Angel Sanctuary article published in Animerica Extra Vol. 3, No. 6, May 2000
This article was written by and is copyrighted to Patricia Duffield and may not be reproduced in part or whole without permission.

Artist Kaori Yuki's dramatic saga, Tenshi Kinryoku (long o) (Angel Sanctuary) has been hitting the top of the charts since its first volume was released in February 1995. The story revolves around high school student Setsuna Mudo (long o), whose reality becomes twisted when his past-life as an angel comes to plague the present and threatens to destroy the future.

The story begins with a gruesome prologue. The "evils"* Kurai and Arakuna cut a bloody path through the halls of Paradise in search of the Angel Crystal. Within the Angel Crystal is trapped the fallen angel Alexiel,* who sided with the evils against heaven in an ancient war. Her spirit has been condemned to be repeatedly reincarnated in the world of humans. Now that they have Alexiel's body, Kurai and Arakuna vow to reunite it with her spirit and begin a new Genesis.

Setsuna is no angel. He's the kind of guy who says thoughtlessly rude things to girls and whose looks get him into fights. That he comes from a broken home and is in love with his sister, Sara, just makes matters worse. He also has an unpredictable temper and can become extremely violent. Add teenage hormones and major issues with his mother and you've got the recipe for one troubled kid. Despite all this, Setsuna does his best to do the right thing.

Amidst reports of mysterious deaths occurring in connection with the Digital Angels - Tenshi Kinryoku CD ROM, we first meet our hero in the middle of a fight. After nailing a punk with a board, the smell and sight of blood makes Setsuna pass out, forcing his seemingly disinterested friend, Kira, to finish chasing off the gang. When Sara finds them, she accuses Setsuna of preferring fighting over a ‘date' with her. -Each of them lives with a different parent and must visit secretly after school. Setsuna was on his way to meet her when the fight started.- After a good verbal thrashing, Sara finally remembers to introduce her classmate, Ruri, who can see auras. Ruri is stunned by the bright, wing-like aura around Setsuna, but the timid girl runs off when he says she's ugly.

]Later, a strange man approaches Ruri, asking "Do you believe in God?" He gives her a disc, saying she is a special, chosen person, and with the disc, she can use the power of her faith to help Rochele. Setsuna shows up and whisks Ruri away from the man, who notices Setsuna looks just like Rochele and realizes he must be Alexiel! As they run, Ruri drops her glasses. After lecturing to her about talking to weirdos, Setsuna comments that she's much cuter without glasses. With this, Ruri's opinion of him improves. Unfortunately, neither of them have been watching the news: the disc is the Tenshi Kinryoku disc, and Setsuna lets her keep it. After this incident, Ruri's personality begins to change, and strange things begin to happen as the evils and angels seek the soul of Alexiel for their own mysterious motives.

Although there is plenty of bloody action and cryptic intrigue in the tangled plot of Angel Sanctuary, at the core of it all is the forbidden love between Setsuna and Sara. The story is ultimately character driven, and most of the characters are extremely passionate about their loyalties and loves. If a series filled with impossible romances combined with qualities of horror interests you, this is a must try. Currently at fifteen volumes, Angel Sanctuary is the type of title best read from the beginning. If that's too many to invest in right off, you might try the videos first, due out this spring.


*The furigana for the word is "evil" in katakana.

This seems to be the favored transcription. It's literally a-re-ku-shi-e-ru.

The favored transcription is Rociel, though I have also seen Rosiel. It's literally ro-shi-e-ru. He's Alexiel's brother, so feel free to change my spelling to make the name look more like Alexiel, if you like.