≫ Angelic layer ≫ Angelic layer tome 1
Angelic layer tome 1
Angelic layer tome 1
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"Nice concept, shame about the book." by V. Krätke (Netherlands) on Nov 1, 2004
CLAMP can do lighthearted cutesy tales perfectly well. But when one of their fluffier manga gets popular enough to warrant more volumes, things tend to get choppy. The second half of the Magic Knight Rayearth manga basically took its sweet time to go nowhere. It was obviously just stretching bits to provide the base for a second season of the anime. The same fate befell Card Captor Sakura, whose later manga volumes are just an exercise in pointlessness.
Angelic Layer, however, feels overly stretched right from the start. The concept, at heart, is interesting. Basically, this is CLAMP's take on the whole breeding-and-battling genre. Instead of monsters, dinosaurs or any such thing, in Angelic Layer, the big craze in collectible critters to train and battle are small dolls in pretty outfits. A shojo twist on the whole Pokemon formula might've been interesting, but the idea is never really infused with any spark of life in this first volume.
CLAMP is just going through the motions with Angelic Layer. Characters are established with a little signature quirk, a running gag (Mr Itchan acts strange) is flogged to death to provide laughs and our heroine Misaki goes through the whole breeding-and-battling formula with a sense of bewildered enthusiasm that, alas, doesn't rub off on the reader. You can bet that the whole thing will culminate in a confrontation with a loved one, as CLAMP manga always do. Until then, the manga will basically play out to show Misaki achieving great Angelic Layer status through honest efforts. A sprinkling of shojo appeal and typical CLAMP trappings over the done-to-death formula of raising critters a la Pokemon is not enough to make for a fresh and interesting manga.
Even the art feels lazy. CLAMP's usual visual luster is nowhere to be found. Instead, the characters spend roughly half the manga in a sort of quasi-SD state where their bodies are drawn as mere white blobs with a stylised limb or two. Even 'serious' panels lack detail. Very stark black and white are usually the only shades present on a page. Everything has a stylised, rough look which might've made for an interesting effect, but ends up just looking rushed. This whole thing might work well as a full-length TV series, but in manga form it just rings hollow. It just presents a nifty concept and then fleshes it out with the most minimal possible means. CLAMP have done better, even in the field of cutesy commercial titles. I really can't be bothered to find out if further volumes of Angelic Layer will take the story to more interesting levels. I have a feeling that they sadly won't.