Anime: Kidou Tenshi Angelic Layer
Angel wings, please guide me and Hikaru!
A typical shounen Tournament Arc
series, save that it's done by CLAMP
(and was, incidentally, their first series directed at a male audience), has a predominantly female cast without being a Bishoujo Series
, 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 Mad Scientist
, 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 Mad Scientist
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 Alternate Continuity
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 Chrono Crusade
and Soul Eater
Despite the very
similar premise, no relation to Custom Robo
, which first appeared a mere six months after the manga.
This program provides examples of:
- Action Mom: Shuuko.
- Adaptation Expansion: In adapting a short, five-volume manga series into a 26-episode anime series (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 a more tragic explanation as to why Misaki's mother can't see her. And astoundingly, fans and critics alike have both been rather supportive of these changes.
- Alice Allusion: Arisu and the angel she named after herself.
- Apologetic Attacker: Misaki.
- Attack Hello: Tamayo whenever she meets Koutarou. Every. Single. Time.
- Awesome by Analysis: Easily Misaki's strongest attribute.
- Badass Adorable: Misaki, Hatoko, and Kaede, at least as Dei.
- Barbie Doll Anatomy: For the dolls, obviously.
- Barrier Warrior: Wizard.
- Beach Episode: And it's not filler!
- Bishōnen: Surprisingly sparse when compared to CLAMP's other works, but Oujiro and his Angel, Wizard, definitely count.
- Blow You Away: Ranga, who's also a Dance Battler.
- Bunny-Ears Lawyer: Icchan.
- Butt Monkey: Ogata, Iccan's subordinate. The things he is "penalized" for are rarely his fault, though Icchan never seems to care.
- Calling Your Bathroom Breaks: 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.
- Cannot Spit It Out: Icchan, toward Shuuko. Eventually, he manages to confess his feelings, even going as far as asking her to marry him. We never hear her answer.
- Catch Phrase: Misaki's "Naaa!" whenever she gets surprised, and Icchan's "Icchan nyoro!" whenever he's trying to surprise Misaki.
- Chick Magnet: Oujiro.
- Childhood Friend Romance: Kotaro and Tamayo in the anime.
- Chinese Girl: Not by ethnicity, but Madoka and Arisu dress as such and Madoka's Angel, Mao, is a Chinese-themed catgirl.
- Chivalrous Pervert: Oujiro in the manga.
- Christmas Cake: Shoko.
- Clingy Jealous Girl: Tamayo towards both Misaki and Koutarou, more so in the anime for the latter.
- Companion Cube: 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 Companion Cube is required to fully enjoy the game.
- Continuity Nod: The various one-shot characters who Misaki faces over the course of the series all show up as spectators to the final fight between Athena and Hikaru.
- Cool and Unusual Punishment: 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.
- Curb-Stomp Battle: Pretty much any fight that Misaki isn't in. Or isn't between two supporting characters (see Spoiler Opening below. Especially if Athena is involved).
- David Versus Goliath: Most battles Hikaru gets involved in.
- Defeat Means Friendship: Happens after just about every single fight.
- Disappeared Dad: besides Misakis' aunt and mother, where are the rest of the parents of every child?
- Ditto Fighter: Hikaru, due to Misaki possessing the gift of Awesomeness by Analysis.
- Dogged Nice Guy: Kotarou.
- Elevator School
- Emotionless Girl: Sai comes across as this.
- Engaging Conversation: Both Shouko and Tamayo say it... to Misaki.
- Even the Girls Want Her: Sai.
- Explosive Overclocking: 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 Clamp's other Hikaru.
- Misaki can be seen as one to Sakura.
- Facial Markings
- Fighting Series: Though the main focus is still the drama that happens outside of combat.
- Flash Step: A favored technique of Blanche.
- Foregone Conclusion: Anyone who knows about the connection between this and Chobits knows that Shuuko and Icchan's relationship is 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.
- Fragile Speedster: Hikaru. Misaki made her with the express intent of wanting to be small, yet cool.
- Genki Girl: Tamayo.
- Giant Poofy Sleeves: Athena. With spikes.
- Girlish Pigtails: Arisa.
- Gratuitous English: Entry Angeeeeeel!
- Hair Colors: Surprisingly, most everyone has realistic hair colors, with examples like Ringo's being justified in that she's an Idol Singer. Only the Angels have really unnatural hair shades, but they are dolls after all.
- Hidden Eyes: Athena.
- Hime Cut: Hatoko, and by extension Suzuka.
- Hot Scientist: Eccentricities aside, Icchan counts.
- Hot Scoop: Shoko.
