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Angel Sanctuary


a.k.a. Tenshi Kinryouku

Genre: Action/Romance
Company: Bandai Visual/Hakusensha
Format: 3 OVA
Dates: 5/25/2000 to 8/25/2000

Teenage romances are hard enough as it is, but for Setsuna his takes the cake. Why is that? Because Setsuna is in love with his sister Sara. Sounds rough, doesn’t it? To make matters worse, Setsuna learns that he is the reincarnation of the angel that challenged God. Between the agents of both Heaven and Hell going after Setsuna, is there a chance for his love with Sara?

summary by Kei


Reviewed: 03/05/2003 by
Grade: 68% av-Kei

Highs: Amazing artwork; beginnings of a good storyline

Lows: Way too short; ends abruptly; bland music; touchy subject material will turn off a lot of people

sigh It’s always a shame to see a poor anime translation of a wonderful manga. With more time, Angel Sanctuary could have easily been one of the most thought-provoking anime I have ever seen. Sadly, it was nothing more than roughly 90 minutes of jumbled ideas that leaves you raising your eyebrow in confusion.

On the plus side of things, Angel Sanctuary has amazingly clear artwork and animation. The character designs are also well thought out and move fluidly throughout this OVA. The anime version of this story has such potential, but was shot down cold. Still, it still raises some good points about the nature of Angels and Demons, but not enough solid storyline to make me want to even watch it again.

Angel Sanctuary didn’t even have the time to advance the beginnings of its storyline. With only three OVAs, the story starts to get very interesting… and then out of nowhere it just ends. Many people won’t even bother to pick this title up due to its outlook on religious matters, not to mention the brother/sister relationship between Setsuna and Sara. Personally, these subjects don’t bother me at all, but I know they will push many people’s buttons.


Reviewed: 05/03/2005 by
Grade: 63% av-Liegenschonheit

Highs: Gorgeous artwork; intriguing characters

Lows: Ends before it has a chance to begin

Here’s a thought: let’s take a manga with 20 volumes and tell only the very beginning of the story in three OVAs. Sound like a good idea? Unfortunately, that doesn’t work. With a seemingly intricate plotline and a large cast of characters, Angel Sanctuary is an intriguing glimpse into an anime that might have been one of the greats. Sadly, that’s just about all it’s good for.

With beautiful art and character designs reminiscent of their manga counterparts, Angel Sanctuary is visually stunning. Clean, bright colors and smooth animation are the standard in this anime. The characters seem especially interesting, each hinting at a compelling back story that we are never allowed to explore. In fact, one of the tragic shortcomings of Angel Sanctuary is that, with the exception of a few key events, character interaction and relations never get to play out satisfactorily. We are left with only vague impressions of what should have been well-rounded characters.

This anime fails most egregiously in the arena of plot and storyline. Oddly enough, this is because its storyline is too interesting. With a short length of only three OVA, this anime pushes out information and plot twists at an accelerated rate. Amidst the confusion, a second subplot emerges and eventually becomes as central to events as the main plot, which just serves to muddle things up even more. Just as things finally begin to make some sense and the plot becomes really engaging, the show abruptly ends.

Ultimately, this anime suffers from the same disorder as X/1999: far too many events and characters crammed into a very short anime. Had Angel Sanctuary been given the chance to expand and develop, it could have been something very special. Instead, because of its touchy subject matter, this anime barely manages to escape being utterly forgettable.

More than anything, Angel Sanctuary really needs more episodes to fully develop. It gets points for its artwork and bonus points for effort, but overall it comes very close to failing completely.


Reviewed: 08/04/2005 by
Grade: 58% av-Kain

Highs: Underneath it all is a great story…

Lows: … too bad it’s buried under all that crap

The world of Angel Sanctuary is inhabited by women disguised as men, men that are prettier than women, dramatic tension steeped in homosexuality and incest between siblings. If such themes rub you the wrong way, then you’re better off seeking your entertainment elsewhere because they permeate this anime to its core. But even those willing to set their prejudices aside for 90 minutes cannot help but think that this story wasn’t given the treatment it deserved.

For those unfamiliar with the source manga, the anime Angel Sanctuary takes only a portion of the entire story, and this is the result. Three OVA is insufficient to offer anything more than a mere glimpse into the characters and their motivations. And yet, despite the truncated narrative and hastily explained events, every detail was spelled out succinctly and clearly. I never once felt bewildered in the face of an overly brisk pace, so that’s a good start.

Unfortunately, even setting the unconventional sexual overtones aside, I couldn’t look past the staccato animation, forgettable seiyuu and music and the exacerbating faux pas of ending on an extreme cliffhanger. What finally cemented this anime among the ranks of poor adaptations is how all the events leading up to the finale took on a serious, dramatic tone, only to be interjected suddenly by bits of humor during the most inappropriate and awkward times. Oh, I indeed laughed, but not for the right reasons.

Needless to say that had more of the manga been given a proper animated treatment, the story would’ve had a better opportunity to blossom and turn into something special. ’twas never meant to be, I suppose.


Angel Sanctuary can be downloaded legally in the United States HERE.


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