There has always been something odd about Setsuna Mudo. When he fights, the sight of blood makes him want to kill his opponent. His wounds always heal instantly. His mother hates him enough to divorce his father and move away, taking Setsuna’s sister with her. And his sister, Sara? Well, he has some unhealthy feelings for his sister, if you know what I mean. All this leaves poor Setsuna confused as to his place in the world. While Setsuna agonizes, all Hell is breaking loose, as the soul of one of the angels who fought in the original battle between God and Lucifer is brought back to life. Angel Rosiel has possessed the body of Sara’s best friend and he is preparing to fight again. But, first, he needs to find the soul of his enemy, Angel Alexiel; a soul most likely housed in the body of Setsuna.

Volume one serves to set up the story for this twenty volume series and a myriad of angels, demons, cross-dressers, and doppelgangers all converge to make this one confusing introduction. So many characters appear that it was only after a second read that I was I pretty sure I’d caught the relationships between them all. But, once I understood the set-up, I was intrigued. With so many modern characters standing as the reincarnations of otherworldly beings, the possible plot twists are endless. Add in the riffs on Christian mythology, hints of taboo love, and the graphic violence of war, and you have a story destined to raise eyebrows. The artwork is busy and it is often difficult to tell the difference between the male and female characters, but with the amount of sexual ambiguity in the story, this may be intentional.

Angel Sanctuary, both the story and the art, is overly crowded, somewhat confusing, mildly disturbing, and potentially addicting. Because of the subject matter it is best reserved for older teens or adults.

Angel Sanctuary, vol. 1
by Kaori Yuki
ISBN: 9781591162452
VIZ, 2004

  • Eva

    | She/her Supervising Children’s Librarian, Alameda Free Library

    Editor and Review Coordinator

    Eva Volin is Supervising Children’s Librarian for the Alameda (CA) Free Library. She cowrote “Good Comics for Kids: Collecting Graphic Novels for Young Readers” for Children & Libraries and is a contributor to the forthcoming ALSC Popular Picks for Young Readers. She has served as a judge for the Will Eisner Comic Industry Awards and the Isotope Award for Excellence in Mini-Comics. She has also served on several YALSA committees, including Great Graphic Novels for Teens and the Michael L. Printz Award. Eva is a regular contributor to School Library Journal’s Good Comics for Kids blog and is an occasional reviewer for Booklist.

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