Angel Heart (エンジェル・ハート Enjeru Hāto?) is a manga series written and illustrated by Tsukasa Hojo published in the Weekly Comic Bunch since 2001. It was adapted into an animated television series, which aired in Japan from October 3, 2005 to September 25, 2006.
A young girl stands on top of a building in Shinjuku as she receives a call from her handler. The handler congratulates the girl, known as "Glass Heart" with a job well done regarding her latest kill, which her handler refers to as her 50th. Glass Heart recounts the day's events. She had just killed a man sitting on a park bench with a silenced gun. As she was leaving the park, a small girl runs in with some ice cream and Glass Heart realizes that she has just killed the father of a young girl. With that she jumps off the building, impaling her chest on the iron spiked fence below.
At the same time, Kaori Makimura is running late for an appointment to take wedding photos with her husband, the "City Hunter" Ryo Saeba. When she sees a girl about to be run over by a truck, she jumps and pushes the girl out of the way before the truck hits her. A short while later, she is declared brain dead and her heart is harvested for organ donation, as she had a donor card on her when she died. However, the Organization, needing a heart for their assassin, steal Kaori's heart while it is in transit and implants it into Glass Heart's body.
Glass Heart is transported to Taiwan, where she remains in a coma for a year. During that time, she is haunted by the images of the people she has killed, along with the images of the donor Kaori as well as Ryo Saeba of whom she does not know. She wakes up after one year to find out who these people are. She travels back to Shinjuku, and after several close events, manages to track down the "City Hunter". He has retired from his role since his wife's death. Upon finding that Glass Heart is the recipient of Kaori's heart, Ryo decides to adopt her as his daughter, and is also given a name provided by her real father: Xiang Ying. The former mercenary now tries to help the former assassin move on with a normal life in the outside world.
- Voiced by: Mao Kawasaki
- A young Taiwanese girl who is the main protagonist of Angel Heart. In reality, she is the daughter of Li Jian-Qiang, the leader of the crime syndicate Zheng Dao Hui. However at the age of two, she and her mother were involved in a car accident when their car plunged off a cliff into a river. Her mother was killed in the accident but Xiang-Ying was never found, despite the best efforts of her father and his organization to locate her. In a cruel twist of fate, Xiang-Ying was found and taken in by the Zhuque Corps (a section of Zheng Dao Hui which specializes in assassinations) and trained to be an assassin. Because of the accident, she has no memory of her childhood, and as a result does not know her true parentage. This is also why her entry in the Zhuque was never known by her father until it was too late. While in training for the Zhuque Corps, she was referred to as Number 27 but after her training was complete, she was referred to as Glass Heart. After attempting to commit suicide, the heart of Kaori Makimura was transplanted into her, and with it, the overpowering desire to live and to be reunited with Ryo Saeba. As a result, she busts out of the lab she was kept in and travels to Japan where she finally meets Ryo. Ryo, in turn adopts Xiang-Ying as their (Ryo and Kaori's) daughter.
- Xiang-Ying is only 15 years old at the start of the series, despite looking like she was in her early twenties. By volume 20 of the manga she is already 19 years old, though appearance-wise she has not changed.
- Xiang-Ying has had very little contact with the outside world, except through her handlers. As a result, any potential situation which she perceives as a threat assessment would meet a harsh response, as evidenced when she nearly kills a man merely trying to pick her up. Not surprisingly, the people around her, Ryo, Saeko, Umibozu, Chin, and even Xin-Hong realize they have an upward task in trying to teach her how to function in the outside world.
- There are several coincidences between Xiang-Ying and Kaori. One, is that the Japanese character for Kaori is pronounced as "Xiang" in Chinese, hence her name "Xiang-Ying". Also, her major histocompatibility complex is very similar to Kaori's as their human leukocyte antigen encodings are virtually identical. Because of this, Xiang-Ying does not need to worry about her body rejecting Kaori's heart as her immune system has been fooled into thinking her heart is the same.
