Angelic Layer (エンジェリックレイヤー Enjerikku Reiyā) is a five volume manga series by CLAMP that ran from February 1999 to November 2001 in the magazine Shōnen Ace. It centers on a 12 year old girl named Misaki Suzuhara, an aspiring player of Angelic Layer, a fighting game played with dolls controlled by the player's thought.
Angelic Layer takes place in the same universe as Clamp's later work Chobits, which similarly 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 manga was adapted into a 26-episode anime series produced by Studio Bones titled Kidou Tenshi Angelic Layer (Literally, "Battle Doll" or "Mobile Angel" Angelic Layer), which aired on TV Tokyo from April 1, 2001 to September 23, 2001. The anime was compiled into nine volumes in Japan and seven volumes in English, courtesy of ADV films.
The manga was published in English by Tokyopop from 2002 to 2003.
The primary protagonist of Angelic Layer is Misaki Suzuhara, a seventh grader who just moved to Tokyo 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 Angelic Layer, a highly popular 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; most users rent them by the hour in establishments resembling cybercafes.
An eccentric man wearing a white lab coat and glasses, calling himself "Icchan" (いっちゃん), encourages Misaki to purchase and create her own angel. She names the angel Hikaru, after Hikaru Shidō from Clamp's Magic Knight Rayearth (a manga in Angelic Layer's world), 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. In the anime, Misaki names her Hikaru after her favorite doll from her childhood. Even though she's clueless about the game, Misaki soon competes in tournaments 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 at the Eriol Academy, an educational institution which includes grades from kindergarten through high school. There she becomes friends with Hatoko Kobayashi, a very intelligent and mature kindergarten girl who is a famous Deus and an Angelic Layer expert. Her incredibly fast angel Suzuka is a favourite contender in tournaments. Misaki also befriends Hatoko's older brother Kōtarō Kobayashi and his friend Tamayo Kizaki, a girl fascinated by martial arts. Both turn out to be Misaki's classmates.
While adjusting to her new surroundings, Misaki is also gripped by her past. Her thoughts often dwell on her mother, whom she has not seen since pre-school. Eventually Misaki learns that her mother was key in the development of Angelic Layer, which she worked on in an attempt 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.
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.
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 the Chobits storyline, but this connection was reduced to a single scene in the anime; the Chobits anime was also made by a different company. Likewise, in the Chobits anime, Icchan has a brief cameo but is not mentioned by name for the same reason. Kaede's younger brother Minoru (a common Japanese name) is also a Chobits character.
Misaki Suzuhara (鈴原 みさき Suzuhara Misaki)
- Angel Entry Phrase: "Angel Wings! Please guide me and Hikaru!"
- Date of birth: April 25, 1985
- Voiced by: Atsuko Enomoto (Japanese), Jessica Boone (English)
- Misaki is a very timid, sweet-tempered, and kind (although shown in the manga to be more overreactive and easily excited) 12-year-old girl who has just moved to Tokyo to live with her aunt. She had been living with her grandparents in Wakayama while she went to elementary school, but saved up money that her mother had been sending her while she was away so she could afford to go to middle school in Tokyo. She also worries about the fact that she is small and unathletic, and is sometimes mistaken to be in elementary school, but sees Angelic Layer as a way to prove to others and herself that there is nothing wrong with being small. She started playing Angelic Layer after seeing the white angel Athena on a video screen outside of Tokyo Station (unaware that she was seeing her own mother's Angel). Her angel is Hikaru and she is known as the "Miracle Rookie". She is nicknamed Misakichi (みさきち) by her friend Tamayo to make her name sound cute.
Ichiro Mihara (三原 一郎 Mihara Ichirō)
- Date of birth: January 12, 1969
- Voiced by: Masaya Onosaka (Japanese), Andy McAvin (English)
- Nicknames himself Icchan (いっちゃん) to hide his true identity from Misaki. He is 28 years old and oftens acts extremely eccentric, spontaneous and immature for his age. (often jumping out of random places shouting "Icchan go BOOM!" to scare Misaki and Ogata), but nonetheless is ingenious and dead serious when it comes to Angelic Layer. In the manga, Icchan is the president of the Piffle Company that creates the Angelic Layer toys. In the anime, Icchan is the "father" of Angelic Layer and creator, having developed the game over seven years with the help of Shuko Suzuhara. Icchan had been an employee at a hospital trying to treat Shuko's neurological condition and were developing the angels as part of research to create prosthetic limbs which could be controlled by brain waves. However, research funds were cut off after the hospital thought that the research was costing too much. As a result, Icchan and Shuko created Angelic Layer in order to help fund and conduct further research.
