Midori Saejima is one of the first ever students to attend her newly-opened high school, and thanks to her outgoing and straightforward personality, her classmates nominate her to run for the student council. After an energetic speech, Midori gets voted in as vice president, with the boy she has a crush on, Akira Sudou, being named president. Now, Midori and Sudou must work together to establish some traditions for their brand new school, but will such a daunting task be as much hard work as maintaining their fledgling relationship?
The final title in my Ai Yazawa backlog, Tenshi Nanka Janai (Tennai) takes us back to the now-famous mangaka’s earlier days, and where her more recent works offset their flaws somewhat by showing some originality, this one is standard shoujo all the way. We have the spunky heroine who wears her heart on her sleeve, a leading man who’s a bit rough around the edges but is a good person deep down and of course the obligatory supporting cast of friends and romantic rivals, all included to ensure that the path of true love is anything but smooth. Break-ups, angst, love polygons- they’re all here, and all set against the backdrop of the various festivals and events arranged by the student council.
That being said, the fact that Tennai is so standard equally works in its favour; unlike other Yazawa series, where it can take a while to get into the flow of the story, there are no such problems here. Having just passed the midway point in the series, everything has been entirely on the rails, but with a refreshing lack of the headache-inducing or confusing chapters that occasionally plagued both Gokinjo Monogatari and Kagen no Tsuki. Unfortunately, however, a slew of new characters has recently been introduced as the student council prepares to hand over to its successors, and with the characterisation generally rather superficial as it is, this does not appear to be a promising move for the series.
Visually, Tennai is drawn in Yazawa’s distinctive style, but like her other early series, it lacks the exaggerated features that make her characters stand out, but also push them towards the realms of ugliness at times. The overall result is recognisably Yazawa, but like Kagen no Tsuki, it is more restrained than later works such as ParaKiss and Nana.
A straightforward tale of the trials and tribulations of high school romance, Tenshi Nanka Janai won’t satisfy those looking for something innovative and original, but if you just need some light escapism that isn’t too taxing on the brain, this is by no means a bad choice.
Volumes: 8 [complete]
Creator: Ai Yazawa
Unlicensed (don’t confuse it with Go Comi’s Tenshi Ja Nai)