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Angel Beats!

Posted by meronpan on July 7, 2010

angel beats op

I have yet to find a format for these anime posts that i’m happy with so in the meantime… here’s some rambling steam of conscious stuff to help me come to closure with this series ^^;  ~major spoilers~

In a good news & bad news situation I’m a bad news first sorta guy so let’s start with the things that didn’t work out for me…

Yuri

I didn’t think it’d be an issue for me but surprisingly her haruhi similarities did have a negative impact on the show for me.  I kept finding myself comparing her/the show to haruhi, highlighting reasons why the quirkiness worked for the SOS-dan but not in Angel Beats.  Right from the start my first thought was, “ugh, why is she trying to be like haruhi” ^^;;;

angel beats ep 2

She’s got that same aggressive, “I’m always right” sorta personality… coming up with weird plans that feel awkward and out of place… but instead of regular world to act all this out, you’re in this weird purgatory wondering whether or not anyone has any idea how things really work.  Are her plans stupid?  Brilliant?  Because of the haruhi similarity I was inclined to feel like they were just stupid plans and her whims being carried out… and it gave her a “bad haruhi copy” vibe ^^;;  Also it really threw off my sense of what kind of show it was gonna be.  Was it just trying to cater to haruhi nostalgia or other recent hits?  Or be a serious drama or…?  Oh, and having a band in the show?  my first thought was, “they must’ve thrown that in there since k-on was so popular.”  prolly not true but that’s just the mood seeing yuri/haruhi put me in.   Which leads me to…

Pacing/Atmosphere

It really just didn’t sit well with me having the slap stick antics in a deathless society suddenly juxtaposed with the very serious flashbacks/resolutions of issues the individual characters were dealing with.  Not that I’m against comic relief in a dramatic series… I actually like those scenes very much to help you build your relationship with the characters.  But angel beats takes it a little overboard…

angel beats ep 2

Case in point – episode 1 you’re trying to figure out what’s going on, you find out that they’re in some sort of afterlife and can’t die, hahaha there’s a trap that knocks people out of the building if they don’t knock on the door right or whatever… episode 2 people are dying (for the moment) left and right as they navigate traps aaaaand *bam* we find out yuri’s 3 siblings were murdered in her previous life.  … … … ummmm ok.  Child murder in the midst of slapstick death antics  -_-  Just really didn’t work for me.  Why have such a sudden transition?  It was only episode 2!  I hadn’t developed any sorta feelings for yuri (especially since i was trying to fight the urge to compare her to haruhi) so rather than tragic the story just felt awkward and out of place.

angel beats ep 2

Basically they took what could’ve been a really shocking/disturbing reveal and dulled it down by shoving it in their viewers’ faces prematurely.  It’s like meeting someone for a first date and they bust out with, “oh yeah, did I tell you my mother got murdered last week?”  I mean… you can’t help but feel sorry for them but you’re shocked just kinda want to shrug it off and get on with things.

Also I think this sort of stuff works a lot better when you’re dealing with real world emotions… which I argue we are lacking in Angel Beats due to the lack of death in purgatory.  Lots of shows take fantastic elements in their heavy drama then mix it up with slapstick and lighter toned episodes.  Take code geass for example… really serious story at times with character death mixed in with occasional school festivals or cosplay?  Making a giant pizza?  The valentines day game?  But they haven’t altered your core reactions to tragic situations.  They’re not rewiring your emotions.  So with the lighter episodes you bond with the characters and appreciate the fleeting periods of happiness they get to experience.  Tragedy strikes and you’re that much more attached to the characters’ loss.

angel beats ep 9

Angel Beats on the other hand is trying (well, maybe not actively trying but effectively causing you) to rewire your reactions towards death and violence by eliminating any lasting consequences… while trying to build on back stories that rely heavily on your original interpretations of such -_-  Well, at least, that’s how it ended up playing out for me orz

I think the series would’ve benefited without the “no death” rule in the purgatory they were trapped in… did they really need that element?  I’m pretty sure it wouldn’t be terribly hard to write it as such.  Honestly, why were they trying to craft an environment where death didn’t matter when the series revolves so heavily around death and matters left unattended because of it?  I guess maybe you could say it’s part of a theme that no hardship, not even death will prevent people from coming to peace with their lives?  But was that worth sacrificing the show’s pacing?

angel beats ep 10

Definitely not saying that a show needs to be all serious or all funny… but it’s just that this show puts you in a new world with new rules so personally it was just really hard to appreciate the lighter moments the same way.  Usually those moments give you a breather from the serious stuff, brief moments of joy to share with the cast and become more familiar with them… Angel beats felt more like they took 2 different shows and just tried to mash them together ;_;

