It's pretty obvious we'are back in dark shoujo territory with this beatifully rendered tale of violence and cosmic conflict...with a twisted love story and a dozen emotional trauma's thrown in at no extra charge. At first I thought this was by CLAMP, and while it actually isn't the mood and style should agree with fans of that studio.
In fact the backstory is pretty ominous. God has lapsed into a deep and unbroken sleep, and the spiritual forces are in disarray. The demon lands, already damaged by the corruption of human lands, are vulnerable and there is nothing to stop the angels heartlessly obliterating their age old foes. At the same time angels fight over power and discover the thrill of earthly desires. And, in the background, there's the potential for one of the greatest angels, who rebelled against the forces of heaven themselves, to re-awaken.
That's one half of the story. And even given the awesome scope and majestic power it is the lesser part of the story. The true essence is on a young male school-boy. His life is getting stranger as various alien forces seem to be becoming interested in him. And the possibility that he does not know his true nature becomes more and more possible. At the same time he is deeply bound by an illicit love to his sister, an immense love that he cannot allow, but cannot deny. The combination between these two elements, along with a clear talent for intense and exotic situations, power this violent and dark story.
The first thing I must mention is that I got it wrong. While this definitely has `CLAMP style' it's not actually by them at all. In fact the source is a manga by Kaori Yuki. Thanks go to emaury for correcting me on this.
And, it's really pretty decent. Like much of this material it's a bit melodramatic at times, with some slightly pretentious lines and a very weird take on the world. But, by and large, it does work and we come to see the positions of the various players. Indeed a lot of the supporting or opposing characters, and no shortage of bishounen here, have more depth than the lead. Then again we do get to feel the leads confusion, the way he is victim to various passions, and the terrible paradox of his incestous love. There's some impressive scenes, mostly atmospheric although there is some decent action now and then, that have quite an emotional punch to them.
It builds, admittedly too quickly, to a quite impressive event which reveals a great deal and sets the stage for more. And then, it ends. Being a three OAV series it's clearly had to leave an immense amount of material from the 12 manga novels out of this. It still works, because the story focus is strong and largely contained, but it's obvious and infuriating that there is more to the story. In addition the copy I saw was some sort of asian region pirate that had a pretty average translation. And given that much of the depth is in the power of the dialogue this loss was a definite negative.
The production is solid and atmospheric. It can set up scenes well, especially dark and scary ones, and the characters carry a palpable sense of menace and danger about them. This alternate view of angels and demons is also novel and comes through nicely in the design. It's not, however, particularly flashy or impressive compared to the what fans have come to expect from seeing similar CLAMP productions. The voices were generally good, the music was moody and fitting.
None as yet, but I would think that there'll be lots of fan pages around.