エンジェリックレイヤー (Enjerikkureiyā, Angelic Layer) is a five volume manga series by CLAMP that ran from February 1999 to November 2001 in the magazine Shonen Ace. The manga was published in English by Tokyopop from 2002 to 2003.
It centers on a 12 year old girl named Misaki Suzuhara, an aspiring player of Angelic Layer, a fighting game played with dolls controlled by the players' thought.
Angelic Layer was CLAMP's first attempt at shonen, and also their fist use of the light, dynamic art style that was later modified for series such as Chobits and Tsubasa: Reservoir Chronicle.
Angelic Layer takes place in the same universe as CLAMP's later work Chobits, which similarly deals with the relationship between humans, human-created devices, toys, and godlike power. Several characters also appear in CLAMP's Tsubasa: Reservoir Chronicle including most of the main characters, as well as the angel, Blanche.
The manga was adapted into a 26-episode anime series produced by Studio Bones titled Kidou Tenshi Angelic Layer (Literally, "Battle Doll" or "Mobile Angel" Angelic Layer), which aired on TV Tokyo from April 1, 2001 to September 23, 2001. The anime was compiled into nine volumes in Japan and seven volumes in English, courtesy of ADV films.
The primary protagonist of Angelic Layer is Misaki Suzuhara, a seventh grader who just moved to Tokyo to live with her aunt, Shouko Asami. After arriving in the city, she watches the battle doll Athena on a big screen television outside of Tokyo Station and becomes interested in learning about Angelic Layer, a highly popular game in which players (called Deus) buy and custom-design dolls known as Angels. Angels can move by mental control when on a field called the "layer." Layers are very expensive; most users rent them by the hour in establishments resembling cybercafes.
An eccentric man wearing a white lab coat and glasses, calling himself "Icchan" (いっちゃん), encourages Misaki to purchase and create her own angel. She names the angel Hikaru, after Hikaru Shido from CLAMP's Magic Knight Rayearth (a manga in Angelic Layer's world), which she was reading on the train to Tokyo, because she wants the angel to be "a short girl, but strong and happy" like Hikaru and herself. In the anime, Misaki names her Hikaru after her favorite doll from her childhood. Even though she's clueless about the game, Misaki soon competes in tournaments and is assisted and watched carefully by Icchan. Later, Icchan's identity is revealed as Ichiro Mihara, the co-creator of Angelic Layer.
Misaki also begins studying at the Eriol Academy, an educational institution which includes grades from kindergarten through high school. There she becomes friends with Hatoko Kobayashi, a very intelligent and mature kindergarten girl who is a famous Deus and an Angelic Layer expert. Her incredibly fast angel Suzuka is a favourite contender in tournaments. Misaki also befriends Hatoko's older brother Kotaro Kobayashi and his friend Tamayo Kizaki, a girl fascinated by martial arts. Both turn out to be Misaki's classmates.
While adjusting to her new surroundings, Misaki is also gripped by her past. Her thoughts often dwell on her mother, whom she has not seen since pre-school. Eventually Misaki learns that her mother was key in the development of Angelic Layer, which she worked on in an attempt to develop a perfect prosthesis for her multiple sclerosis, which has confined her to a wheelchair. Her mother is also the Deus of Athena and the champion of Angelic Layer.
In the manga series, Misaki's mother does not have multiple sclerosis, nor is she depicted in a wheelchair. The ending to the manga also has different couplings.
The manga series is set a few years before Chobits, a Clamp work in the same universe as Angelic Layer. In the manga, Icchan plays an important role in the Chobits storyline, but this connection was reduced to a single scene in the anime; the Chobits anime was also made by a different company.
