Ah, love triangles. Where would manga be without them? In Heavenly Body, Takashi Kanzaki comes up with an unusual twist on the usual torn-between-two-lovers scenario: the cute and sensitive Hazumi has to choose between two lovers, one of whom is an angel and the other a demon. They have both been assigned to win Hazumi’s heart by their respective superiors; he has been chosen at random to represent humanity in the war between Hell and Heaven, and the one who wins Hazumi’s heart will also win the Earth for his side.
There are a number of different places a mangaka could go with that premise. Taking it seriously could get you something like Earthian; playing it for laughs but focusing on the war itself could get you something like Good Omens. “Heavenly Body” plays the war mostly for laughs, but focuses on Hazumi’s tangled emotions as he faces the bizarre situation he’s in. Which of them does he love more? Do either of them care for him for his own sake, or do they both just want him because that way they’ll win the war for their side?
It’s unfortunate that Kamzaki wraps the story up so quickly, because there are signs of something potentially brilliant here; but the first part of the story finishes in unseemly haste before it can really develop, and the second part feels tacked-on and messy; the introduction of a third combatant in the angel-demon proxy war may have been meant to open out the narrow little world of the story, but since he immediately falls for Hazumi, it’s more likely to make the reader wonder just what it is that’s so special about Hazumi that every supernatural being he meets falls in love with him. (The other characters keep going into rhapsodies about how cute he is. Well, okay, but he’s not that cute.)
The two backup stories are more successful: “A Ballad For You” features a BDSM relationship riven with insecurity and unspoken feelings, and “Beloved” features a prostitute falling in love with his only client. They’re deliciously steamy and have just enough depth of plot and character for their length to be satisfying. The collection ends with a nice little extra continuing from the “Heavenly Body” story; it showcases a rather bolder, cleaner, more individual art style than the main “Heavenly Body” stories (which are a bit visually cluttered, in the way of many inexperienced BL artists).
On the whole, Heavenly Body is a little disappointing; the backup stories are terrific, but the title story doesn’t quite measure up to its promise. Still, it’s enjoyable even when it’s imperfect.