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An Angelic Review Episode 1

Angelic Layer Graphic Novel 2 (5) (TOKYOPOP)

English Adaptation by Jamie S. Rich
Translation by Anita Sengupta
Editor - Jake Forbes
Originally published 1999 by Kodosha Shoten Co. Ltd.

This month (and for 3 more reviews in the future) it's a double dose of angels & CLAMP! First off a title your already familiar with, Angelic Layer, then a new angel related CLAMP title (Wish). First, Angelic Layer. (By now you know the drill, both are 100% Authentic Manga published right to left (Japanese style) so I'm going to start to not mention it from now on unless it's not published that way).

Previously in Angelic Layer

There's this game that's all the rage in Tokyo, and it's called Angelic Layer (where small marionette type robots called Angels fight it out, controlled by their owners (Deus) who fight for fame, glory, and of course money of one sort (points for bigger and better Angelic Layer stuff) or another (eventual endorsements, appearances, and the other trappings of mega fame!))

But that doesn't concern young Misaki Suzuhara because she just saw Angelic Layer on a huge vid screen overlooking the street she's lost on and has become hopeless entranced by it! But how can she get into all this action? Well, with the help of a strange scientist (whose connection to the game you'll learn about as you read) who wants to keep his true identity secret from Misaki, she'll make her own Angel and strive to become the best of the best!

Graphic Novel 1 started Misaki's journey, as she made new (and strange) friends, learned the game of Angelic Layer, and had her first taste of both victory and defeat. But now, as she's up against another strong player (who happens to be a pop star/idol singer to boot) it looks like Misaki has her work cut out for her as we enter Graphic Novel 2.

Graphic Novel 2

We're back and the battle between Misaki & pop star Ringo Seto is still on folks! In the end, as if you had any doubts, Misaki aces this one and wins, earning a new friend in Ringo Seto who warns her about her next opponent. And it looks like that warning is justified because her next opponent (part of a tag team duo, one working on the field and one off) likes to cheat. But that's the gist of this book. For the most part the entire 2nd Graphic Novel revolves around the tournament and all it's happenings. It's packed with a lot of fighting, dirty cheating (from that pair I told you about), and surprises in this one including mysterious new people spying on Misaki and a new guy who helps Misaki beat the cheating duo and - well, you'll have to read that for yourself so I'll save that for you to find out on your own (it's just no fun if I spoil it all for you!)

As the four finalists are picked (two you know, Matoko & our girl Misaki for one, and two new deus you'll know soon enough) you're given more mysteries, strange happenings, and things to drive you crazy as well as all out fighting fun in this one. For instance, there's a strange woman whose spying on Misaki, perhaps it might even be her mother (not seen by Misaki in this side of forever). And then there's the young man who helps Misaki beat the cheats, what's his story and how is he related to the mysterious Mr. Icchan (who, as you now know if you read Angelic Layer GN 1 is - not yet - one more review and I'll tell you the truth about Mr. Icchan).

Oh, and as the book nears it's end they take a week off before the finals so Misaki can spend it pondering something both her mysterious mentor and her soon to be rival notes.

Misaki has to overcome a weakness in Hikaru. Problem is, Misaki doesn't know what that weakness is... yet. She only has a week to figure it out (oh, less, because the book ends a day or two after the event). And that's where we leave of. On the cusp of a cliffhanger with tons of questions, including the most important one (about Hikaru's 'weakness' that Misaki must figure out and overcome) as well as a few others that you'll discover as you read the book. But enough about that for now, it's time for the breakdown.

Angelic Layer Breakdown the 2nd (of 5)

What's Hot? - Angelic Layer is hot! I can't wait to see the anime because if it's anything like the manga it'll be an utter treat to watch! If you can, add this to your collection!

What's Not? - Your given abit to consider, and there's very little interaction this time out between Misaki & Icchan (her strange mentor) this time out. Maybe next time...

Moments to Remember - The fights are the most memorable this time! They're hot and fast and full on in your face exciting! And there's a few fights this time out so your guaranteed some serious action!

What to Ignore? - For now don't ignore anything. There's quite abit going on this time out and it'll all come to a head no doubt later on.

Overall? - We're heading to the halfway mark soon and things are still great! Looking forward to Angelic Layer Graphic Novel 3 (5)!

Wish Graphic Novel 1
Published by TOKYOPOP

Translator - Ray Yoshimoto
English Adaptation - Jamie S. Rich
Editor - Jake Forbes
Originally published 1996 by Kadokawa Shoten Publishing

Fact - Did you know that the angels in this book didn't start out female/male? But when asked, an associate of mine noted the book is a shonenai love story (boy/boy love) in Japan. When asked about the gender issue, TOKYOPOP Senior Editor Mr. Jake Forbes had this to say.

'They are genderless. We use feminine pronouns for the angels and male pronouns for the devils, but they are indeed genderless and it says as much in the books. They are by no means male. In Japanese it is possible to avoid using gender pronouns in a 800 page story. In English it is not.'

But how is pronouns different between the Japanese & English versions?

'In English we would say "He's so weird" but in Japanese they would just say "so weird." They don't use pronouns like we do.'

And about Kohaku's gender?

