a.k.a. Mobile Angel Angelic Layer
a.k.a. Kidou Tenshi Angelic Layer
Suzuhara Misaki is a middle school girl who moves in with her aunt in Tokyo to attend a new school. She’s short and not very athletic, traits that led her to perpetual self-doubt. A strange man named Icchan introduces Misaki to the world of Angelic Layer, a sport that involves controlling robotic fighters dubbed Angels on a stage called a Layer. Misaki seems to be a natural for a rookie, but will her insecurity be her downfall come tournament time?
summary by Kain
Highs: Nice characters; perfect balance of action and drama; addictive songs; spectacular fighting
Lows: Very predictable; not Enomoto’s best work
I am not the biggest fan of CLAMP. Yes, they make some good anime (Card Captor Sakura, Chobits), but something about their work just doesn’t jive with me. Maybe I’m not their target audience. In any case, a part of me was expecting Angelic Layer to be more of the same. Sometimes it feels good to be proven wrong (I try not to make a habit out of it, though).
One of the intangible qualities of a series is cadence. It’s not something that can be measured. Angelic Layer‘s cadence is so perfectly rhythmic that whether an episode focuses on the excellent fight scenes or the characters confessing their love for each other over ice cream, there is hardly any interruption in story flow. Some genuinely lovable characters certainly help with keeping the viewer interested, even when the events of the story occasionally dip into the mundane; Mitsuishi Kotono as Shouko and Shiratori Yuri as Hatoko bring a lot of life and emotion to their roles.
This series isn’t without its irksome parts, however. Enomoto Atsuko, the marvelous voice behind Miyazawa Yukino in His and Her Circumstances, is too squeaky-clean and overly high-pitched as Misaki. The other problem is the lack of suspense due to a story that is without any surprises or plot twists. Knowing how each episode will end certainly removes some of the tension inherent in an anime based on a competition.
The music is pleasant and light. The story is paced well. The characters, especially towards the end, literally beg for your affection… and receive it. The action is among the best I’ve seen in a television series. Perhaps I can learn to like CLAMP after all…
Angelic Layer can be downloaded legally in the United States HERE.