[[quoteright:240:http://static.tvtropes.org/pmwiki/pub/images/angeliclayer.jpg]]

->''Angel wings, please guide me and Hikaru!''

A typical shounen TournamentArc series, save that it's done by Creator/{{CLAMP}} (and was, incidentally, their first series directed at a male audience), has a predominantly female cast without being a BishoujoSeries, and involves fighting dolls controlled by the player's mind.

Suzuhara Misaki is the new girl at Eriol Academy, living with her aunt Shouko in Tokyo after growing up with her grandparents. Her mother, Shuuko, has been so busy with work in Tokyo that Misaki hasn't seen her since she was five years old, but she refuses to feel sad about it or look into her mom's whereabouts, feeling that she'd be a burden. Upon arriving in Tokyo, she sees a crowd gathered around a screen playing an intense match between two fighting dolls, called Angels, in a game called Angelic Layer. With some persuasion from a MadScientist, Misaki jumps at the chance to get her own Angel and start competing nationally.

Besides the twists to the formula, ''Angelic Layer'' starts out like a regular shounen adventure series of the same mold. Misaki meets new friends, begins to fight and realizes that she has a vast, incredible talent for the game. All the while, the MadScientist Icchan is watching her progress in the tournament, revealing to the audience the reason that he cares so much about Angelic Layer and about this particular little girl.

The manga treats certain plot elements completely different from the anime, which also makes big changes to the battle system later on. Either is recommended, as while the anime's changes make more sense later on, the manga is still quite good.

''Angelic Layer'' is either an AlternateContinuity or {{prequel}} to ''Manga/{{Chobits}}'' and ''{{Kobato}}.''

It is also notable for being one of the first {{Shounen}} series to innovatively break genre conventions and feature a ''female'' leading protagonist, a trend which eventually caught on and appeared in franchises such as ''ChronoCrusade'' and ''SoulEater''.

