Enter our protagonist. Luckless in love, he scoffs when told by a fortuneteller that his luck is about to change. But when he gets home, he is surprised to find a girl waiting for him. And then another shows up. And yet another. But these girls are not exactly the "girl next door" that you'd expect.
You see, the one thing our hero was even more luckless in than love is pet rearing. That's right, these twelve girls are his guardian angels - the spirits of his lost pets. They have returned to care for him and give him eternal happiness.
I couldn't possibly make up a more farcical-seeming set-up for a dating simulation harem show, but here it is. We have a guy who takes the reincarnations of his dead pets (all female, natch!) on dates. This has got to be a joke. Right?
Well, it isn't. But first, let me give you some back-story.
The only reason I even bothered to watch this title was because my sister-in-law (a cosplayer of some notoriety) swears by it. I take that as a challenge, since my sister-in-law's tastes seem to consistently run counter to mine. If she likes it, then I think it's utter crap, and vice versa. What's Michael, Those Who Hunt Elves, Eat-Man, Mouse ... the list goes on.
So it was with extreme trepidation that I queued up that first episode of Angel's Tail (now licensed by Bandai as Angel Tales) onto WinAmp. The first three or so episodes seemed to confirm my worst fears ... from the so-cute-as-to-be-annoying opening song to the obvious hair designs alluding to the girls' former lives as animals, to the whole dippy-ass concept ... it was bad. So that's it, end of story, right? Nope. For some bizarre reason, I found myself enjoying the show more than mocking it, and by the time I'd gotten halfway through, Angel Tales started to look salvageable. Not the greatest thing since sliced bread (or even Love Hina), but definitely this side of watchable.
Where does this sort of modest success, this victory from the jaws of defeat come from? First off, a few of the characters are actually really cool, particularly the hamster girl and the bunny girl. Thankfully, they are reincarnated as humans (despite the wonky hair, these girls are not furries, and thank goodness!) The character designs are reasonably cute, after all, and the nice thing here is that all these girls are so convinced they're not in a sucky anime, that you want to believe them! The voice actresses' enthusiasm is infectious, much more like the chipper Hand Maid May than the ennui-ridden Sister Princess. And while the lead is hopelessly stereotypical, it's easy to manage to look the other way when he says something stupendously obvious.
Inasmuch as the animation is concerned ... you can't ask too much from the animators, since this isn't an action show, so it's about average for the genre. Not bad, but not great. The music is bouncy, perky, and barely tolerable to most Western ears, but after a while, I was able to sit through it without gagging, which I guess is a good thing. (I even caught myself humming the opening, which probably isn't a good thing.)
What surprised me was the transformation of one of the show's weaknesses (its horrible concept) into one of its strengths. While all of the "pets" died tragic deaths, our protagonist helps their current incarnations get over those traumas in a way that is actually very sweet and sensitive. It's not always slapstick and cheap jokes (granted, there's a bit of that, too), and there's more than just the "I want to date the protagonist" impetus here.
I was fully prepared to grab the pan for what I thought would be a true turkey, but Angel's Tail surprised me by being more enjoyable than mockable. Despite its woefully stupid premise, this show manages to elicit more smiles than groans thanks to its judicious use of the Power of Cute. I wouldn't call it great or even good, but Angel Tales deserves a look, as long as you follow this genre and are willing to overlook the glaring strangeness of the setup.
Surprisingly decent series that overcomes a nearly insurmountable deficit in concept and writing quality and gets at least halfway good. Those who don't care for harem shows or moe type products can take this down one to two stars and give it a skip. — Carlos/Giancarla Ross
Recommended Audience: No nudity, and thankfully low amounts of fan service. The most intense moments in this show come from the girls facing their fears of what killed them in their previous lives, and it's often _not_ played for laughs, which is a nice change. Fine for older children and above.
Version(s) Viewed: digital source
Review Status: Partial (6/12)
Angel Tales © 2001 Wonderfarm / Tenshi no Shippo Project / Tokyo Kids / Ochi Kazuhiro
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