Angelic Layer

Kidou Tenshi Angelic Layer
Also Known As: Mobile Angel Angelic Layer, AL
Genre: Action
Format: 26 Episodes
Allegiance: CLAMP/Bones
Director: Nishikiori Hiroshi
Vintage: 2001
Intelligence Agency Report by: Lady Sage
When Suzuharu Misaki gets off the train to her new home in Tokyo, she is enchanted by the vision of two human-like dolls battling on a gigantic screen. An eccentric man who calls himself Icchan informs her that it is called “Angelic Layer,” and helps her get into it. Misaki rises quickly in the world of Angelic Layer, overcoming her self-doubts and making some new friends along the way.

Field Agent Report by: Lady Sage 
Overall 8.75
(not an average)
Ever since I got into anime, I have always been a big CLAMP fan. Since CLAMP has always been known for their shoujo work, I was naturally curious about how this anime based off of their first shonen manga would come out. Needless to say, I was not disappointed.

The strongly developed characters that CLAMP has always been known for are present here. The central characters are all well-developed with their own quirks, from Misaki’s habit of saying “naaa” to Tamayo’s tendency to beat Koutarou to a pulp just for the heck of it. Throughout the course of the show, Misaki meets and fights many characters – but none of them are hollow shells. Each one has his or her own reason for playing Angelic Layer, usually highly personal. Angelic Layer is more than just a sport for nearly every one of them, making for a strong mix between action and character-driven drama.

And what amazing action it is. With top-notch animation accompanied with thrilling music, battle scenes are nothing short of fantastic. There’s a reason the Dei got as far as they did: the fights are innovative and beautiful to watch, each angel with its own distinctive fighting style, strengths, and weaknesses. I have only one small quibble: every time Misaki throws Hikaru into the Layer, there is a thirty-some second sequence that is recycled in every episode with a battle.

Unfortunately, there is little actual suspense in the series, at least on the action side of things. We know Misaki will succeed, so much of the thrill of the battle is lost and it becomes not so much a question of “will she succeed?” as “how will she succeed?” Plus, it seems that in order to make up for the lack of suspense in the battles, the director decided to throw in some suspense in the character-oriented parts at the end of the series… which normally would be a good thing. However, when they wait until after episode twenty to introduce it within a twenty-six episode format, it feels abrupt and like an afterthought. But within all the pluses, the negative aspects feel minor and few.

Angelic Layer is an enjoyable series that I am glad to see added into the CLAMP canon. It’s one of the few anime that is oriented toward younger audiences that can also be enjoyed by audiences of all ages, infused with a rare lightheartedness and charm. It teaches determination and resolve without being heavy-handed or preachy, and in spite of the high-tech premise, it tells a familiar story: that of a young girl finding her place in a confusing and fast-paced world.