Tag Archives: Angel Sanctuary

Angel Sanctuary Volume 3

The second volume of Angel Sanctuary gave us the prophesy of Tokyo’s destruction and we saw Setsuna temporarily transform into the spirit of Alexiel in order to eradicate a creature of Rosiel’s. A creature who used to be human. Rosiel replaced Katan with Kirie, a younger and more naive angel. We also learned that Sara was going to be taken out of the country buy her mother in order to get married to some guy she didn’t know to keep her away from her brother. Which is a worthy cause.

Story: 

Volume three opens with some backstory on how Sakuya and Setsuna first met. this volume actually has a lot about Sakuya, his back story and history with Alexiel. I will give Yuki credit, it is really good stuff and it doesn’t come across as stilted or overly exposition-oriented. We quickly learn that Setsuna is being investigated for the death of Rosiel’s minion.

Kurai approaches Sara in an attempt to get her to be honest with her feelings and Sara gives her the cheap ring that she’s treasured all this time because her brother got it for her. Kurai returns it to Setsuna and tells him that she doesn’t want such a cheap thing. This prompts Setsuna to run after Sara, declaring his love for her just as investigators close in. Sakuya blocks their way so that Setsuna and Sara can escape and be deranged together, confessing to the murder in the process. While that screwed up romance stuff is happening, we learn Katan’s back story and aspects of heaven’s hierarchy. We also find out that he’s given up his plans to kill Setsuna, nice to see that that subplot ultimately went nowhere. Kirie has her own plans to get into Rosiel’s good graces and Setsuna could very well suffer for it. We’re also briefly introduced to two high-ranking angels, the childish Metatron and his minister, Sevothtarte.

The same problem that we saw in the other two volumes is still evident. The story’s getting somewhere, but it’s taking its sweet time at it. There are some parts that get kind of repetitive and some others that we really don’t need. The biggest example is seeing Kirie practice for her plan shortly before she goes out to do it. We really don’t need to see the precise details of her plan. We can figure out what she’s trying to do when she actually goes into action.

On the positive side, the manga is still good at keeping your attention and adding interesting plot lines. I am curious to see how Metatron and Sevothtarte ultimately contribute to the narrative. This manga is also really good at ending its chapters on suspenseful notes to keep the audience invested in what’s going to happen in the next one.

Characters:

Setsuna and Sara are still pretty stagnant as characters. They spend most of this volume getting creepily affectionate. On the positive side, both Katan and Sakuya get developed and fleshed out pretty well. We also learn a bit about Kirie. Katan and Kirie’s back stories also help flesh out Rosiel a bit, making him more compelling as a character. So, we are getting some interesting supporting and antagonistic characters going.

Art: 

This volume cuts down a bit on the otherworldly imagery. there’s still a bit and the artwork remains a strong element with interesting character designs and well done action sequences.

Ho-yay: 

There isn’t much in this volume. At most, you can say that the way Sakuya and Setsuna’s relationship is developing is a bit suspect. Just snog the boy, Setsuna. It’ll be healthier than going after your sister.

Final Thoughts: 

In spite of the slow pacing, this is the strongest volume thus far. I’d have to give it a 7/10, bringing the overall score for the manga up to a 6.3/ 10. I’ll look at volume 4 at a later date and we’ll see if the manga continues to improve.

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Angel Sanctuary Volume 2:

The first volume of Angel Sanctuary introduced us to Mudou Setsuna, the human reincarnation of the great angel Alexiel. A couple of demons came to try and awaken him. Meanwhile, Alexiel’s brother, Rosiel was revived by an angel named Katan. Setsuna’s powers awakened for a brief period when his sister Sara, whom he’s in love with, was captured by Rosiel and threatened. We left off with Katan planning on killing Setsuna before his powers fully awaken

Story: 

The second volume opens with a young man taking some drugs, little suspecting that Rosiel is the one giving them out for a sinister purpose which does get revealed mid-way through the volume. We cut to Sara dreaming about her brother. Her mom wakes her for an important announcement, they’re going to move to England where she and Setsuna can’t do incestuous things. Sara decides to go to Setsuna and let him know, interrupting Rosiel’s plan to seduce him while disguised as her. Our currently most compelling character, Kurai, goes to hell to consult with dragon spirits about Alexiel and she’s told that Setsuna will fully awaken, Tokyo will be destroyed and she’ll have a small window to get to Alexiel when that happens

I will say, on the positive side, the story remains fairly interesting with some really compelling ideas. It’s got a lot of fucked up elements, not the least of which is the budding romance between Setsuna and Sara, but they’re pretty deliberate and they kind of work in context. They also do a pretty good job of wrapping up the Ruri sub-plot from the first volume.

