Angelic Layer - Volume 3: Idol Worship Review
Misaki and her angel, Hikaru continue making waves on the Layer. They have now progressed to the Kanto Regional Games where they are about to face even tougher opponents and set rules where one loss means disqualification. Morals and fun a plenty as Angelic Layer continues.
As we head toward the middle of the series' run we find Misaki fighting hard for a place in the regional finals. When we last left her she had engaged and defeated a headstrong young man who believed that girls shouldn't play games and boys were ultimately better. Teaching him a lesson Misaki had grown more confident and has now become a rookie challenger who strikes fear in the hearts of many players.
Volume three concentrates most of its time on the pivotal Kanto games, which means there is a lot of battle doll action and quite surprisingly the writers have managed to keep intact the developing storyline throughout all of this. It would be easy to allow this series to constantly offer drawn out tournament games and little else, seeing as it has such an intriguing amount of doll characters (something of which I've grown to really appreciate as the series has progressed, along with the character designs) but it continues to provide enough teaser material to make viewing it more worthwhile. We're still at a point where Misaki's mother and Icchan are glossed over, much of what was covered in volume two is repeated as far as their characters are concerned but we know now that everything must surely come together, the question is how? We also get to know a little more about Shoko and her role as a reporter and finally discover that Ohjiro is Icchan's younger brother.
The previous volumes have on occasion given out simple messages for its target audience and volume three continues this trend. At various moments during the battles we're constantly reminded that it isn't about the winning or losing but having fun. Many of Misaki's opponents have forgotten this and have let their desire to win cloud their minds but now Misaki has become Angelic Layer's spokesperson, who reaches out to others and champions the game for what it is. This may appear to be a little overbearing for older viewers but considering the nature of the show and its relevance toward tournament competitions it makes a few good points that can often be echoed in reality.
With the first three episodes in this volume being exceedingly fast paced there isn't even much opportunity for comedy with the exception of Icchan who has a couple of fun moments as he continues his cruel, embarrassing torture routines. It is down to the last episode to lighten things up, the volume has been fairly straight up until this point and now we are given a chance to take a breather from the action and start to involve ourselves in the developing relationship angle.
In the past we have seen fleeting looks and situations between Misaki and her male friends. Things become confusing for everyone when it looks as if a triangle is forming between Misaki, Kotaro and Ohjiro. Some comedy and light hearted moments prevail through the most steadily paced episode on the disc and the relationship between Misaki and Kotaro is starting to become a pleasant, if not predictable addition to the story.
Volume three contains the following episodes:
Sing Misaki! Is the Deus an Idol?
Misaki discovers that her next opponent is none other than pop idol, Ringo Seto. Ringo is new to the game and Misaki worries about competing against a celebrity and harming her position within the entertainment industry. Before the match they get to spend some time together and form a new friendship.
Mean Sisters! Hikaru the Target
It has been a year since Madoka lost to Hotoko in the last Angelic Layer tournament. She is now obsessed with having a re-match this year and with the help of her sister, Arisu she enters with a new doll. Misaki and Hikaru must stay sharp if they are to get through this one.
Finish it Off! Hikaru and Mao’s Important Game
Misaki's match against Madoka continues after a long series of attacks have begun to take their toll on Hikaru. There is something suspicious going on in the ring; luckily Icchan and Ohjiro have cottoned on in time.
Misaki and Kotaro. Their Exciting Date
Misaki takes a break from the Kanto games and decides to spend time with her friends. Kotaro finally offers to teach Misaki karate in order for her to become a better player and fix her "weak points". The pair inevitably draws closer.
ADV continues their trend with another fine release in the series.
Much like the previous volumes this one features a great transfer hindered only by slight compression that is made more evident by the frequent hazy look that appears during the bright Layer matches.
There is a choice between the Japanese 2.0 track and an English 5.1 version. Often ADV present better surround effects and depending on what you choose depends on how you are going to enjoy this. The English track sounds greater during Layer matches, while the rest of the time it is a little subdued. The original Japanese track is a good, solid listen with no major faults. As mentioned previously the ADV cast continue to provide good character voices.
There isn't an ADV DVD that goes by that doesn't feature clean opening and closing credit sequences. While it's a nice addition it is also one that is always skipped after seeing it appear in the first volume.
Similar to the previous artwork features; this runs for one minute and thirty seconds and has numerous clothes designs that play out to the series' opening theme, sung by Atsuko Enomoto.
Commentary by Shelly C. Black (Madoka) and David Williams (ADR Director)
This is a nice little commentary that introduces Shelly for the first time. She and David share a good chemistry and enjoy giving little titbits on their life and the show. Shelly tells us that she is tired from her heavy work schedule over the Christmas period so it's nice she can give up some time to provide a commentary for fans. While little is given away on the show the track is pleasant to listen to and their enthusiasm for this series is clearly evident.
Contains the following trailers for: Magical Shopping Arcade Abenobashi, Rune Soldier, Slayers Gorgeous, Pre-Tear and Azumanga Daioh.
Angelic Layer is continuing to provide plenty of entertainment, with this volume in particular being the most action packed yet. The characters are beginning to develop more and several plot devices are slowly unravelling. Things will likely heat up soon and when they do I'll be here to take you through the next instalment.