A Tag-Team Review of “Angelic Layer” – Battling Barbies (Part I)

“Angel Wings! Please guide me and Hikeru!”
– Misaki Suzuhara’s Angel Entry Phrase

Cajun Samurai – [::is standing next to what appears to be Evangelion Unit-01, except with blue armor::] Greetings everyone, and welcome to our tag-team review of “Angelic Layer”. Of course, I’m joined by my best friend and second in command OtakuAndrain.

OtakuAndrain – How’s it going everyone… but… uh, what exactly is this atmosphere?

Cajun Samurai – You mean the insatiable desire to maim, kill, and pound and third-impact the persons or persons responsible for this particular show’s shortcomings?

OtakuAndrain – You’re pretty much going to have taken out everyone you know?

Cajun Samurai – Hence the reason I brought my buddy here; got her from Avis on a free upgrade. Even comes with GPS Navigation.

OtakuAndrain – Right…. So anyway, I’m the calm party this time, bet you all aren’t used to that.

Cajun Samurai – Hai, hai. It’s times like this when I’m thankful for your cool head, because this show really, REALLY took me through some changes. This show is like a bag of popcorn that hasn’t popped all the way–when the microwave cycle is completed, you got some edible bits, but you can’t help but notice all the un-popped kernels at the bottom.

OtakuAndrain – That is one fantastic way to put it. But enough of that, let’s at least tell everyone what we took a look at.

Cajun Samurai – Indeed.

Warnings and Notable Objectionable Content: 

OtakuAndrain – This anime Angelic Layer is mostly safe for all ages. No real anything objectionable. You’re going to be alright watching this no matter your age.

Series Availability: 

Cajun Samurai – Once upon a time, the DVD’s were available in individual volumes from ADV Films; the individual volumes contained commentary tracks with the English cast on each volume. ADV also released a “Thin-Pack” collection with no extras. Finding this one in brick and mortar stores will be difficult; buying this series online is probably the only way to go.

Story and Premise

OtakuAndrain – Shall I start this… I see the rage building?

[::the Evangelion’s eyes begin glowing::]

Cajun Samurai – R-Really? What gave that away?

OtakuAndrain – “Angelic Layer” is the story of Misaki Suzuhara who has just arrived in Tokyo from her grandparent’s house in the country to see quite a spectacle on a huge department store Monitor. Two Dolls fighting a Ferocious battle. The young lady is charmed by this sport known as ‘Angelic Layer’ and catches the attention of a weird guy in a lab coat. Has a new champion been born?

Cajun Samurai – This weird guy, later identified as Icchan, convinces Misaki to take up the sport of ‘Angelic Layer’, and helps her get started by showing her what she needs to buy. But before she has the chance to get more info on how to get started, the police, understandably yet mistakenly think something is wrong with the creepy guy in the toy aisle with a little girl who is NOT her father and haul him away for questioning, leaving Misaki alone. Eventually, she makes her way to her aunts’ apartment (with whom she will be living) and starts down the road of setting up her new doll.

OtakuAndrain – What’s that? We haven’t mentioned why Misaki’s parents appear to be MIA? We usually always make a joke about that? Hahaha… Yeah…

Cajun Samurai – Indeed…Misaki’s father is not really mentioned, but her mother…well…oy.

OtakuAndrain – In any case… The idea of the Tournament is these fighting dolls. Everything about them, in my opinion, is alright. This story just suffers from issues that most of us as Americans just can’t understand, even me in my Otaku ways.

Cajun Samurai – For me, the story suffers because it seems as though it’s been done before. We’ve seen the fighting anime shows before, and those that are done way better than this one. There’s nothing specifically unique or special about this one. I mean, to me, certain elements of this show could be replaced with any other fighter show out there and you wouldn’t notice a real difference. For example, replace the fighting dolls with spinning tops and the female duces with male ones, and you got “Beyblade”.

OtakuAndrain – I’ll be talking about the most interesting part of this anime, the technology utilized a little later in a separate publication, but yeah this is a battle Anime; a classic, and steady genre.

Cajun Samurai – I look forward to that. And while I understand that the battle anime genre is a classic genre, I still feel that there should be something that makes each series stand apart.–something to make the show seem like something fresh and new.

OtakuAndrain – That said, I appreciate the fact they keep it about a game… and don’t make it life or death serial

Cajun Samurai – I feel where you’re coming from. “Angelic Layer” keeps to one set focus–the game. But at times, it seems as though I wanted a little more than the game. There are times when they deviate slightly, like with some romantic interests with the characters, but to me, it seems like it’s clumsily done.

