Angelic Layer is one of those anime that I have watched many times. Each time I have watched it I have found something new to focus on and take away. I reviewed this originally back in 2016 and now I have relooked the review, re-watched the anime and expanded this from a single paragraph review.
- Genre: Sci-Fi, Comedy, Sports, Drama, Shounen
- Type: Series
- Episodes: 26
- Duration to watch: +/- 8 Hours 30 Minutes
- Age restriction: PG-13 – Teens 13 or older
- Release date: 2001
- Animation Studio: Bones
- Does it have a manga: Yes
- Kanji: 機動天使エンジェリックレイヤー
- Alternative Name: Kidou Tenshi Angelic Layer / Battle Doll Angelic Layer
About Angelic Layer:
Misaki Suzuhara, a seventh-grade student who recently relocated to Tokyo to live with her aunt, Shouko Asami. She is immediately captivated by a white angel, Athena, on a big screen in Tokyo. Athena was battling another angel in a game called Angelic Layer. She encounters a strange man in a white lab coat and spectacles who introduces himself as “Icchan.” He leads her to a store where she may get everything she needs to make her very own angel whom she names Hikaru. She learns that when the Angels are on a field known as the “layer,” the players – known as Deus – allow them to move through mental control. Misaki first experience at Angelic Layer is by accidentally competing in an official match. Amazingly she wins, which qualifies her for the Kansai games. Misaki is captivated by her past as she adjusts to her new surroundings and makes new acquaintances at her new school and through battling it out in Angelic Layer. While adjusting to Tokyo, her thoughts frequently return to her mother, whom she hasn’t seen since pre-school.
Even though this anime is quite a bit dated by the current anime style, storytelling and animation, I still enjoy it. While not a ground-breaking anime or a hard hitter, it is fun to watch. The plot is predictable. Plus as is the norm with anime aimed towards a younger audience, it is improbable, riddled with plot holes and should not get picked apart piece by piece. Even the dialogue is nothing complicated. Considering the target audience is pre-teen, this is completely fine.
We have overdramatised characters, teenage angst, jealousy and romance but they are there below the surface and not the main seasoning of the anime which is the drama and the question of, when will Misaki meet her mom? Around this question we have the angel battles and the day to day interactions between the characters.
The characters are entertaining to watch with a diverse cast and interesting personalities. But, some of the characters do fall flat. They interact well and most of the cast have enough depth to keep you wanting to know more about them and their struggles. There are parts to the anime where you just have to accept it as is. If you start to question how, the anime starts to fall apart, such as, how do the angels have abilities? Where did the wings come from…Do not ask questions; just roll with it.
I wanted to see more of the character side of the anime – such as after the final battle and Hikaru winning. If we could have seen how Suzuhara actually made efforts to make amends with Misaki, after abandoning her for seven years – I go more into my feelings on this in my Least Liked Character section below. Even when they do reunite, Suzuhara leaves it to Misaki to start the conversation.
I also want to see how Misaki continued on with Ohjiro. You can not tell me that after finding out that he knew and said nothing AND that he practically forced her to meet her mom that Misaki was not hurt or confused by that. It is the same with Ichirou and Asami, that level of betrayal by these adults whom she trusts, more Asami than Ichirou. I refuse to believe that it was all a happy ending after a tearful reunion; especially with the level of shock and hurt that we see Misaki experience. I still ship Misaki with Ohjiro though.
When I was younger and again in my early twenties I took the reunion as something bittersweet. Watching it this time, however, my heart breaks for Misaki and she deserved better than the way this had been handled. Let’s be honest, if Misaki had not gone to Tokyo, when would her mother have eventually gone to see her?
Favourite Character: Hatoko Kobayashi
I can not believe that Hatoko Kobayashi is five years old. I know that the anime depicts her as really mature and independent but it is still difficult to believe. She is calm and level headed and just a bundle of cuteness and innocence. While yes, she teases her brother and seems to understand the feelings and relationships of those around her, she is still innocent as a five-year-old should be. She has such pure faith in her angel and expects the fellow Deus’s to have the same belief in their angels. I am so glad that even though she is depicted as mature she still has moments and reactions appropriate for her age. I wish we got to explore her potential a little more.
Least Liked Character: Suzuhara Shuko
This woman, Suzuhara Shuko, is incredibly selfish and has shown to be hypocritical. She encourages a college to go home to her son even if he is already asleep because spending time together is important – but refuses to see or contact her own daughter for seven years. While this all gets explained away and forgiven because she was scared and admits that she is a coward. She does apologise to Misaki and all is made to seem well, but even the reveal, the reunion and the apology was all for her own sake. The apology and reunion were done on her terms and for her guilty feeling and did not consider Misaki at all. Even the Mihara brothers, Ichiro and Ohjiro, did not consider Misaki – it was all about Suzuhara and her feelings. Everyone got emotional because Suzuhara finally made the decision to face her daughter. The way it was handled left a bitter taste and I do not have pity nor any sympathy for this woman – regarding her regret and choices. She is a self-made victim (I am not talking about her illness but her choices) and everyone feels so emotional that she finally decides to be a mother. None of them even consider what this might be like for the real victim, Misaki.
Would I recommend Angelic Layer? Yes, as I have done in my 5 Family Friendly Anime recommendation post. It is a quick but fun watch with cute and likeable characters. The battles are fun to watch and are creative. Yes, the conclusion with Misaki and her mom is upsetting for me, but most people don’t look that deep into it. Thus with a tearful reunion and emotional battle, the end is wrapped up nicely in a bow. It is a cute series and in all honesty, should not be taken too seriously.
What do you think of anime Angelic Layer?