Angelic Layer is a odd-duck in the land of anime – is it meant for girls, or for boys? Well, the answer might be “a bit of both,” although I hear the creators never intended it to be that way.
Angelic Layer is the story of a young girl who (almost by accident) starts playing a “game” where you control little humanoid robots and have them fight one another, and how this “game” relates to a number of important aspects of the young girl’s life (such as where her mother has gone, and her relationships with her classmates/friends/etc.).
At the beginning of this series, it seems like it has a lot of promise – there are a number of interesting characters (including my favorite, “wiggly Icchan!”) and it seems like things could get very interesting.
Unfortunately, despite some false starts here and there, things never really do get interesting. Throughout the whole series, only the main character ever gets explored in any depth, leaving the rest of the characters feeling a bit empty (since you never really learn anything about them or what motivates them). It just feels like there’s so much more potential that got cut short.
Also, this is a series which quickly devolves into a “battle of the week” style – that is, towards the end, each episode is basically one battle between the little robots, where you can pretty much guess who will win, and the episode feels like it’s been “stretched” to fit in the time-slot of a single episode (instead of compressing battles to save time and focus more on story-telling).
Whatever the reason for this (and there are several theories), the series suffers for it (in my opinion). Because of this, after watching the entire series from start to finish, I can’t give this series as high a rating as I thought it would get when I first started watching. Perhaps the maga is more interesting, but I haven’t read it so I don’t know.
Nevertheless, it is still an entertaining series – and certainly the first half is well worth watching, if for nothing else than Icchan’s antics alone! But, if you enjoy “battle of the week” style shows, or just like watching little robots beat one another up, then Angelic Layer might be just the thing for you.