What’s it about ?
In the future, the latest Serious Business fad is a combat through hi-tech dolls sport called “Angelic Layer”. Cue start of your standard battle series. But since we’re adapting a CLAMP manga, all the fighters (and their dolls) seem to be female.
Misaki, our 12-year-old ingenue protagonist, fresh off the countryside and new to the whole thing. It’s heavily implied that her long-estranged mother (whom she hasn’t seen since kindergarten) is the current Angelic Layer champion. She was brought up by her grandparents, but has come to Tokyo to live with…
Shoko, her aunt. But don’t call her that, or she’ll agressively point out she’s still in her twenties. It’s obvious she doesn’t approve of her sister’s behaviour regarding Misaki.
There’s a quirky scientist dude (introducing himself as “Icchan”) stalking Misaki at the train station, and helping her buy her own Angelic Layer doll (you can apparently buy them at your local mart). He’s kinda creepy, to be honest, although the charitable view is that he’s betting on her to be a future champion (he knows about her mother). He does get hauled off by the cops halfway through the episode, as a store clerk did find him quite creepy too.
The OP and ED sequences suggest that Misaki is going to make some friends at her school and start going into tournaments, but we’re not there yet.
It’s a Bones series, so it was bound to look at least good (although this is one of their lesser efforts). I’ve always found their work polished but a bit artistically sterile, and they certainly seem to overpower the CLAMP influence here.
It’s a battle anime. It’d have a hard time convincing me to continue watching it on any day.
Now, it does quite a lot to sell me on Misaki as a character, and her broken family background does hold some interest. The creepy scientist at least makes the exposition a bit less clunky than usual, and there’s a genuine sense of wonder about the whole Angelic Layer system. It certainly sounds like a fun toy.
But, at the end of the day, it’s a battle anime. Certainly above average, but it’s obvious the series will continue into the obligatory tournaments, with our underdog prodigy quickly moving up the ranks (thanks to her deep connection with her doll) until a cathartic reunion battle with her mother. I feel like I’ve already watched the whole series, and thus I can’t bring myself to really care.
Still, points for trying.