OtakuAndrain – Well… yeah but that’s another staple of the Genre and that’s all CLAMPs trademark. You haven’t enjoyed CLAMP if you don’t enjoy the crazy romance they put into EVERYTHING

Cajun Samurai – That may be, but for this story, I would’ve loved something more than just “The game!!!!! Oh, and some romantic stuff too…whatever…” I wanted more from this series than just fighting. I remember mentioning this to you earlier, but would’ve been interesting if, for example, the ‘angels’ had some sort of AI or communicated in some way…

OtakuAndrain – No because that would have taken away the point of the whole technology which I’ll explain later…

Cajun Samurai – I’m really looking forward to that…now…with regards to the ending…The ending you could see coming 50 miles away…

[::The Evangelion twitches slightly behind him::]

OtakuAndrain – Oh yeah by episode 5 you know exactly how’s it ending. The only thing you wanted to know is “why”… and then that completely kills the ending beyond salvation.

Cajun Samurai – You can say that again. Normally with the ending of a show, I feel SOMETHING. The only thing I felt at the end of this one is my eyes rolling at the sappiness and cliché-ness…I mean, we already knew what was going to happen–all you have to do is watch the opening credits!

OtakuAndrain – Well… I wouldn’t call it so Cliché… there’s still no reason why the story should have gone the way it did…

Cajun Samurai – No reason whatsoever. So, to sum it up; “Angelic Layer” suffers from weak storytelling that leaves you feeling that you’ve seen this whole thing before…and done better. I was looking for more, but sadly couldn’t find it. 6/12.5

OtakuAndrain – I’ll admit I was still sobbing on episode 25 n matter how much I saw it coming, the background plot was bad but it got an emotion packed ending into it so it gets some points 8.5/12.5

Cajun Samurai Score – 6/12.5
OtakuAndrain Score – 8.5/12.5

Favorite Episode/Scenes:

OtakuAndrain – Ah geeze, what is my favorite scene? It’s a tossup between the emotional ending on Episode 25, and that completely insane and uncharacteristic final battle in Episode 26.

Cajun Samurai – Uh-huh…well, for me, one of the only episodes that I can honestly say I enjoyed was episode 21 if for no other reason than the focus was on something other than the game…for the most part. At least it got them into something OTHER than those uniforms…which I will touch on later.

Characters:

OtakuAndrain – We start with Misaki Suzuhara our main character and the Archetype CLAMP Heroine.

Cajun Samurai – Misaki is an adorable character. She’s plucky, loving, and always willing to do her best no matter what. She would be one of my favorite characters…if she wasn’t such a sheep!

OtakuAndrain – She does get taken by the flow, a lot, but that’s reasonable considering the inferiority complex brought about by her upbringing.

Cajun Samurai – Inferiority complex, understandable, but she basically gets taken under wing by this strange older man whom she does not know, and, in the space of a few hours and under his advice, spends ALL of her cash on a game. To me, that spells Sheep!

OtakuAndrain – Ha-ha… ::chuckles a bit:: That’s true… but come on, that guy is extremely convincing.

Cajun Samurai – I will grant you that. Icchan is one very convincing and intriguing character. From the first moment he came on the screen, my Loli-alarm tripped. But over time, I grew to understand him a little more.

OtakuAndrain – Really? I understood fully he only had the best of intentions! So let’s move onto Icchan!

Cajun Samurai – Ichiro “Icchan” Mihara is the creator of the ‘Angelic Layer’ game, and is also the company in charge of its creation; “Piffle Company”.

OtakuAndrain – I’ll expound on his genius later unless you were really paying attention last time when we showed he was also the creator of the Chobits…of course as much as he is a genius… He’s one completely insane guy.

Cajun Samurai – He is not the kind of person I would like to have as my boss…or anything else that would have me as his subordinate. But, there is a method to his madness…He has a plan behind most of the moves he make. Yet other times…oy.

OtakuAndrain – If you fail him be ready for a penalty game…. hahaha. He does hold a lot of wisdom behind him through and is a great go-to guy!

Cajun Samurai – Now we move onto Misaki’s classmates…

[::the right hand of the Evangelion clinches into a fist::]

Cajun Samurai – Calm down…not yet…in any case, let’s start with Tamayo Kizaki…

OtakuAndrain – Token Tomboy right here and I LOVE this girl! She’s got genki in every cell of her body.

Cajun Samurai – This girl rocks my freaking socks. She is the one character that I can honestly say I enjoyed throughout the series.