On the downside, the pacing is still painfully slow at times. Once again, we get a lot of build up for things that are coming later and it seems like some of it is going to be kind of pointless. The Ruri sub-plot may very well never be mentioned again and ultimately it’s contributed very little even if it was well done in its own right. The cliff hanger of Katan wanting to kill Setsuna hasn’t advanced at all nor was it really mentioned here. I will say, to the manga’s credit, it will almost certainly get a conclusion later on but it’s pretty annoying to have them leave off on it and proceed to ignore it for six chapters.

Characters: 

Setsuna still hasn’t developed much personality. He’s into his sister, doesn’t want her to know and is experiencing angst over it which is being aggravated at this point due to their mother’s plan of leaving for England with her. There’s still not much reason to care about him. At this juncture, you’re more concerned over the grim prophesied fate of Tokyo. This volume does develop Sakuya quite a bit, including answering part of the mystery surrounding him and he is all the more compelling of a character for it. We also get several new characters introduced, Kirie, Raziel and Zaphikel. It’s hard to judge them as characters at this point since they’ve barely had any scenes thus far.

Art: 

The art is much like it was in the first volume. With the same kinds of well sequenced action scenes, good imagery and disturbing gore. I will add that the summoned dragon spirits looked really interesting.

Ho-yay: 

Katan seems to have feelings for Rosiel. Kurai’s fixation on Alexiel seems to be giving way to feelings for Setsuna in his own right. The end of the Ruri sub-plot is a bit homo-erotic as well.

Final Thoughts: 

The second volume of Angel Sanctuary is pretty decent. It does a good job of setting up some intrigue and keeping things interesting enough that you want to find out where it’s going. Unfortunately, it’s still largely build up and the characters remain largely under-developed. I’d have to give it a 6/10 so far. Of course, there are a lot more volumes to go. So it could still improve or go completely off the rails. We’ll examine the third volume at a later date.

Angel Sanctuary Volume 1: A slow beginning

A while back I looked at the Angel Sanctuary OVA. Initially, it was my plan to start looking at the Manga with the point that the OVA left off. However, when going through the manga again I realised just how much it leaves out. It basically goes through more than three volumes of material in three episodes. As such, I’m going to start the look at the manga at the beginning. With the first volume.

Story:

We open with Kurai and Arachne who have just fought their way through angels to get to Earth in order to seek out the reincarnation of Alexiel. We quickly skip to where the OVA started, Setsuna in a fight against a group of thugs. He’s doing well until he catches a glimpse of blood, and starts feeling faint. He’s eventually rescued by Sakuya and his sister arrives to berate him for fighting. She’s with her shy friend, Ruri. Meanwhile, a strange game named after the title is causing players’ heads to explode. Ruri is given a copy by a strange fellow before Setsuna can intervene, driving the guy away. The chapters cover the purpose of the disc and Setsuna’s initial encounter with Kurai and Arachne, including the revelation that he’s the reincarnation of the organic angel Alexiel. It also covers his disturbing feelings towards his sister.

On the negative side, it is really slow going. Which is the opposite problem from the absurdly fast-paced OVA. Honestly, most of what happens in the first volume is build up for things that are coming later. Which is fine, but it really could use for build up that’s more interesting in its own right. On the positive side, the premise is interesting and the setup, though it could be better, is good enough that it makes you interested in finding out what the payoff is going to be.

Characters:

This is one of those series where the secondary characters are more interesting than the protagonists. Setsuna doesn’t develop much of a personality in the first volume. He has feelings for his sister but doesn’t want her to know and experiences angst over it. His character may develop more later, but at this juncture there’s not much reason to give a damn about him. In fact, the only character you really get a good sense of is Kurai since you see her back story, how it ties into what she’s doing and get an idea of how it’s impacted the character she is at this point. Katan also has some interesting elements to him and you get some sense of mystery for Rosiel, Arachne and Sakuya but it’s all buildup at this point.

Art:

The art is pretty strong. The action sequences are well sequenced and there’s some really good imagery. The violent scenes are pretty damn brutal too. You’d almost think that Yuki Kaori has a thing for dismemberment.

Ho-yay:

There’s a bit. It’s shown that Kurai was in love with Alexiel and that she’s disappointed over her reincarnating as a man.