- With Kaori's heart, she remembers all of Kaori's memories, her residence, favorite coffee, quotes, and emotions. Along with these memories she inherits is also the ability to hammer Ryo with Hammerspace weapons if Ryo gets out of line (much like Kaori did), much to Ryo's annoyance. She has also gained the penchant for wanton destruction that Kaori has always exhibited when the latter is infuriated, this is in contrast to her previous tendency to execute her previous missions with stealth and finesse.
- Ryo Saeba (冴羽 獠 Saeba Ryō?)
- Voiced by: Akira Kamiya
- The former protagonist of City Hunter. Like Xiang-Ying, Ryo himself has no memory of his background, being the lone survivor of a plane crash that killed his parents, and raised to be a mercenary. During his time as City Hunter, he was praised as one of the best in the underworld, while being a lecherous and perverted woman chaser going after "mokkori" (sexy) girls. However, he had come to a point where he decided to settle down and take Kaori as his wife. He was with Kaori in her last moments after she was hit by a truck, begging her to live.
- At the beginning of the story, Ryo Saeba is a grieved man. He has since closed down his business as City Hunter (where you hire him by scrawling the initials XYZ on a specific bulletin board at Shinjuku Station and none uses bulletin due to technology development-mobile phone). To deal with the loss of his fiance Kaori, he has resorted to his former ways of skirt chasing, while his friends Saeko and Umibozu know that he is doing this to hide his pain. The arrival of Xiang-Ying in his life gives him some form of closure as well as something to live for as he tries to raise someone who he considers to be his and Kaori's daughter (by virtue of her stolen heart).
- Adopted by Ryo, Xiang-Ying affectionately calls him "Ryo Pa-pa".
- Kaori Makimura (槇村 香 Makimura Kaori?)
- Voiced by: Kazue Ikura
- In this alternate story, Kaori is hit by a truck while trying to save a young girl while on her way to take wedding pictures with Ryo. Her heart was harvested for use in another recipient before it was intercepted by the Zheng Dao Hui for use in Glass Heart after her attempted suicide. Her age at her time of death is listed as 28.
- Like Xiang-Ying and Ryo, Kaori also does not know her true parentage, being the daughter of a criminal who died in a police incident and later being adopted by the Makimura family. However, unlike the City Hunter anime, Kaori somehow knows that she is not related to the family who raised her. When she was younger, she would wait at Shinjuku station every day for her father (who had died) to come through the turnstiles, believing that he would come, before her brother would arrive to pick her up.
- Although she may be dead, Xiang-Ying can feel Kaori's thoughts inside of her and Kaori can also communicate to Ryo through Xiang-Ying. In the manga, Kaori can almost physically prevent Xiang-Ying from carrying out certain actions, from not allowing her to pull the trigger in an assassination attempt, to immobilizing her by causing their heart to ache. However, Kaori only intercedes to stop Xiang-Ying from killing or to prevent her from taking unnecessary risks. In a sense, Kaori acts as a guardian angel to Xiang-Ying as she helps guide the former assassin to a normal life.
- After seeing Kaori and Ryo's first meeting through a dream she feels Kaori showed to her, Xiang-Ying affectionately refers to Kaori as "Kaori Ma-ma".
- Umibozu (海坊主?)
- Voiced by: Tessho Genda
- Umibozu is owner of the Cat's Eye cafe. In a nod to events in the last episodes of City Hunter, Umibozu is now blind, but his blindness has not affected his abilities. He even admits that due to his blindness, he can "see" certain things that people with normal sight cannot see, such as recognizing people before they come into his cafe. Unlike the City Hunter episodes, Umibozu now considers Ryo as his friend as evidenced by his concern for Ryo's mental health. While Umibozu sometimes prefers calling himself Falcon, there is no mention of his original name, Hayato Ijuin (伊集院 隼人), from the original City Hunter Series. There is also the issue of his fear of cats in the previous episodes of City Hunter as in one episode of Angel Heart, he shows up wearing pajamas with pictures of cats on them. He has no partner from the beginning: there's no Miki who is a commando.
- Saeko Nogami (野上 冴子 Nogami Saeko?)
