Monday, January 1, 2001

Angel Sanctuary

Genre: Dark (Noir) / Fantasy
Parental Guidance Recommended
Kaori Yuki (manga). 2000. Bandai Visual.

Angel Sanctuary Books
Angel Sanctuary DVDs
Original Soundtrack
Everything Bleach

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

(3 episodes)

NOTE: Some of the reviews were written sometime in 2001 and was recorded in the classic Otaku Fridge as ??.??.2001. Unfortunately the database would not accept non-numerical values, so this review is now dated January 01, 2001 by default.

I would've given this a 9 .... >>> by firesenshi (??.??.2001)
... but they condensed this from a manga with 10+ plus volumes to a mere 3 episodes. Artwork is stunning as Kaori Yuki could be. Without her imagery, one cannot see how angels, usually depicted as the kindest of creatures, could ever be vain and vengeful and yet still beautiful. Stunning irony, isn't it?

But wait. Before you see this anime, you have to understand that this one is dark. If you're expecting holiness, you'll see instead -- genocide, wars and incest -- things that are sacrilege even! To understand this anime, you must think in the same way some anime are created where some people exist in different worlds or dimensions with their own rules and problems. That is the concept of Angel Sanctuary. Angels here belong to a separate dimension. It is based on Christian concepts but it's as though some anime took Norse Mythology and used that as a foundation. So the angels and "God" you know here are not the same as the Christian ones. The philosophical stuff may shake your beliefs but given this premise, that should not be the case. It's simple as taking off from the human realm to the realm of these angels. Take note of that. Not the real angels or the real God.

Character design is very well done. You have a hodge-podge of characters where all of them are just DARK. Yet, there is variety in the darkness, if you will. If you've seen one twisted one, you'll see another one who's more twisted. And the villains you expect are not the evil ones you thought. Setsuna Mudou, as a character, is someone you'll feel compassion for. Greatly! Though he's done completely sacrilegeous things, he is your hero. That's how good and unpredictable this is.

But why, why why did they have to put something good in just 3 episodes? The things has been condensed so bad, it's just like getting 3 episodes and they ran out of money to produce the rest, that's all they showed. That's how hanging it is. So if I were you, I'd rather read the manga. Unless you want to see for yourself how it will look with the sequences of course.

On a religious plane... >>> by skysenshi (09.13.2001)
I first heard of Angel Sanctuary from a friend named Stella back in the late 90s. Everyday she would write me emails telling me about the latest Angel Sanctuary manga that she has read, and she was so fascinated with angels (the way my sister Thunder is obsessed with vampires) that she even made up a fiction about them. In her enthusiasm for the subject, she had already translated the entire manga to me without me even seeing a single comic panel. As you can see, it's pretty understandable why I find the anime extremely lacking in valuable information pertaining to its characters and the sequences of events.

My brother, the prude, is now wondering why on earth I am giving Angel Sanctuary the anime a high rating. He literally almost tore the screen off my TV because of the incestuous relationship that Setsuna and Sara was having, not to mention Rociel's obsessions with his (her?) own sister Alexiel. I gave it a high rating because of the twists in the storyline that can actually survive even if one hasn't read the manga. There is depth that is written all over the plot without one having to see too much of the details. In a way, everything seems bizarre -- like a hentai title without the ecchi scenes. What I told my brother as a way of haphazard explanation was this: "In the eyes of your Christian God, all of us human beings are His children and are therefore siblings. Biologically we may or may not be related, but spiritually we are. Perhaps Setsuna's 'true' soul transcends the laws of the flesh? Like it doesn't really matter because we are all related spiritually anyway?" But this is all supposition. I have to re-read the manga again to find the connection between Sara's soul and Setsuna's.

To appreciate both the anime and the manga, it takes an open mind. One can question another's belief or go with the pseudo-reality that is set before our eyes. Setsuna's God can be passionately cruel and yet benevolently forgiving, much like the Wiccan God/Goddess that has both an enlightened and a dark side. It's like the law of nature, which always has two sides. Bear in mind that most religious concepts and laws are both of human and of nature. Angel Sanctuary has both elements, and we don't really know if the philosophy it's projecting can be considered a half-truth or not (truth and realism are both relative anyway). There is one thing I can say about this title, though: For something fictional, it hurts like it's real.

Everyone's Rating Averaged: Art/Animation 10; Story 5; Characters 9; Sounds 8

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