'Every character who comments on Kohaku's gender first thinks that Kohaku's female. Please read the book and you will see for yourself.'

(Note - For the purposes of this and future reviews of Wish, we'll call the angel Kohaku 'she' and use the female pronouns for talking about her since that's the way with the book. No need to confuse you on that topic so we won't. It doesn't matter anyway because it's a good read regardless, now)

The Plot

Ladies and gentlemen? Meet high on the income major surgeon fellow Mr. Shuichiro Kudo. Now, most people (after pulling a hectic shift at work) walking home (becaue they're too tired to drive) usually find cats stuck in trees. Not this guy. He finds himself a genuine angel (in Cherub form no less which is a cute little baby like angel form with a large head) who he saves from a nasty crow (who is in this story a servant of the devil) and gains her undying desire to thank him. But boy does she have a Rube Goldberg style of thanking him! She wants to follow him home, and then (when morning comes and she changes back to her true form) offer him a wish - and he didn't even need to gather seven mystical DragonBalls for that wish either!

But he turns her down flat. It seems he's a very independent minded fellow who wants to do everything for himself, and that isn't any good for the angel in question (Kohaku) who won't go away until Shuichiro made his wish (and boy will she NOT go away!) Problem is as an angel she doesn't need to eat (and cannot eat either animal or plant) so watching him eat makes her dreadfully ill (prone to fainting spells), and she can't cook (since she doesn't need to and can't eat) so all she can really do is water the trees in his yard, and clean up after him, and even then she doesn't think she's doing a good job of it.

Oh, but it seems Kohaku was there for another job when she got sidetracked (or so it seems) by this 'wish' thing. She's looking for her mentor and best friend (a major high level angel who suddenly vanished from Heaven three months ago in Earth time). And, wouldn't you know it, she also runs into a little devil (though only little during the day) and his two henchgirls (cats) which she has a standing rivalry against (which includes Kohaku and her rival calling each other fat alot!) The short of it? She DOES find her long lost mentor, and then things get REALLY interesting! Can't just find her and she goes home. Oh NO! It gets weirder, but you'll have to read it yourself to find out how weird. Next time I'll recap the weirdness when we review Wish GN 2 though.

The book ends with the promise of greater things to come as we are left wanting more, and you'll feel the same when you read this and can't wait to pick up Wish Graphic Novel 2! This, readers, is only the beginning of a great and solid reading experience that you'll have to pick up, and read for yourself. I don't want to say much more, because this is a great book and should be read. So go out and get a copy.

Now, onto the breakdown at hand.

Wish Breakdown the 1st.

What's Hot? - It's a great, funny, cute, beautiful and wondrous story all at once, and it's solid from start, middle right to the end! No flaws, no errors, no skips. This is perfect all the way through! If you want something nice for your collection this is one of the books I recommend wholeheartedly.

What's Not? - Sure there are those nagging details about the book, but overlook them because this is a series that is a must have for your collection. Solid reading experience, great characters and lovable good AND bad characters make it a great read.

Moments to Remember? - Far too many to list here. There's lots of memories here!

What to Ignore? - Nothing. Solid read, don't ignore a thing.

Overall? - It's wondrously imaginative, appealing, with characters that'll just tug at you and make you want to love them (even the bad guys have their quirky points that make them good reads). This is without a doubt a solid read and regardless of whether you're an angel fan, a fan of CLAMP or just want an experience in reading that's different from your normal reading patterns, this is the book for you.

Pick it up, and give it a spin. You'll be glad you did.

Where to get more?

Once again any good book store or comic shop or manga mail order company will do. Find the place that best serves your needs and buy often from them, and you'll soon find your loyalty will not go unnoticed if you're a persistent buyer.

Who gets the credit?

Credit once again goes to Amazing Al's (San Diego, CA-USA) with Shawn at the store itself, Mr. Jon Willis at the warehouse, and the gang at Amazing Al's providing support and back-up. Thanks!

Next time.

Schedule fell out of balance. I wanted to squeeze in one more review but it looks like we're going straight to the year ending review next time out. It depends on the timing. If next review is out before December (or I haven't gotten Angelic Layer GN 3 & Wish GN 2 yet) I can still squeeze in the MKRE year ender, if not then NEXT time I'll give you your SECOND dose of Angelic goodness by CLAMP! (Just because you need more up to date reviews and I'm here to comply!)

Angelic Layer Graphic Novel 3 - As we march towards the semi-finals of the big tournament we'll see if Misaki has learned Hikaru's weakness in time before she gets blown away by the competition! She only has days remaining so she better hop to it!

Meanwhile, in the land of Wish? Eh - I don't know. It's left at such a place (end of Graphic Novel 1) that I don't know where it's going next, and to say what I know will spoil the surprise for you. So the best you can do is return and find out with me what is going on when Wish Graphic Novel 2 is reviewed.

Then, at the start of the new year, it's another double header. Next time however it's that long promised Real Bout High School review (back on track again), and we'll also go back to 6th Grade hell with Kodocha-Sana's Stage GN 2 (the continuation). So that's that. Until then keep your horizons open, read new things, and take care.

All Things Manga by David Rasmussen
Copyright 2003. All rights reserved. Images courtesy of Tokyopop.