In elementary school Megumi Amatsuka was a young hoodlum whose only ambition was to become “the manliest man on earth.” When he ran afoul of a sorcerer and relied on his martial arts skills to get him out of a sticky situation, Megumi’s future was changed forever and he was transformed into Megumi Amatsuka, a “woman among women.” Six years later, Megumi’s the hottest girl in her new high school but still can’t resign herself to her new gender, preferring to solve problems with her fists rather than admit she’s going to be a girl forever. Enter Genzo Soga, a teenage gangster who rules the school with an iron fist, doling out beatings to the boys and broken hearts to the girls in equal measure. Soga sees Megumi as just another pretty face until she decks him with a punch. Under the sardonic eye of her best friend Miki, Megumi tries to fend off Genzo’s advances while constantly chafing at the restrictions and complexities of social life from a woman’s point of view. From behind a black eye Soga starts to rethink his bad boy image as well, wondering what lengths a guy has to go to to win the heart if this feisty “angel.”

Silly title aside, Cheeky Angel is a good read for its snappy dialogue, its enchanting fight scenes, and most of all for Nishimori’s astute take on high school gender relations. How does a boy communicate? With kicks and punches. How does a girl get her point across? Always with words. Of course it’s never that simple. As Megumi discovers, trying to learn girliness like a second language will leave you with more questions than answers about girls and about boys.

Cheeky Angel, vol. 1
ISBN: 1591163978
by Nishimori Hiroyuki
Viz, 2004

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