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
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.
I'd have to say that it's a good thing I force myself to finish anime, even if I am clearly not enjoying it in the beginning. Personally, I felt the first 10-15 episodes were very hard to watch - mostly because the three recurring girls were the characters I found most annoying. And sure, I ended up sympathising with two of them, but that didn't make them any less annoying at the end. I greatly enjoyed the other characters, however. Perhaps the three girls are good enough characters that they evoke an emotion in me - annoyance? Maybe. Who knows. I also felt that they
were trying too hard with Oogata's character - seems a bit ridiculous at times. I understand he's supposed to be comedic relief, but it seems too forced. Icchan's solo bits were good comedy wtihout being overboard.
The art is simple, reflective of the times during which this anime was created. There were a few frames I noticed that had evidence of being inbetweens - clearly not polished enough for closeups; some scenes the faces seemed too lumpy. I noticed this less and less as the episodes went on.
The sound/music was decent - a mix of likeable and not-so-memorable tracks. I greatly enjoyed the second ending theme.
Overall though, at the end when I finished the series, I found myself enjoying it, even though the first half of the series was a struggle for me.
For the past 20 years, children and adults alike have dreamed of what it would be like to go get a little Pocket Monster partner from a professor and start beating Gyms. But Pokemon is not the only series to feature partnerships and we need something to tide us over while we wait for Sun and Moon!
Anime is such a forward-looking medium, which constantly exposes us to some of the coolest technology. Outlandish weaponry, robot companions, strange capsules, right through to bleeding-edge gaming devices, are just a few gadgets that will delight even the most technologically obsessed!