Sunday, August 4, 2002

Angel Sanctuary Manga

Genre: Dark
Parental Guidance Recommended
Yuki Kaori.

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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?

Suspenseful and fantastic >>> by firesenshi
You've seen those paintings, haven't you? Those paintings where the Archangel Michael holds his flaming sword and leads his host of angels against legions of demons with their fiery tongues? You've also seen statues and pictures of angels with several wings and their marble ethereal faces or those gargoyles atop church steeples looking down on you. Even in their stationary state, these beings can be the most beguiling and the histories about them are majestic! This makes Yuki Kaori amazing mangaka. She couldn't have chosen better subjects than the sublime creatures of heaven and earth. She has been totally fascinated with their world that she includes the most intriguing details of their myths, starting from their extensive hierarchy down to the wars of demon and angel.

Yuki Kaori, of course, like most mangaka who take Norse myths and fashion them into their own, also gave her own picture of their world. (She has admitted this also in her free talks in the manga.) For one thing, there isn't really a lot of descriptive references as to the places where demons and angels live. Yuki Kaori had to use her imagination in creating these. She chose European medieval Gothic architecture in showing heaven while Baroque architecture seems to suit Gehenna, the world of demons best.

You won't be disappointed with what you will see here. Yuki Kaori is a great artist! Her artwork has been hailed as one of the best and her character designs are nothing out of the ordinary. I especially liked how Rociel, the most beautiful angel of all, was drawn to be so beautiful to both men and women. He stands with so much grace and talks with too much conceit. Demons on the other hand aren't your typical red creatures with horns, pitch forks and spiky tails. They're actually beautiful creatures as well. (Besides, the Good Book did say that Satan would not appear looking so horrible.) The character designs are not stereotypical. In fact, that's a very nice thing that makes the story so good! You will find yourself having a very unlikely protagonist and the most beautiful of antagonists.

Be warned though. The story deals with a lot of taboos, most especially the subject of incest. The story's hero is Setsuna, who is actually the organic angel, Alexiel. Heaven and Gehenna both await Setsuna's awakening with different goals in mind. However, while hosts of angels and legions of demons battle for that right, our hero finds himself reluctant in that awakening but concentrates more on Sarah. Sarah is Setsuna's beloved and he will do everything for her. Sarah is also Setsuna's sister. (Don't get mad at me. That is not really a spoiler because that is not the point of the story.) I find this a little hard to comprehend because whichever way you look at it, it's not something anthropologically possible. Sure... that's still within human realizations and could be different the laws of angels here in Yuki Kaori's world ... but STILL... it's scientifically impossible and thus hard for me to accept. You will learn later why this taboo is necessary. It leads to a grander design that will affect both heaven and Gehenna.

If you really liked the Angel Sanctuary anime, you have to read the manga. The anime is only until up to volume 6 and they cut a lot of stories in the 3-part OAV. The manga will shed light on why the characters acted a certain way and will fill you in the part of what happens to Setsuna at the end of the third episode. I was actually pissed that the anime left me completely hanging like it's only some sort of teaser for you to read the manga. There is a lot more that you haven't seen. I told you about the angelic hierarchy, right? Well, the manga will introduce you to archangels, thrones, seraphims and cherubims, even those outcasts in the hierarchy and will give you insight on what has really happened to Gehenna as well.

The manga is truly astonishing. It will show you the most remarkable worlds and will test some of your philosophies. It's quite a heavy read though with all the deaths and violence. (Who would've ever thought that the sublime and beautiful can be twisted and cruel?) But it's all in here. Go find out for yourself.

Individual Rating: Art 10; Story 8; Characters 9

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