12-year-old Misaki Suzuhara has just gotten involved in Angelic Layer, a battling game using electronic dolls called angels. Even as a newbie, Misaki shows advanced skills as she meets new friends and enters Angelic Layer tournaments to fight the greatest Angelic Layer champions of the nation.
If I were to describe this anime in one sentence, it would be: "Pokemon with Battle Dolls!"
We follow little Mizaki, a little girl wanting to see her mother after years and years of being away from her. Upon arriving in the city where her aunt lives, she sees a jumbo vision screen that has two little battle dolls (known as Angles) fighting one on one. She is intrigued by them and decides to try it out for herself, unknown to Mizaki her mom is actually much closer than she thinks. This is the base of the storyline, along the way she meets new friends
and rivals alike. To her; Angelic Layer is nothing more than a fun activity she likes to play as a sort of hobby, she soon becomes more involved with it and eventually signs on to a tournament...where her mother is the grand champion. It does good with keeping the tension between her and her mother actually meeting one day, as many episodes have them barely missing each other. The story starts off well with introducing each main and supporting cast roll, and there are quite a few of them. However, during the half way point you may start to notice a filler or two happening ever so often, or battles that seem kind of pointless to the base of the story. Speaking of battles, this is another negative about the series, in that Mizaki is one of those main lead characters that rarely ever loses, which might ruin the anticipation of each battle for some viewers. To its credit though they do end on some nifty cliffhangers every now and then, and do a pretty decent job of making the battles exciting for the viewer. Oh and the ending is just awesome, it concludes very well and doesn't leave you with any sort of questions. So you need not worry about investing your time in a 26 episode long series, only to have it disappoint in the end, because it doesn't! Its a good story as a whole, but does lack somewhat being that the only real goal in mind is Misaki meeting her mother.
Angelic Layer shouldn't contain anything that viewers would find offensive, there are little romance scenes going on, but they are never shown or implied as dirty...since these kids are pretty young.
If you're familiar with a company known as "Studio Bones" then you'll notice right away that Angelic Layer is very appealing to look at, even considering the fact that this anime isn't the newest out there. With very colorful setting and character models. However, the characters themselves (with the exception of Misaki) look pretty standard and generic, I was never really able to find one that stuck out for me. The fighting scenes are cool though, they move swiftly and have nice balance of unique fighting moves and martial arts. Along with some containing actual power style techniques. Almost makes me wish they would bring over a fighting game of this series, heck I would buy it!
The closing themes change twice during the whole series, which helps give good variety to the show. They are pretty darn catchy, as is the opening theme song "Be My Angel." Character voices were also spot on! I listened to it in both English and Japanese. I felt they were just about equal, but I would give a slight tip of the hat to the Japanese version, as it seemed to match a wee bit better! Regarding the background music, you only really get one memorable soundtrack, it plays this sort or arena style action theme, it fits well with the fighting and builds up the anticipation of each match.
They are varied in their personalities, and you get a pretty good variety of them because of this series' larger style cast line up. Though I feel that I should mention that the major bulk of the cast are indeed females. Even so they seemed to lack a real sort of depth to them, there aren't really many episodes where we get a true understanding about the supporting cast or rivalries, usually it will include only a brief flash back or passing mention. But I must say they do interact well with one another, and you get a fair amount of character chemistry too. I would also point out that this title is quite good with its whole "friendship" feature.
Bottom Line: 7/10
If I were a big fan of these "one on one" battle style anime, then I probably would have given it a bit higher of a score. Still, it kept me entertained! If you can make it through some of the filler style episodes, and don't mind the story dragging on some what, then you will like Angelic Layer!
Plot Summary: Suzuhara Misaki moves to Tokyo city in order to attend school and for a hope that she will see her mother, who left 7 years previous to work in Tokyo. After exiting the station, she sees on a big screen two people fighting. However, these are not people - rather they are Angels, which are dolls controlled by a Deus. These dolls are custom made, and they fight in Angelic Layer, which is the name of the sport. She is told all this by the scientist Icchan, who walked up to her and started telling her this
stuff. Ignoring the possibibility that he might be a lolicon [AKA, pedophile][He isn't], she followed him into the Anglelic Layer store, where he went and showed her what to buy to create her own angel. After creating her own Angel, who she called Hikaru [which means Light], and making friends, Kotaro and Tamayo, she enters tournaments and goes on to become the Kiseki no Rookie [Miracle Rookie].
