Posted by psgels on 23 February 2009 with categories: Anime Reviews


One of the things I like about Clamp is that not only do they have a lot of imagination and a great sense of style, but they always try to go for something in a new genre, as opposed just doing the same genre over and over in order to milking their same old cash cows that brought them success (after all, they use their infamous cameos for that ^^;). Angelic Layer is their shounen fighting series: it’s about a nationwide tournament where people battle against each other with children’s toys brought to life. So yeah, it’s a notorious genre if anything, but along the way this series made me drop my scepsis and doubts completely.

It’s hard to see this from a distance, though. Nearly every single battle follows the same formula: Misaki (the lead character) enters battle, Misaki has trouble defeating her opponent, Misaki wins battle. As this series deals with a tournament, the opponents and outcomes for each battle is very heavily influenced by the writers in order to keep the plot on the correct path (after all, you wouldn’t have much of a series if Misaki lost and got kicked out of the tournament halfway through). But it all just doesn’t matter in the end, because Misaki is SO DANM adorable.

In fact, aside from the above mentioned predictability issues, I don’t have any problems with this series at all. This is simply a series that’s fun to watch, and throughout the series it never forgets that it’s supposed to have a consistently fun and fast-paced atmosphere. Even though you know that Misaki is going to win, you just can’t help but root for her, and during the fights it’s always fun to see what’s happening behind the scenes. Most of the characters are fleshed out and developed really well, and this prevents all of the battles from getting boring, and they continue to deliver.

In terms of eye candy, this series also delivers. Bones may not be the perfect studio, but these guys do know their animation. The character-designs look simple, yet very appealing (as expected from Clamp), and they’re brought alive really well in animation. The fights also consist out of mostly hand-to-hand combat, and while the action doesn’t look flashy at all, it is full of life and emotion. When the characters are fighting, there are hardly any close-ups or other cheap animation tricks used. Instead, we get real nicely animated fights that remain fun to watch.

What also sets this series apart from all other shounen fighting series is the lack of a villain, or for that matter any character who even bears a resemblance to one. In this series there is no “I’m going to use the powers of a bunch of child’s toys in order to somehow destroy the world. Mua ha ha ha”. There is an overarching storyline, but for once this is aimed at the characters, instead of the plot. Because of this, this series may abuse the “parents gone”-trope a bit at times, but the results make up for it.

To close off, even though we have a manga adaptation here, it is one of those few manga adaptations which fits perfectly into the time frame of 26 episodes. It’s especially surprising since quite a few of Bones’ series have their pacing issues, but Angelic Layer never feels too slow or too fast. No episode feels wasted or useless and the creators did a really good job in planning this series correctly. Obviously you don’t want to watch this series for a complicated plot, or heart-wrenching drama, but for those who are looking for a fun fighting series with adorable characters that may sacrifice its plot at times, then this series isn’t going to disappoint.

Storytelling: 7/10
Characters: 9/10
Production-Values: 9/10
Setting: 8/10

6 Responses

  1. senerikfred says:

    Oh wow, I was expecting you to hate Misaki, since she’s a bunch of ‘perfect cute girl’ cliches rolled together. Nevertheless, this is a wonderful series with some very cute/fun characters. I watched this when I was about 10, and thus am nostalgically biased in my love for it, so I’m also surprised but happy you enjoyed it.
    Angelic Layer the anime is actually a lot easier to appreciate when you look at the bare-bones manga, too, and realize that Bones themselves added in all the drama, as well as most of fleshing out the system gets.

  2. FireChick says:

    I have the first 2 DVDs of this!