- Crossover: Icchan is the late husband of Chitose Hibiya and the creator of the persocoms in the hit manga Chobits. He made two special persocoms, the Chobits, for his wife to be their children, since she could not have children herself. They were named Freya and Elda, later known as Chi. The Chobits were created from the findings gathered from the research performed for Angelic Layer project. The cause of his death in Chobits is that he died of an illness.
Kotaro Kobayashi (小林 虎太郎 Kobayashi Kōtarō)
- Date of birth: September 04, 1984
- Voiced by: Jun Fukuyama (Japanese), Kevin Corn (English)
- Kotaro is a 13 year old middle school classmate of Misaki, whom he has a crush on, as well known as Hatoko's brother. He is always being assaulted by Tamayo and her various martial arts techniques, which he has been a victim of since he was four years old. He becomes jealous of Ohjiro's advances towards Misaki, going so far as to try to attempt to play a quasi-match of Angelic Layer against Ohjiro, despite the fact that he had never played it before. His family owns a karate dojo and Kotaro has practiced karate some himself, showing Misaki some of his knowledge in hopes that Misaki can use it to help Hikaru win. In the manga, he and Misaki later fall in love and date. He also resembles Hiromu Shinbo from Chobits.
Tamayo Kizaki (木崎 珠代 Kizaki Tamayo)
- Date of birth: April 17, 1984
- Voiced by: Satsuki Yukino (Japanese), Monica Rial (English)
- Tamayo is 13 years old and is a friend and classmate of Misaki. She nicknames Misaki "Misakichi" and is rather eccentric. One of her favorite activities is practicing her martial arts techniques on her unwilling friend Kotaro. She always loudly cheers for Misaki at Angelic Layer matches and defends her against those who question her ability. In the anime, it is later revealed that Tamayo has always held intimate feelings for Kotaro, while in the manga, she only saw him as a close friend. She offers to be Misaki's "second" in her national game match against the Angelic Layer Company's angel due to Hatoko becoming ill before Misaki accepts Ohjiro's offer to be her second.
- The various martial arts Tamayo has mastered after eight years of hard training are: wrestling, karate, K-1, kenpō, boxing, judo, capoeira, and taekwondo.
- In the anime she finally ends up with Kotaro after finally telling him how she feels (despite the fact Kotaro initially liked Misaki). However, in the manga, Tamayo falls in love with Ohjiro Mihara.
Hatoko Kobayashi (小林 鳩子 Kobayashi Hatoko)
- Angel Entry Phrase: "Exceed the speed of light and sound, Suzuka!"
- Date of birth: December 07, 1991
- Voiced by: Yuri Shiratori (Japanese), Sasha Paysinger (English)
- Hatoko is a 5 year old known as the "Miracle Kindergartner" and is Misaki's best friend and Angelic Layer mentor. Even at a very young age, she is extremely intelligent, mature, and hard-working. She is an expert at Angelic Layer, often winning her games in mere seconds. She wins all ten of her games at the Tokyo prefecture games, and is the defending champion of the Kantō regional games. She is fiercely competitive, working to increase her angel's speed and power often. She also likes to poke fun at her brother Kotaro for his apparent ineptness when it comes to his crush on Misaki. Hatoko also treats Misaki like her student rather than her nee-chan (sister) and is also her mentor. Hatoko's angel is Suzuka.
Shuko Suzuhara (鈴原 萩子 Suzuhara Shūko)
- Angel Entry Phrase: "Athena's wings! Open up the future!"
- Date of birth: November 28, 1965
- Voiced by: Kikuko Inoue (Japanese), Christine M. Auten (English)
- Shuko is Misaki's mother and Shoko's elder sister. She is 31 years old. In the anime, it is explained that Shuko left a 5-year-old Misaki to be taken care of her grandparents under the guise of work, when in reality she was going to Tokyo in order to find a way to cure the neurological disease she had been inflicted with. This disease inhibits nerve signals from reaching to or from her legs. Ichiro Mihara was a doctor attempting to work with her to find a cure when the two started Angelic Layer as a way to do research and raise funds when their original research funding was cut off. Shuko, or "Shu" as she is called when playing Angelic Layer, is the undisputed champion with her angel Athena, having won each of the past three national championships. Over the past seven years, she has avoided meeting Misaki, afraid of what Misaki would think of her. In the manga, however, Shuko has no such disease and is merely extremely shy about socializing with those she loves. She also works for the company behind Angelic Layer.
Ohjiro Mihara (三原 王二郎 Mihara Ōjirō)
- Angel Entry Phrase: Unknown
- Date of birth: October 20, 1982
- Voiced by: Soichiro Hoshi (Japanese), Chris Patton (English)
- Ohjiro is 15 years old. He's Icchan's younger step-brother. He has been involved with Angelic Layer for many years, in a large part because it was what brought him and Icchan together after their parents married each other. Ohjiro competes in Kobe and has been the champion of the Kansai Regional games, as well as being the runner-up in the national tournament for two consecutive years. He has a desperate desire to defeat Shuko Suzuhara's angel Athena to get over a childhood crush he had on her. His angel is Wizard. In the anime it is revealed that he is falling in love with Misaki, but he develops a love for both Shuko and Misaki. In the manga, he has no feelings for Misaki or Shuko, but likes Tamayo.
