Are you a CLAMP fan? Were you watching anime around 2001? Are you a reader of Shounen Ace magazine? If you answered “no” to any or all of these, you may never have seen or read CLAMP’s Angelic Layer when it first made its appearance in anime or manga.
Don’t despair, because Dark Horse is re-releasing this turn-of-the-century manga title in omnibus form. In Volume 1 of Angelic Layer, we are introduced to Misaki, a recent transfer to the big city to live with her aunt Shoko. Misaki discovers a popular virtual reality fighting game, ‘Angelic Layer’ and immediately displays an unusual talent for the thing.
Misaki’s talent, it is implied, is not accidental at all. Just where she gets her aptitude from is, by the end of Volume 1 unstated. Unstated, but if you’re older than 12, you should have no trouble seeing the giant foreshadowing bat as it is slammed down upon your head repeatedly as you read. ^_^
Anyone familiar with CLAMP’s better-known epic, Card Captor Sakura, might be forgiven for making a comparison between these two series, but they are less similar than they might appear. Angelic Layer is more of a boy’s battle game series than a magical girl series. Sadly, technology was not yet up to the vision of ‘Angelic Layer’ when it was first published. There’s no doubt in my mind that, had there been the ability to create a virtual fighting game like Angelic Layer, CLAMP would already be living on their castle on the Moon with the wealth they would have made from it. Because, as manga, go, the main attraction of Angelic Layer is not the characters, who are all pretty stock, even for CLAMP, but the game itself. It’s a cool game idea and one I am still waiting for someone to manifest properly. ^_^
Okay, so, why am I reviewing this manga here on Okazu?
Misaki’s new best friend Tamayo (! – Okay, I take it back, go ahead, compare it to CCS) makes declarations of love and proposals to Misaki, but this is played for yucks and isn’t meant seriously. However, at the very end of the volume, Misaki will face the uber-cool, butchy Sai, after defeating the graceful but strong Kaede, Sai’s teammate. It is noted that “Sai-sama’s” fans are mostly girls. But even that isn’t why I’m reviewing Volume 1. I’m reviewing Volume 1, so you will read it and be ready for what happens in Volume 2. ^_^
Art – CLAMP in CCS mode – 8
Story – Not terribly innovative and there’s some tiresome stuff, so let’s say – 6
Characters – 7
Yuri – 1
Service – Emotional more than physical – 3
Overall – 7