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Angel Sanctuary, Vol. 1 by Kaori Yuki

Angel Sanctuary, Vol. 1 (2001)

by Kaori Yuki

Other authors: See the other authors section.

Series: Angel Sanctuary (1)

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”Look at us, crowded into our matchbox-like little world. Separated into good and bad according to standards set by adults. Stripped of our wings and forced into compliance.” (p.142)

I forget the first time I read these books . . . but re-reading them now, all I can say is "damn, this is MY kind of series!" . . . sympathetic demons, beautiful but corrupt angels . . . AS is a delirious blend of fantasy and horror, populated by obscure creatures from Christian mythology. It features taboo subject matter and stunningly beautiful art with many unique, memorable character designs.

Setsuna is a high school troublemaker who picks fights and has a lot of anger inside him . . . he’s so freaky that his own mother’s disowned him, saying she doesn’t believe he can be her son. He’s in love with his sister, the innocent and beautiful Sara, but he knows it’s wrong, so he tries pushing her away.

BUT that’s not all . . .

Because Setsuna is actually the reincarnation of a powerful angel named Alexial, who rebelled against Heaven and who’s angelic body was sealed away, while her soul was cursed to be reborn in countless tragic mortal forms.

Kurai, an "evil" (like a lesser demon) who was rescued from sadistic angels by Lady Alexial is stalking Setsuna, obsessed with reawakening her hero.

Lady Alexial: ”Is this what angels have become? Hiding their weak, blood-starved, lust-filled spirits within shells of flesh? You’re no different than demons. No, you are worse. Demons are more honest. They don’t try to pretend they’re holy.” (p.147)

There’s also the incredibly beautiful but seriously twisted angel, Lord Rosiel - Alexial’s twin brother - out to awaken and destroy Setsuna/Alexial, but he also seems to harbour a (possibly also incestuous?) obsession with him/her. Rosiel is sadistic and ruthless, even with innocents and those who are loyal to him. We see him destroy a shy high school girl, Ruri, and torture his loyal follower, Katan.

Then there’s the mysterious, immortal Kira, Setsuna’s best friend, who looks out for him and obviously knows more than he is letting on.

Kira: ”Sometimes you want to let other people know how you feel, but you can’t . . . because the moment it comes out of your mouth, it’s over. No matter how close you are . . . you just have to keep up the lies.” (p.187)

The artwork is absolutely stunningly beautiful - some of the best I have ever seen. These definitely look like angelic, mythical beings. The characters are all unique and interesting. This is a very weird, twisted manga - no question - so I can’t recommend it to everyone. But it’s one of MY favourites. ( )
  catfantastic | Sep 23, 2015 |
I never know whether to write my review for a whole series for the first or the last volume. I guess the first volume makes more sense, though, and I will do my best to avoid spoilers here. Just thinking about summarizing the plot makes my head ache, anyway.

So first, let's get the most obvious thing out of the way: the art of this manga is GORGEOUS. To die for. Really, really stunning - the art alone'd deserve at least six stars. Or more. (It's also fascinating to see how this classic series has influences others - I think I recognized Kira as a model for a lot of Minamoto Kano's characters, for example.)

Then there's the plot. It's... interesting, if a bit much and convoluted. I shudder to think that this actually was the first manga I attempted to read. No wonder I got confused. I suppose it all makes sense in the end, and it's definitely interesting and thought provoking. The pacing, however, isn't perfect, but this also ties in with what I think is the series' biggest weakness:

The characters. There are way too many of them, and this leads to some of them not appearing for volume after volume after volume... this may be a matter of preference, but I'd rather have a limited cast of characters I can really get to know rather than a gigantic cast where I only get glimpses of each character's story (and all my favourites end up dying anyway). Of course, that makes for good fanfiction fodder, but not for a particularly satisfying read for this reader. Add to this the fact that I couldn't bring myself to care for Setsuna, let alone Setsuna & Sara.. but that definitely is a question of preference. Just, I never really *felt* for them. And speaking as a person who tends to really fall for characters (*cough* HakkaifromSaiyuki*cough*) - it's just always disappointing when it doesn't happen, especially with such a long series.

