CLAMP, the creators of Card Captor Sakura and Magic Knight
Rayearth, have another one of their manga series brought to the small
screen with Angelic Layer. Even though the title sound pretty
sappy and girlish, this is a fighting show that can appeal to a wide audience.
Originally released in 2003 and 2004 as a seven volume series, ADV has
released this show again as a five disc set. This new release omits
the extras that were originally included, but lowers the price significantly.
Misaki Suzuhara is a twelve year old girl who is going to live with
her aunt while she goes to school. As soon as she gets off the train
in Tokyo though she discovers Angelic Layer, the newest fad to sweep the
nation. Angels are hi-tech dolls that their owners can customize.
Once they are placed on a special table called a 'layer' the dolls become
animate, taking mental instructions from their owners. The angels
then fight in tournaments, and the best players can become pop idols quickly.
Misaki is entranced by the first Angelic Layer game that she sees, and
really wants to get into the sport. Enter Icchan, a semi-mysterious
man (as well as comic relief) who spots Misaki and helps her buy an Angel,
Hikaru, and everything that she'll need to compete. He's spotted
the innate talent that she has, and he quickly gets her up to speed and
has her enter the national tournament.
As Misaki competes in the game of Angelic Layer, she makes a lot of
friends, a few enemies, and even discovers some mysterious things about
I wasn't sure how much I'd like this show at first. Shoujo anime
(girl's cartoons) are fine, but sometimes they get a little too sappy.
I was pleasantly surprised to find this show much more accessible to a
more general audience than I thought it would be. At its heart,
this is a fighting show, and as such there's a lot of action. Most
of the people who compete are female though, and a lot of the plot deals
with how Misaki deals with her friends and new-found fame as she gets better
and better at the game, which is sure to appeal to the women who watch
This is really a cute and endearing show. Misaki is a typical
upbeat anime heroine, but she's also sweet and it's easy to start cheering
for her and Hikaru.
The show isn't as tedious as many fighting shows are either. There
are episodes that deal with Misaki's personal problems and relations with
her friends in addition to the shows that are mainly fights. The
shows were Misaki has to deal with jealous competitors and her fans are
a nice change of pace, and prevents the show from becoming monotonous or
The thing that really drew me into the show was the interesting and
well rounded characters. Everyone's motivations are examined, and
the main people are all well rounded and three dimensional. Even
the lesser characters feel real.
Another positive aspect of the show are the quality fight scenes.
The battles are well choreographed and look good. The various strategies
that come into play are explained, and the animation is very fluid.
They spent some money on this show and didn't try to cheat their way out
of the battles. (Don't you have when a fight scene mainly consists
of people groaning and the camera panning or zooming on static images?)
Also, most, if not all, of the fights are over in a single episode, it's
nice that they don't drag them out over several shows like most anime does.
There is some humorous moments in the show too, most of them thanks
to Icchan. He's always punishing his underling, and these tortures
are some of my favorite parts of the show. These penalties are wonderfully
bizarre. I loved when he made him stick a live octopus in his pants
for 10 minutes.
All 26 episodes of Angelic Layer are presented on five DVDs. Each
disc is housed in a thinpak case and the whole lot come in a sturdy slipcase.
The slipcase has an images of Misaki and Hikaru on one side and Hatoko
and her angle Suzuka on the other.
This show offers viewers the choice of the original stereo mix or a
5.1 English dub. I alternated between languages as I watched, as
I usually do, and enjoyed both tracks. The English dub sounded more
full and enveloping than the Japanese track, but the original language
audio was also very good. Both tracks were clean and clear, with
no hint of audio defects.
These shows are presented with a nice full frame picture. The
colors are bright and solid, and the lines are tight. There is some
aliasing that occurs mainly in the background, but it isn't significant.
Other digital defects are nonexistent. A very nice looking show.
This reissue set doesn't have any extras aside from some trailers.
Though I'll admit that Angelic Layer is a tad predictable and
aimed at a fairly young audience, the show has a charming quality.
It's hard not to like Misaki and root for her during her battles.
A fun and enjoyable series, this show gets a strong Recommendation.