Judge Sandra Dozier respects this series for admitting that sometimes boys play with dolls, as opposed to action figures.
Send me an Angel!
Misaki is a young girl who dreams about two things: reuniting with her mother, who has been away on business for over seven years, and doing her best in the Angelic Layer competition. Angelic Layer is a game that is played with lifelike dolls called Angels. A battle doll stands less than one foot in height and is controlled by the electronically transmitted thought waves of her owner, known as the "Deus" (spelled like the Latin "god" but pronounced "Deuce" in the anime). When immersed in a special game field called the Layer, the dolls come to life and engage in combat with their opponent. The skill of the doll is directly related to the skill and reflexes of the operator—the two work as a team.
In Volume Six of the series, we catch up with Misaki and her friends as they head for the beach. Tamayo seems a little preoccupied, but she isn't talking about it. What the kids don't know is that Icchan, the long-suffering Ogata, Shuko, Ohjiro, and their coworkers are also going to the same beach. Will they meet up? And will Tamayo unburden herself? After the trip to the beach, Misaki and Hatoko spend some time preparing for their next match, which happens to be against Ohjiro. Misaki also comes a little bit closer to understanding his fascination with her when they spend more time together before the fight. Finally, their exciting fight unrolls, and Misaki has to unravel the secret behind his special force attack if she is to remain in the game.
I can't help but thoroughly enjoy the action and personal stories in Angelic Layer. I was intrigued to learn that this series was originally geared toward boys, because it has some very traditionally female-oriented elements, such as the importance of social connections for personal and professional success. The fates of all the characters weave together seamlessly and tightly—if those bonds were to break, it's doubtful that Misaki would be as successful as she is in the series. She faces challenges that must be overcome with drive and sharp wits—and for that, she relies on the support of her friends and loved ones.
I also love the animation and music for Angelic Layer, both of which are gorgeous and help to establish mood very well. With a clear and color-rich transfer, each episode looks terrific. The sound mix is also high-quality, with a clear transfer that takes full advantage of stereo channels in both the 2.0 and 5.1 modes. Extras include a poster insert with character bios, clean opening and closing sequences, production sketches, and a commentary on "Break the Magic Wall! Misaki vs. Ohjiro!" by Chris Patton, who plays Ohjiro, and English dub voice director David Williams. As Ohjiro has a significant arc in the three episodes on this DVD, it gives Patton a chance to talk a little bit about his character motivation and his stint recording the voice of 10-year-old Ohjiro. Williams and Patton also discuss the voice casting for Misaki and the interaction of these two characters.
Angelic Layer has an engaging story with a large cast and a lead character who never seems to lose her determination and optimism. Misaki may be somewhat formulaic, but her kind and inclusive nature is endearing, and half the fun is rooting for her to do her best and win through.
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