The four stars I decided on are well-deserved, however. I admit I mostly read this because a colleague gifted me most of these volumes, and a gift like that deserved to be read. And I am glad I read it (if alone for the artwork, really), but I would hesitate to call it an absolute must-read ( )
1 vote midorin | May 30, 2014 |
Sadly, I couldn't get into this piece at all. The story line was complex but utterly shallow and the characters didn't show any great depth. I also hated the art style. But that's just me. ( )
  senbei | Apr 22, 2014 |
Killer computer games, reincarnation, fallen angels, demons, weird romance -- this book has it all! Seriously, I don't think that it can get any cooler. Sometimes, when a bunch of really cool elements are thrown together in one book it can be disastrous, but Yuki pulls it off and has created an incredibly exciting, suspenseful series. Plus, the artwork is beautiful. I don't think I've ever read a manga with such gorgeous drawings.

As for the characters, I fell in love with Setsuna immediately, and I adore all the others. It's a very complex story with a deep historical background that I'm sure will be revealed little by little throughout the series. There are some funny moments to alleviate some of the tension (this is a very dark series). These moments aren't laugh-out-loud funny, but they definitely put a smile on my face.

The only thing I had trouble with was remembering who was who, and what gender they were -- Yuki seems to love the theme of too-pretty males.

I would recommend this for fans of dark fantasy and fallen angels. Be prepared for some serious weirdness, though! ( )
1 vote sedelia | Sep 15, 2011 |
Angel Sanctuary is a series I wanted very much to love. The art is breathtaking: gothic and detailed.

Kaori Yuki has a way, both artistically and narratively, of inverting our expectations. She makes the beautiful grotesque and the saintly evil. But the story is too complex, has too many layers. At every volume, I felt as though I had to reread all the rest or be hopelessly lost.

I can't capture the plots in one paragraph but let me try. Setsuna is in love with his sister (a little incest is a requirement of all Yuki's work). Their mother, oddly objects. They run off but after a brief happiness, Sara is killed. In his grief, Setsuna destroys the world. Kind of. Because it turns out that Setsuna is the reincarnation of an angel. After that it gets complicated. There are trips to hell, heavenly rebellions, hopeless romances, insane creatures of every allegiance.... The series questions the authority of god and heavenly order. Each character (and there were countless characters) is more twisted and complex than the last. Most fascinated me, none more than Kira, Setsuna's mysterious friend.

Like I said, by all rights I should have loved this series. I love the macabre and I think developed characters make a story. And I did enjoy it but if it had been 3 manga, it might have worked better. Yuki has done much better. ( )
1 vote roguelibrarian | Sep 1, 2009 |
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» Add other authors (4 possible)

Author nameRoleType of authorWork?Status
Kaori Yukiprimary authorall editionsconfirmed
JN ProductionsTranslatorsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
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Information from the German Common Knowledge. Edit to localize it to your language.
Das verlorene Paradies
Die, die das Meer zur Farbe von Blei,
Wälder zu Sand,
Wind zu Staub,
den Himmel zu Asche verbrannten
Die Dämonenbraut
Die Ungebändigte
Adams erstes Weib
Lilith, die Sünderin
Der, dessen Glanz
Wie kein anderer den Himmel erhellte
Wunderschöner Luzifer, der Abtrünnige
Jene, die wieder und wieder den Teufelskreis beschreiten
Hört den Klagegesang
Der geflügelten Wesen,
Die Hoch am Himmel sind
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Book description
Die Engel Alexiel und Rosiel sind Geschwister und bekämpfen sich auf Grund einer unglücklichen Liebe unerbittlich. Schließlich verbannt Alexiel ihren Bruder Rosiel ins Erdreich. Gott sperrt sie als Strafe für diese Tat in einen Kristall ein. Ihre Seele muss fortan in Menschen weiterleben. Der junge Setsuna Mudo weiß zunächst nicht, dass er einer der Träger Alexiels ist. Rosiel will sich währenddessen mit Hilfe des Videospiels "Angel Sanctuary" aus seinem Gefängnis befreien ...
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Why is Setsuna so mixed up? Despite his attempts to be noble, he'll fight anyone anytime; he ignores all authority; and he harbors feelings for his sister that can only be describes as "incestuous." Why is he such a mess? The reason may be found with two demons from the underworld and their enemy, an insane angel who is distributing an insidious computer game call Angel Sanctuary.… (more)

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