By Fumino Hayashi
Published in the U.S. by ADV Manga
Slugline: A "happier" version of Evangelion reframed in an ordinary school, since everybody knows there's a terrible lack of schoolroom relationship stories in manga these days. And we didn't make enough money off Evangelion the first time around.
The press releases for this title burble on about how fans have been waiting for this version of Evangelion, a re-imagining of the story to get away from the angst and drama of saving the world.
I'm sorry... but that's what I found most interesting about the original.
So seeing the same characters -- violent, egotistical Asuka, fan-service Rei and abuse-magnet Shinji -- tossed into an average shojo with mostly the same background people and mostly the same situations isn't doing much for me. Volume 1 sets up all of the obligatory relationships and jealousies and attempts to make NERV into a "mysterious" organization where "mysterious" projects are going on. It's been a while since the original, but I'm not that forgetful.
Angelic Days gets a bump up in score thanks to above average dialog and nice, clean art. Kudos to the translators for making everyone sound like they're familiar with American English. However, that's as high as it's going to go unless the writer can pull out some genuinely novel situations and/or relationships. Given that this title is being specifically aimed at fans of the original, maybe there are some surprises coming up to turn the Evangelion world on its ear. Maybe this very average v.1 is a literary feint. I'd like to see that, to tell the truth.
We'll find out soon enough, I'm sure.
Neon Genesis Evangelion: Angelic Days, v.1 is also available from Right Stuf, Intl., an online retailer specializing in anime and manga.