Age: 12 Gender: Female Voice: Atsuko Enomoto (JP), Jessica Boone (EN)
Misaki is a very timid, sweet-tempered, and kind 12-year-old girl who has recently moved to Tokyo to live with her aunt. She had been living with her grandparents in Wakayama while she went to elementary school, but saved up money that her mother had been sending her while she was away so she could afford to go to middle school in Tokyo. She also worries about the fact that she is small and nonathletic, and is sometimes mistaken to be in elementary school, but sees Angelic Layer as a way to prove to others and herself that there is nothing wrong with being small. She started playing Angelic Layer after seeing the white angel Athena on a video screen outside of Tokyo Station. Her angel is Hikaru and she is known as the "Miracle Rookie". Cameos & Appearances: Chobits, Kobato., CLAMP IN WONDERLAND2
三原 一郎, Mihara Ichirō
Age: 28 Gender: Male Voice: Masaya Onosaka (JP), Andy McAvin (EN)
Nicknames himself Icchan to hide his true identity from Misaki. He is 28 years old and often acts extremely eccentric, spontaneous and immature for his age. But nonetheless is ingenious and dead serious when it comes to Angelic Layer. In the manga, Icchan is the president of the Piffle Company that creates the Angelic Layer toys. In the anime, Icchan is the "father" of Angelic Layer and creator, having developed the game over seven years with the help of Shuko Suzuhara. Icchan had been an employee at a hospital trying to treat Shuko's neurological condition and were developing the angels as part of research to create prosthetic limbs which could be controlled by brain waves. However, research funds were cut off after the hospital thought that the research was costing too much. As a result, Icchan and Shuko created Angelic Layer in order to help fund and conduct further research. Cameos & Appearances: Chobits
小林 虎太郎, Kobayashi Kōtarō
Age: 13 Gender: Male Voice: Jun Fukuyama (JP), Kevin Corn (EN)
Kotaro is a 13 year old middle school classmate of Misaki, whom he has a crush on, as well known as Hatoko's brother. He is always being assaulted by Tamayo and her various martial arts techniques, which he has been a victim of since he was four years old. He becomes jealous of Ohjiro's advances towards Misaki, going so far as to try to attempt to play a quasi-match of Angelic Layer against Ohjiro, despite the fact that he had never played it before. His family owns a karate dojo and Kotaro has practised karate some himself, showing Misaki some of his knowledge in hopes that Misaki can use it to help Hikaru win. In the manga, he and Misaki later fall in love and date. Cameos & Appearances: CLAMP IN WONDERLAND2
木崎 珠代, Kizaki Tamayo
Age: 13 Gender: Female Voice: Satsuki Yukino (JP), Monica Rial (EN)
Tamayo is 13 years old and a friend and classmate of Misaki. She nicknames Misaki "Misakichi" and is rather eccentric. One of her favorite activities is practising her martial arts techniques on her unwilling friend, Kotaro. She always loudly cheers for Misaki at Angelic Layer matches and defends her against those who question her ability. In the anime, it is later revealed that Tamayo has always held intimate feelings for Kotaro, while in the manga, she only saw him as a close friend. She offers to be Misaki's "second" in her national game match against the Angelic Layer Company's angel due to Hatoko becoming ill before Misaki accepts Ohjiro's offer to be her second. Cameos & Appearances: TBA
小林 鳩子, Kobayashi Hatoko
Age: 5 Gender: Female Voice: Yuri Shiratori (JP), Sasha Paysinger (EN)
Hatoko is a 5 year old known as the "Miracle Kindergartner" and is Misaki's best friend and Angelic Layer mentor. Even at a very young age, she is extremely intelligent, mature, and hard-working. She is an expert at Angelic Layer, often winning her games in mere seconds. She wins all ten of her games at the Tokyo prefecture games, and is the defending champion of the Kanto regional games. She is fiercely competitive, working to increase her angel's speed and power often. She also likes to poke fun at her brother Kotaro for his apparent ineptness when it comes to his crush on Misaki. Hatoko also treats Misaki like her student rather than her nee-chan (sister). Hatoko's angel is Suzuka. Cameos & Appearances: TBA