- Voiced by: Yoko Asagami
- Since City Hunter, Saeko has moved up the ranks in the police department to become Superintendent of Shinjuku district. Whereas in previous City Hunter episodes she used her attractiveness and her young looks to manipulate Ryo Saeba, in Angel Heart, she is not as manipulative, as she worries about becoming "old", especially when characters remind her of her age. Saeko may have a personal stake in seeing Xiang-Ying become a normal woman as it has been hinted that Glass Heart may have been responsible for her sister Reika's untimely demise.
- Saeko's feelings toward Ryo are different in Angel Heart compared to City Hunter suggesting a possible relationship may be explored in Angel Heart.
- Liu Xin-Hong (劉 信宏?)
- Voiced by: Chihiro Suzuki
- Xin-Hong is a childhood friend of Xiang-Ying and was referred to as Number 36 during training for the Zhuque Corps. He has developed feelings of affection for Xiang-Ying, and as a result, the trainers had Xiang-Ying and Xin-Hong face off in a fight to the death in the final exam. Xiang-Ying managed to get the drop on Xin-Hong and reluctantly killed her only friend, or so she thought. Somehow, he survived, and was transferred to the Qinglong Corps, another branch of Zheng Dao Hui. In fact, throughout this time, Xin-Hong has kept his desire to reunite himself with Xiang-Ying as his motivating factor to live. After the Qinglong were killed off by the Xuanwe, he was allowed by Li Jian-Qiang to live a normal life in order to watch over Xiang-Ying.
- Incidentally, Xin-Hong was also the assassin who sniped Li Qian De through his hotel room window. However, Li Jian-Qiang did not hold him responsible for his brother's death, knowing full well that he was trained to follow orders, and that most soldiers and assassins that work under him do not know who their leaders are.
- Unlike Xiang-Ying, Xin-Hong is a bit more refined when it comes to dealing with the outside world (except in one instance when he buys her reinforced rubber knuckle-dusters as a gift with his first paycheque). This is evidenced in one episode where Xin-Hong is adept at being a waiter at a Chinese restaurant whereas Xiang-Ying has no clue as to what is going on. Xin-Hong also still maintains his strong feelings for Xiang-Ying, but he keeps his feelings to himself as he knows that Xiang-Ying does not know what love is.
- Lǐ Jiān-Qiáng (李 堅強?)
- Voiced by: Kinryu Arimoto, young Hirofumi Nojima
- Often referred to as "Master Li", he is the leader of Zheng Dao Hui and father of Xiang-Ying. However, his true involvement with Zheng Dao Hui is unknown as it was discovered that it was his twin brother, Li Qian-De who was calling the shots while Li Jian-Qiang was raising a family. After Qian-De's death, he takes over the duties of the Zheng Dao Hui. Li Jian-Qiang will never forget that his daughter was made into an assassin in his own organization despite his efforts to find her after the accident that killed her mother. He will never forgive himself for everything she had to go through. Although he would like to be reunited with Xiang-Ying, he knows that it is best that she not know her true parentage. To that effect he requested Ryo to take care of her, knowing full well that she could never return to him. He is also the first to call her by her nickname, "Ah-Xiang" which is what he used to call her when she was so much younger. (It is common in Chinese culture to take someone's first name and add the prefix "ah" to it when addressing someone younger or in a friendly manner such as in a family). Ryo, Kaori and Saeko are the only other people who call her by this name.
- Lǐ Qiān-Dé (李 謙德?)
- Voiced by: Kinryu Arimoto, young Kenji Nojima
- Li Jian-Qiang's younger twin brother. Qian De became a "shadow" for Li Jian-Qiang and took over duties as head of the Zheng Dao Hui while his elder brother spent time with his family. It seems with the exception of Li Jian-Qiang's aide, Chief Chén, no one else in the organization knew that there were 2 "Master Li"s. Qian De was responsible for getting his brother and his future wife, Lin Xiang Ping, together and even managed to convince his brother to have a child and not neglect his family. As Ryo notes later, if not for Qian De's intervention, Xiang-Ying would never have come into being. Ryo was also good friends with Qian De, and they would hang out together drinking whenever Qian De was in Japan (Ryo even claims he learned all his bad habits from Qian De, though it could be the other way round). Ryo's history with the Li's even went further back, when Li Jian-Qiang hired him to rescue his brother from the jungles of Cambodia 22 years before Qian De's death.
