AKA: Legend of the Angel
Genre: Dark Comedy
Year Released: 1996
Running Time: OVA, 2 Episodes, 23 minutes each
Rating/Recommended Audience: 13+
Related Films/Series: N/A
For Fans Of: Cromartie High School, GTO, You Don’t Know Gunma Yet, Beelzebub
-Special thanks to my friend Essence for telling me about this anime a long time ago.
-Angel Densetsu is the first work of creator Norihiro Yagi to be animated. This manga artist is also responsible for the current ongoing series Ariadne in the Blue Sky, but his most famous creation is Claymore.
-This OVA was directed by Yukio Kaizawa. Even though he doesn’t have a Wikipedia page, he’s worked on some big name series as a director and animator. Some of Kaizawa’s other directorial credits include the latter half of Zatch Bell!! (Konjiki no Gash Bell!!), Digimon seasons 3 and 4, Precure a la Mode, and two Once Piece movies. He’s done animation work for Dragon Ball Super and Sailor Moon Crystal.
-Hilarious in Hindsight: Two of the characters were voiced by seiyuu who’ve been in multiple Gundam series. Some of them have been in the same shows, too. You have Nobuo Tobita who plays the main character Seiichiro while one of the antagonists Takeshi is voiced by Kazuhiro Nakata. Let’s look at the Gundam series they were in together first. Both were in Victory Gundam (Mathis Walker and Duker Iq) and G Gundam (Ulube Ishikawa and Gentle Chapman). Nakata has also been in Gundam Wing as Rashid and Gundam X as Nomoa. However, Tobita had the privilege to have voiced a main Gundam pilot. Want to know which major character he would voice multiple times? Kamille Bidan of Zeta and ZZ fame! Kamille and Seiichiro certainly have a huge contrast in dealing with bullies if you know anything about these characters.
Since I mainly cover obscure anime and movies, it’s no wonder there’s a lack of content relating to series associated with the biggest manga magazine on the planet: Shonen Jump. Regardless if you like anime or not, anyone can name at least one series that was originally serialized on there. You have Naruto, My Hero Academia, Bleach, Yu Yu Hakusho, and of course the Dragon Ball franchise which everybody knows. Sure, I’ve covered the Hunter X Hunter Jump Festa pilot a while ago, but I didn’t cover that much else associated with Shonen Jump. Looks like I have made an interesting compromise because I get to review a Shonen Jump-related anime that most people haven’t heard of even if it’s from the same creator as Claymore.
Will this be heaven sent or hell bent?
Angel Densetsu is about a freshman high school student named Seiichiro Kitano. He transfers to a new school and is happy to start in a new place. Seiichiro is a very polite individual who gets good grades, wants to help others, and does his best to make friends. However, he has one thing going against him as a person: he has a very scary looking face where other teens, animals, and even adults are terrified just by looking at him. His beady eyes, naturally creepy facial structure, and fang-like teeth causes him to be labeled a thug, drug addict (despite not doing drugs), and even a demon. Seiichiro has trouble making friends at the new school, but ends up getting very unlikely pals with the schools local gang who think he’s this all powerful fighter. All these misunderstandings give him a reputation of being a violent delinquent when he wouldn’t even hurt a fly. What is Seiichiro to do when everyone’s afraid of him?