Analysis [Contains Spoilers]
Its a decent enough anime. Its done by CLAMP, which makes some good anime/manga, but I do have some problems with it. Early on in the series, Kotaro developes a crush on Misaki, which is teased upon by Tamayo. However, later on in the series, Tamayo admits that she's had a crush on Kotaro for a long time. If thats the case, why did she even push him onto Misaki to start with? The other thing I can't get around is the fact that she is the Kiseki no Rookie. She starts playing, and then she never looses. She only lost once, and that was too Kotaro's little genius sister, Hatoko. She beat every opponent after that, continuously gaining in strength, without really appearing to. Additionally, the Champion, Shuko, who is her mom, lost to her. When she hadn't lost to 77 or so other players. Finally, there is the matter with her mom. Her mom, quite frankly, is a wuss. A gigantic one. She's afraid to see Misaki, because she's afraid of what Misaki will think of her. She doesn't want Misaki to see her in a wheelchair. However, by postponing it, isn't she just making it worse?
End of Spoilers
Analysis [No Spoilers]: Some of the fights are cool. I think that the plot is a bit iffy, but its a 26 episode show expanded from a 25 or so chapter manga. There really isn't much you can do with it. I think that the comedic moments are great, but sometimes it just pushes it. Some of the fights are good, some are bad. It seems like in order to make a new plot point in the fight, they introduce something, that they can miraculously explain away in all of the previous fights. While sometimes, it works, but other times ... I just can't buy it. Theres only so much you can ignore.
Additionally, when you 'launch' angels onto the layer, you say an opening shpeal. Which is kinda lame. And I really dont see how Hikaru can fall like the way that she does in that.
There isn't really much to the anime except for the tournament. The first 4 or so episodes deal with her starting, and then there is the tournament. The rest of the plot then deals with the tournament. The unimportant matches get an entire episode, and some of the 'big' matches, you never see the character again. If you do, its very very minor.
This is a cute anime, and ok for a laugh. Some of the fights are good, while others are meh. Watch it if you want.
review taken from animeruwelz, check my profile for details
I have a strong soft spot for kid tournament anime. Ever since I was a kid intrigued, watching kid tournament anime thanks to it's flashy fights base on set project as well seeing set strong fighter fight set strong fighter in a match.
Even though I enjoy watching Kodomo tournament anime, I don't find them to be all that great in actually. Yes, there were a few kid tournaments that were actually good such as Gundam Build Fighters, Cardfight Vanguard Season 1 and Future Card Buddyfight Season 1 many of the kids tournament anime seemed to be meh at best by comparison especially when theses that
three shows that I enjoy actually have more things going on outside its tournament nature in terms of story and charterers.
As a fan of the sub genre self I decided to check out other kid tournament anime and the first anime that appeared other than the pretty good Danball Senki series which am currently watching from time of the review is Angelic Layer a 26 episode tournament series done by Studio Bones as featuring the art-style from Clamp. I went into this show with pretty high exceptions as I expected this show to be a engaging tournament show that had a good sci-fi tournament setting and fun and likeable characters.
Unfortunately I didn't get any of that as show quickly devolves into a generic tournament anime that was filled with cliche characters and cheesy predictable writing that was too much for my tastes. Angelic Layer isn't a bad series, but I don't think it's all that great. It's a decent anime that is very enjoyable for children as well newer anime fans. However, if you like me who had lots of Kodomo tournament anime in the past, you will begin to see that Angelic Layer has a lot of small cracks which become larger as you progress the series to a point where the series starts falling apart in the end.
Also get use of hearing the word predictable throughout this review.
The story follows sixth grader Misaki Suzuhara who has just moved to Tokyo to live with her aunt. When she arrived in Tokyo, she sees two battle between two dolls on a big live-screen called Angelic Layer which is a highly popular game in which players (called Deus) buy and custom-design dolls known as Angels that are moved by mental control when on a field called the "layer."She soon meets a guy with a lab coat named himself Icchan where he encourages Misaki to purchase and create her own angel. She ended up getting an angel that resembles the protagonist from Magic Knight Rayneth, and she calls it Hikaru. Despite being a clueless of the game in first glance she competes in tournaments and is assisted and watched carefully by Icchan and from there Misaki life as a competitive Angelic Layer player where she has to defeat other players to become the best like no one ever was.
The story on paper was interesting and entertaining however it actual execution the story is boring and predictable. Am not joking when I say this but Angelic Layer is one of the most predictable stories I have ever seen and it's not for a good reason which falls into the shows cheesy writing which I will talk about in a bit. My problems in Angelic Layer begin with the overall pacing as the series is overall pretty inconsistent as it can go either way too fast or way too slow. It was okay in the first few episodes but it really got out of hand as the series went on as many of the fights seemed to either drag out just to fill the 20 minute mark or fights that are too short where they lasted 2 to 5 minutes. I will admit there were a couple of fights that solidly paced overall but the most part the pacing could have been a lot better.
The pacing seemed to plays along with the shows cheesy writing.