OtakuAndrain – Oh hell yes! It hard to be her friend though as our next guy knows.

Cajun Samurai – Kotaro Kobayashi…walking, talking punching bag. I have to admit…for me, it’s a case of “Why are you here again?”

OtakuAndrain – Once again another problem for CLAMP, he’s there to guarantee the happiness of the guaranteed favorite Tamayo.

Cajun Samurai – Just as I thought. He’s only Tamayo-Fodder. You know how much I hate characters that are there just to be there and don’t contribute anything. He’s pretty much Tamayo-Chan’s arm candy and Hatoko’s butler.

OtakuAndrain – Clamp does that a LOT you can’t let it get to you. I like the poor sucker though.

Cajun Samurai – As a character…he’s passable. If he had his own show then maybe I would give it the time of day. But as he is in this show…negative. Age him a few years, give him a little cute persocom, and shuttle him to another series and maybe you got something. Oh…wait…THEY DID THAT!

OtakuAndrain – Hahaha, finally I suppose we should talk about the legendary rival…

Cajun Samurai – Hatoko Kobayashi; the Miracle Kindergartner. Let that sink in. This girl is all of 5 years old, and she has the skills to play a game as complex as “Layer”.

OtakuAndrain – I like her a little bit but she’s too stuck up and annoying… to start with but I can’t argue her battle tactics and to be honest she and I share the same Combat strategy so… I can’t help but like her a little bit… and she becomes less of a problem as time goes on.

Cajun Samurai – The problem I have with Hatoko is the fact that…well…SHE’S FIVE YEARS OLD AND IN KINDERGARDEN! This girl should be learning ABC’s 123’s and colors…

OtakuAndrain – She’s got to be something more bro. There are smart kids out there.

Cajun Samurai – Dude…this girl goes beyond just being “smart”. We see this girl come up with complex battle plans, maneuvers and strategies that leave ADULTS in awe.

OtakuAndrain – So does everyone in this show.

Cajun Samurai – I am aware that there are intelligent kids out there…I can accept that…but she has only been on the earth for five freaking years! Dude, the girls from “Hanamaru Kindergarten” are around that same age! No, I’m not giving this one a pass. Negative! That’s beyond the stretch of logic.

OtakuAndrain – Yeah, yeah… Like I said everyone in this show goes far beyond expected capabilities.

Cajun Samurai – Okay. So are we forgetting anyone…

OtakuAndrain – Of the main cast, not really, but there are others, Auntie Shoko, the main opponents and the fodder.

Cajun Samurai – One word–forgettable, forgettable, and forgettable. Honestly, there were times in the show where I forgot all about Auntie…

OtakuAndrain – That’s not fair but it’s ok. No one else to mention in the scope of this review. You’re hitting this show hard.

Cajun Samurai – And you know what–we’re only half way through. To summarize, the characters of “Angelic Layer”, for better or worse, are a good fit for the story it’s trying to tell. However, as I have consistently stated–extra characters that serve no purpose get no love. And I really, REALLY can’t wrap my mind around a 5-Year-Old being able to do all the things that Hatoko can. Loli’s may like it, but not this Cajun Otaku. 6.5/12.5

OtakuAndrain – I found the variety a lot more appealing, I can turn a blind eye to crazy thing like middle school kids piloting giant robots. The characters were vibrant and it’s good to have a large cast even if most of them were fodder with backstories. 9.5/12.5

Cajun Samurai Score – 6.5/12.5
OtakuAndrain Score – 9.5/12.5

[And that’s Part 1 of our “Angelic Layer” Tag-Team review! Honestly, there’s a lot of material to cover–too much for one post! So look out on tomorrow when we discuss Animation, Music and Performances in Part 2! Bye-nii!]

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4 thoughts on “A Tag-Team Review of “Angelic Layer” – Battling Barbies (Part I)

  1. And there goes Cajun, currently hating on my childhood with his ratings lol

    Ok to be fair I haven’t watched Angelic Layer since high school, so it may or may not hold up well today. But it seemed to be pretty solid show, so I’m interested in what else you and Andrain think about it 🙂

    1. Sorry, sorry! But I would rather be brutally honest regarding an anime than sugar-coat it good sir.

      This show came out around the early 2000’s; even for it’s time, it was starting to get dated with the whole “Fighting (Insert Fighting Object Here)” genre. Maybe if it came out a little earlier, it would earn a spot in my heart for nostalgia purposes, but as it stands now, it’s just a lackluster series.

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