On the other hand…

So then, despite all that I did like main story they were trying to tell… people trapped until they could come to terms with their regrets, wishes and what not of their previous lives…

Once I finally got somewhat acclimated to the bipolar nature of the show making death a slapstick gag one moment and a tear jerking tragedy the next, i finally was able to build some attachment to the characters.

angel beats ep 7

I’m quite the softy so otonashi’s backstory in ep. 7 & 9, yui’s passing in ep 10 and pretty much all of ep 13 were all able to produce some tears from me ^^;  So not to say any series that makes me cry is good but it definitely means I’ve developed a relationship with the characters which is always a good sign.

angel beats ep 8 ed

Music I enjoyed… though I suppose that may have actually hurt my appreciation of the series overall ^^;;  I say that because it was so nice and solemn… somber.  Made me feel like I was watching a serious drama instead of a comedy/drama fusion ^^;

With eva as one of the first anime i watched, rei type characters get on my good side quickly… made it pretty easy for me to like kanade ^^  Though i wish we got to know her better.  …and to that end… why did otonashi like her so much?

In the end

In the end I just feel like the series could’ve been so much more.  To anyone who’s ever played a good tear jerking visual novel perhaps you’ll agree with me when I say this just scratches the surface of what a good story could be.  I really haven’t played too many but all of them I think had better execution/cohesion than angel beats.  I think either delaying the onset of the serious back stories and easing into it more towards the middle would’ve worked better or maybe starting out more serious and giving the audience a break with lighter stuff midway would’ve been a better approach?  Again though, it may just be that the whole premise that you couldn’t die in purgatory really didn’t work for me.

fortune arterial

Alas I have no background in literature or film so I can’t articulate my complaints with anything but an amateur’s vague sense of dissatisfaction… so yeeeaaah, I won’t try to convince any of you who liked it that I’m right ^^;  But for what it’s worth, the series just felt off to me and I wish it was executed better.

Guy has his thoughts posted in this post which seem to echo my general feelings towards the series.  I won’t be so bold as to say he agrees with me but if nothing else I guess I can say I’m not alone in my disappointment ^^;  (plus he mentions shigofumi, which I noticed he rated as a 10/10.  not sure i’d say it’s perfect, but i’m pretty sure that’s a vastly under appreciated series ^^)

ETERNAL on the other hand enjoyed it very much if you’d like a contrasting point of view.

TLDR

Despite my complaints, overall I think I’d prolly have to say the series was above average, but again it just felt like it squandered an opportunity to be top notch.

以上!

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27 Responses to “Angel Beats!”

  1. Shiddo said

    Vote: Shiina-chin~!

    As for AB… they failed in the end hard… this could be good with 26 or so eps… like this they just let most of crew disappear without explaining their past and reason, why they I trapped…
    Not rly explaining much bout main chars as well… Yuri is just gone?!?!
    I was still expecting they are all like in coma… and they will meet in real world (as happy ending), but like this I am rly not sure what this was all about.
    Band was obviously added just cuz bands are IN now and to pump up some $ of Girls Dead Mosnter albums.
    While I think, using “we can’t die” theme is rly weird… (can imagine some radical ppl bashing this anime same as video games xD) I found usage of it quite hilarious ^^ Those missions into deeps of Guild were funny ^^ There were also other funny and nice moments of the anime. Voice acting and characters were enjoyable.
    Overall I liked it and was waiting for each new ep, but imho high potential of this anime was killed by low episode count = rushed and ripped of story below Key standars T-T

    • meronpan said

      yeah they probably could’ve had enough content for 26 but then i’d be worried that they just turned it into a character-of-the-week sort of thing ^^;

      i’m not sure the show needed any sort of detailed explanation of why they were in the weird purgatory… i guess that rounds it out but the main focus in my eyes is the way they deal with their regrets of their past lives and how they grow to overcome it.

      once i got used to it yeah, navigating the traps was comical but again it’s that sudden shift from “hahaha he totally got obliterated” to “oh crap, what a depressing back story” that didn’t work for me -_- well, sudden and/or before i cared at all for the character(s)

      fa ova huh? ero or non-ero? ufufufu ^^ very nice. would definitely recommend the original visual novel though. it’s just impossible to make a true anime adaptation ‘cuz the original (like most vn’s) is really 5 stories in one. (i.e. you miss out on a lotta stuff! especially if they don’t choose to focus on the character(s) you like)

  2. Shiddo said

    btw @ Fortune Arterial
    Kiriha ^^ They gonna make FA into anime (OVA for now =P)^^ Can’t wait! Maybe there will be some new figs ^^;

  3. Fabienne said

    Oh Angel Beats
    Well, at the beginning (1-6) the mix of comedy and drama wasn’t very balanced.
    near the end (7-13) they handled the balance between both things a bit better and the plot felt more connected.
    Overall the story and most of the characters were presented too superficial to leave a big impact in me.

    the best parts of the show were the animation quality and the lovely OP and ED.

