Angelic Layer is no masterpiece, but it's not trying to be.The best part about this manga is its silliness and whacky early 2000s humor.
The plot is not at all original or very creative; just dives immediately into Doll Fighting and immediately becoming pro. Entertaining and simple.
One of CLAMP's earlier shounen, the art is much simplified and chunky, like proto-Tsubasa. In moments of goofiness, characters' arms become octopus-like which is fun and sweet and doesn't happen in later works (other than Kobato, perhaps).
The characters are my least favorite aspect of Angelic Layer. None of them make any sense as a human being whatsoever, with personality traits like Obliviousness being elevated to sole characterization with the main character. The owner of the Angelic Layer brand in-universe is just Goofy Mastermind without the deprecating humor that makes Dr. Doofenshmirtz fun; he comes off as simply trying to groom an especially oblivious child. But no one in history is as baffling a character as the main character's mom.
An overall harmless read, probably only relevant to CLAMP fans as a cornerstone in their art evolution. I hear the anime (by Studio Bones) has some deeper messages to say about this one.
Manga in 200 Words: Angelic Layer
Premise: A young girl discovers an amazing game and with the help offered by a crazy stranger, she joins the game herself. Misaki is determined to be the best.
Game: Why is this an exclusively female game? It’s sold in a store called “Piffle Princess,” so I know why guys don’t go buy the angels. The name “angel” isn’t masculine either. The problem is that if a robotic battling game came out, I think boys would DEFINITELY play it.
The Prince: He doesn’t count in the last section. If questioned, he can give a very good excuse for why he’s playing this game and where he got his gear.
Training: There isn’t any. A few sets of rules, but compared to Megaman NT Warrior and the like, Misaki and Hikaru learn absurdly fast!
Challenges: Again, there aren’t any. This rookie team never has to struggle for a win; as soon as she figures out the secret to the battle, she can win, even if she’s only got 5 HP left.
Overall: This isn’t a very good sci-fi battle series. Misaki wins far too easily, and there’s no development over time. Consider skipping this one.
Angelic Layer is a short five volume manga by CLAMP. It stars a young girl named Misakichi and her newfound love for a futuristic robot fighting game known as Angelic Layer, and her journey traveling up through the ranks and fighting against new and more challenging opponents each battle she has.
Angelic Layer is nothing close to being a masterpiece, nor is it close to being utter shit either. It's basically what could be called average. I wouldn't label it as bad average though, it's definitely a good average. The story itself really isn't that original, but it's interesting enough to catch a reader's eye. It wasn't the angelic fights and Misakichi herself that kept me reading, it was the small twists and turns the authors would drop in every once in awhile that would cause me to keep reading. And I liked that.
The art really is adorable. There's not many other words that could be used to describe it, though. Sometimes the fight sequences are illustrated somewhat vaguely, but I don't see a large overwhelming problem with that.
As for the characters, I wasn't a huge fan of the main ones, such as Misakichi and Icchan and her friends and blah. The characters I really liked were the minor/supporting ones. I really liked Kaede and Ohjiro, as well as Sai and Madoka. That was another thing I really liked about the series. One major thing that I didn[t like is how easily Misakichi was able to win and 'land hits' against these 'amazing' and 'experienced' others, after only having literally just started the game. All she really had to do was figure out their secrets and come up with some ultra creative move to win, which seemed truly illogical and silly to me.
Overall, Angelic Layer really isn't special. It's a pretty short read and can be pretty enjoyable and even heartwarming at times. It's a good thing to read if you have a lot of free time because you can get it done quickly. The small details here and there and some of the supporting characters are really what makes the series interesting, in my opinion. I reccomend Angelic Layer to the somewhat younger audience of otaku-ism, however. You can still read it if you're not as young, I just believe myself that younger teenagers and such would appreciate and enjoy it more than older teenagers/young adults.