Cheeky Angel Volume 1
When he was nine years old, Megumi rescued someone he thought was a wizard, and in return, he was granted one wish. Unfortunately, Meg’s wish to be the world’s manliest man was misunderstood (perhaps on purpose), and he instead became the world’s womanliest woman. Now 16 years old, he’s gorgeous, only he’s also as aggressive as ever.
This series is perhaps the world’s worst example of “be careful what you wish for”. His best friend Miki keeps telling him to be more feminine and stop fighting, but he’s being true to his real self (as he wanted himself to be). So, this is basically a slapstick action comedy about a transgendered teenager.
Due to the spell, Miki’s the only one who remembers that Meg was anything other than a girl. Their deep friendship has odd connotations. She’s the only one who knows the true him, even though she’s got mixed feelings about a boy being a better girl than she is.
As they enter high school, Megumi has to put up with the unwanted attention of just about every boy in the school. Genzo, the class bad boy, falls in love with Meg at first sight, when Meg beats him up for dumping his girlfriend in public. Genzo has never been rejected before, and having his tough guy reputation damaged by losing to a girl just makes it all worse.
Meg, although he’s finally beginning to come to terms with being a girl, is having big difficulties coping with the growing romantic attraction among teenagers. He’d rather fight than kiss. He doesn’t understand teenage guys, and he’s frightened by what they want from him. He feels constricted by his prescribed role at the same time he can’t help transcending it.
Miki’s obsessed with traditional gender roles, insisting that girls cannot fight boys, but the boys like Meg in part because “she” is tough. Genzo, in fact, thinks he’s in love with Meg because “she” is like a guy in “her” emotions, and that gives them a lot in common. Miki follows the rules and so blends into the crowd; Meg doesn’t and is rewarded for it with the boys’ attention.
Metaphorically, Megumi is trying to come to terms with his sexuality, even if he’s considered abnormal. The series raises the question of how much of one’s self is influenced by one’s body and how much by one’s mind.
It’s a shame that only an unreal girl is allowed to stand up for herself physically. Megumi has a built-in excuse for not following the rules for how girls are supposed to behave because “she” doesn’t know any better. Regardless of her appearance, “she” is not truly female. The book by Hiroyuki Nishimori supports gender expectations textually while undercutting them visually. The result is an amusing teenage fighting comedy with some tweaks on the expected roles.