Here’s the scene: The student council president has sent one of his lackeys to scout out Kitano, the student with the demon face, because he thinks Kitano plans to send the school into disarray. The lackey’s plan was to approach Kitano nonchalantly so he wouldn’t think anything was up. However upon approaching Kitano, he catches a glimpse of his face and sees the killing intent in his eyes. Kitano knows! Kitano can sense that the lackey is tailing him and he’s not too pleased at all. But the lackey is too scared to move as Kitano gets closer. The lackey’s knees wobble as Kitano closes down the distance between them, eyes narrowing every second, reaching into his pocket to draw what he’s almost certain will be a knife.
And then, when Kitano is barely 5 metres away from him, he lets out a blood curdling scream and draws the knife from his pocket. The lackey can’t move! He’s like a rabbit frozen in the headlights. He can’t even bring himself to look at the knife Kitano drew from his pocket. Then Kitano, without warning, lets out a second screech like a banshee and suddenly the lackey can feel life in his legs again. Without looking back, he turns and runs faster than he has ever done in his life before the demon can attack him.
Kitano, meanwhile, wipes his nose with the handkerchief he drew from his pocket and mumbles something about how his cold is acting up and making him sneeze a lot.
Legend of an Angel is a delinquent story about a kid called Kitano who has the face of the devil, which causes everyone to think he’s plotting to kill everyone and eat their faces for brunch. In reality, Kitano is a nice, if a bit oblivious dude who is just trying to make friends in his new school. What’s great about the set-up is that making the scary-faced guy normal doesn’t detract from the inherent awesomeness of watching the supposed mind-games taking place. All the mind games are worked out through the victim’s mind rather than scarer-in-chief, so we get to see his brilliant yet ridiculous plans unfold regardless. Watching the legend of Kitano build is just as hilarious whether the stuff happens is intentional or not.
It’s not admittedly the cleverest humour in the world. The claim to satire about appearances is pretty shallow and never really evolves beyond that. But the scenario is changed around enough that it continues to be funny. Plus it has that good quality every running joke has in that one of the biggest parts of the humour is waiting for that inevitable to happen. When someone new claims they want to hunt down this Kitano guy they’ve heard so much about, I honestly got excited at the prospect of seeing someone new react to Kitano.
There are a few problems. For one, the art is shit. It doesn’t necessarily need to be great for what is a gag comedy, but even so it shouldn’t be quite this bad. Consider how much more effective Kitano’s devilish glares from the shadows could look if under the pen of a more skilled artist. A lot of the time Kitano looks more derpy than scary, and characters don’t really have a wide array of facial expressions. It does marginally improve over the course of the series, but not in any meaningful way.
A far bigger problem is that the author clearly had no intention of having the story go on for that long. It’s 15 volumes of a gag manga that really only has a single gag. Kitano does meet a few friends and they go some way to establishing his personality and why he ends up drawing people close to him, but fairly soon all the characters grind to a halt. The more characters they introduce, the more abundantly clear it becomes that the author is just trying to keep the status quo intact.
The whole thing loses its shine and I ended up not actually finishing the manga. That’s not as harsh an indictment as it sounds though. It was still relatively enjoyable. I just realised I had gotten the most I was going to get out of it and carrying on further would just dampen my enjoyment of what had been a decent comedy manga. I probably would have enjoyed this more if I was a teenager, as Kitano has that Nice Guy quality that we all like to think we have when we’re that age. He is a genuinely nice guy who wants nothing but the best for others. His only real character flaw is his social anxiety and major gormlessness, which is miles more personality than some Yuji Everylead. I don’t mean this to sound degrading or anything, but if you’re a teenage boy I would highly recommend this.