  3. Senna says:

    I felt the same about Angelic Layer; it’s deceptively simple but quite fun and has some great characters. And even though I wouldn’t consider it a drama overall, there’s some great dramatic scenes near the end that really won me over ^^

  4. Hunter-Wolf says:

    Angelic layer isn’t bad, but i think that Plawres Sanshirou is a far superior shonen series with the same theme, Angelic layer could be called the “lite” version of Sanshirou … watch it and you want be disappointed (i’m not saying it is flawless .. it has its share of shortcomings being a 1983 production but is still very good)

  5. Solaris says:

    Opps, i missed this! Glad you liked the show, but isn’t 82 a little low rating for this?
    PS: the soundtrack alone deserves more points! :P

  6. dave@scifi says:

    Hi I’ve been watching Anime for over 35 years, and I find I like character driven series the best. I find the interaction and development of the characters, much more fascinating than a pure action series. I watched Angelic Layer with my 9 year old Daughter, and found that I liked and enjoyed it as much as she did. A long time ago, I was told by a friend to let the credits on the final episode of any series or OVA run to the end, as sometimes an extra something is added. For those that turned off the show as the credits were running, here’s a SPOILER ALERT…………………………… As the show goes to black, a final scene is added. It’s a Bedroom, and on a shelf, Athena, is sitting with her arm around Hikaru, and Hikaru’s head resting on Athena side. Both have smiles on there faces. My Daughter turned to look at me with a tear in her eye, and a smile on her face. That one scene should raise the rating 5 points.

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  • Emma
    (Friday, Mar 6. 2015 03:47 AM)
    I remember that same guy, during end of eva, pausing it over and over during that scene where asuka dies with all of those fast moving clips too.
  • Emma
    (Friday, Mar 6. 2015 03:39 AM)
    I remember catching it also when I was young with a friend and we looked back on a fanservice scene with shinji and rei and he mentioned “You know if you think about it that scene is damn disturbing when you think she’s a clone of/modelled after you know who…”
  • Emma
    (Friday, Mar 6. 2015 03:36 AM)
    Before Eva, when I was 11 or so my image of a mech anime was Nadesico…then it was eva and then I was like…Whoah…whoah God halp! =O
  • Emma
    (Friday, Mar 6. 2015 03:34 AM)
    I suppose credit where I feel it due, the angel designs are excellent and I remember getting the shock of my life when shinji’s eva went nuts and then there was a bit with Bardiel infect Toji’s unit. I remember at least Masatos boyfriend being a likeable character.
  • Emma
    (Friday, Mar 6. 2015 03:31 AM)
    I don’t think anyone was prepared for Eva, whether they liked the show or not, at 11 I can remember being horrified by end of eva and the series original ending as well as having my first moment of “Feck…theres a first…an anime that did something that scrambled my mind, I actually feel kind of thick now, this show is smarter than I am”.
  • Bam
    (Friday, Mar 6. 2015 03:27 AM)
    It really wouldn’t have been that hard to put a satisfying ending to the original series, wrap up the threads nicely and put a pretty ribbon on the package to finish it off. But Anno and friends took a risk and went against the tide and end up becoming the trope-namer for the Gainax Endings. That took balls and made things unexpected and fresh, cuz god knows that ,good guys win the day ‘is tired and boring.
  • Emma
    (Friday, Mar 6. 2015 03:26 AM)
    Requiem for a dream. I remember the guy who recommended that film saying to me “Even someone such as yourself who finds it hard to find/has high standards an emotionally investing film will get something out of requiem for a dream”
  • Bam
    (Friday, Mar 6. 2015 03:17 AM)
    @Emma: leaving a bad taste is pretty much the point of Eva, just as getting bummed out by Requiem For a Dream is the naturally intended effect. I don’t mind that you don’t enjoy Eva all that much Emma, l actually appreciate it over dishonest admiration. Just keep in mind that Eva deserves it’s special place in anime.
  • Emma
    (Friday, Mar 6. 2015 01:32 AM)
    But Eva just left a bad taste in my mouth as a whole, I understand that Bam you are very passinette about it and thats fine, I wasn’t aiming to provoke. I just feel that its frustrating that like alot of certain anime, that I am not allowed to dislike it or have reason to.
  • Emma
    (Friday, Mar 6. 2015 01:32 AM)
    If anything at least I found Ikuhara’s symbolism while obvious at least in utena and straightforward was at least visually interesting to look at.
    I love every David Lynch film and again I thought Lain was exceptional.

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