Dedication, loyalty, and an unstoppable will to serve. It could be a fanatical religion, a really serious waitressing gig, or an incredibly unhealthy crush. In the case of Shattered Angels, it’s almost a combination of all three as Kuu Shiratori and company learn their fate. Romance with a drizzle of kink, emo high school drama with a peppering of mecha — Shattered Angels is the type of anime best digested with a spoonful of subtitles as the original actresses always seem to handle the girl shrieks and squeals best.
Kuu thinks she is a normal good-for-nothing high school student in a world made up of different high schools called Academia (news of which I met with just a blank stare), but soon after meeting the faux-transfer student, Kyoshiro, she learns she is actually a good-for-nothing Absolute Angel.
The other ones all seem to have Absolute powers like Absolute Regeneration and Absolute Destruction as long as their Mana is up — I’m surprised they don’t call the refueling kisses (yup, on the lips) Absolute Recharge. The flashiest power, though, must surely be the way they can call into being huge mecha body arms or legs at will. Kuu can’t seem to cook or sprout big metal body parts or even throw herself at a guy properly, so she mopes and calls herself “empty,” which, you know, is what her name means in Japanese. They left the subtlety out of this equation.
Kyoshiro on the other hand, seems pretty much perfect, with his other Absolute Angel waiting painfully on him hand and foot, and his champion of justice big brother who died saving the world, or did he? I feel like spoiling who is related to who out of all the characters would be unfair, but just to hint at the flavor a little further, there is a token cat-girl (who is tsundere for good measure, although I get sort of a kick out of her guardian trying so hard), and a token dominatrix. Oh, Kuu also has a token best high school pal, but she is mostly dispensed with after Kuu’s magical journey to Absolute Angelhood begins.
While there is a fair amount of action, and the way they animate the mecha is sometimes sort of interesting, even if it’s not super fancy (sometimes devolving into backgrounds sparkles and flashes), Shattered Angels is much more about the drama, which you can see every time they zoom in for a close-up. So many sparkling tears.
I think the only true surprises for me in this maze of a plot were the times where things actually got really mushy and happy. Of course, it never quite lasts, but I was struck with the fact that there was any happiness at all given the way romances tend to be so “close but no cigar.”
The more DVD box sets I see, the more I expect to never see any real DVD extras ever again, so as usual, the only draw here is the show itself. The box art will not help you make up your mind, since the girls are so generically pretty, so you’ll have to take someone’s word for it and it might as well be mine: sadomasochism and the end of the world, robots and magic powers, shower scenes and bishi scholars — there’s a whole lot of mixing and matching, but the overriding theme is the power play of who is whose “sword,” who owns who, who mistreats who. Despite the neat bookending of these messy relationships with the “totally wholesome” prince-sweeps-normal-girl-off-her-feet scenario, unless you are into the darker dynamic, Shattered Angels may cause splinters.