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Reviews » DVD Video Reviews » Angelic Layer: Faith, Hope & Love Vol 4
Angelic Layer: Faith, Hope & Love Vol 4
ADV Films // Unrated // February 17, 2004
List Price: $29.98 [Buy now and save at Amazon]
Review by Don Houston | posted March 7, 2004 | E-mail the Author
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C O N T E N T
V I D E O
A U D I O
E X T R A S
R E P L A Y
A D V I C E
Recommended
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Movie: Anime has long been an area where young males were catered to, at the expense of a female audience. Over the years, domestic companies have realized that leaving out such a large part of the potential consumer base was stupid so they began emulating their counterparts in Japan, providing for shows that appeal to females too. The latest such show from ADV Films, Angelic Layer 4: Faith, Hope & Love, shows the company addressing the market niche in a show that could also appeal to fans of fighting anime. While spy shows, mech-robot shows, and various destruction related anime are targeted at males, the females out there have had a decidedly smaller selection to choose from. This show combines some aspects of a fighting series but handles it in a different manner, to the point where combatants are often friends, and no one gets hurt.



The series tells the story of a twelve-year-old girl, Misaki, who is instructed in a technological game that involves using robotic dolls. The dolls are programmed to fight in a special arena and the games are quite competitive. The dolls, when put on a special arena surface, come to life and are thought controlled by the owner. Two go into the arena and fight, with various rules and regulations to control aspects of the contest, and how well they do will dictate how many points they get and their ranking in regional bouts.



As the fourth DVD opens up, Misaki is finding her newfound success at the Angelic Layer game to cause her some difficulties in terms of fans and jealousies with some of the most competitive players on the circuit. With the finals in Kanto wrapping up soon, her wins are earning her quite a reputation among those who watch the game and not all of the observers are happy. Here's a quick breakdown with minimal spoilers for the included four episodes on the fourth DVD:



Episode Thirteen: Pure White Blanche, Kaede's Smile:

The contest is down to four players, including Masaki and her friend Hatoko. Misaki fights in the new arena set up, one that adds a new dimension to the games by introducing a geographic element to the arena. Her opponent today is Kaede, a gal that has the fastest angel in the history of the games. She also has another surprise hidden up her sleeve but by the time Misaki finds this out, it may be too late. Kaede has the distinction of having the very first angel, with all its tricks intact.



Episode Fourteen: I Won't Give Up! And An Angel Was Born:

Misaki finds out the secret of her opponent but is it too late to do anything about it? At the same time, the show spent a lot of time detailing how the whole angelic layer program started, as well as a surprise guest from Misaki's past (who has ties to the program as well).



Episode Fifteen: Shirahime Versus Suzuka! Secret Of The Ice Machine:

Hatoko, the kindergartener with the nearly unbeatable style fights an equally devastating opponent, one with similar powers and abilities but also more experience. The two meet in a desert setting arena, one not conducive to either of them.



Episode Sixteen: The Final Game! Hikaru's Last Attack!:

Misaki fights an opponent driven by the loss of a loved one, a woman so experienced that everyone considers her the hands-down favorite. Can Hikaru prevail in a contest of wills, against a driven opponent, when even Icchan doubts her ability? Whatever the outcome, Masaki has succeeded thus far and even the number two spot is an honorable position.



When I started watching the series back with href=http://www.dvdtalk.com/reviews/read.php?ID=8278>Volume 1, I didn't think it would grow on me like it this. I prefer more sophistication in my anime and this didn't have it. Still, as time goes on, something clicked and I'm anticipating the future volumes of the show, which is why I'm giving this a rating of Recommended. I know it's geared towards younger, and female, fans of anime but it was cute enough and different enough that it was enjoyable to watch. I'm glad the series continues even after the ending from episode sixteen.



Picture: The picture was presented in the usual 1.33:1 ratio full frame color, the standard for television anime shows for years. The picture was very clear and colorful with no artifacts or other problems observed. The transfer was solid and I had no problems with the picture.



Sound: The audio was presented with a choice of either a 5.1 Dolby Digital English track or the original 2.0 Dolby Digital Japanese track. I favored the original track on the vocals but preferred the dub on the effects with the better spatial characteristics. The dub vocals weren't bad, I actually enjoyed them a lot, but some of it was due to the writing.



Extras: The best extra was an audio commentary by Tiffany Terrell (voice actor for Krede) and Tiffany Grant (Sai). The two spent a fair amount of time introducing themselves and their background as well as some information about the show. There was a paper insert that described two of the leads and their dolls, clean openings and closings, and some previews.



Final Thoughts: The series is definitely a cute show to watch with more than a little moral advice disguised as a plot. You can pick it up in the middle of the series since the general concepts are fairly universal but if you get a chance, watch it from the beginning since you'll derive more from it that way. The direction, voices, and story are all good enough to suggest it as a show to enjoy for all ages. If the next volume has enough surprises to continue my interest, I may have to watch all the volumes together to see if they are even better (as several people have written me) when watched at a single sitting.

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