Time for another action-packed episode of Angelic Layer!
Except not at all.
The first chapter was all about explaining just exactly what Angelic Layer was. In the second chapter, we learn a little bit more about the sport, and Misaki makes some friends. That last part is probably the most important for me. People read fiction for all kinds of reasons, entertainment being the most obvious. But I think wish fulfillment is also a big part of it. It’s one of my theories as to why Twilight was such a success. Bella is so bland and dull that it’s easy for readers to put themselves in her shoes.
Fortunately, Misaki is likable and has a personality (unlike Bella), but I think there’s still some wish-fulfillment for the thirteen-year-old version of me reading this. This is because junior high is pretty much the worst time of anyone’s life. It was a time when I was bullied and miserable, bushy-haired and awkward.
Maybe kids are nicer in Japan, because Misaki makes two friends with ease on her way to school. They start talking about Angelic Layer, and that’s that. I wish making friends was that easy in real life, and that the kids I went to school with were really that friendly. And even though I had more friends during middle school than I’d ever had up to that point, friendship still comes with drama, jealousies, and petty squabbles. Misaki and her friends don’t have any of that. They support each other and cheer Misaki on. It’s simple and uncomplicated. I could call it unrealistic, because relationships aren’t that straightforward. Maybe it’s the leftover strain of reading Snow Drop talking, or maybe it’s because it would be nice for things to be that easy, I’ll forgive it.
One trope that CLAMP is really fond of is a young genius character. In Chobits, it’s Minoru. Here, it’s Hatoko. I’m generally okay with it, depending on the kid. The thing withe child prodigies is that writers will sometimes forget the “child” part, and just focus on the “prodigy”. Minoru is a cool, intelligent twelve-year-old, who also dresses his persocoms (humanoid robots, for those who haven’t read it) in sexy, revealing outfits. Minoru’s calm demeanor and wisdom don’t really make him seem like a pre-teen, but I could totally see a twelve-year-old boy dressing up his robots in sexy clothes, whether he’s a genius or not.
Hatoko is six years old, and doesn’t act like it at all. She’s cheerful, but is too well-spoken and mature for her age. At six, most kids can’t sit still for more than a couple minutes. Even if she runs off from her older brother, Hatoko’s really not like that. It’s Misaki’s other friend, Tamayo, who’s bursting at the scenes with energy. I found Tamayo pretty obnoxious as a kid, and still annoying as an adult. This might be because I was similar to Tamayo when I was in eighth grade, and had a lot of self-loathing going on. Many years out of junior high later, it’s embarrassing to think that I used to act like that.
Or perhaps Tamayo is objectively annoying. Can any other Angelic Layer fans confirm or deny this?
One last thing before I go: Hikaru’s armor. The clothing angels wear is made out of special fabric and designed by their owners. Okay, I can buy Misaki sewing Hikaru’s clothes in a few hours. Hikaru’s small, and Misaki is clearly a beginner, but puts a lot of effort into the outfit. The head-scratcher here is the details of Hikaru’s outfit. Those screws and cuffs at the top of her gloves can’t be fabric. Even as a kid this bugged me.