. I guess there’s just something appealing about wings, though. The overall anti-discrimination message is a good one, but I feel like nothing else happens story-wise until a love interest is introduced halfway through this volume.

That nothing happens story-wise isn’t entirely true. The main character works his way into the government branch meant to deal with Angelosis, and he becomes a superstar and we see what the department involved with Angelosis is supposed to do. Even though the general public didn’t know about Angelosis until the main character’s outburst, there’s still a lot of people with the disease in other countries being sold and traded like slaves, and there’s some stories about how some of the characters were basically artificially created in labs, how others were raised in an isolated government environment, and how yet others survived being maimed by their parents. But all of it beats into your head again and again that People With Angelosis Are No Different Than You Or I But Their Lives Are Very Hard. Like I said, it would be easier to take if what the discrimination was based around was a real-life problem. I’m not sure why my mind won’t make the jump from Angelosis to, say, racism, but it just won’t.

I think what this series lacks is a character who is actually out in public and has to deal with Angelosis among real people. The main character becomes a spokesperson and a celebrity, lives in an isolated environment, and basically only appears in public at functions, interviews, and situations where he is otherwise making a spectacle of himself. All the other characters we meet have lived similar isolated existences, and while we hear a lot about how things would go poorly if people with Angelosis lived among regular close-minded people… other than the mentions of the slave trade in other countries, there is no actual evidence of this in the present day in whatever country this is supposed to be taking place in (presumably Japan). I mean, yeah, it’s likely, but I just want to see someone with Angelosis who has to hold down a regular job every day. I think that may make for a more interesting story in a lot of ways than the crusade that seems to be going on here.

The love interest is introduced, the girl with black wings, and of course she and her people also live in isolation. There’s something extremely artificial about the romantic relationship, but I can’t quite put my finger on what it is. The two come together after a pair of traders try to capture the main character at an event and nearly kill him, which is the only part that makes me wonder about the people out in the everyday world.

I’m honestly just kind of embarrassed to be reading this series. I had to hide it so that my roommate wouldn’t find it. Not only would he never let me forget the really horrible coloring on the cover, if he opened it and found out what was inside, I’m pretty sure he would never speak to me again. I would almost rather my mom found my volumes of Silky Whip than find and read Flock of Angels. Don’t get me wrong, I’m horrible about dropping series I hate, so I’ll probably keep reading it. The book ends with the plot finally moving (the main character may not be able to escape where he’s being held by the girl with black wings), so maybe once it gets going the story will get better. Maybe it just took an unusually long time to set things up.

Flock of Angels 1

November 29, 2007

I only have time to do one review tonight (I’ve been trying to do two a night to get back into the habit of updating regularly), and while I have a big stack of manga I need to talk about, I’ll pick the one from the newest publisher in the bunch.

I honestly don’t know what to think about this title. The plot is about a boy who suddenly sprouts wings. Turns out the boy has a disease called… angelosis, maybe, and a lot of people have it. It was hushed up, but because his exploitative brother released images to the public, the government decides to make the main character their poster boy and reveal that there is and always has been a lot of individuals who suffer from angelosis. Their assimilation into society is helped by the popularity of the band “Angelaid” since many fans of the band wear costume wings around. It’s an episodic story about getting accepted into society when you find yourself with wings.

I just cannot forgive it the totally obvious metaphor. It treats the subject with an entirely straight face, as it should, and the tone is genuine as it goes through the different stories about discrimination in many forms. But angelosis is pretty ridiculous in the context of the story, and everything else is serious… I can’t mesh the two in my head. It would be like reading “With the Light” if, instead of being autistic, Hikaru was a pumpkin and everything else was exactly the same AND TOTALLY SERIOUS. “Flock of Angels” suffers a little from sacrificing character development in favor of its messages, but is every bit as genuine as “With the Light.” There are several things that could have been done to make the metaphor more effective and integrate it into the story more, but as it is, it throbbed in my head like a migraine the entire time I was reading the volume.

I just… I’m so confused. I’ve rewritten this review about twelve times, seesawing back and forth between writing about how rotten I thought it was and presenting my problems with it in a neutral way. I don’t know. No manga has ever made me question its values and intent the way this one has. Does that make it bad or good?