Angelic Layer – The 2001 anime and manga series

Angelic Layer – The 2001 anime and manga series

“Angelic Layer” (エンジェリックレイヤー, Enjerikku Reiyā) is a manga series created by the Clamp group, first published in Japan by Kadokawa Shoten. Subsequently, it was introduced to the international public by Tokyopop and, later, relaunched by Dark Horse Comics. This work was notable for introducing a simpler and more direct graphic style, with fewer details and a greater emphasis on poses and gestures, a characteristic that would be taken up in future works by the group such as “Chobits” and “Tsubasa: Reservoir Chronicle.”

The anime adaptation, “Angelic Layer: Battle Doll” (機動天使エンジェリックレイヤー), composed of 26 episodes and produced by Bones, was broadcast on TV Tokyo from 1 April to 23 September 2001. The series has enjoyed several re-releases, both in video format and as manga, confirming the constant interest in it.

“Angelic Layer” is placed in the same narrative universe as “Chobits”, also by Clamp, touching on issues concerning the relationship between humans and artificial creations. Elements and characters from this series also make appearances in “Tsubasa: Reservoir Chronicle”, creating an interesting interweaving between the various narratives.

Angelic Layer

In 2001, “Angelic Layer” won the Animation Kobe Award for best TV series, a sign of appreciation from both audiences and critics. Reviews generally praised the character design and animation quality, as well as recognizing the value of the themes covered such as friendship and the union between different people through common interests. Despite some less favorable criticism, which compared it to series like "Pokémon" and "Digimon" due to its potentially commercial aspect, the series has managed to conquer a large audience.

“Angelic Layer” presents itself as a significant work in the world of manga and anime, which has managed to combine stylistic innovation and profound themes, while maintaining a connection with the traditions of the genre.

History

Angelic Layer

The story follows Misaki Suzuhara, a thin sixth-grade girl who moves to Tokyo to live with her aunt, Shouko Asami. Upon arriving in the metropolis, in front of Tokyo station, Misaki watches enchanted a duel between two dolls projected on a large screen: it is the first encounter with "Angelic Layer", a very popular game in which the players, called Deus, design and mentally control dolls, called Angels, in special arenas known as “layers”.

Driven by curiosity and by meeting an eccentric character, Icchan, who encourages her to purchase and customize her angel, Misaki gives life to "Hikaru". Inspired by Hikaru Shidō from Clamp's “Magic Knight Rayearth” series (another work by the same authors), Misaki's angel reflects the desire to combine strength and happiness in a figure of modest stature. Despite her inexperience, Misaki soon finds herself competing in Angelic Layer tournaments, under the watchful and protective eye of Icchan, who turns out to be Ichiro Mihara, one of the game's creators.

Angelic Layer

Misaki's path is intertwined with that of new friends such as Hatoko Kobayashi, a kindergarten prodigy and skilled Angelic Layer player, Hatoko's older brother, Kōtarō, and their friend Tamayo Kizaki, a martial arts enthusiast. These encounters not only enrich Misaki's experience in the world of Angelic Layer, but also help her to confront the weight of her past and the mystery that surrounds the figure of her mother, absent since she was little.

The narrative then reveals that Misaki's mother was fundamental in the development of Angelic Layer, working on the creation of perfect prosthetics to combat multiple sclerosis, a disease that forced her into a wheelchair. This personal connection between the game's technology and real life gives the story emotional depth, connecting the desire to overcome one's physical limitations to Misaki's passion and determination in the game.

Angelic Layer

The anime transposition of "Angelic Layer" introduces some variations compared to the manga, including the motivation behind the name of Misaki's angel and different narrative developments. Other differences include the connection between “Angelic Layer” and “Chobits,” another Clamp work, which is explored in greater depth in the manga than in the anime, where the connection is reduced to a single scene.

“Angelic Layer” thus presents itself as a story which, through the veil of science fiction and games, touches on universal themes such as the search for oneself, friendship, overcoming difficulties and the indissoluble bond between parents and children, all set in a contemporary Japan where technology borders on the miraculous.

“Angelic Layer” Technical Sheet

Gender

  • Action
  • Dramatic comedy
  • Science fiction

Manga

  • Author:CLAMP
  • Editor: Kadokawa Shoten
  • Magazine: Monthly Shōnen Ace
  • Target: shounen
  • 1 edition: 1 July 1999 – 1 October 2001
  • Tankōbon: 5 volumes (complete series)
  • Italian publisher: Star Comics
  • Series 1st Italian edition: Express
  • 1st Italian edition: May 13, 2005 – September 13, 2005
  • Italian periodicity: monthly
  • Italian volumes: 5 volumes (complete series)
  • Italian texts: Translation by Rieko Fukuda, Adaptation by Nino Giordano

Anime TV Series

  • Title: Kidō Tenshi Angelic Layer
  • Regia: Hiroshi Nishikiori
  • Manufacturers: Masahiko Minami, Shinsaku Hatta, Taihei Yamanishi
  • Composition of the series: Ichirō Ōkouchi
  • Character design: Takahiro Komori
  • Mecha design: Junya Ishigaki
  • Artistic direction: Nobuto Sakamoto, Takashi Hiruma
  • Music: Kōhei Tanaka
  • Studio: Bones
  • Network: TV Tokyo
  • 1st TV broadcast: 1 April – 23 September 2001
  • Episodes: 26 (complete series)
  • Relationship: 4: 3
  • Episode duration: 24 minutes
  • Episodes in Italy: unpublished

“Angelic Layer” represents a unique fusion of action, dramatic comedy and science fiction elements, bringing to light profound themes through the emotional and competitive journey of young Misaki Suzuhara. The manga series, followed by its anime transposition, continues to be an important point of reference within the Japanese cultural landscape, appreciated both for its engaging narrative and artistic quality.

Gianluigi Piludu

Author of articles, illustrator and graphic designer of the website www.cartonionline.com

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