Angelic Layer Manga, Volume 2 (English)

April 22nd, 2013

layer2I’ve uncovered a trend in my reading. For most of the manga I’ve read, that have an associated anime, I prefer the anime. If you asked me if I’m a manga reader or an anime watcher, I’d tell you I read way more manga than I watch anime. And that’s true. But for the small subset of anime that is also manga, scanning my shelves, I realize I much prefer the anime.

This certainly holds true for Angelic Layer. The reason I reviewed Volume 1, I said, would be revealed in Volume 2. Only, it isn’t. Huh?

Volume 2 follows Misaki as she defeats stronger and more skilled opponents with pluck and determination and the willingness to have Hikaru beaten badly. But hey, she wins, so rawr! And at last she meets the plot complication of the creepy woman who has been stalking her throughout – who, to no one’s surprise turns out to be her mother. The book comes to an end with a jump for joy at how wonderful life is. Nothing bad about it, if not inspired. The art is rather more thick lines and obscure motion than later CLAMP and the tropes are laid on heavily, so three pages are spent on obsessing about Misaki’s underwear and Kotaro’s obvious (but unexpressed) feelings. At the same time. So yeah, a tad ham-handed.

Ultimately the reasons I was left feeling a bit disappointed with the manga came down to two things. In the anime, Misaki’s mother is confined to a wheelchair and is, therefore, painfully embarrassed to be seen by her daughter. In 1999, this was a plot complication that made some sense. Japan was not at all handicap-accessible. Now I’d rank their subway as a million times better than, say, New York or London. (I can’t for the life of me figure out what wheelchair users do in London. There were no ramps, no escalators, no elevators in most of the stations I was in last December.) It was already a little tired, but manga is always behind on social trends. So, fine. In the manga, Mom is just painfully embarrassed around people she loves. Eye-rollingly dumb, but there we go.

The thing that really irked me was that the one relationship I was looking forward to was completely and utterly missing from the manga – and it surprised the heck out of me, as CLAMP is usually all over a little Yuri-service. I’m sure you all understood that “Lady Sai”‘s fangirls were all screaming “Sai-sama!” in the original.  In the anime and some of the incidental art I have seen, (at least one image of which I believe is a CLAMP original) pairs her and Kaede.  I had never read the Tokyopop edition of the manga and just presumed it would be in the story. Bummer. Sorry.

Ratings:

Art  – 7 Not CLAMP’s best work, not their worst
Story – 7 Same, except when the foreshadowing stick is being applied too heavily
Characters – Another thing the anime did was give secondary characters more time. This manga might have benefited from that, as well
Yuri – Screw it, I’m counting Sai and Kaede anyway, and there’s still Tamayo’s shrill, but empty statements. So ugh, 5
Service – 7 Three pages of underwear obsession had me reaching for a knife…

Overall – 7

If this series could be bowlderized properly, and all the incredibly tedious bits taken out, I’d give it to a child I like.  As it is, it’s better than X, but not as good as Card Captor Sakura on the CLAMP-o-meter. ^_^

Many, many thanks to Okazu Superhero Amanda M for sponsporing today’s review!!

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2 Responses

  1. dm00 says:

    I haven’t seen the anime, and checked the manga out of the library based on your volume one teaser. I was wondering what you had been looking forward to.

    I’m not complaining. It was a harmless and enjoyable little series, though not one of CLAMP’s best.

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