The writing in Angelic Layer is such that many of the dialogue and conflicts are cheesy for the sake of being cheesy. There's not much self-awareness as the series seemed to ride on the cheese train. It's gets even worst when the writing goes into full angst mode One of the example of this happens with one match of the tournament where Misaki is fighting a girl who complains about being too tall. Uhhhh what?
On top of the inconsistent pacing and cheesy writing comes in the series of plot holes that ruined the story even more. I won't mention them here but can easily notice them as you watch the series itself.
The worst thing about Angelic Layer is that is ultimately predictable, but it's not of a good reason. Personally, I don't mind predictable shows as long as they good characters that make it up unfortunately with the expectation of two characters which I mention in a bit the characters in Angelic Layer weren't not all that good. The battles in the Angelic Layer have predetermined meaning thanks to the power of-plot armour that Misaki has she cannot lose an Angel fight. She may lost once an Angel fight in the beginning but after that, she becomes an unstoppable god.
As for the love triangle itself like with the tournament, it's very predictable and not well executed even though it had potential to be good.
Overall the story of Angelic Layer was underwhelming. It had potential to be fun and interesting, but the predictable and cheesy writing ended up destroying all the shows potential of being a solid kid tournament anime.
The characters, for the most part, aren't much better as they okay at best and at worst wasted potential. They are not necessarily bad characters it's just the writing at the various points ruined many of the characters in Angelic Layer.
First up we have Misaki. Out of all the characters in Angelic Layer, she's easily the worst of the bunch. She's is a self-insert Mary sue who is simply perfect at everything. She doesn't much of a personality other that she is kind and clumsy and most of her dialogue was plain boring to listen. She slightly gets better in the final episodes but by then it's being its way too as she comes off as a bland and unlikable Mary Sue.
Icchi Chan is a pretty cool character While he doesn't have much depth, his still, a pretty entertaining character who has a lot a charm though at times he does go completely off-rails for my liking at times.
Next, we have Hatoko.
Man what a wasted potential Hatoko was. She was a badass character in the first half but as the series progress, she loses her badassery to a point where she became nothing but cheer-leading fodder for Misaki. It's such a shame really.
Now we get to my favourite character in Angelic Layer Tamayo.
I really liked Tamayo I really enjoyed of what she did for her character. Despite being a cheerleader for Misaki she was filled with passion and joy. I really enjoyed her tomboyish characters towards the cast especially towards Kotoro and Misaki. Honesty she should have been a main protagonist rather than Misaki because she's not only interesting character that is filled with charisma but she was only character in Angelic Layer that wasn't a bore to watch. Thank god!!!
Now we have Kotaro and not gonna lie he's is boring.
He's just an incredibly bland character who simply allows Tamayo to do all her karate moves on him like a punching bag. He doesn't even attempt to counter Tamayo moves and his dialogue was boring as hell.
Finally, we have Ohijro or like who are you again? Apart from being a love interest for our Mary Sue lead as well being a step brother for Icchan he's was a forgetful character who didn't do much to the overall plot.
The rest of the characters are very forgetful as they all come and go for plot reasons and they barely leave an impact on the overall plot.
The visuals in Angelic Layer are a mixed bag. On the one hand the series well polished that contains great lighting and cinema-photography while at other times the series can look pretty messy and inconsistent to a point where some of the scenes in Angelic Layer look pretty ugly. The characters designs despite being done by CLAMP were average and not all that appealing to act for the most part. The background scenery is okay as it uses a series of basic sci-fi and urban colour palette for the environments.
The animation itself was fine. While the Angel fights were nicely animated the human characters have somewhat limited animation. While it's wasn't bad it just didn't do much especially when the series likes to use stock footage and animation shortcuts.
If there was one word to describe the soundtrack of Angelic Layer, it would be forgettable. Apart from three to two tracks, I can't remember the tracks in Angelic Layer.
The opening theme "Be My Angel" by Enomoto Atsuko is a decent opening theme that is upbeat and catchy.
The ending themes, on the other hand, were pretty forgetful and dull.
Now for sub vs dub.
I only saw the first four episodes of Angelic Layer subbed and I thought it was pretty good. Not great but not too dull.
The dub on other hand is pretty weak. Apart from Monical Raial as Tamoyo, the dub, in general, is pretty bad that it's filled with lacklustre to downright awful performances left and right. Stick with the sub for this one.
I have mixed feelings towards Angelic Layer. On one hand, the premise and setup were very intriguing despite being weakly executed. I liked characters like Icchan and Tamayo as they were a joy to watch and I thought the some of the battles despite being very predictable were fun to watch. Unfortunately, Angelic Layer had a lot of problems that actually hurt it. The soundtrack minus the opening and ending themes were very forgetful and repetitive. Most of the characters apart from the ones that I just mentioned ranged from dull, mediocre, wasted potential to downright awful and the tournament ultimately ended up being tedious thanks to its massive plot armour and predictability.