- Chief Chén (陳侍衛長?)
- Voiced by: Kouji Yada
- Li Jian-Qiang's second in command and leader of the Xuan Wu division, another branch of the Zheng Dao Hui. He has been assigned to Li Jian-Qiang to stay in Tokyo and watch over Xiang-Ying. He later runs a restaurant called the Gates of Xuan Wu (a reference to his group) and appears to be a marvelous chef. He is also well-known throughout Japan's underworld and one look will send yakuza running for their lives. It was revealed in both the manga and the anime, that when Li Qian De died he left a huge fortune for Xiang-Ying and it was Chén's job to oversee the execution of his will. However, Xiang-Ying is unaware of this.
- Hideo Mochiyama (餅山 秀夫?)
- Voiced by: Naoki Tatsuta
- A low-level yakuza affiliated with the Zheng Dao Hui. Mochiyama is one of the first to encounter Glass Heart and is later witness to Li Qian De's death. He is a bit of an incompetent, however, as he cannot participate in a firefight, and has some homosexual tendencies as he displays open affection for Ryo.
- Doc (ドク?)
- Voiced by: Bin Shimada
- A doctor who runs the Hanazono clinic, and looks after most of the underworld denizens of Shinjuku. As a result, he does not make much money out of this venture and occasionally doubles as a club harker in order to make ends meet. Despite this, he is a very capable doctor. He is the second person after Umibozu to realize that Kaori has returned in Xiang-Ying. In fact, before hiring Tomoko as his nurse, he had previously employed Kaori when she was around Xiang-Ying's age.
- This "Doc" is based on the original Doc in the City Hunter manga where he helps Ryo out on a consistent basis. "Doc" did not appear in the City Hunter anime series, so therefore viewers may be confused as to how Ryo is associated with him.
- Tomoko (智子?)
- Voiced by: Risa Yukino
- Often referred to as Tomo-chan, she works as a nurse for Doc and is subject to Ryo's constant advances. She started working for Doc soon after Kaori left the clinic to work with Ryo, after her brother's murder.
- Miki (ミキ?)
- Voiced by: Mami Koyama
- Miki is a young girl who lived in the slums of Shinjuku. Labeled as the "Lucky Little Ghost", those who meet her would fall for her smile, and are somehow befallen with good fortune later on. Previously, she lived in an underground section of Shinjuku Station alone after her mother had passed away several years before. After a hit-and-run accident, she would be adopted by Umibozu and would later on live with him at the Cat's Eye Cafe.
- Miki is unaware of who her father was, though it was revealed later to the other characters that he was the King of an unnamed country. He often visited Japan while on business and fell in love with Miki's mother who worked in an old bar in a quiet area. Because the political situation in the kingdom was unstable, when she became pregnant, Miki's mother left her job and disappeared. She raised her daughter all alone in an abandoned underground arcade so no one would be able to find them if they discovered their existence. Miki's mother would later die in an accident and Saeko would be the first of our heroes to encounter the little girl. Much later after Miki starts living at the Cat's Eye Cafe, Ryo and Xiang-Ying would find out the King had been killed and replaced with a double. All these events are kept from Miki to protect her.
- Although this Miki shares the same name as Miki in City Hunter, they are not the same character. Like the Miki in Angel Heart, the Miki in City Hunter was also an orphan and raised by Umibozu, though in City Hunter, this Miki is much older. Miki's hairstyle also appears to be similar to the original Miki in the third and fourth City Hunter series.
- Hideyuki Makimura (槇村 秀幸?)
