Modern Visual Culture

Recommended Works

Angel Sanctuary


Mangaka: Kaori Yuki 由貴 香織里
Born: Tokyo Metropolis, Japan
Original Publisher: Hakusensha
English Language Publisher: Viz Media
Published: July 1994 to October 2000
Status: Finished
Number of Volumes: 20
Serialized: Hana to Yume 花とゆめ
Genre: Fantasy, Supernatural
Demographic: shojo

    An exemplar of 1990s Goth culture, Angel Sanctuary has it all: fascistic angels, tormented demons, drugs, hackers, incest, oddly-timed Biblical quotes, inexplicable gun battles between supernatural beings, and, of course, high school. Break out your choker necklaces, crushed velvet coats, and Dead Can Dance CDs, because Kaori Yuki is about to give Neil Gaiman and James O'Barr a run for their money!

    Teenager Sestuna Mudo discovers that he is the latest incarnation of the soul of the angel Alexiel, who rebelled against an absent God and, as punishment, was banished to Earth. Sestuna's sister dies protecting him from the angels and demons who wish to use him for their own ends, and so he embarks on an epic quest worthy of Orpheus to retrieve her soul from the afterlife.

    The artwork is lush and exquisite, but also confusing: odd page layouts, a large cast of difficult-to-distinguish characters, and a perhaps overly enthusiastic use of screen tones makes the story hard to follow. It doesn't help that characters are continually being killed off, resurrected, and undergoing momentary but complete personality changes.

    Despite these flaws, the story is overall engaging, and the nostalgia factor certainly adds to the entertainment value.
    Background & Impact
    The six-year, 20 volume run indicates the series' popularity. A three episode Angel Sanctuary OVA was produced by Bandai Visual and Hal Film Maker and was released in 2000. Two art books were also released, as well as a number of drama CDs.