- Huge Schoolgirl
- I Have the High Ground
- Idol Singer: Ringo Seto.
- Ill Girl:
- In the anime, 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.
- In the Name of the Moon: In the anime, everybody is required to come up with a quick blurb for when their Angels enter the Layer.
- Indirect Kiss
- Invincible Hero: Misaki only faces one major loss in the entire series. 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.
- It Is Pronounced Tropay: "Kaede" should really be pronounced "KAH-eh-deh", however, the dub pronounces it more like "Katie".
- Lightning Bruiser: Suzuka and Blanche.
- Likes Older Women: Oujiro is in love with Shuuko, though his feelings eventually shift to Misaki.
- Limited Wardrobe: Ringo, especially galling since she is supposed to be an Idol Singer, who are known to be fashion plates. In the manga, pretty much everyone.
- Little Miss Badass: Hatoko is a top-level Deus despite being in kindergarten.
- Loads and Loads of Characters: And that's not even counting the Angels!
- Locked Out of the Loop: Misaki
- Lolicon: Played for Laughs by showing the typical reaction of fans of various ages — a man in the audience screams how he loves Misaki.
- Luke, I Am Your Father
- Mad Scientist: Icchan is a non-evil example.
- Meganekko: Kaede.
- Mission Control
- Mommy Had A Good Reason For Abandoning You: 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.
- My Name Is Inigo Montoya
- Mysterious Parent
- Mysterious Protector
- No Guy Wants an Amazon
- Oba-san: Shouko refuses to be called this, despite actually being Misaki's aunt, because it makes her feel old.
- The One Guy: Oujirou is the only male Deus shown in the manga and the only one who matters in the anime.
- Odango: Madoka.
- The Only One Allowed to Defeat You: Hatoko and Misaki to each other. And Madoka feels this way towards Hatoko
- Paper-Thin Disguise: Ringo's attempts to escape from her manager leave a lot to be desired
- Pimped Out Cape: Misaki and Hikaru each wear one as tournament champions at the end of the manga.
- Pinky Swear: Misaki and Hatoko's promise
- Power Copying: Misaki/Hikaru, once again due to Misaki's gift of Awesome by Analysis.
- Power Gives You Wings
- Prestigious Player Title: A player is referred to as a "Deus".
- Raised by Grandparents: Misaki.
- Replacement Goldfish: Icchan's hidden agenda.
- Robot Girl: The angels, naturally.
- Romantic Two-Girl Friendship: Misaki and Hatoko's friendship occasionally borders on this.
- Scary Shiny Glasses: Icchan is quite the expert at this.
- Secret Legacy
- Serious Business: Subverted. There are a number of Dei who treat Angelic Layer as Serious Business, 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.
- Shipper on Deck: Tamayo apparently thinks this way about Misaki and Koutarou.
- Shock and Awe: Athena.
- Shorttank: Tamayo.
- Hikaru is actually based on Shidou Hikaru, the heroine of Magic Knight Rayearth; also, Eriol Academy is named after Hiiragizawa Eriol from Cardcaptor Sakura. Plus the manga has newspaper clips of how the CLAMP School Detectives 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 Kidou Senshi Gundam.
- Shrinking Violet: Shuuko. In the manga, this is more or less the reason why she left Misaki.
- Smoke Shield
- The Speechless: Angels aren't even programmed for battle grunts.
- Spoiler Opening: 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.
- Stealth Hi/Bye: Icchan loves doing this to Misaki.
- Stock Footage: The "Entry Angel" sequences.
- Sugar and Ice Personality: Probably a more apt description of Sai; as Kaede points out, she is fiercely driven under the ice queen exterior.
- Throw the Dog a Bone: After spending the entirety of the series as the Butt Monkey, Ogata eventually gets back at Icchan during the Beach Episode by putting him through the exact same treatment that he constantly endured. It's also heavily implied that he hooks up with Fujimori at the end of the series.
- Tomboyish Sidetails
- Tournament Series: The entire series is basically one big Tournament Arc.
- Trickster Mentor: Icchan is a perfect example of this.
- Two Scenes, One Dialogue
- Waif-Fu: Hikaru, along with other smaller Angels.
- "Where Are They Now?" Epilogue
- Winged Humanoid: Athena; in the anime, filler character Eagle, Hikaru in the opening, and Hikaru again in the last battle.
- Wise Beyond Their Years: Hatoko, though she does relapse on occasion.
- Woman in Black: Suzuka.
- Woman in White: Blanche, Shirahime, and Athena.
- World of Action Girls: The only notable male combatant is Oujiro/Wizard.
- Zettai Ryouiki: The Eriol Academy girl's uniform.