Oct 1, 2010
Nanalilly (All reviews)
In a world where most manga can be summed up in a sentence or two, Angel Sanctuary is a breath of fresh air. It is the only series that I can with confidence give perfect 10's across the board. As I am writing this, I find it much harder to be articulate than when I give a negative or mixed review, because when a story really blows you away, it's hard to express exactly why. If I had to sum up the theme of this series, it would be this; "What are the thresholds of love". This isn't due to the main romance in the series, which is between a boy and his sister. Rather, it covers the entire cast of characters, many of whom have been deeply touched by some kind of love that is deemed unacceptable in the eyes of society and God.

There are two reasons why people put this series down, and many people do. The first is based on the reader's maturity. This is a manga that deals with blood, incest, transgendered issues, rape, homosexuality, religion, and death. I have spoken to several people who's knee jerk reaction to Kaori Yuki's approach on these issues as "ewwwwwwww". To be frank, not every reader is mature enough to read a story that presents these topics in an open minded way.

The second reason is a bit more easy to understand, and that is that In Angel Sanctuary's early volumes, it went through a bit of an identity crisis. While still being excellent and gripping, it also jumps around in it's focal point and doesn't clearly lay the story out for the reader. Volume 1 in particular is guilty of this and leaves one wondering what exactly the focus of the story even is. However, if the reader is willing to work past this, they will find themselves pleasantly surprised.

Angel Sanctuary is divided up into three arcs. The first few volumes are known as the Earth Arc. The middle is the Hell arc. The last leg is known as the heaven arc. These are all based on the primary location of the main character Setsuna. All three shed a different light on Angel Sanctuary's incredibly complex world; from the deadly depths to the hypocritical and morbid politics of heaven.

Beyond our main character, the primary cast of the series consists of about 20 characters, who are all given equal face time, and their own unique backstories. This is part of the elegance of Angel Sanctuary. Normally, such a large cast of characters offers little chance of development, leaving most of the characters as cliche shells for the main character to interact with.

In Angel Sanctuary's case, every single character is touched with perfect detail. They are all given a task or something to overcome, and each of them are given the chance to grow and develop in such a way that you end up caring just as much for the side characters as you do the main character himself.

Most of these characters are incredibly morally ambiguous, and the line between good and evil is absolutely invisible in this manga. Characters that you believe to be good act unforgivably, and characters that may seem like the most horrible monsters in fiction can become great victims. Redemption and corrupted innocence are both major themes that come into play repetitively. This series also raises great questions about the divinity of God and heaven, the origins of evil, and of course, the limitations (or lack there of) of man's love.

This is one series that has the ability to touch just about anybody as long as one is willing to take it on with an open mind. It is bloody and actioned packed, so though it is a shoujo series, it could also easily appeal to men as well as women. Though it has slight faults within it's first few volumes, those are not nearly serious enough to take away from the value of the series as a whole; and even those first few volumes are quite good by manga standards. This is one manga that everybody should take a crack at at least once just to see if they can handle the ride.