The manga series Angel Sanctuary was written by Kaori Yuki and is based on her middle school fascination with how angels rebel against God, particularly how Lucifer rebelled against God. Setsuna Mudo is a problematic teenager who learns that he is the reincarnation of an angel who rebelled against heaven. He sets out to reunite with his sister who died during that period. Setsuna and his sister Sara are very much alike in that they are very messed up characters but faithful to the people they love. Setsuna and his friends are involved in gangs, drugs and fights. It takes place during the late 90s.
The character designs were fitting considering that in the 90s, alt culture like goth, metal and punk was quite the craze then. Their androgynous appearance is a reflection of the image J-Rocks bands often projected. In fact, the story is inspired from the underground alt culture scene in Japan during the 90s. There are references to Rapaunzel, and Alice In Wonderland to the story.
The story focuses on the theme of forbidden love, including Incest, and as such this is really considered to be extremely taboo to many people in the story. The author is very open minded about exploring other things that at the time, would be frowned upon. However, she does it in a way where its observational and leaves it to the reader to interpret how do they view such subjects like LGBT, religion and science. Sara and Setsuna are in love with one another and both really struggle with their feelings for one another.
The concept of morality is explored too. Angels are just as bad as demons and there are no heroes as both sides display a moral fluidity depending on the situation. The story in addition focuses on the consequences of humanity abusing science and the planet because of their unbridled lust for great wealth.
The manga makes references to various mythology and pop culture especially Japanese pop culture and some characters are named after notable people in Japan. The action in the story is good and anybody can die at any given moment.
There are too many characters and too many story lines which causes a back and forth that makes the story disjointed but it is fast paced. It is also really not an easy story to follow especially when a lot of information can be thrown out at once and the convoluted plot does not make sense sometimes. Scenes can take up an entire page due to how overly dense it can be. The nicely detailed art style has the same kind of problem as Godchild, it can be cramped and overly detailed.
Overall, it is a pretty good manga series.
It gets 4 stars out of 5.
A full anime tv series would be perfect for this. If the manga shocked you and it made you question your own beliefs, then it did its job successfully. If you really enjoy Kaori Yuki’s works, then go ahead and pick this up. If you can’t approach this book with an open mind, then it is going to be quite hard to really get into.