Shoko Asami (浅見 祥子 Asami Shōko)
- Date of birth: August 12, 1971
- Voiced by: Kotono Mitsuishi (Japanese), Kelly Manison (English)
- Shoko is Misaki's aunt and Shuko's younger sister. She's 26 years old. She demands that Misaki and her friends call her "Miss Shoko" instead of "aunt" ("obasan" in Japanese) because she is still "an attractive young newscaster." She often covers Angelic Layer events for the local news station that she works for. Misaki lives with Shoko when she moves to Tokyo.
- Her hairstyle bears a resemblance to that of Takako Shimizu in Chobits.
Kaede Saito (斉藤 楓 Saitō Kaede)
- Angel Entry Phrase: Blanche! Everything is at your will!
- Date of birth: October 14, 1981
- Voiced by: Ayako Kawasumi (Japanese), Tiffany Terrell (English)
- Kaede is a 15 year old quiet and wise girl from Kanagawa and is friends with Sai Jounouchi. Her parents divorced and she lives with her father. She received an angel egg as a gift from someone in her father's company. Her personality does not appear to be one suited for Angelic Layer, as pointed out by her father when he comments that he never believed that he would see Kaede compete in a fighting game. Despite this, she is very adept at Angelic Layer. She treats her angel, Blanche, as her own daughter.
- She also appears in Chobits as Minoru Kokubunji's late older sister.
Ringo Seto (瀬戸 林子 Seto Ringo)
- Angel Entry Phrase: Start dancing, Ranga!
- Date of birth: May 24, 1983
- Voiced by: Kana Ueda (Japanese), Mariela Ortiz (English)
- Ringo is a 14 year old pop idol from Tochigi who plays Angelic Layer over the objections of her manager. In order to become strong and beat Hikaru, she studies Hikaru's past battles, notably against Suzuka because she didn't lose quickly. Ringo likes living freely and often escapes from her manager to get out of doing work. When Misaki was fighting her male classmate Ryo Misaki in a set of Angelic Layer matches, Ringo encouraged Misaki on between matches. Ringo's angel is Ranga.
Sai Jounouchi (城乃内 最 Jōnouchi Sai)
- Angel Entry Phrase: Let the silver snow fall! Dance, Shirahime!
- Date of birth: February 15, 1980
- Voiced by: Houko Kuwashima (Japanese), Tiffany Grant (English)
- 16 year old Sai Jounouchi, known as the "Ice Machine," started playing Angelic Layer at the request of her terminally ill sister Rin. Rin designed what the angel would look like, but died before Sai could create her. As a result, Sai states that her reason for playing Angelic Layer is "to become strong." Sai is from Kanagawa and was the runner-up in the Kantō Regional games in the past year. She is friends with Kaede, who went to the same middle school as Sai. Her angel is Shirahime.
Madoka Fujisaki (藤崎 円香 Fujisaki Madoka)
- Angel Entry Phrase: Hit! Slash! Break! Mao's fist is my fist! The Angel descends!
- Date of birth: October 27, 1984
- Voiced by: Tomoko Kawakami (Japanese), Shelley Calene-Black (English)
- Madoka is a strong competitor in the Kantō Regional games who fights against Suzuka and Hikaru, losing to both. Madoka is a Kung Fu artist, using martial arts as her angel's chief fighting tactics. She has a strong desire to defeat Hatoko Kobayashi's angel, Suzuka to recover her family's "lost pride". While spectating Hikaru's fight against another contestant, she and her sister make it clear to Kaede Saito and Sai Jonouchi that she will not lose to anyone until after Suzuka is defeated. Arisu and Madoka sabotage Hikaru with a transmitter that will block Misaki's thoughts from reaching her doll in the hopes of winning, but are caught by Ohjiro Mihara. After losing, Madoka obtains a new outlook on why people play Angelic Layer and realizes that it was made to be fun for any person, to the slight annoyance of her sister. Madoka's angels are created by her younger sister, Arisu.
