During my first trip to Japan, I would frequent many video game shops and I remember one title that I saw plenty of and that was "Angelique".
At the time, I didn't know anything about the series and when I looked online when I arrived back in the US, there was not much information (in English) about the series. But over a decade later, the Angelique franchise has since grown and even attracted video game fans worldwide.
"Angelique" a dating sim which has appeared on various consoles since its first appearance on the Super Famicom back in 1994 and most recently the game "Angelique Duet" on the Nintendo DS in 2006. In April 2008, the series received a reboot with a new storyline and new characters and aired on television with the title "Neo Angelique ~Abyss~" and aired on TV Tokyo for two seasons. The first season has been released in the US courtes of Sentai Filmworks.
"Neo Angelique ~Abyss~" is directed by Shin Katagai (who has worked as episode directo for "Eyeshield 21'), series composition by Yuka Yamada ("Mushi-Shi", "Himawari!", "Saint October" and "Harukanaru Toki no Naka de ~Maihitoyo~" movie). Original character designs are by the original "Angelique" manga and TV series Kairi Yura and character designs by Maki Fujioka ("Itazura na Kiss", "Corda D'Oro") and anime production by Yumeta Company ("Angelique" OVA series and known for their inbetween animation work for many popular anime series in Japan inc. "Fullmetal Alchmeist", "Eureka Seven", "Gurren Lagann", "XxxHOLIC" and many more titles).
For "Neo Angelique Abyss", the story takes place in the world of Arcadia. Monsters known as Thanatos have been attacking and draining the human populace and only people known as Purifiers are able to fight the Thanatos and help those who were drained by them.
A man named Nyx has gone to an all-girls school in hopes for Angelique to join his organization of Purifiers after hearing a story of how the teenager was able to heal an old man who was in a coma after being drained by a Thanatos. She refuses at first because she wants to pursue her studies to become a doctor but when her school was attacked and her fellow students and friends were drained, Angelique unleashed a power that Nyx and other Purifiers have never seen before. It is then learned that Angelique is not only the lone female purifier in the world (most of them are men) but she is also the "Queen's Egg", a purifier with a unique power only heard about in legends.
She then accompanies Nyx and other Purifiers to take on the Thanatos but also heal the people in various villages that have been afflicted by the monsters.
"Neo Angelique ~Abyss~" features the first 13 episodes on two DVD's. Here is an episode listing featuring spoiler-less summaries:
* PHASE 1 - THE GIRL OF MIRACLES - Nyx goes to Angelique's school in order to convince her to join his organization of Purifiers.
* PHASE 2 - UNDER THE TABLE - Angelique's cat Erwin runs out and when she finds him, she meets a man named J.D. who seem to have a purifying ability.
* PHASE 3 - THE SILVER KNIGHT - Angelique and Rayne go to fight against Thanatos on the Ship of Stars. A man named Hyuga helps them fight against the monster.
* PHASE 4 - BLACK ATTACK - The guys hold a party for Angelique, meanwhile a man named Jet tries to get data on her prompting a battle between the four men vs. Jet.
* PHASE 5 - THE JOURNEY OF DETERMINATION - Angelique starts to feel the burden as the "Queen's Egg" and fears of the possibility of failure.
* PHASE 6 - THE PILGRIMAGE TO A HOLY CITY - When the photographer Roche keeps taking photos of Angelique in the Holy City of Celestizam, she is saved by a man named Rene.
* EPISODE 7 - THE SEEDS OF HAPPINESS - When the group returns back home, J.D. collapses and now Angelique and Hyuga try to find a way to cure him.
* EPISODE 8 - JINX - The Foundation has unveiled their new weapon to fight the Thanatos known as "Jinx". Rayne's past is revealed.
* EPISODE 9 - A DAY OFF IN WODON - Angelique hangs out with her friends for the day and runs into Roche, the photographer once again.
* EPISODE 10 - RONDO OF TIME - The destruction caused by Jinx is starting to be learned as well as its ineffectiveness in fighting the Thanatos.
* EPISODE 11 - DARK CLOUDS - Erenfried feels that the Jinx is perfect and requests from Jet more data on Angelique.
* EPISODE 12 - CAPTIVE ANGELIQUE - With Jet kidnapping Angelique, the group goes out to rescue her.
* EPISODE 13 - The Return, And Then... - The group works to use Jinx to stop the Thanatos. Meanwhile, Nyx reveals his true self.
VIDEO & AUDIO:
"Neo Angelique ~Abyss~" is presented in 16:9 Anamorphic Widescreen. For a television series, the series features a lot of colors and artistic backgrounds feature a good amount of backgrounds as the group travel from village to village. If anything, the anime is quite lush with its green painted backgrounds of trees and grass. Blue skies during the day and sunset with the amber colors during the afternoon. So, there are vibrant colors for this anime series.
Character designs by Maki Fujioka based on Kairi Yura's original character designs are good, especially when close up but distant animation of characters are less detailed but is expected from a television-based anime series.
Audio is featured in Japanese 2.0 with English subtitles. Voice acting by the seiyuu are well done as you have the talented Aya Endo ("Sheryl Nome" of "Macross Frontier", Miyuki Takara of "Lucky Star") as Angelique, Hiroki Takahashi (Eiji Kikumaru of "Prince of Tennis", Shoji Endo of "NANA", Hisoka of "Hunter x Hunter") as Rayne and Toru Ohkawa (Saito of "Ghost in the Shell", Roy Mustang of "Fullmetal Alchemist" and Uzumi of "Mobile Suit Gundam Seed Destiny") as Nyx.
There is no English dub track in this DVD release of "Neo Angelique ~Abyss~".
"Neo Angelique ~Abyss~" features the Clean Opening theme (on Disc 1) and Sentai Filmworks trailers. On Disc 2, a Neo Angelique Abyss Theater is included featuring a total of five episodes (about a minute or two long) featuring the characters of the series in super deformed mode.
"Neo Angelique ~Abyss~" is an entertaining series that definitely has its share of action and drama. Fans of the video game series may enjoy the series reboot with the new characters. Of course, there is more story to go and the second season is planned for release by Sentai Filmworks in March 2010.
The series is far from being original and has themes that one familiar with video game RPG's to anime series such as "Harukanaru Toki no Naka de" (Haruka: Beyond the Stream of Time) or "La Corda D'Oro" in that a group of guys fight the evil in the world, while protecting the damsel who has extreme powers that can save the world. But I did like the use of the "Jinx" by the Foundation as they can be considered as part of the antagonist for this first season. It's one thing to have the monsters who are draining humans of their life but with the hatred that Foundation scientist Erenfried has towards Rayne, it definitely adds a bit of tension to the series. But there is supposedly more drama to be seen in the second season as well as more motivations become known, especially with the character of Nyx. But the first season definitely ends with a pretty good clilffhanger.
As for the animation, I did enjoy the artistic backgrounds used for the series and the character designs were good. It was cool to see Sentai Filmworks add the "Neo Angelique Abyss Theater" to the special features aside from just the typical opening and closing themes and trailers.
Overall, "Neo Angelique ~Abyss~" is an entertaining anime series. The series is not really dark and for the most part every episode probably until the final have been a bit lighthearted as the heroes go to fight against Thanatos and saving people along the way. There are a good number of characters but the writers do a good job in trying to develop the characters throughout the first season. But you can tell that things are definitely going to become more dramatic for the second season which I definitely look forward to.
If you are looking for an action/adventure/drama anime series or a fan of the "Angelique" video game series, definitely give "Neo Angelique ~Abyss~" a try.