Kido Tenshi Angelic Layer ( [email protected] CLAMP/BONES/TV Tokyo/Dentsu, 2001 ADV Films, 2003 Directed by Hiroshi Nishikiori (Azumanga Daioh, Gad Guard). Rated 13+ for violence and mature situations. "It is an egg with a dream. It is called an Angel. Raise the egg with wisdom, love and courage, and it becomes an angel." Based on the best-selling manga by CLAMP (published in the U.S. by TOKYOPOP). Upon arriving in Tokyo, 12-year-old Misaki Suzuhara discovers "Angelic Layer," a game where players develop mechanical dolls called "Angels" and use them to fight each other. Within the same day, she spends all of her money to buy an Angel and names it Hikaru. Shortly afterwards, Misaki and Hikaru enter the Angelic Layer tournaments and use their full potential to face the best Angels in Japan. Story: A- Angelic Layer may be CLAMP's first shonen title, but it still has the group's traditional shojo feel to it. The story itself is like a fighting game mixed with Hand Maid May, Toy Story and a little bit of Cardcaptor Sakura and Battle Athletes Victory on the side. It's pure entertainment for all ages...except for those scenes where Icchan does his "Octopus in the pants" gimmick... Animation: A BONES (Cowboy Bebop: Knockin' on Heaven's Door, RahXephon) did an excellent job putting the manga on the small screen with dazzling 2D and 3D animation. The character designs by Takahiro Komori (Scrapped Princess) are very close to CLAMP's artwork, and the fight scenes are very well-choreographed. Soundtrack: A- I've been a long-time fan of Kohei Tanaka's works (Gunbuster, Sakura Wars), and even though his score for this series is more down-to-earth, it's still an excellent addition to your soundtrack collection. The show's opening theme "Be My Angel" by Atsuko Enomoto is just as catchy and kawaii as Cardcaptor Sakura's songs. Sub vs. Dub Angelic Layer features Atsuko Enomoto (Steel Angel Kurumi, Yukino in His & Her Circumstances) as Misaki, Satsuki Yukino (Kaname in Full Metal Panic!) as Tamayo, Jun Fukuyama (Touga in Gravion, Iseei in Full Metal Panic? Fumoffu) as Kotaro, Yuri Shiratori (Cherry in Saber Marionette R/J/J Again/J to X, Mokona in Magic Knight Rayearth) as Hatoko, Kotono Mitsuishi (Sailor Moon, Excel Saga) as Shoko, Masaya Onosaka (Vash the Stampede in Trigun, Takeo in Magic User's Club) as Icchan, Ayako Kawasumi (Mahoromatic, Aoi in Ai Yori Aoshi) as Kaede, Yui Horie (Naru in Love Hina, Ayu in Ultra Maniac) as Hiromi, Tomoko Kawakami (Revolutionary Girl Utena, A Little Snow Fairy Sugar) as Madoka, Souichiro Hoshi (Kira in Mobile Suit Gundam SEED, Kazuma in s-CRY-ed) as Ojiro, Chiemi Chiba (Nanaka 6/17, Ojamajo Doremi) as Arisu, Tomokazu Seki (Van in Escaflowne, Sagara in Full Metal Panic!) as Ogata, and Kikuko Inoue (Belldandy in Ah! My Goddess, Mizuho in Please Teacher!/Onegai Twins) as Shuko. Additional voices by Masayo Kurata (Karinka in Steel Angel Kurumi, Shinobu in Love Hina) and Tomoko Kaneda (Chiyo-chan in Azumanga Daioh, Marie in Please Teacher!/Onegai Twins). I'm actually impressed with ADV's English dub. Featured voices include Jessica Boone (Aya in Neo-Ranga, Gannet in Rune Soldier) as Misaki, Kelly Manison (The Great Will of the Macrocosm in Excel Saga, Linna in Bubblegum Crisis Tokyo 2040) as Shoko, Andy McAvin (Jean-Jacques in Spriggan, Dr. Walski in Steel Angel Kurumi) as Icchan, and Mark Laskowski (Yagumo in RahXephon) as Ogata. Additional voices by Monica Rial (Kirika in NOIR, Haruka in RahXephon) and Tiffany Grant (Asuka in Neon Genesis Evangelion, Kim in RahXephon). The Bottom Line Forget Pokemon, Digimon and Yu-Gi-Oh. Angelic Layer blows them all away.