Angelic Layer Vol. #2 (of 7) (

By:Chris Beveridge
Review Date: Wednesday, December 24, 2003
Release Date: Tuesday, November 25, 2003

What They Say
Although Misaki has just started playing the amazing fighting game Angelic Layer, she is already competing against the best in Tokyo for a chance to fight in the national tournament in Kanto. She seems to be holding her own, but there are a lot of tough opponents who take this game very seriously.

Even though competition is fierce, her new friends, Tamayo and Kotaro, are cheering her on. One of her competitors is Kotaro's little sister, Hatoko, the amazing Kindergarten Kid. There's also a popular idol singer and even another Misaki!

Who will Kotaro root for when Misaki and Hatoko go head to head? What crazy penalties will Icchan give Ogata? Will Misaki qualify for the Nationals?

The Review!
The second set of battles in Angelic Layer gives Misaki a number of victories but also some important lessons.

For our primary viewing session, we listened to a mix of languages on this release. We started off the disc listening to the English 5.1 mix and listened to the Japanese 2.0 mix for the middle episodes. The English 5.1 mix comes across nicely with some clear distinct voices to it but we ended up favoring the Japanese 2.0 mix as it felt more full and natural. Dialogue throughout on both tracks comes across nice and clear and we didn’t notice any dropouts or distortions.

Originally airing back in 2001, Angelic Layer is a fantastic looking show with this transfer. Cross coloration is pretty much non-existent, aliasing is very minimal and only in a few areas and the colors are rich. The colors are where this show really shines with very vibrant lush pieces, mixing between the real world and the Layer itself. Blacks are beautifully solid and there’s no visible over saturation.

Done in a white keepcase, the artwork used looks great with the parallel images of the angels and their Deuses. Hatoko and her angel take up much of the background with full shots that are only partially obscured by Hatoko’s hair and then the smaller images of Misaki and Hikaru in front of that.. The back cover has a series of shots from the how and several paragraphs of good summary for the premise of the show. The discs features are clearly listed, though not all the extras are listed there. The insert is actually an attractive mini poster with Misaki in a summer dress with Hikaru floating next to her that opens up to provide some character profiles.

Set up in a competition/athletic style theme, the main menu here plays some of the action oriented music from the series while various images from the show roll behind the top layer. Selections are quick to load and access times are nice and fast.

The extra material for this installment mirror the first volume but with a few differences. The opening and closing sequences are presented once more and the production sketches section has a fresh batch of pieces to it. Also making another appearance is the voice actor commentary track, which is done for just the second episode, and features the voice actors for Kotaro and Tamayo. I only had a chance to listen to part of it, but am looking forward to checking it out in full as I find myself enjoying the Monica Rial commentaries a lot.

Content: (please note that content portions of a review may contain spoilers)
With four more episodes, Angelic Layer proves to be one of the faster flowing series I’ve seen recently, causing the disc to be over far earlier than you expect it to be. The episodes spend a good majority of the time actually in fight mode with the Angelic Layer contest itself, but enough time is spent outside of it with moments of character development and movement. But unlike a lot of other series, the real character growth for Misaki comes from within the fights themselves.

After her victories in the first volume, Misaki continues to barrel through the competitions fairly easily here. Before she knows it, she’s racked up an impressive eight victories and has gotten a bit cocky about her performance, but still maintaining much of the “golly gosh” kind of charm about herself so that she doesn’t come off too badly. She’s still very much the new girl to the sport and is just surprised at times how she’s doing. In between the competitions Misaki spends time with her friends Tamayo and Kotaro or ends up with Icchan where he probes her with various leading questions that often answer her own questions.

Misaki’s area of growth, or what seems to be her natural talent, is the adaptability to situations by taking in what she sees. Her time at school where she simply watches some of the school sports or how Tamayo beats up on Kotaro, the moves she sees become instinct to her during the games and become surprising moves when done by Hikaru. With this and her ability to subconsciously pick apart her opponents methods and weaknesses without realizing what she’s doing becomes the second most important part of her ability. The most important part, as Hatoko stresses to her in her own special way, is to believe in and trust and love your Angel.

There are a lot of great fight sequences here, though a number of them are glossed over early on to give Misaki a bump up in the rankings quickly, which isn’t a bad thing since it doesn’t drag out the competition too much. One of the best ones comes when she faces off against Hakoto for the first time and her very impressive and elegant angel. The fight after that one with Maria is also very entertaining, particularly since we get to know more about that particular Deus than we really do any of the earlier ones, Hakoto excepted possibly. Getting the motivations of the others helps to make the matches more engaging.

The look and feel of this show continues to be impressive. Though there’s something almost like a soft blur to the color palette, the colors are so vividly rich with areas like fleshtones or the blue in the uniforms, that the overall look and feel is beautiful. There’s some similarities to Chobits in how the colors look, but it maintains its own feel while still having a signature CLAMP look to it. And with the variety of angels that are brought into the show, the designs are very varied and quite beautifully done for several of them.

In Summary:
This show is maddeningly addictive, right from the opening sequence through the end song when it kicks off just before the credits start. While it’s definitely a simple fighting show, it’s done with some great style to it and characters that you can easily cheer and root for. Add in some of the better animation of recent time for a TV show and the CLAMP signature bits and it’s something that I can’t get enough of. This release is solid just about all the way through, from its transfer to the comical and enlightening commentary track. Very recommended.

Japanese 2.0 Language,English 5.1 Language,English Subtitles,Clean and opening closing animation,Production artwork,Voice actor commentary,Character profiles,Mini poster

Review Equipment
Panasonic PT50LC13 50" LCD RP HDTV, Panasonic RP-82 Progressive Scan codefree DVD player, Sony STR-DE835 DD/DTS receiver, Monster component cable and Panasonic SB-TP20S Multi-Channel Speaker System With 100-Watt Subwoofer.

Mania Grade: A-
Audio Rating: B+
Video Rating: A
Packaging Rating: A-
Menus Rating: B
Extras Rating: B+
Age Rating: 13 & Up
Region: 1 - North America
Released By: ADV Films
MSRP: 29.98
Running time: 100
Aspect Ratio: 1.33:1
Disc Resolution: 480i/p (mixed/unknown)
Disc Encoding: MPEG-2
Series: Angelic Layer