Final Thoughts:

Angel Sanctuary volume 1 is pretty decent. It gives the readers some intrigue to start things out and some compelling mysteries to encourage further reading. But it suffers from being slow and a lot of the characters are under-developed at this point. For this volume, I’ll give a 6/10. I’ll look at the second volume at a later point, maybe next week it depends on the response to this one, and we’ll see if it improves.

Angel Sanctuary: The Exiled Return

Angel Sanctuary was a manga written by Yuki Kaori from 1994 to 2000. At the tail end of its run, in 2000, it got an OVA from Hal Film Maker. The same studio that brought us Princess Tutu and… Bokusatsu Tenshi Dokuro-Chan. The manga is dark and disturbing with a lot of screwed up events and circumstances. It’s also really good, provided you don’t mind media that takes liberties with Judeo-Christian mythos. So, does a three episode OVA manage to capture the spirit of the manga?

Story:

Our tale opens with our hero, Setsuna, fighting against a group of thugs. He’s winning handily, until his sister, Sara, interrupts the confrontation, angry at him for forgetting about their date. Turns out their parents divorced and they decided to meet up once a month to keep in touch. Don’t have a sigh of relief yet, it’s quickly revealed that Setsuna has more than a familial love for his sister. Yes, this series features incest. Although I will give it credit over everything else I’ve reviewed with that kind of content. There actually are good narrative reasons for it and the reactions they get are largely realistic. It’s also a screwed up element in a series that is deliberately full of screwed up elements. So it does kind of work for this story. After separating from his sister Setsuna encounters demons who tell him he’s the reincarnation of an angel, Alexiel, who followed in Lucifer’s footsteps, rebelling against God. He finds himself dealing with his feelings for Sara while both angels and demons try to reawaken Alexiel, which could very well bring an end to his life and identity as Setsuna.

Let’s begin by looking at the negative aspects of the series. The most obvious issue is that it doesn’t stand alone by any means. It’s like Battle Angel or Fire Emblem and serves more as a teaser for the manga rather than as a self-contained story. Which, to be fair, is kind of to be expected when you turn twenty volumes of manga into a three episode OVA. There are certainly other issues too. The pacing isn’t very good. The series throws major scenes at you one after the other with no time to take anything in and with very little explanation for any of the supernatural elements aside from “it’s magic, they don’t have to explain it.” As a result exactly how this world works is kept kind of vague. Again, to be fair to the OVA, these are all problems present to some extent at the beginning of the manga.

On the positive side, the premise is really solid. There are lots of good ideas and the setup leaves a lot of room to further delve into the world with lots of intrigue to build upon. Pacing issues aside, the events themselves also unfold very naturally with plenty of foreshadowing for important plot points. Which does give the narrative a pretty strong flow. It does provide a solid opening for a series.

Characters:

A lot of the characters in this series aren’t particularly likeable. They’re largely complex and even interesting, however. The problem with the OVA in particular is that the complexity for the characters is heavily limited since there’s a lot less time with them. As such you get traits that are far more basic for the secondary characters, who are largely the strongest characters in the manga. It does spend sufficient time with Setsuna, Sara, Rosiel and Sakuya to give you a good feel for their characters. The rest of the cast develop and become important at later points than the OVA reaches and they come across as quite flat and you would question why some of them are even there if you haven’t read the manga.

Art:

The art is really good. The action sequences are very well animated and the character designs look really nice. I especially like the way they draw wings. The art does get absolutely brutal at times and the violence can be disturbing. The backgrounds are well detailed.

Sound:

There are some very strong performances in this. Nojima Kenji, Psycho Pass’s Nobuchika, gives a great performance as Setsuna. You also get powerful performances from Miyamura Yuko and Koyasu Takehito. The biggest weaknesses are Kawasumi Ayako, who seems to be decidedly not trying, and Chiba Susumu who over-acts as though he’s been training with Brian Blessed. The music is just okay.

Ho-yay:

The ho-yay factor is a 3/10. There’s some stuff between Setsuna and Sakuya that seems suspect, but nothing big.

Final Thoughts:

Angel Sanctuary definitely has things to recommend it. It also has significant issues. By itself, it really doesn’t hold up. Really, I would only suggest it for fans of the manga. If the premise sounds interesting to you, I’d look at the manga first. As a supplement to the manga, it does work okay, providing a nice little look at the first story line. My rating for it is going to be a 5/10. Next week, K-on the movie.