Angel Sanctuary (天使禁猟区 Tenshi Kinryōku?) is a shōjo manga series written and illustrated by Kaori Yuki. Originally serialized in Hana to Yume from February 1995 to February 2001, the chapters were collected and published in twenty tankōbon volumes by Hakusensha; the first volume was released in 1997 and the final volume was published in 2001. It focuses on a reincarnated angel named Setsuna, proclaimed to be the "Messiah", and his struggle against the corrupted angels of Heaven.
The manga was adapted as a three-episode original video animation (OVA) by Bandai Visual and Hal Film Maker; it was intended to be an introduction to the manga rather than a stand alone anime. Originally licensed by Central Park Media, the OVA is currently licensed by Media Blasters. A series of drama CDs based on the other story arcs was also released.
In this series, Assiah (Earth) and the upper levels of Hell (Gehenna) are mirror images of each other. As mankind polluted and destroyed the Earth, the lands of Hell also began to weaken. Taking advantage of their creator's sleep and the weakening of their enemies, the angels of heaven wage war on the Evil race (a group of demons who have turned away from the Devil, Lucifer and God; they live in Gehenna and worship "Holy Dragon Gods"), wiping most of them out. In doing this the angels fighting the war are corrupted. They commit vile crimes and murders under the name of God and righteousness. This deeply sickened Organic Angel Alexiel. She feels that the Evils are more pure in their actions since they do not put up a charade of purity to cover their crimes. She joins the Evils' side of the war and declares an official revolt against God.
The war comes to a climax and end when Alexiel fights against her brother Rosiel. Earlier, Rosiel had found out that he is decomposing and that his mind will rot. He went to Alexiel to ask her to kill him before he goes crazy, which she agrees to. But when she is about to deal the killing blow to him, he yells: "Would you kill your own twin brother, Alexiel!?" She then is filled with pity and remorse, so she seals him within the Earth using a barrier of forbidden magic. However, in doing this, she used every ounce of her power and shatters Nanatsusaya (the "Holy Sword of God", that made every bearer before Alexiel go mad with its power and kill themselves and countless others). The result is that Rosiel is now sealed inside Assiah and Alexiel is captured and tried by the Angel of Judgment, Uriel.
For her crimes, Alexiel is sentenced to the most severe punishment given to the fallen: Her body and soul are separated. The body is frozen in an angel crystal and locked away in the deepest depths of angel security on the fourth circle/layer of Heaven, Machonon. Her soul is sentenced to be incarnated into a human mortal. That mortal's life is sentenced to be filled with physical and emotional pain. Every time Alexiel is re-incarnated, the cycle begins anew. But in every incarnation, Alexiel's personality is still present under specific (e.g. dangerous) circumstances, which causes her incarnation to have strange spiritual patterns and powers at times; it is as if the incarnation has a multiple personality disorder. In the storyline, she is incarnated into a boy named Setsuna Mudo. Setsuna Mudo is a problematic delinquent high school student, who is in love with his sister (thus producing the emotional pain required by her punishment). To add to his problems, he gets caught up in the complex war between heaven and hell.
- Setsuna Mudo (無道 刹那 Mudō Setsuna?)
- Voiced by: Kenji Nojima (Japanese), Scott Cargle (English)
- The current incarnation of the Organic Angel Alexiel, retaining many of Alexiel's high astral powers. Like all of Alexiel's reincarnations, Setsuna is doomed to live a miserable life and die a slow, and very painful death. He has incestuous feelings for his sister.
- Sara Mudo (無道 紗羅 Mudō Sara?)
- Voiced by: Ayako Kawasumi (Japanese), Tara Jayne (English)
- Setsuna Mudo's younger sister, who is actually the reincarnation of Jibril, the Angel of Water. She is in love with her brother.
- Voiced by: Ai Orikasa (Japanese), Suzy Prue (English)
- One of the most powerful angels in heaven, Alexiel was loved by many, including Uriel and Lucifer. Disgusted by the corrupt practices of heaven, Alexiel rebelled against God. As punishment for her treason, Alexiel's soul is doomed to be endlessly reincarnated into miserable lives. Her current incarnation is Setsuna Mudo.
- Sakuya Kira (吉良 朔夜 Kira Sakuya?)
