May 06, 2011

Angelic Layer

 Some time ago I picked up the box set of Angelic Layer and I recently watched the first disc. My curiosity was piqued by the fact that Chobits was sort of a sequel to this show, and while Chobits was not entirely my cup of tea, it WAS quite interesting.

Unlike Chobits, this seems very much to be a kids show, but at the end of the first disc it seems to be quite an engaging and thoughtful one. 

The place Tokyo:
The time, 20 minutes into the future (of 1999):
Misaki Suzuhara arrives at Tokyo station having come from her grandparents farm in utter sticksville prefecture.
While negotiating the multilevel maze that is the station her attention is drawn to what seems to be a female wrestling match with exquisite choreography. She is then set upon by a really creepy guy in a lab coat who explains that this is the newest sport in Japan:Angelic Layer.

It seems that a few years prior, someone carried the Tamagotchi concept to its next level. Instead of a virtual pet in an egg-shaped locket, the angels are little humanoid robots sold unformed in "Angel Eggs" and customized by their owners both physically and mentally. They can be maneuvered via a thought control interface on an appropriately equipped table and naturally  the first thing that occurred to girls all over the nation was to have cock-fights with their little humanoid robot pets. This is now a HUGE phenomenon throughout Japan, with national tournaments, prizes, and so forth.     Cyber-cafes are giving large amounts of space to Angelic Layer training arenas.

Misaki rather impulsively spends most of her money on an angel starter kit and promptly suffers a scissors mishap while styling her dolls hair. This results in it not having the flowing locks most Angels do. Still, she adores it, names it Hikaru and decides to learn how to operate it. In short order our heroine unwittingly finds herself in an official match, which she wins, and through the machinations of 'creepy lab coat guy' she is enrolled a tournament; thus begins the Angelic Layer career of Misaki and Hikaru.

This is over a decade old but it holds up well. There's a lot of depth here, both in the world and the characters. Misaki Suzuhara actually has a fairly dark back story. It is unclear if her grandfather died or is simply unable to care for her. What is clear is that her mother abandoned her to her grandparents some time ago, in any event she is now staying with her aunt. Her mother does not want to meet her daughter even though she now lives quite close to Misaki. There is also a side plot about something genuinely weird and not a little dark going on.  For all that, it is a upbeat, even inspiring show. The production values are pretty good and the world is exceedingly well imagined.

The details of the fights and their choreography are well thought out, and, this being CLAMP, there are a lot of nice touches like the fact that there is a high value placed on presentation (one is required to have a really spiffy opening monologue) The "sport" attracts a lot of young people, who, regardless of stature or physical ability, can be sports stars...vicariously...through their dolls. A lot of thought went into this.

There is a lot to like about this series 5 episodes in and while I'm not entirely sure where it is going I am very interested to find out where it ends up. I'm liking it.

Posted by: The Brickmuppet at 11:58 AM | Comments (5) | Add Comment
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Being CLAMP, there are going to be strange twists and turns. But when it was made into an anime, the director unCLAMPified it somewhat. (For one thing, they changed the ending, which  in the CLAMP version was quite a downer.)

It isn't exactly a sequel to Chobits. It's kind of an alternate history, it turns out. I won't say any more than that for fear of spoilers.

Posted by: Steven Den Beste at Fri May 6 13:00:16 2011 (+rSRq)

2 Definitely a hidden gem of a show. Just don't watch the dub. ;p

Posted by: Avatar_exADV at Fri May 6 21:08:29 2011 (pWQz4)

3 Oh noes! I've screwed up already!

Posted by: The Brickmuppet at Fri May 6 22:00:53 2011 (EJaOX)

4 It's surprising how weak the manga is; all the really good stuff is original to the anime.


Posted by: J Greely at Sat May 7 04:16:35 2011 (2XtN5)

5 The dub doesn't... I mean. It's all right for a dub. But "Deus" is supposed to rhyme with "pay us", not "il Duce", right? How can you get it wrong when even the Japanese got it right?

Posted by: Avatar_exADV at Sun May 8 01:29:19 2011 (mRjOr)

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