angel sanctuary
angel sanctuary
Paradise Lost...
"You, who turned forests to barren deserts,
pure air to dark smoke,
and even burned the heavens.
You, who intend to repeat Lilith's sins,
Adam's first spouse
who went with a demon;
to rebel like Lucifer,
of yore fairest of all celestial souls:
listen to the woes of the winged beings,
the Lord's servants,
announcing the Day of Judgement,
Neither gods nor humans,
they are called angels."*
  A gothic masterpiece... dark, disturbing, tortured, yet infused with much beauty, understanding and love.  
      Kaori Yuki is an extremely talented artist. An excellent drawer and painter, with a great sense of composition. The way she organises the pages of her graphic novels is amazing: extremely dynamic and interestingly cut. She is just as brilliant with colours as with black and white. Her artworks are visually stunning, but also deeply moving.
Neglected by his father, constantly beaten up by his mother and the school bullies, Setsuna's only friends are Kira, an older student and his sister Sarah. Yet, he is unaware that the soul of Alexiel, a great but terrible fallen angel inhabits him. Celestial and evil creatures seek him out, yet he cares little. His only thoughts are for his sister, whom he is struggling to protect from everyone, but above all from himself, from his own unacceptable feelings...   Not only is she incredibly skilled in her art, but she also has a great gift in storytelling. Her novels, though labelled as Shojo (manga for girls), are not really limited to girls. Some themes and implications seem more suited to an adult/teenager public. Her plot is intricate, thought-provoking. The emotions are grasping and true. The story is compelling and fascinating. She cleverly incorporates elements of various mythology and religions together, and confronts them to the contemporary world, to create a unique universe, enriched with generations of legends.  
  Giving a more detailed summary of Angel Sanctuary would spoil the plot. Suffice to say that the author has an unconventional, challenging approach to the established myths. The Sarah/Setsuna relationship however, is only a minor part of this huge epic. Far from a simple romance, it is about the final battle between angels and demons (which will decide the fate of the earth). Above all it narrates the struggles of fallen angels against their fate, focusing on Alexiel and her twin brother Rosiel. But ultimately, it is a story about life: about death, hatred, love, rejection, injustice, happiness and pain.   Her characters are numerous, all very detailed and unforgettable. They are portrayed as real people are, neither bad or good but as complex entities, subject to various traumas, pressure and feelings. Thus she chose to make a bad-mouthed youth the hero of her series instead of an easily likeable boy. So Setsuna starts as a not very endearing character. An obsessed immature boy, always getting in fights. Yet she always finds and underlines the inner beauty in all her characters, even the most hated ones, so the reader eventually get fond of them.
Background images scanned from artbook Lost Angel, reworked with a computer.
* I translated from the French version of the film's preface as their translation made more sense than the novel's.
All images copyright Kaori Yuki.
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