- Voiced by: Takehito Koyasu (Japanese), Wayne Grayson (English)
- A seven year old who was killed in a car accident. At the moment of his death, Nanatsusaya appeared to him and offered Sakuya another chance at life, if Sakuya would lend his body to Nanatsusaya.
- The Demon Lord of Hell, Lucifer was told by God that he was born with only one reason - to become the Prince of Darkness and rule the demons. As revenge, Lucifer planned to rape Alexiel, believing that she was God's "beloved daughter," but soon fell in love with her, and, though he tried to, could not follow through with his plans to rape her.
- Voiced by: Susumu Chiba (Japanese), Crispin Freeman (English)
- The younger twin of Alexiel, once wise, kind and benevolent, Rosiel eventually went insane and became destructive. He asked Alexiel to kill him before this happened, but her feelings prevented her from doing so and she sealed him within the earth instead.
- Sevothtarte and Metatron
- Sevothtarte or Sevy as most call him is the prime minister of Heaven and the guardian/aide to the prince of angels Metatron, a high ranking Seraph.
- Metatron was made in the image of a child so that he would be 'loved by all' but as of now is neutralized by the return of inorganic angel Rosiel. Sevothtarte used his position (until recently) to rule Heaven and the angel council with fear. Though he was being challenged by a guerrilla rebel force.
- Voiced by: Jōji Nakata
- The ultimate villain of the story, YHWH, presumed to be God, is actually a being from another universe. He is a megalomaniac with no real physical form, who created the current universe in order to test an equation that he had fashioned.
Many of the characters' names and concepts were taken from the Jewish and Christian texts.
Written and illustrated by Kaori Yuki, Angel Sanctuary was originally serialized in Hana to Yume from February 1995 to February 2001. Hakusensha collected and published the chapers in twenty tankōbon volumes; the first volume was released February 17, 1995 and the last one was published on February 19, 2001. Hakusensha later rereleased Angel Sanctuary in ten volumes, from June 14, 2002, to June 13, 2003.
Angel Sanctuary is licensed by Viz Media for an English language release in North America. Volume one was published 2004 and the final volume was released June 12, 2007. Angel Sanctuary is also licensed in Taiwan by Tong Li Comics, in Hong Kong by Culturecom Comics, in Germany by Carlsen Comics, in Italy and Brazil by Panini Comics, in Spanish by Norma Editorial, in Poland by Japonica Polonica Fantastica, in Hungary by Delta Vision, in France by Editions Tonkam, and in Russia by Comix-art and Eksmo.
Multiple Angel Sanctuary drama CDs have been released by Lantis. The first set of drama CDs was published on August 3, 2000 to October 25, 2000, totaling three in all. The next two drama CDs, focusing on a different arc, were released from March 21, 2001 to April 25, 2001. Two more drama CDs focusing on another arc were published from June 27, 2001 to August 25, 2001. The final drama CD followed on September 29, 2001. Lantis then collected all eight drama CDs onto four drama CDs and republished them from March 17, 2004 to April 21, 2004. The soundtrack to those four drama CDs was also released by Prhythm on April 21, 2004.
The English-language release was originally licensed in North America by Central Park Media, which released the OVA in 2001 as well as rereleasing it in 2005. After the license expired, Media Blasters acquired the license for the OVA and released it in 2008 with new cover art in addition to extras.
Hakusensha published two Angel Sanctuary art books. The first, The Art of Angel Sanctuary: Angel Cage (由貴香織里画集 天使禁猟区 ANGEL CAGE Yuki Kaori Sato Gashū Tenshi Kinryō Ku Angel Cage?), was released on July 25, 1997, and the second, The Art of Angel Sanctuary 2: Lost Angel (由貴香織里画集 天使禁猟区II 失墜天使 Lost Angel Yuki Kaori Sato Gashū Tenshi Kinryō Ku II Shittsui Tenshi Lost Angel?), followed on September 27, 2000. Viz Media released both from September 6, 2005 to October 30, 2007. Both feature an interview with Kaori Yuki and series information along with artwork from the series.
In March 2004, the first volume of the manga sold 1,767 copies, putting it in the 49th spot. In May 2004, the second volume sold 1,768 copies, putting it in 42nd place. The third sold 1,567 copies, reaching the 61st spot. The third volume also ranked 7th on the BookScan in August 2004. In October 2004, the fourth volume sold 1,819 copies, placing 71st. The fifth sold 1,644 copies in December 2004, placing 65th. The sixth ranked 75th, selling 1,439 copies in February 2005. The seventh sold 1,465 copies, ranking 65th. The eighth sold 1,472 copies, ranking 79th. The ninth reached the 74th spot with 1,481 copies sold.
