Angelic Layer Chap. 4: Sportball

As I mentioned before, CLAMP is known for their beautiful artwork, but this series really doesn’t show it off. When Misaki interacts with characters as rambunctious as Tamayo and Icchan, a lot of the art looks like this:

I used to call it “squid art” for some reason. Maybe because the limbs look like tentacles? There’s a lot of this throughout the series, and I think it gets used way too often. I know that creating a comic is a ton of work, and not every panel will be — or even needs to be — a masterpiece. But to use a such a simplified method of drawing the characters so often just feels, well, lazy. Especially when I know that CLAMP has produced some amazing work.

Maybe I should cut them some slack. Everyone needs a breather, right?

Long anime series tend to usually have a few “filler” episodes, where the characters go to the beach and nothing important happens. You won’t see this as frequently in manga, and definitely not in Angelic Layer. The whole series is only five volumes long, so the story is quite compact. At the beginning of the book Misaki’s just learning what Angelic Layer is; by the end of this chapter, she’s in her first fight in a huge tournament. Moreover, her opponent is six-year-old Hatoko, but I’ll come back to that in chapter five.

On the subject of the tournament, there are a couple things that confuse me. First of all, the announcer tells the crowd the basic rules of angelic layer: the first angel to lose all its health, or to be pushed out of the arena (the “layer”) loses. Okay, I’m down with that, but have you ever actually heard a sports caster explain the rules of the game as it’s being played? Everyone in the audience is already a fan; they know how this works. I’ve never sat down to watch the Super Bowl and heard the announcers explain the basic rules of the game while it’s going on. It might be nice if they did, because what even is football? But it just feels a little out-of-place here. It would make more sense if Icchan explained all this when he was helping Misaki learn the basics of Angelic Layer.

Also, those appear to be the only rules of the game. But when Hatoko’s angel, Suzuka, lands her first blows on Hikaru, Mr. Exposition the sportscaster announces that Hatoko’s got the first set of points in this match. That is the first and the last time “points” are ever mentioned.

You don’t need points to win, so I have to assume that one of the following things happened here:

(a) points refer to the angel’s health, or “hit points”

(b) translation error

(c) CLAMP changed their minds about how the match winner would be determined and forgot to go back and change it

(d) There’s a gritty underground ring of people betting on Angelic Layer matches, and gamblers have created a “points” system in case of close matches or to determine payout.

The first option makes the most sense, but I like the last one the best.

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