- Voiced by: Hideyuki Tanaka
- Just as in the original City Hunter series and manga, Hideyuki was Kaori's beloved older brother. He was a dedicated police officer by day, who had created the underground identity of City Hunter to rid the city of the crime and injustice that the police force could not. Through a chance encounter between the mercenary Ryo Saeba and his sister Kaori, the City Hunter dynamic would become a partnership and business, with Ryo forcing himself into the main role. It is later revealed that Ryo did this to protect Kaori's happiness, forcing himself into the active role so as to keep Hideyuki out of harm's way.
- Hideyuki was also friends with Saeko, both being police officers. Their friendship grew and eventually it seemed they were in love, though seemingly neither were very open with their feelings. However, one sticking point in their relationship was the City Hunter partnership (of which Saeko knew Hideyuki was a big part of). Saeko at the time did not approve of what City Hunter was doing, and that Hideyuki himself would sometimes disregard the law. During a quiet dinner in which Hideyuki had planned to ask Saeko to marry him, another argument broke out (he accidentally let slip that the case she had just wrapped up would've gone smoother if City Hunter had been involved). The evening was ruined and Hideyuki did not propose, telling Saeko that the jewel box she had accidentally knocked out of his hand was only a gift for his sister. Six months later, Hideyuki was murdered. Over the years, Saeko would find herself visiting the Makimura family grave, unable to shake the feeling that there had been something important on Hideyuki's mind that night, and perhaps the contents of that jewel case wasn't meant for Kaori at all. Xiang-Ying (with Kaori's consent) would later present the jewel case to Saeko, to reveal a wedding ring with Saeko's name engraved on it, confirming her hopes that Hideyuki had wanted to marry her.
- Hideyuki appears in Angel Heart only in flashback, since he had died before the series began.
- Yáng Fāng-Yù (楊 方玉?)
- Voiced by: Megumi Ogata
- Fāng-Yù is a fellow mercenary who has a history with Ryo dating back to their battle field days, presumably in Central America. She was seriously wounded and lost her left eye while she was fighting together with Ryo. Because her fiancé would never marry her due to her injuries, she demanded to be left behind while the others pulled out of the fight. Instead, Ryo got her off the battle field, promising her that he would take her fiancé's place if she didn't give up the will to live. Ever since, Ryo has been haunted by her presence fearing that she might actually force him to fulfill his promise. She occasionally returns to Japan from time to time, staying at Ryo and Xiang-Ying's apartment whether invited or not. She is currently in command of the elite mercenary unit, the "black panther". She has also adopted approximately 20 child orphans around the globe and claims them to be their (Ryo and Fong's) children, much to Ryo’s annoyance. When Xiang-Ying jokingly noted that if they were regarded to be "Pa-Pa's" children then they would be her siblings, Fāng-Yù was overjoyed and insisted Xiang-Ying call her "Ma-Ma". As Xiang-Ying reserved "Ma-Ma" for Kaori, she never used the term for Fāng-Yù, instead using "Fāng-san". Since Kaori's death, Fāng-Yù has been worried over Ryo's state of mind. She had him promise her that he would send her an email each year on her birthday (Christmas Day) so that she would know that he was alright. Starting from volume 15 of the manga, he would always forget, causing some comical situations.
Angel Heart takes place in an alternate continuity to Tsukasa Hojo's City Hunter series. There are substantial factual differences between the two series, such as the origins of Ryo as City Hunter, Kaori and Ryo's relationship, the circumstances of Hideyuki's death, and that several main characters previously present in City Hunter are not present in Angel Heart. Angel Heart features the Cat's Eye cafe, owned by Umibozu. The establishment appears in Hojo's Cat's Eye series (owned by the three Kisugi Sisters) and City Hunter (owned by Miki).
The series debuted on May 15, 2001 in Comics Bunch. Tsukasa claims the basic script took 5 years to create.
An animated television series based on Angel Heart was developed as a co-production between TMS Entertainment (the producers of the Cat's Eye anime), Yomiuri Telecasting Corporation, and Aniplex. It aired on various Nippon Television affiliates from October 2005 to September 2006, lasting 50 episodes.
- "New Tsukasa Hojo Manga to appear in Weekly Bunch". Anime News Network. Retrieved 2009-03-31.