Reviewby Carlo Santos, Oct 23rd 2007
Galaxy Angel II
A new age of Galaxy Angel dawns, with the fledgling Rune Angel Troupe now keeping peace across the galaxy. A pastry chef named Kazuya Shiranami has been chosen to lead them, although before he can even go on a mission, he'll have to form a good working relationship with the Angels. Among Kazuya's crewmembers are the potion-swilling, personality-switching Kahlua/Tequila Marjoram, catgirl nanomachine droid Nano-Nano Pudding, and Apricot "Rico" Sakuraba, the younger sister of Milfeulle Sakuraba. It's all food, fun and games until Anise, a former-Angel-turned-thief, carries out a daring robbery right under the fleet's nose! Do Kazuya and his young team have the guts to challenge her? And just what has become of Milfeulle, who was last seen guarding the gateway to an interdimensional nexus? It looks like dark forces are on the move once again.
Call it Galaxy Angel: The Next Generation. They may not have a Klingon on board, but they've got a whole new cast of sweet-and-silly spacefaring cuties, and therein lies the spirit of the series. Some fans might miss the old crew, but fear not: many of the original Angels appear in this first volume as well. Apart from the fresh faces, however, this is guaranteed to be more of the same from the massive multimedia franchise: cutesy comedy and light space adventure, with occasional stabs at depth and emotion that never get very far. The bland artwork, with its thin lines and preponderance of light gray, serves to reinforce that concept—eye candy, brain candy, stuff that's sweet but loaded with empty calories. Galaxy Angel will never be a fulfilling experience, and yet somehow, some of us just keep coming back.
Maybe it's the characters. This volume offers a handful of shining moments where the Angels prove to be more than just easily marketable content. A brief discussion of Milfeulle's fate gives way to a thoughtful pause about the epic scale of her situation (one person guarding a gateway between worlds) and the sacrifice that she had to make. It's a moment of beauty amidst a slush pile of Saturday-morning-cartoon material. The other high point comes in Nano-Nano's back story, where we learn how she, as a sentient lab experiment, found herself a "mother" and developed a special bond. It's a wonderfully touching side story that avoids fake sentimentality (that's reserved for Kazuya and Rico's relationship), but sadly, it's only a few pages long.
Which means the rest of the book, as one would imagine, ranges from average to worse. Sitcom humor is still the series' bread-and-butter, but that doesn't mean it's any good. Kazuya gets into the usual scrapes, like falling victim to Kahlua's experiments, getting seduced by her split-personality counterpart Tequila, and almost being beaten up due to Rico's violent reactions to male physical contact. Nothing special to see here; it's just the usual brand of Galaxy Angel comedy that isn't even worth cracking a smile for. The action segments fare a little better, with the pace picking up in the final chapter as Anise thieves her way into the plot. Unfortunately, that's only in the final chapter, so guess what? That means everything else so far has been fluffy, pointless comedy, interspersed with the two lone moments of character development, plus a couple of contrived hints that the main girl likes the main guy. But again, maybe this is where series' appeal comes from—that one always knows exactly what to expect.
Even the artwork heads strictly down the path of familiarity—although that's probably because Kanan has been drawing the various Galaxy Angel manga since the beginning of time (or so it seems). Once again, big-eyed squishy-faced moe girls dominate, with only their hairstyles and outfits to tell them apart. Let's just say this: identifying the retired and former Angels is practically a guessing game this time. The sci-fi setting accomplishes nothing visually; the spaceships seen here don't give any sense of scale or distinctive design, and the interiors are little more than ordinary rooms and corridors with futuristic lines added. What is in most drastic need of improvement, however, is the overall technique—everything is drawn with one line width (thin), making it hard to differentiate foreground and background details, and there is so much screentone thrown on everything that most of the pages just come out as an ugly mass of gray. A lack of white gutters between panels also adds to the cluttered effect. Only during the volume's brief quality moments does the artwork pull back for a more spread-out, free-flowing style. Otherwise it's just stuff piled on top of other stuff.
A simple-minded series like this lends itself to simple dialogue, so there aren't any major challenges here. The translation goes for the literal route, leaving in honorifics and even gimmicky speech patterns like Nano-Nano's "Nano da." A page of notes in the back has all these particulars covered, although veteran fans should be able to cope without it. Unfortunately, poor font choices hurt the appearance of the text: any loud dialogue shows up as an awkward block font, and marginal, outside-bubble text appears to have been guided by the "whatever kiddie-looking comic font we could find" sense of design. The same might be said of the sound effect translations, which are placed close to the Japanese characters and generally have a childish, amateurish look to them. At least the bonus content is presented more professionally: look for character and spacecraft profiles, some 4-panel strips, preview material, and an interview with the Galaxy Angel II video game's voice actresses. A couple of glossy color pages in the front also make for some extra eye candy.
Those who already enjoy this franchise can pick up this manga and get another guaranteed dose of lighthearted, cutesy space adventure. Those who don't care much for the series, meanwhile, can safely avoid this one and not miss out on anything. Galaxy Angel II is a cut-and-dried example of staying the course, where the best plan of attack is to simply keep doing what they've been doing in all the previous series. The humor is mild at best, even unfunny; the action doesn't show up until the last chapter; and the emotionally touching, Seriously Good Parts add up to about 15 pages of content. The only thing that changes is the main cast of characters, and even then they're riding on the coattails of their predecessors. Sounds like another typical ride through the Galaxy Angel universe.
Overall : C-
Story : D
Art : C
+ A couple of touching moments where we learn more about the main characters.
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