Despite the ''very'' similar premise, no relation to ''VideoGame/CustomRobo'', which first appeared a mere six months after the manga.
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!!This program provides examples of:
* TheAbridgedSeries
* AbuseIsOkayWhenItsFemaleOnMale: See AttackHello below.
* ActionMom: [[spoiler:Shuuko.]]
* AdaptationExpansion: In adapting a short, five-volume manga series into a 26-episode anime series ([[OvertookTheManga and before the manga even ended, no less!]]), a lot of content had to be added to pad the show out. BONES opted to provide a few new characters, improved development, backstory and personality for existing characters, a more arc-based narrative (as opposed to the defined beginning, middle and end of the manga), and even [[spoiler: a more tragic explanation as to why Misaki's mother can't see her.]] And astoundingly, [[TropesAreTools fans and critics alike have both been rather supportive of these changes]].
* AliceAllusion: Arisu and the angel she named after herself.
* ApologeticAttacker: Misaki.
* AttackHello: Tamayo whenever she meets Koutarou. ''Every. Single. Time.''
* AwesomeByAnalysis: Easily Misaki's strongest attribute.
* BadassAdorable: Misaki, Hatoko, and Kaede, at least as Dei.
* BarbieDollAnatomy: For the dolls, obviously.
* BarrierWarrior: Wizard.
* BeachEpisode: And it's not filler!
* TheBechdelTest: Passes with flying colors, thanks in part on how it's a shonen series that places ladies as the fighters' majority.
* {{Bishonen}}: Surprisingly sparse when compared to [=CLAMP=]'s other works, but Oujiro and his Angel, Wizard, definitely count.
* BlowYouAway: Ranga, who's also a DanceBattler.
* BunnyEarsLawyer: Icchan.
* ButtMonkey: Ogata, Iccan's subordinate. The things he is "[[CoolAndUnusualPunishment penalized]]" for are rarely his fault, though Icchan never seems to care.
* CallingYourBathroomBreaks: Tamayo does this a couple of times early in the series, usually to show that she's still pretty childish. As she matures over the course of the series, she eventually stops.
* CannotSpitItOut: Icchan, toward [[spoiler:Shuuko. Eventually, he manages to confess his feelings, even going as far as ''asking her to marry him''. We never hear her answer.]]
* CatchPhrase: Misaki's "Naaa!" whenever she gets surprised, and Icchan's "Icchan nyoro!" whenever he's trying to surprise Misaki.
* ChickMagnet: Oujiro.
* ChildhoodFriendRomance: Kotaro and Tamayo in the anime.
* ChineseGirl: Not by ethnicity, but Madoka and Arisu dress as such and Madoka's Angel, Mao, is a Chinese-themed {{catgirl}}.
* ChivalrousPervert: Oujiro in the manga.
* ChristmasCake: Shoko.
* ClingyJealousGirl: Tamayo towards both [[LesYay Misaki]] and Koutarou, more so in the anime for the latter.
* CompanionCube: The Angels. They may seem like {{Mons}} at first glance, but the whole point is that they're really just dolls who can only move on the Layer. Shuuko points out that treating one's Angel as a CompanionCube is required to fully enjoy the game.
* ContinuityNod: The various one-shot characters who Misaki faces over the course of the series all show up as spectators to the final fight between [[spoiler: Athena and Hikaru]].
* CoolAndUnusualPunishment: Icchan's subordinate Ogata often gets penalized for things that go wrong, with punishments including making him eat spaghetti through his nose and dropping a live octopus down his pants.
* CurbStompBattle: Pretty much any fight that Misaki isn't in. Or isn't between two supporting characters (see SpoilerOpening below. Especially if [[spoiler:Athena]] is involved).
* DavidVersusGoliath: Most battles Hikaru gets involved in.
* DefeatMeansFriendship: Happens after just about every single fight.
* DittoFighter: Hikaru, due to Misaki possessing the gift of AwesomenessByAnalysis.
* DoggedNiceGuy: Kotarou.
* ElevatorSchool
* EmotionlessGirl: Sai comes across as this.
* EngagingConversation: Both Shouko and Tamayo say it... to ''Misaki''.
* EvenTheGirlsWantHer: Sai.
* ExplosiveOverclocking: Kaede's Angel Blanche and Sai's Angel Shirahime both have "Hyper Mode", which maxes their power but risks destroying the Angel's core components permanently the longer it is used. In the manga, where only Blanche has the capability, it's risk-free.
* {{Expy}}: Hikaru is is an expy of [[MagicKnightRayearth Clamp's other Hikaru]].
** Misaki can be seen as one to [[Manga/CardcaptorSakura Sakura]].
* FacialMarkings
* FightingSeries: Though the main focus is still the drama that happens ''outside'' of combat.
* FlashStep: A favored technique of Blanche.
* ForegoneConclusion: Anyone who knows about the connection between this and {{Chobits}} knows that Shuuko and Icchan's relationship is [[FailureIsTheOnlyOption doomed before it begins.]]
** Although, one should take into account the anime can easily be interpreted as taking place as a separate and alternate timeline from the manga considering how many differences there are.
* FragileSpeedster: Hikaru. Misaki made her with the express intent of wanting to be small, yet cool.
* GenkiGirl: Tamayo.
* GiantPoofySleeves: Athena. With [[SpikesOfVillainy spikes]].
* GirlishPigtails: Arisa.
* GratuitousEnglish: Entry Angeeeeeel!
* HairColors: Surprisingly, most everyone has [[RealIsBrown realistic]] hair colors, with examples like Ringo's being justified in that she's an IdolSinger. Only the Angels have really unnatural hair shades, but they are dolls after all.
* HiddenEyes: Athena.
* HimeCut: Hatoko, and by extension Suzuka.
* HotScientist: Eccentricities aside, Icchan counts.
* HotScoop: Shoko.
* HugeSchoolgirl