Your honestly better off watching Gundam Build Fighters as it's much better version of Angelic Layer that has a better character cast and a more intriguing tournament arc.
Overall I enjoyed Angelic Layer, but I don't think it's a good show. It's a semi-decent series that's it's great for people who are under the age of 12 but completely falls for anyone who is over the age of 12.
CLAMP decides to take the standard shonen fighting tournament setup and retools it into a series for girls. Partly it does this by making the tournament a fighter between customizable dolls, and making most of the competitors young females.
Like most tournament shows, the themes of doing your best and friendship pervade the experience. A doll used in the Angelic Fights is usually treated by her (or rarely, his) owner (deus) as though it were a dear friend, with concerned cries going out when they are injured. Unlike most competition shows, however, Angelic Layer isn't treated as the be-all-end-all of life. Characters who take it
too seriously end up losing to Misaki and come to see that winning is less important than making friends and having fun. That's not to say the entire show is light-hearted and gay; Misaki's personal mantra seems to be: I'll do my best in spite of my tiny size!
The plot is mostly simple enough: Misaki arrives in Tokyo, since she'll be going to a new school there and sees an exhibition Angelic Layer fight. When the pretty, smaller Angel wins, Misaki is immediately enamored and wants to create her very own Angel. After winning her very first fight, she enters the annual tournament, and proceeds to advance round after round, with help and encouragement from her friends, growing as both a person and a deus. Along the way, she makes new friends, and they occasionally stop by for a picnic or a trip to the beach.
Misaki herself is an adorable girl, and a virtuous heroine, but, unfortunately, somewhat shallow as a character for most of the story. Her motive of being strong is dedicated to not being a burden for her mother, whom she hasn't seen in years and has been away in Tokyo for work; or so she believes. The truth about her mother is revealed about halfway through, and eventually that plot thread allows for Misaki to rise above her basic role as the talented newcomer at the end of the show, but until then, she fails to be much more than an enjoyable stereotype.
The supporting cast lend a great deal of charm to the show, most notably from Icchan, the goofy, eccentric creator of Angelic Layer who hides his role as such from Misaki while guiding her into the game. Aside from tormenting his assistants and providing screwball antics, Icchan displays a caring and sometimes insightful side behind his silly facade, proving to be a deeper character than the lead for much of the series. Misaki's classmates, the childhood friends Tamayo and Kotaro, provide a regular dose of levity, with Tamayo regularly practicing various martial arts holds or wrestling moves on Kotaro, who develops a crush on Misaki. Kotaro's little sister, Hatoko, fills the role of a mentor for Misaki. Many of the rival deus also befriend Misaki, eventually, nearly all of them with a brief, touching, backstory to endear them to the viewer, although pop idol Ringo just provides silly and energetic entertainment value.
The series makes use of lots of vivid, solid colors, and is pleasing to look at. Even during rainstorms, the pallet never feels downright dreary. Character designs are moderately varied (Just, be careful about the announcer's purple suit, wow), although most of the characters have only one outfit that they where in the entire series. One wonders why so many characters participate in these games wearing their school uniform. All of the Angels have unique outfits as well, ranging from strikingly beautiful to kind of funny looking. Hikaru, Misaki's angel, is a distinctive red outfit that's somewhere in the middle. The battles are fairly fluid, although certain moves are represented with flashy single frames, and in some of the longer battles, some scenes are shown from a distance. People who watch more recent action shows won't be impressed with any of it, though.
Sound effects are used well throughout the show, whether in the Angelic Fights or for comedic emphasis. Especially for comedic emphasis. The English dub, however, fairs less well. I only had access to the dubbed version, so I can't judge the Japanese track, but the English voice acting is probably the series weakest aspect. The children, especially younger children, frequently come across as a little wooden or strained, and not entirely believable. Hatoko's light and wispy tone doesn't sound bad, but it doesn't quite seem to fit, Jessica Boon's Misaki always seems just a little bit too dramatic, Monica Rial plays Tamayo maybe a little too gruff, and so on. Icchan feels pretty spot on, though, but his harried assistant's whininess is a bit grating. One major distraction in the voice acting is the regularity of unnatural pauses in the middle of a sentence. Yes, this is a side effect of the difference in sentence structure from Japanese to English, thus the lip flaps make it difficult to get the dialogue to flow easily, but perhaps if the translation was a little less rigid (I'm assuming, again, I only saw the dub) it might have been less obvious. Also, the pronunciation of "deus" as deuce struck me as odd, since deus (day-oos) is Latin for god, and matches the Angel theme.
All-in-all, it's a nice show. It's got a good message and will generally provide a warm and cuddly feeling with a few chuckles along the way. There's nothing really ground-breaking here, but it's a good kid-friendly show, if that's what you're looking for. Surprisingly, there's very little in the way of romance for a CLAMP series.
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