Angelic Layer, a 1999 shōnen manga by Clamp, is a work that, in spite of a few flaws dictated b inexperience, shows much room for improvement.
The story is set in a futuristic Tokyo, in which thecnological progress has changed the lives of millions. The protagonist, Suzuhara Misaki, moves to the city and enters the world of Angelic Layer, a fighting game in which contestants (nicknamed Deus) control, through special helmets, cybernetic egg-spawned avatars known as Angels. Each Angel’s form is dictated by its Deus, and is an expression of her dreams and desires.
Misaki’s Angel, Haru (a reference to 1993’s Magic Knight Rayearth), in spite of her diminutive size, musters her strength of will to surmount every obstacle and defeat seemingly all-powerful opponents. By confronting each other in the arena, Deus create bonds with their Angels, but also give outlet to their own feelings and emotions - eventually facing their own errors and giving them closure.
Graphically the manga still shows some difficulties at first, but refines as the story goes on, and eventually reaches the refined style Clamp today is known for.
The plot, mostly because of the short run (only five volumes) feels rushed and, aside from the Angel battles, holds little of interest save for a few cameos.
Still the manga, published by Kadokawa, received a 26 episodes adaptation by Studio Bones in 2001. In Italy, Star Comics published the work in 2005, but no reprints are available since then.
Here is the anime opening: