Angel Sanctuary -

Anime/Manga Reviews

Mania Grade: A-

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  • Audio Rating: B+
  • Video Rating: N/A
  • Packaging Rating: B+
  • Menus Rating: B+
  • Extras Rating: A-
  • Age Rating: 15 & Up
  • Region: 1 - North America
  • Released By: Central Park Media
  • MSRP: 29.99
  • Running time: 90
  • Aspect Ratio: 1.33:1
  • Disc Resolution: 480i/p (mixed/unknown)
  • Disc Encoding: MPEG-2
  • Series: Angel Sanctuary

Angel Sanctuary

By Chris Beveridge     July 10, 2001
Release Date: July 10, 2001

Angel Sanctuary
© Central Park Media

What They Say
A beautiful angel wages war against God ? and loses. Reborn as a human boy, Setsuna struggles with visions and supernatural powers. Angels and demons flock to his awakening, spoiling for battle. Will Setsuna lead them to the apocalypse, or to salvation?

The Review!
Having read precious little about this show, its origins or anything about its creative team, I wasn't particularly eager to pop this disc in the player. But it's fairly short with three OVA's (and real OVA length of about 27 minutes each or more) so we started it up during a night when we got a late start.

Wow. Was I wrong.

For our primary viewing session, we listened to this disc in its original language of Japanese. This is a fairly sweet sounding track that, while still being simply a stereo mix, has a fair amount of oomph in a number of sequences as well as having some good clarity for the higher pitched sounds that are scattered about. Dialogue is nice and clear and there weren't any obvious problems with the track. I did listen to the English track while writing part of the review, and noted no issues there either.

With this show being done in 2000, the animation is very current, and being a Bandai Visual OVA show, it's got some gorgeous looking animation. It also uses a digital camera panning style similar to that of Sol Bianca: The Legacy, which I just love. The only downside to it in the encoding here is that during some of the camera pans, the backgrounds get slightly fuzzy and almost pixellated. There's a couple of minor rainbows in a few scenes that cause some jaggies, such as one that made the main characters mouth look a little blocky, but overall I found very little to really complain about. This disc looked really sweet on our setup. The colors were lush, the backgrounds looked great and the digital side to things was great.

The front cover is very shojou-esque with the pretty boy lead with his wings full out and the feathers blowing all over. There's probably a bit more text on the front than necessary though. The back cover has a few more pictures and a brief summary. More time is given to the features. There's also mention of X and, ick, Earthian. Earthian's almost ruined me for shows about Angels. The reverse side side of the cover has a nice black and white picture of the two leads embracing, as well as the chapter listings and the main cast listings for both languages. Unfortunately this is another release that came out in a black keepcase as opposed to a clear one.

The menus are the typical CPM style, with animation playing in the background and the menu animation itself going. There's no real surprises here, but the menus are nice and fast with solid access times between submenus. After the menu plays for a little bit, it also stops repeating and goes right into the show. The downside, and one I've commented on with other companies, is that it's just bad to use dub voices during menu animation bits. It's best to keep it simply to music or make it dual language (which Nightjar menus typically are). Playing the dub right from the start only serves to annoy people who just don't watch dubs.

There's a fair amount of extras on the video side of the disc. The main attraction is the fairly decent length video interview segment with the English voice actors on the job, talking about their roles, their feelings on anime and even Crispin Freeman's interpretation of what "otaku" means. There's some interesting bits in there. The image gallery has a number of nice pictures, and what I'm presuming may be the Japanese cover art, and the trivia section is interesting.

Content: (please note that content portions of a review may contain spoilers)
I'll say it right out from the beginning - this show does not have a real ending. It's basically what you could call the first couple of chapters of a bigger story. In itself, it's fairly complete if you look at it this way. It has its own beginning, middle and end, but an end that leads onto the larger story. Treat it as an extended prologue, but a really great one.

The story is focused on high school boy Setsuna Mudo. He's definitely a pretty boy. His life is in turmoil lately, with his parents having divorced and his sister living with his mother. We never see his father though. The real trouble is with his sister. He's deeply in love with her. And not in a family way. He tries to not let it show, but it does. He knows its the reason why his parents divorced, but they never really out and out say. And his sister, Sara, continues to see him constantly, against her mothers wishes. He tries to fight against his urges and usually manages to.

Our introduction to Setsuna is with him getting his tail kicked by a group of the school upperclassmen. He ends up not putting up much of a fight, especially when Sara arrives on the scene. He plays the weakened outcast fairly well. But there's something wrong with him inside, something he feels but can't explain. This starts to be brought to the foreground when a number of rather attractive people begin to enter his life, causing problems such as monuments crumbling around him and making odd threats about his future.

Setsuna eventually finds himself confronting one of the bully upperclassmen, who turns out to be possessed by a golem. The various factions that are trying to use Setsuna are unsure of how to proceed, but Setsuna manages to make it through with both a bit of luck and a bit of his inner abilities.

What we learn is that Setsuna has buried inside him is the persona of Alexiel, a cast out angel who can cause a revolt and upheavel in heaven. The various factions are trying to awaken this persona and to cast away the Setsuna host, so Alexiel can go about proper business. But what's happened is that Alexiel has grown attached to the Setsuna host, as well as having strong feelings for Sara, and wanting to have a normal life.

Honestly, I find it really hard to describe this show, much as I did with Shamanic Princess. While it is fairly straightforward storytelling, it's told in a slightly meandering way. But it's simply gorgeous to look at, and the story itself is very involving if you let it seep into you. I honestly had no idea where it was going and what was going to happen from scene to scene, and that's a huge plus.

The animation style is gorgeous. The look of Setsuna and the others when they sprout their angel wings and use their powers is very attractive, extremely fluid. This is a top notch batch of OVA quality animation from just about a year ago, and it really does show. And with my love of this style of digital anime, combined with the progressive player and HDTV, it just gives me goosebumps.

There are very few shows these days that, when they end, I sit there and openly say "No, I want more!" and my wife agrees with me. That happened with this show, and I hope that more is made. Very recommended.

Japanese Language,English Language,English Subtitles,Behind the Scenes Video (The Making of the English Dub),Character Sketches,Art Gallery,Trivia,Meet the Characters

Review Equipment
Toshiba TW40X81 40" HDTV, Skyworth 1050P Progressive Scan codefree DVD player, Sony STR-DE835 DD/DTS receiver, Monster component cable and Sony speakers.


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