A Parent's Guide to Anime
Recommended for Mature Audiences
Reviewed by Rosalyn Hunter:
I saw the dubbed version of this work. Angel sanctuary was a truly bad work of anime. The appalling lack of understanding that the author showed for Christian Mythology I found genuinely offensive. Elements of the story were lifted from other anime without adding depth or good characterization. The dub was OK, but I was appalled that the actors would say these lines for any money. Animation is mostly cheap digital animation. One nice computer animated shot of feathers in the title sequence could not save this work.
The story involves a fallen angel, Setsuna, who has been "reincarnated" as a human. He goes to high school and has romantic feelings for his biological sister. Demons and angels gather around him in the hopes that he will "awaken" and lead a rebellion against God. The angels impersonate school friends, possess enemies through tainted drugs, and attack Setsuna and his sister in an attempt to get him to awaken. Eventually Setsuna and his sister disobey their concerned mother and run away together.
Since I am still in shock from the horrible dialog, I feel that you can best get a feel for this work by listening to some of it. Here follows a sample from the work:
Setsuna (Fallen angel now human): Damn You! How do you expect to take revenge when you can't even protect yourself. A woman acquires grace and beauty when she learns to let someone protect her. Stop acting like a man...
Korai ("boy" demon): ...He knew I'm female. What is this feeling I have?
Korai (Boy demon): 'God only knows what lies ahead' they say, but then again he can be suprisingly goofy. Hey God! Listen up! You just wait till Setsuna comes back. Watch what happens when you make a bunch of dopes angry!
evil angel: Let's kill each other. We'll put up a feudal struggle, howling and shedding blood, only then will our genesis unfold!
Additional review by Laura Daniel:
Personally, I loved this anime. In response, to The above reviewer's dismay at the "lack of understanding of Christian Mythology", I say that all mythologies and religions have been contorted and interpreted in many different ways. Consider Norse mythology's Urd, Skuld, and Verdande. I doubt there is any writing or story in the Norse rubric that says that these goddesses run a Goddess helpline. Yet, look at Oh My Goddess, a charming wonderful anime, yet no one cares if it twists the mythology a bit.
Keep in mind that this anime is a work of fiction after all. In fact, it's a wonderful work of fiction and the love of the siblings, though creepy at times, is strongly felt.
Having said that, though this anime (a collection of three episodes) has no nudity or actual sex scenes, it is certainly for a mature audience. Incest and homosexuality are discussed, and there is some language as well as some violence (mostly dismemberments, but nothing as violent as Ninja Scroll.
I would not recommend this for children under 16. Nonetheless, the topics brought up are thought-provoking and well worth discussion.
On the whole I would give this my personal critical rating of 3 out of four stars. The beginning is confusing and I had to watch it twice (it is based on a manga and plot lines had to be deleted) and upon a second watching, it made sense. The characters are well-developed and the animation, though lacking in good motion, had vivid colors. The dubbing was not that good at times and the dialogue choppy, but the emotions behind them transcends this.
Parent's Guide Rating:
red (recommended for mature audiences)
Some bad language. The major romance involves incest. Incredibly inappropriate Christian imagery (e.g. the lust and reincarnation of angels). Casual reference to drug dealing. Blood. Daggers through chest. Humans possessed by demons sprouting tentacles out of bodies. Murder. Incomprehensible plot. - R.H.
Adult themes (incest primarily), language, and some gore. - L.D.