* IHaveTheHighGround
* IdolSinger: Ringo Seto.
* IllGirl:
** In the anime, [[spoiler:Shuuko; she's in a wheelchair, and this is the true reason why she left Misaki]].
** Also Sai's little sister, who exists only in the anime.
* InTheNameOfTheMoon: In the anime, everybody is required to come up with a quick blurb for when their Angels enter the Layer.
* IndirectKiss
* InvincibleHero: Misaki only faces one major loss in the entire series. [[JustifiedTrope Jusified]] in that the series itself takes place during a single tournament. When she lost, the tournament was at a stage were losing didn't immediately result in elimination.
* ItIsPronouncedTropay: "Kaede" should really be pronounced "KAH-eh-deh", however, the dub pronounces it more like "Katie".
* LightningBruiser: Suzuka and Blanche.
* LikesOlderWomen: Oujiro is in love with [[spoiler:Shuuko, though his feelings eventually shift to Misaki.]]
* LimitedWardrobe: Ringo, especially galling since she is supposed to be an IdolSinger, who are known to be fashion plates. In the manga, pretty much everyone.
* LittleMissBadass: Hatoko is a top-level Deus despite being in kindergarten.
* LoadsAndLoadsOfCharacters: And that's not even counting the Angels!
* LockedOutOfTheLoop: Misaki
* {{Lolicon}}: PlayedForLaughs by showing the typical reaction of fans of various ages -- a man in the audience screams how he loves Misaki.
* LukeIAmYourFather
* MadScientist: Icchan is a non-evil example.
* {{Meganekko}}: Kaede.
* MissionControl
* [[DaddyHadAGoodReasonForAbandoningYou Mommy Had A Good Reason For Abandoning You]]: [[spoiler:Shuuko isn't in Misaki's life because of a crippling fear of her own inadequacy. In the anime, she's very ill and confined to a wheelchair.]]
* MyNameIsInigoMontoya
* MysteriousParent
* MysteriousProtector
* NoGuyWantsAnAmazon
* ObaSan: Shouko refuses to be called this, despite actually being Misaki's aunt, [[ChristmasCake because it makes her feel old]].
* TheOneGuy: Oujirou is the only male Deus shown in the manga and the only one who matters in the anime.
* {{Odango}}: Madoka.
* TheOnlyOneAllowedToDefeatYou: Hatoko and Misaki to each other. And Madoka feels this way towards Hatoko
* PaperThinDisguise: Ringo's attempts to escape from her manager leave a lot to be desired
* PimpedOutCape: Misaki and Hikaru each wear one as tournament champions at the end of the manga.
* PinkySwear: Misaki and Hatoko's promise
* PowerCopying: Misaki/Hikaru, once again due to Misaki's gift of AwesomeByAnalysis.
* PowerGivesYouWings
* PrestigiousPlayerTitle: A player is referred to as a "Deus".
* RaisedByGrandparents: Misaki.
* ReplacementGoldfish: [[spoiler:Icchan]]'s hidden agenda.
* RobotGirl: The angels, naturally.
* RomanticTwoGirlFriendship: Misaki and Hatoko's friendship occasionally borders on this.
** Sai and Kaede's as well.
* ScaryShinyGlasses: Icchan is quite the expert at this.
* SecretLegacy
* SeriousBusiness: Subverted. There are a number of Dei who treat Angelic Layer as SeriousBusiness, but according to a number of characters, including the man who invented the game itself, they're doing it wrong and should just be having fun.
* ShipperOnDeck: Tamayo apparently thinks this way about Misaki and Koutarou.
* ShockAndAwe: Athena.
* {{Shorttank}}: Tamayo.
* ShoutOut:
** Hikaru is actually based on Shidou Hikaru, the heroine of ''MagicKnightRayearth''; also, Eriol Academy is named after Hiiragizawa Eriol from ''Manga/CardcaptorSakura''. Plus the manga has newspaper clips of how the CLAMPSchoolDetectives have vowed to investigate the disappearance of three girls from Tokyo Tower (Another ''Rayearth'' ref.)
** There are also two points in the manga where Misaki is shown singing the anime theme tunes for CLAMP School Detectives and Rayearth season 2.
** The show's title is a shout out to ''[[MobileSuitGundam Kidou Senshi Gundam]]''.
* ShrinkingViolet: [[spoiler:Shuuko. In the manga, this is more or less the reason why she left Misaki.]]
* SmokeShield
* TheSpeechless: Angels aren't even programmed for battle grunts.
* SpoilerOpening: The opening contains clips of the final climactic battle. Also, if you want to know if Misaki's current opponent is just a one-shot character, or has a bigger role in the story... if they don't show up in the opening, they're a one-shot.
* StealthHiBye: Icchan loves doing this to Misaki.
* StockFootage: The "Entry Angel" sequences.
* SugarAndIcePersonality: Probably a more apt description of Sai; as Kaede points out, she is fiercely driven under the ice queen exterior.
* ThrowTheDogABone: After spending the entirety of the series as the ButtMonkey, Ogata eventually [[CrowningMomentOfAwesome gets back at Icchan]] during the BeachEpisode by putting him through the exact same treatment that he constantly endured. It's also heavily implied that he [[spoiler:hooks up with Fujimori]] at the end of the series.
* TomboyishSidetails
* [[TournamentArc Tournament Series]]: The entire series is basically one big TournamentArc.
* TricksterMentor: Icchan is a perfect example of this.
* TwoScenesOneDialogue
* WaifFu: Hikaru, along with other smaller Angels.
* WhereAreTheyNowEpilogue
* WingedHumanoid: Athena; in the anime, filler character Eagle, Hikaru in the opening, and [[spoiler:Hikaru again in the last battle.]]
* WiseBeyondTheirYears: Hatoko, though she does relapse on occasion.
* WomanInBlack: Suzuka.
* WomanInWhite: [[MeaningfulName Blanche, Shirahime,]] and Athena.
* WorldOfActionGirls: The only notable male combatant is Oujiro/Wizard.
* ZettaiRyouiki: The Eriol Academy girl's uniform.
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