I must say that Angelic Layer is not only my favorite story by CLAMP, but also probably my favorite Anime series of all time: I watch it every six months or so, and have since I first got it. That said, I must confess this is not my favorite group of stories, despite leading off with one of the best and most emotional episodes of all.
This disc transitions the games from local ( Tokyo ) and regional ( Kanto ) to National and the different structure they will assume from here on out. The former 10-minute combats will be broken into 3 segments, with time-outs allowing the players to assess damage to their angels and make minor repairs/corrections. For this, each is allowed a "second" to assist them and even make suggestions during combat. This puts Misaki in her usual quandry, since all her friends volunteer for the job, no matter how well-qualified they are. She finally learns that to get what - and WHO - she wants for the job, and without hurting anyone's feelings, she must somehow assert herself. ( Not her strong point! ) Meanwhile, her mother seems also to have reached a decision about finally "seeing" Misaki. This all makes for a story that is by turns amusing, frustrating, emotional, and finally heart-warming, as we realize the many friends and the progress Misaki has made over the course of the series.
The following episodes take us to the handsome new venue for the games, as well as showing that the company behind them ( especially Icchan ) are FAR from perfecting the system they are in fact still developing: electrical storms threaten; and new products must be introduced and tested. Both provide addional trials for Misaki, fully as much as any of her strong new opponents; one of which turns out to be Icchan himself! As usual for the series there are morals to be learned, attitudes to be overcome, and new friends to be made.
Treats in this disc include the opening of the games, where Misaki witnesses the dramatic entry of The Champion "Shu" and her angel Athena without recognizing who it really is. Also there is an intense battle for Sai and her second, Kaede, where we learn that Blanche isn't the only angel capable of Hyper-Mode. Unfortunately, other battles are rather predictable, including one with the company's somewhat clunky-looking "new model" angel.
This volume lacks some of the tension of earlier ones; but if you have come this far and are reading this, you know it's another you must add to your collection as we move ever nearer to the final confrontations between Misaki, her friends, and eventually, her mother.