published in Empire No.72, Sydney
Seeing any movie that messes with your mind is a rare treat in an era of movie-watching predicated on classic, definitive and ultimate examples of tried-and-true formulaic storytelling. Angel Sanctuary could be perceived as a complete mess by some. I find it a delirious detonation of every cliché about good/evil, life/death, angel/demon imaginable.
Highschooler Setsuna has serious hots for his sister Sara. She in turn gets the hots for him. But he’s actually a reincarnation of an ancient angel Alexei – a super-angel who defied God and was reborn. Alexiel is also being tracked down by the demented Rosiel who is wracked by his own homosexual compulsions. And both of them exhibit disturbing S/M tendencies.
Take me word for it: every 30 seconds of Angel Sanctuary reveals each and every character to be a reincarnation of an angel who became a demon who changed sex and became human and is about to undergo another gender transformation. With sexual confusion on this apocalyptic scale, the core incest impulse shared between Setsuna and Sara makes perfect sense when Tokyo is completely nuked following the consummation of their love. Angel Sanctuary is billed as a feature, but it’s the first three episodes of an OVA series. Its cliff-hanging conclusion only adds to its mind-messing charm.