鈴原 萩子, Suzuhara Shūko
Age: 31 Gender: Female Voice: Kikuko Inoue (JP), Christine M. Auten (EN)
Shuko is Misaki's mother and Shoko's elder sister. She is 31 years old. In the anime, it is explained that Shuko left a 5-year-old Misaki to be taken care of by her grandparents under the guise of work, when in reality she was going to Tokyo in order to find a way to cure the neurological disease she had been inflicted with. This disease inhibits nerve signals from reaching to or from her legs. Ichiro Mihara was a doctor attempting to work with her to find a cure when the two started Angelic Layer as a way to do research and raise funds when their original research funding was cut off. Shuko, or "Shu" as she is called when playing Angelic Layer, is the undisputed champion with her angel Athena, having won each of the past three national championships. Over the past seven years, she has avoided meeting Misaki, afraid of what Misaki would think of her. In the manga, however, Shuko has no such disease and is merely extremely shy about socializing with those she loves. She also works for the company behind Angelic Layer. Cameos & Appearances: TBA
三原 王二郎, Mihara Ōjirō
Age: 15 Gender: Male Voice: Soichiro Hoshi (JP), Chris Patton (EN)
Ohjiro is Icchan's 15 year old step-brother. He has been involved with Angelic Layer for many years, in a large part because it was what brought him and Icchan together after their parents married each other. Ohjiro competes in Kobe and has been the champion of the Kansai Regional games, as well as being the runner-up in the national tournament for two consecutive years. He has a desperate desire to defeat Shuko Suzuhara's angel Athena to get over a childhood crush he had on her. His angel is Wizard. In the anime it is revealed that he is falling in love with Misaki, but he develops a love for both Shuko and Misaki. In the manga, he has no feelings for Misaki or Shuko, but likes Tamayo. Cameos & Appearances: TBA
浅見 祥子, Asami Shōko
Age: 26 Gender: Female Voice: Kotono Mitsuishi (JP), Kelly Manison (EN)
Shoko is Misaki's aunt and Shuko's younger sister. She's 26 years old. She demands that Misaki and her friends call her "Miss Shoko" instead of "aunt" ("obasan" in Japanese) because she is still "an attractive young newscaster." She often covers Angelic Layer events for the local news station that she works for. Misaki lives with Shoko when she moves to Tokyo. Cameos & Appearances: TBA
斉藤 楓, Saitō Kaede
Age: 15 Gender: Female Voice: Ayako Kawasumi (JP), Tiffany Terrell (EN)
Kaede is a 15 year old quiet and wise girl from Kanagawa and is friends with Sai Jounouchi. Her parents divorced and she lives with her father. She received an angel egg as a gift from someone in her father's company. Her personality does not appear to be one suited for Angelic Layer, as pointed out by her father when he comments that he never believed that he would see Kaede compete in a fighting game. Despite this, she is very adept at Angelic Layer. She treats her angel, Blanche, as her own daughter. Cameos & Appearances: Chobits
瀬戸 林子, Seto Ringo
Age: 14 Gender: Female Voice: Kana Ueda (JP), Mariela Ortiz (EN)
Ringo is a 14 year old pop idol from Tochigi who plays Angelic Layer over the objections of her manager. In order to become strong and beat Hikaru, she studies Hikaru's past battles, notably against Suzuka because she didn't lose quickly. Ringo likes living freely and often escapes from her manager to get out of doing work. When Misaki was fighting her male classmate, Ryo Misaki in a set of Angelic Layer matches, Ringo encouraged Misaki in between matches. Ringo's angel is Ranga. Cameos & Appearances: TBA
