Tenshi ni Narumon Series Review

Do you love hearing Akira Ishida uke out? Well have I got the show for you!

I’ve been hemming and hawing about how to go about this, because Tenshi ni Narumon/I Wanna Be An Angel! is a show that I have such divergent feelings about that its hard to know where to start. Ultimately, I think I may as well start here: I can only truly recommend TenNaru to folks who are big fans of both Revolutionary Girl Utena AND Princess Tutu, and whom are curious about what some of the staff members who were involved in both those shows were up to between the airing of those shows. My second set of folks whom I can recommend this for, and, well, its not exactly a full recommendation, but folks who loved Drosselmeyer’s scenes in Princess Tutu and wish there had been more may find some appeasement in the scenes involving Silky and Dispell – emphasis on “may'” (there is also a taste of Anthy and Akio here, but Dispell is far more flamboyant than Akio ever was, while Silky’s affect here isn’t falsely cheerful but wholly lacking in feeling). Other than those two groups, I really can’t think of anyone else – perhaps fans of 90s era WACKY and KERRRAZY comedies? But I think those who do like those will be merely annoyed by the pieces that hail from the Ikuhara stylebook, so even this is doubtful…

Leaping elsewhere, for those of you thinking, “I’m Gonna Be An Angel? Wait, this sounds familiar somehow…”, this actually was licensed before, as I believe I mentioned in one of my Week in Review posts. Way back in the early part of last decade, Broccoli decided to take a stab at having their own anime releasing company in America, and their baby was Synch Point, a name that’ll cause teeth-gnashing amongst some older fans. Synch Point’s claim to fame, ultimately, is that it was the first licensor of FLCL. When FLCL became a smash-hit (anime-wise, of course) in North America, Synch Point steadily forgot about everything else they were releasing, flipping a massive bird to the folks who had bought TenNaru and Di Gi Charat DVDs. Suckers!

TenNaru in particular was a mess release-wise. It was three years between volume one’s first release and volume two’s release (three years full of Synch-Point publishing and then changing the release date). It took another year for the third volume to finally surface. A collection was promised for the second half of the show, but it never materialized. Synch-Point was never officially folded, but they’ve never released anything since that third volume.

Anyway! The screwy release of TenNaru isn’t really anything to get fussed over, quite frankly; I recall the few fans screaming and howling whenever release dates got bumped back again, but the show just isn’t terribly good. The bits and pieces in it that smell like RGU or Princess Tutu are legitimately good and interesting, but the show is dominated by the zany approach to humor that seems so terribly 90s, and headed by a pair of characters that easily rank in the top ten of most obnoxious anime characters I’ve ever seen. Yuusuke can be cast in easy company with some of the milquetoastiest of milquetoast harem leads, while Noelle makes the braindeadest of braindead Key girls look like Einstein. Some of it can be waved off with, “Oh, well, she’s not human and she’s never lived in the human world before!”, but while that neatly explain the likes of Hanato Kobato, Noelle is a bridge too far (“Yuusuke, Yuusuke, what’s a comet?”, “Yuusuke, Yuusuke, what’s making someone happy?”, “Yuusuke, Yuusuke, what’s school?” she chirps as she toddles around, repeating his name ad nauseum).

The awfulness of the leads is exacerbated by a presence of some intriguing characters in the supporting cast – Silky, one of the antagonists, who hates angels and commits a rather bold act of self-harm/self-preservation in the final arc, Mikael, the biggest supporter of Noelle’s desire to be an angel, Raphael, a one-winged angel who enjoys teasing Mikael mercilessly, and Natsumi, Yuusuke’s crush and a fairly serious girl whose brother apparently ascended into heaven when she was a small child. These characters all deserve a much better show (although I think Natsumi does the most), and its unfortunate that they get jammed primarily to the margins in favor of Yuusuke, Noelle, and Noelle’s nutty family.

Like I said, there is some interesting stuff to be had here, even with the crap – Noelle’s desire to be an angel is much like Utena’s desire to be a prince in that neither knows what being either of those entails (Mikael, too, wants to become an angel – and wants Noelle to become an angel! – even as he has no idea what that means). There’s also an ultimately satisfying debate within the show about what constitutes a family, whether blood is necessary or affection is enough to suffice.

Sadly, though, the good portions are not enough to make it a recommendation; I think for most this show would simply grate. It also generally feels painfully old given the style of the humor, although I will note that the animation is for the most part impressive given its vintage (and the fact that its a Studio Pierrot piece, not exactly a place known for its animation merits). The OP is horrible.

Ultimately, I’m glad I watched it, but I doubt any of you would be if you tried it. Oh well. If someone some day makes a Youtube compilation video of all the moments with Akira Ishida’s character uke’ing out, though, you folks’ll be the first to know.

 

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