I know I’m a sucker for an obvious trope associated with a situation like this, but I don’t care. I freaking love things that subvert the problematic “beauty equals goodness” trope that Hollywood (especially Disney, let’s be honest) has pounded down people’s throats for decades. Seiichiro is the living embodiment of someone with the face of a demon, yet the heart of an angel. Quasimodo was treated better than the main character and he was disfigured! It’s done in a darkly comedic way, but still makes him a very sympathetic character without resorting to the Sympathy (Marty Stu/)Sue portfolio. Even though he has a legitimately kind heart, he’s also painfully oblivious to the world around him, is very socially awkward, and he has a guilt complex so big, Quatre from Gundam Wing would tell him to lighten up. Seiichiro is also way too relatable of a character with him being demonized for his social awkwardness even though he didn’t do anything to others. The various misunderstandings do get funny with how he is naive to getting involved in school gang affairs or how he thinks the local delinquent Takehisa is suicidal when he really wants to stab him. He begs Takehisa to enjoy life even when he’s under attack and takes a HUGE slash to the face without even flinching. The other members of the local Hekiku High School gang were fun comic relief as the bancho (boss) Seikichi Kuroda bows down to Seiichiro and see him as a protector. He is tall and looks tough, but he cowers around the main character or when his gang is outnumbered. Besides the characters, the plot is quite unique and the comedic timing really works. This could’ve been some mean spirited anime, but I’m glad the unfortunate implications are minimized with the situation. I also have to give props to the voice actors. Nobuo Tobita is on point in portraying the courteous, yet socially awkward Seiichiro with his high and meek tenor. His habit of shrieking whenever he thinks someone is in danger (“PLEASE DON’T DIE!”) is just too perfect as it shows his anxiety, self-loathing, while also giving a sense of dread to anyone near him despite the main character doing everything to perform good deeds. The other gangsters sound great with their parts with some nailing that tough guy voice let alone sounding dangerous to others.
Angel Densetsu does fall at points though. The animation is mediocre like a lot of 90s Toei fare. I’m sure most of the budget was eaten up by Dragon Ball GT and/or Sailor Stars around the time of creation which wouldn’t surprise me. There were moments of faceless characters even in mid-range and not in the background. The music was quite generic and dated even though the opening was okay. The biggest problem is the fact that Angel Densetsu doesn’t tell the whole story or at least a story arc which was very disappointing. The manga has fifteen volumes, so one could easily do a full TV series based on Norihiro Yagi’s story. Say what you will about Shinesman or Sailor Victory, but the former completed a major story arc and the latter told a whole story with the same amount of episodes. There were obvious cliffhangers with the principal calling someone to deal with Seiichiro or how one girl shows up after the credits presumably to beat up Seiichiro. The opening even teased this where one part of the animation involves the main characters flies with angel wings and is in front of who I assume is the same girl. There was so much more I wanted to see and I wanted some more fleshed out characters around.
This was one Shonen Jump anime I actually liked even with it’s flaws. Seiichiro is probably now one of my favorite (and certainly most underrated) shonen protagonists I’ve seen in a long time with how likable, relatable, and sympathetic he is while being funny for the right reasons. Seriously, even if you never dealt with being socially awkward, you have or will meet someone in real life who’s like him. The comedy worked surprisingly well which shocked me. I do wish more of the original story was animated and it doesn’t help that the manga still hasn’t been licensed even with the success of Yagi’s other Shonen Jump series Claymore. The animation and music could’ve used some work though. The things that Angel Densetsu did right, I thought they really pulled it off. Okay, if other Shonen Jump series can be remade such as Jojo’s Bizarre Adventure, Soul Hunter/Houshin Engi, or Hunter X Hunter, then Angel Densetsu needs to get the remake treatment. The climate with bullying makes the content even more relevant now.
Adjustable Rating System:
Add 1-2 points if you like Shonen Jump anime or manga.
Subtract 1-2 points if you want a complete story.
-Seiichiro is a very fascinating protagonist
-Brilliant comedic timing and usage of a “face of a demon” trope
-Excellent voice acting
Final Score: 7/10 points
Content Warning: Angel Densetsu would be safe for teens and up. There’s some swearing with some of the members. Some fist fights and knife fights break out and the second episode involves high school gang warfare. Seiichiro takes a massive beating and even gets sliced in the face throughout the OVA which can be brutal to watch. He also believes that Takehisa is suicidal which adds to the morbid humor of the show. Seiichiro alone would scare small children with his looks especially when his eyes bulge out and gets bloodied up like he’s some invincible demon who’s willing to take more punishment despite his polite demeanor. Some of the gang members smoke on campus in hiding, too.
All photos used under US “Fair Use” laws. Angel Densetsu is property of Norihiro Yagi and Toei Animation. The screenshot is from Crunchyroll and is property of Toei Animation.