Arisu Fujisaki (藤崎 有栖 Fujisaki Arisu)
- Angel Entry Phrase: Unknown
- Date of birth: June 25, 1987
- Voiced by: Chiemi Chiba (Japanese), Mandy Clark (English)
- Arisu is a talented genius Angel-builder who aids her sister in creating Angels. She follows in her sister's steps as a talented Kung Fu artist, and creates very strong and agile angels. Arisu does not make Angels for herself, suggesting that she is not good at guiding them. Arisu designed Mao and Unpyo to be stronger than Suzuka, but Unpyo loses to Suzuka in record time, which mortifies her and her sister. After sabotaging Hikaru with a transmitter, Arisu is caught by Ohjiro Mihara and is told that Angelic Layer is meant to show true talent and that anyone can be brilliant, thus forcing her to give up cheating to win. She is very sensitive about the Angels she builds, and accuses her sister of not liking the Angels she made after their loss to Hikaru. Arisu creates a balance oriented Angel for herself near the end of the anime, called Arisu, and vows to beat Hikaru in a friendly battle. At the end credits, in the last episode, Arisu is shown fighting the angel Queen with Alice.
- Arisu's name is translated in the Japanese anime credits as "Alice".
Masaharu Ogata (尾形 雅治 Ogata Masaharu)
- Date of birth: August 27, 1973
- Voiced by: Tomokazu Seki (Japanese), Mark Laskowski (English)
- Ogata(age 24) is one of Icchan's subordinates in the Angelic Layer control room and lab. Icchan often ensnares Ogata into situations that result in Ogata getting "penalized." These penalties involve a range of embarrassing or terrible things, such as having a live octopus being stuck down his pants or being made to eat spaghetti through his nose. Icchan also named a remarkably ugly angel after him as a penalty.
Clamp is known to reference their various works in different publications, including attempting to unify all of their works together through later publications Tsubasa: Reservoir Chronicle and xxxHolic. :
Connections to ChobitsEdit
- In the manga, the pre-story pages show faux newspaper articles that mention tidbits from other series.
- Piffle Princess is the store where Misaki buys supplies for Hikaru. This store is also found in other Clamp creations such as Cardcaptor Sakura, Legal Drug, xxxHolic, and Chobits, but is also Tomoyo's company in Tsubasa: Reservoir Chronicle
- In page 16 of volume 7 of Chobits, Kaede Saito's story of her death was told by her brother Minoru. Misaki, Sai, and Ohjiro are in the background, standing by her bed in one panel and crying with her back turned after she dies.
- In volume 7 of Chobits, silhouettes of the legendary Angelic Layer dolls (Shirahime, Blanche, Wizard, Suzuka, and Hikaru) are shown as Chitose tells Motosuwa the truth about her husband's earlier work with the Angelic Layer game.
- Mihara is a known last name to be used by two popular Clamp characters. Chiharu Mihara of Cardcaptor Sakura and Icchan Mihara. Chiharu's last name Mihara is used by Icchan Mihara, who is also the late husband of Chitose Hibiya of Chobits. Chitose used the Mihara last name in another Clamp work Kobato.
Crossovers in other seriesEdit
- In volume 9 of Cardcaptor Sakura, Kero is reading an Angelic Layer book, which appears to be one for a computer game.
- Tamayo, Oujiro, Shouko and the Angelic Layer announcer appear in Tsubasa: Reservoir Chronicle in Piffle Country, while Kaede and Sai appeared in Rekord Country.
- In the country of Infinity in Tsubasa: Reservoir Chronicle, there is a tournament with similarities to Angelic Layer battles, where the Deus sits on an egg-shaped chair and telekinetically controls the players (in Tsubasa: Reservoir Chronicle they are called "chess pieces" instead of "Angels", however, and often normal people are the pieces.)
- Hikaru is introduced in Chapter 144 of Tsubasa: Reservoir Chronicle as an "automata", a chess piece which Eagle (a crossover character from Magic Knight Rayearth) uses in a one-on-one battle with Sakura and Syaoran.
- Hikaru appears in Magic Knight Rayearth as one of the main characters.
- In Volume 1 of Angelic Layer, Icchan Mihara sings the opening song to Season 1 of Cardcaptor Sakura, "Catch You, Catch Me", at a karaoke machine.
- In volume 4 of Angelic Layer, Misaki sings cheerfully to herself as she is making breakfast; the words of her song are, "A field of peony pink..." She is singing "Peony Pink", the theme song to Clamp School Detectives.
- In Tsubasa: Reservoir Chronicle, Sakura and Syaoran wake up in an Angel Egg after being in the Ōto Country and they're met by Chitose Hibiya. Also, in one panel in volume 6 Misaki, Tamayo, and Ohjiro can be seen being served by Sakura in the Cat's Eye Cafe.
- Eriol Academy is a Cardcaptor Sakura crossover, Eriol being the name of Clow Reed's reincarnation.
- In Tsubasa Reservoir Chronicles, in Ōto Coutry, the lady at the city hall is based on the angel Blanche.
- In Exam 9 of Kobato., Misaki and Tamayo make a brief cameo giving out beers.
A postcard collection was released in Japan on October 20, 2001.