Setsuna Mudo always knew he was different from other people- after all, you can hardly be said to be normal when you’re tortured by improper feelings for your own sister. What he doesn’t know, however, is that he is also the reincarnation of Alexiel, a powerful angel who was cast out of Heaven. Now, even as he struggles with his own inner conflict, Setsuna finds himself drawn into a war between Heaven and Hell; a battle where the angels may themselves be more corrupt than the demons they pursue.
With its themes of incest and heavenly battles, it is no wonder that Angel Sanctuary made a name amongst more conservative viewers for being a controversial title, but personally, my attraction to it was based entirely on the beautiful artwork. And fortunately, unlike most short OVAs based on aesthetically pleasing yet long-running manga series, it also proved to be quite satisfying to watch.
Although a lot is left out even from the one volume of the manga that I’ve read thus far, Angel Sanctuary does a much better job than most short OVAs in communicating its themes and characters in its limited runtime. Everything from incest and heavenly wars to cross-dressing demons somehow finds its place, yet rather than feeling confusing or dull, the OVA manages to flesh out each element enough to make it worth watching. Yes, it’s still just an extended advert for the manga, but it’s one that proves enjoyable rather than frustrating.
Visually, Angel Sanctuary may be showing its age a little, but nonetheless the beauty of the character designs shines through, with fantasy and reality woven together into one seamlessly attractive blend. Background music is largely forgettable.
A three episode OVA could never do a twenty volume manga justice, but Angel Sanctuary does the best it can, standing head and shoulders above other brief OVA adaptations such as Grandeek and its ilk. It will almost certainly leave you wanting more, but the time spent watching it won’t feel like a waste of time.