Scientists and writers have long been fascinated about the possibilities that come with robots, and Android Angels has a very interesting take on the matter. This manga is a collection of stories taking place in a futuristic Japan where people can lease androids who look and sound (and to some degree, act) like real people. The lease only lasts for four years, and then the android’s memory is erased and it goes on to the next person. Why? Because so many people have the potential of falling in love with their android that the government worries this will make the birth rate drop.
It would be easy to do kind of a pervy manga, where women and men just lust after perfectly formed androids. But it’s not like that. We see characters actually fall in love with androids, and that’s the danger. One woman says she wishes she could have a baby with her android. A middle schooler gets shy feelings for the android who protects her and who looks like a regular (and handsome) young man. The androids are made to appeal to human emotion, and this causes some people to fall in love… and to believe that their android might actually love them in return. And sometimes it seems as if the androids do have feelings, which makes things all the more complicated and unclear.
The abilities of androids are tested, and they continuously grow more humanlike. The manga also dances around the morality of robots. Should they have their own wills? Is it wrong to make them do things? Is it wrong to use them like this? Is it wrong to feel love for something that can’t love you in return?
The stories are told with a certain delicacy, where definitive answers are not given and the reader is left to fill in the gaps and come to their own conclusions. In a way this gives it something of a literary quality, and it’s a manga that will stay in your head afterward as you ponder what it could all mean. While possibilities and moralities around robots have been seen in other stories, this really feels like a fresh and intriguing look at the whole situation. The fact that this is an independently published manga does give it more freedom and lets it try out new things instead of sticking with the beaten path. A highly recommended manga anthology.
Story & Art: Kosuke Kabaya
Publisher: GEN Manga