Japanese Anime: Angelic Layer

Angelic Layer is a manga series released by Clamp (an all-female Japanese mangaka group). The manga is published in Japan by Kadokawa Shoten, and in English by Tokyopop.

The manga was adapted into a 26-episode anime series titled Battle Doll Angelic Layer which aired on TV Tokyo from April 1, 2001- September 23, 2001. Seven volumes of videos were released by ADV Films on VHS and DVD in 2003. It was re-released in 2005 as a five volume box set.

Angelic Layer is related to Clamp's later work Chobits, and like it, deals with the relationship between humans, human-created devices, toys, and godlike power. Several characters also appear in Clamp's Tsubasa: Reservoir Chronicle including most of the main characters as well as the angel Blanche.

The main character of Angelic Layer is Misaki Suzuhara, a seventh grader who just moved in to Tokyo in order to live with her aunt, Shouko Asami. After arriving in the city, she watches the battle doll Athena on a big screen television outside of Tokyo Station and becomes interested in learning about the amazingly popular toy called Angelic Layer, a game in which players (called Deus) buy and custom-design dolls known as Angels. Angels can move by mental control when on a field called the "layer". Layers are very expensive, and most people pay to use them by the hour in establishments resembling cybercafes.

An eccentric man wearing a white lab coat and glasses, calling himself "Icchan" (Itchan), encourages Misaki to purchase and create her own angel. She names the angel Hikaru, after Hikaru Shidou from Clamp's Magic Knight Rayearth which she was reading on the train to Tokyo, because she wants the angel to be "a short girl, but strong and happy" like Hikaru and herself (Rayearth is a manga in Angelic Layer's world, and Misaki identifies herself with Hikaru). Even though she's clueless about the game, Misaki soon begins to compete in tournament, and is assisted and watched carefully by Icchan. Later Icchan's identity is revealed as Ichiro Mihara, the co-creator of Angelic Layer.

Misaki also begins studying in the Eriol Academy, an educational institution which includes grades from kindergarten through high school (it seems to be named after Eriol Hiiragizawa from Cardcaptor Sakura). There she becomes friend with Hatoko Kobayashi, a very intelligent kindergarten girl who is also a famous Deus and an expert about Angelic Layer. Her incredibly fast angel Suzuka is a favourite contender in tournaments. Misaki also befriends Hatoko's older brother Koutarou Kobayashi and his friend Tamayo Kizaki, a girl fascinated by martial arts. Both turn out to be Misaki's classmates.

Misaki pursues her ultimate goal of finding her mother, whom she has not seen since preschool. Eventually she learns that her mother assisted in the development of Angelic Layer in her quest to develop a perfect prosthesis for her multiple sclerosis, which has confined her to a wheelchair. Her mother is also the Deus of Athena, and the champion of Angelic Layer.

The manga series is set a few years before Chobits, a Clamp work in the same universe as Angelic Layer. In the manga, Icchan plays an important role in Chobits' storyline, but this connection was reduced to a single scene in the Anime. Icchan has a brief cameo but is not mentioned by name in the Chobits anime. Kaede's younger brother Minoru is also a Chobits character. In the manga series, Misaki's mother does not have multiple sclerosis, nor is she depicted in a wheelchair. The ending to the manga also has different couplings.
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