城乃内 最, Jōnouchi Sai
Age: 16 Gender: Female Voice: Houko Kuwashima (JP), Tiffany Grant (EN)
16 year old Sai Jounouchi, known as the "Ice Machine," started playing Angelic Layer at the request of her terminally ill sister Rin. Rin designed what the angel would look like, but died before Sai could create her. As a result, Sai states that her reason for playing Angelic Layer is "to become strong." Sai is from Kanagawa and was the runner-up in the Kanto Regional games in the past year. She is friends with Kaede, who went to the same middle school as Sai. Her angel is Shirahime. Cameos & Appearances: Tsubasa: Reservoir Chronicle, Chobits
藤崎 円香, Fujisaki Madoka
Age: TBA Gender: Female Voice: Tomoko Kawakami (JP), Shelley Calene-Black (EN)
Madoka is a strong competitor in the Kanto Regional games who fights against Suzuka and Hikaru, losing to both. Madoka is a Kung Fu artist, using martial arts as her angel's chief fighting tactics. She has a strong desire to defeat Hatoko Kobayashi's angel, Suzuka, to recover her family's "lost pride". While spectating Hikaru's fight against another contestant, she and her sister make it clear to Kaede Saito and Sai Jonouchi that she will not lose to anyone until after Suzuka is defeated. Arisu and Madoka sabotage Hikaru with a transmitter that will block Misaki's thoughts from reaching her doll in the hopes of winning, but are caught by Ohjiro Mihara. After losing, Madoka obtains a new outlook on why people play Angelic Layer and realizes that it was made to be fun for any person. Madoka's angels are created by her younger sister, Arisu. Cameos & Appearances: TBA
藤崎 有栖, Fujisaki Arisu
Age: TBA Gender: Female Voice: Chiemi Chiba (JP), Mandy Clark (EN)
Arisu is a talented genius Angel-builder who aids her sister in creating Angels. She follows in her sister's steps as a talented Kung Fu artist, and creates very strong and agile angels. Arisu does not make Angels for herself, suggesting that she is not good at guiding them. Arisu designed Mao and Unpyo to be stronger than Suzuka, but Unpyo loses to Suzuka in record time, which mortifies her and her sister. After sabotaging Hikaru with a transmitter, Arisu is caught by Ohjiro Mihara and is told that Angelic Layer is meant to show true talent and that anyone can be brilliant, thus forcing her to give up cheating to win. She is very sensitive about the Angels she builds, and accuses her sister of not liking the Angels she made after their loss to Hikaru. Arisu creates a balance oriented Angel for herself near the end of the anime, called Arisu, and vows to beat Hikaru in a friendly battle. At the end credits, in the last episode, Arisu is shown fighting the angel Queen with Alice. Arisu's name is translated in the Japanese anime credits as "Alice". Cameos & Appearances: TBA
Tamayo, Oujiro, Shouko and the Angelic Layer announcer appeared in Piffle Country, while Kaede and Sai appeared in Rekord Country.
In the country of Infinity in, there is a tournament with some similarities to Angelic Layer battles, where the Deus sits on an egg-shaped chair and telekinetically controls the players. In Tsubasa: Reservoir Chronicle they are called "chess pieces" instead of "Angels" and often normal people are the pieces.
Hikaru is introduced in Chapter 144 of Tsubasa: Reservoir Chronicle as an "automata", a chess piece which Eagle (a crossover character from Magic Knight Rayearth) uses in a one-on-one battle with Sakura and Syaoran.
Sakura and Syaoran wake up in an Angel Egg after being in the Oto Country. They're then met by Chitose Hibiya.
In one panel in volume 6 Misaki, Tamayo, and Ohjiro can be seen being served by Sakura in the Cat's Eye Cafe.
In Oto Country, the lady at the city hall is based on the angel, Blanche.
One video game, Angelic Layer Misaki and the Angel of Dreams (機動天使エンジェリックレイヤー みさきと夢の天使達, Kidou Tenshi Enjerikku Reiya Misaki to Yume no Tenshi-tachi) was released for the Nintendo Game Boy Advanced exclusively in Japan on December 21, 2001.