Anime Me! #5: Angelic Layer

Anime Me!  #5: Angelic Layer

Officially marked as a shōnen style anime, this weeks review is Angelic Layer.  It is the anime I introduced my own daughter to, and she cannot get enough.  First off, originally developed by CLAMP. an all-female group formed in the 1980’s.  They are one of the most acclaimed group of artists in Japan, and very rarely make appearances.  Due to their work, they are credited as part responsible for the manga explosion in the United States.  They have an uncanny ability to write towards male and female readers and because of that will always straddle that line between shōnen and shōjo manga.

This title is CLAMP’s first work to use a different art style.  There is less emphasis on detail and more on posing and gestures.  This kind of artwork would be used on later titles, and become some of their most well known and popular series.  The manga was adapted into a 26-episode anime series produced by Bones which aired on TV Tokyo from April 2001 to September 2001.

Angelic Layer introduces us as the viewer to a universe that CLAMP will go to again and again in different and later series.  This notion that multiple titles and characters exist in the same world becomes part of the charm for most of their titles involved.  Some of CLAMP’s other works which are interconnected include Chobits, Tsubasa: Reservoir Chronicle, Cardcaptor Sakura, Clamp School Detectives, as well as one of there current running anime Kobato.

The primary character and protagonist of the story is Misaki Suzuhara, a seventh grader who just moved to Tokyo to live with her aunt.  She is inspired by a video she sees on a jumbotron outside of Tokyo Station and becomes infatuated to learn as much as she can about the popular live game called Angelic Layer.  The game itself is based on dolls, called “Angels” that can move and fight via mental control across a stage/ring called a “Layer”.  She meets many different characters, who all seem to be interconnected throughout the story.  While all this is going on, the meat of her back story takes shape, as she deals with not only adjusting to her new surroundings and budding relationships, but also her past about her mother, whom she has not seen in years.  Like other manga and the anime based on them, Angelic Layer’s ending as well as relationships were changed.  So I’ll stop there to avoid spoiling you any further.  LOL!

What I do extremely like about CLAMP’s work is the interconnection of the different series.  For instance Angelic Layer is a de facto prequel, without actually being one, to another CLAMP work called Chobits You can pick up each of these titles and understand the story with out the other, but can be happily surprised when certain characters or places make appearances.  The manga shows much more of this, but the anime has some information about certain characters as well.

For Angelic Layer specifically, it was the first opportunity to show my daughter something I enjoyed watching and she, enjoying it along with me.  The story itself is easy to follow, even with all the character relationships, and back story weaving in and out of the main plot.  Most of the “Angels” and trainers (called Deus) are female with one or two exceptions.  While the over all moral of the series is “believing in yourself is essential in accomplishing your goals”, there is more than enough action as the game itself can be a combination of boxing, wrestling, and video games all rolled into one.

By far Angelic Layer was exciting, emotional, action-packed, and hilariously funny as any anime can ever get.  It was the first CLAMP anime I watched, and it set me on a path to find more of their works to view.