In Manga: The Complete Guide, Jason Thompson felt Angel Sanctuary's plot line was difficult to follow due to the page layouts, the large cast of androgynous characters, and the "barrage of events and names". However, Thompson felt the story improved after the first few volumes, becoming a "complicated, inconsistent, but interesting story". He also noted the "stylish" and "elaborate" artwork throughout. Holly Ellinwood of Active Anime described the "heavy crossover of religions combined with social issues and personal lines of integrity" as "spellbinding". Ellinwood also praised that art as "absorbing.... more detailed than most, beautifully Gothic even when depicting the most foul horrors" and noted that the series focused on unconditional love. Another reviewer stated: "Angel Sanctuary, both the story and the art, is overly crowded, somewhat confusing, mildly disturbing, and potentially addicting." Manga Life's Kat Collyns praised the "unbelievably pretty" art and "fantastically (and beautifully) detailed" characters. Collyns noted that the issues of transgender characters and incest would discourage readers.
Aimée Schafer of THEM Anime Reviews praised the artwork of the OVA, but criticized the English voice cast as well as Setsuna's incestuous love for his sister, calling the relationship "completely unnecessary and totally ruined what could otherwise have been a solid and, I dare say, good story". Theron Martin of Anime News Network found that Angel Sanctuary OVA to be "remarkably graphically violent shōjo fare" which "confronts the central incest issue head-on, handling it in a far less elegant or delicate manner than Koi Kaze but dealing with it and all its potential fallout nonetheless". Martin also noted that the OVA was meant to be more of an introduction to the manga, rather than a stand alone anime. Mania Entertainment's Chris Beveridge liked the animation quality of the OVA, stating: "The look of Setsuna and the others when they sprout their angel wings and use their powers is very attractive, extremely fluid. This is a top notch batch of OVA quality animation from just about a year ago, and it really does show." He described the story as having "its own beginning, middle and end, but an end that leads onto the larger story." Dave Merrill described the OVA as a "pretentious, confusing claptrap; a Frankenstein's monster stitched together out of pop-culture religious iconography and girls' comics cliches, told in a deliberately confusing and obscurantist style designed to conceal the lack of coherent plot, animated by robots programmed to imitate CLAMP; in short, it's angel-winged junk."
In his review of The Art of Angel Sanctuary 2: Lost Angel, A.E. Sparrow of IGN Comics praised the artbook, describing it as "more of an encyclopedia or compendium for the series". He complimented the artwork, stating,"I was absolutely blown away with each turn of the page, figuring it couldn't get any more brilliant, and was proven wrong every time. If I had any complaint, it would be that the artwork doesn't go on long enough."
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- Thompson, Jason (2007). Manga:The Complete Guide. New York: Del Ray Books. p. 12. ISBN 0345485904.
- Holly Ellinwood (10 June 2007). "Angel Sanctuary Vol.20 (Advance Review)". Active Anime.com. Retrieved 23 April 2009.
- Eva Volin. "Reviews, Angel Sanctuary". No Flying No Tights. Retrieved 23 November 2009.
- Kat Collyns. "Angel Sanctuary v1". Manga Life. Retrieved 8 December 2009.
- Aimée Schafer. "THEM Anime Reviews 4.0 - Angel Sanctuary". THEM Anime Reviews. Retrieved 24 February 2009.
- Chris Beveridge (10 July 2001). "Angel Sanctuary". Mania Entertainment. Retrieved 22 OCtober 2009. Check date values in:
- Dave Merrill (10 October 2003). "Angel Sanctuary". Anime Jump. Retrieved 20 November 2009.[dead link]
- A.E.Sparrow (22 October 2007). "IGN: The Art of Angel Sanctuary 2: Lost Angel Review". IGN Comics. Retrieved 23 April 2009.
|40x40px||Wikimedia Commons has media related to [[commons: Category:Angel Sanctuary
| Angel Sanctuary]].
- Angel Sanctuary (anime) at Anime News Network's Encyclopedia
- Angel Sanctuary (manga) at Anime News Network's Encyclopedia
- Angel Sanctuary at the Internet Movie Database