Tenshi Kinryôku, “Angel Sanctuary”
• Kaori Yuki • Viz (2004–2007)
• Hakusensha (Hana to Yume, 1994–2001)
• Shôjo, Science Fiction, Fantasy, Gothic, Adventure
• 16+ (language, graphic violence, sexual situations)
The archetypal 1990s goth manga. Teenage Setsuna Mudo discovers that he is the reincarnation of the female angel Alexiel, who rebelled against the absent God and his hypocritical, fascist angels. But Setsuna’s main concern is not the evil angels or the forthcoming apocalypse; it’s his tormented, incestuous love for his sister, with whom he struggles to reunite on a quest through Gehenna, Hades, hell, and heaven. A sprawling epic, Angel Sanctuary begins in high school but soon leaves reality behind for totally fantastic science fiction settings. Characters constantly reveal dark secrets, die, and reappear in new forms, sometimes behaving in an out-of-character manner for momentary shock value, and delivering overwrought inner monologues (“I’ve even thought that if I could kill you and embrace your body as I died, I’d be a happy man”). This manga has everything: drugs, Bible quotes, miniskirted demons, cybernetic horrors, gun battles in heaven. The screentone-heavy art is elaborate and stylish, but the story is often frustrating to follow because of confusing page layouts, the bewilderingly huge cast of androgynous characters, and the sheer barrage of events and names. However, the plot improves after the first few volumes, and Angel Sanctuary ultimately succeeds as a complicated, inconsistent, but interesting story.