    • meronpan said

      yeah, think i’d agree with your point of view. perhaps i don’t mind the superficiality of it so much, but definitely the balance (or lack thereof) wasn’t my favorite -_-

  4. Smithy said

    Actually I enjoyed “Angel Beats!”, was a decent series overall, but if you look at the hype and promise it held, it never delivered all it hammed itself up to be at the start.

    It wanted to showcase itself as a heavy drama about the purpose of life, death and how unfair life can be but fizzled out pretty soon, buckling under its own weight of a setting that clashed with that same dramatic core.

    Some characters were thoroughly explored while others ended up just being written off as mere extras, attaining peace and moving on without anyone ever really knowing what drove them.

    Actually only Kanade, Iwasawa, Yui and Otonashi’s backgrounds were satisfactory covered.
    While Yuri was brought forth as the primary character with the biggest past scar, in the end she found peace far too easily. Leader of the group? Otonashi pretty much takes over near the middle.
    I too feel like they tried too hard to create some sort of new ultimate girl character everyone will fawn over like Haruhi but it just didn’t take to the audience so they dropped her evolution in favor of Kanade.

    • meronpan said

      i didn’t really talk to much about character development but yes it also left me with something to be desired. they created this huge cast but to what end? in these times it feels like they did it just to cover all the (moe) bases. and that also kinda made the ending feel sort of rushed with the whole, “ta-da~ we’re the last ones left, everyone else came to peace with their lives”. kind of cheapened the hardships and development of the characters who left earlier. i mean jeez, not even a montage of ppl leaving? (or wait, was there? i can’t remember now… ^^;)

  5. Nopy said

    I actually enjoyed the mix of comedy and tragedy, it was what I was expecting before the show started, especially after taking a look at Key’s other stories.

    I voted for Yuri, tsundere in disguise ^.^

    • meronpan said

      yeah, don’t get me wrong, i like that mix too. it’s just in this case the way they mixed them didn’t sit as well with me (or not well enough for me to give it the super high rating i thought it could’ve achieved)

      i wonder what i would’ve thought of yuri if i hadn’t seen haruhi before ^^;; totally tainted my perception of her ^^;;

  6. akani said

    The thing is, even though Yuri and Haruhi are similar, there is one crucial difference between them. Haruhi just does whatever she wants and drags everyone down. Yuri on the other hand is a competent leader. She did all she could to lead the SSS successfully. I don’t sense any major aggressiveness in her personality like Haruhi. Yuri did what she thought was best for everyone based on her knowledge of the world. Yuri couldn’t have known that Tenshi was a human like everyone else (see Track Zero). Yuri wanted to fight against God for making her family die a cruel death, but exactly how does one go about doing that?

    Maeda wrote a lot for Angel Beats!, too much to fit in a mere 13 episodes, so things were rushed. It’s not like they had a choice in the matter, it’s an issue with the budget and other things. There was no time for any character or plot development. Had they gotten more episodes they could have shaped it into a masterpiece like CLANNAD.

    The issue with the pacing is both the director Kishi’s and Maeda’s fault. However, it was Maeda’s first time writing for an anime and not a game so of course he would be entirely new to everything in how an anime works.

    In terms of what it set out to do in 13 episodes, Angel Beats! was pretty well done. Its music is spectacular and the animation quality is the highest I have ever seen in an anime. It lacks organization but it’s a solid anime.

    • meronpan said

      ah, yeah i wasn’t trying to argue that yuri *was* like haruhi, rather just the simple fact that she reminded me of her caused my outlook on the show to change. and as you point out, yes, there are major differences and if you think about it and there’s nothing wrong with it. but it’s that instinct i had to fight that was annoying and it soiled my first impressions and mood while watching the show. …hopefully that made sense? ^^;

      at any rate, i think we agree on the rest of the points you make… though my post ended up being a long rant, i’m sincere when i say i consider it above average. the issues i had with it just prevent it from being one of my all time favorites.

  7. lovelyduckie said

    Oh wow…very well chosen image to make the Haruhi comparison. That really looked like a bootleg Haruhi. I haven’t seen this series but based on your review (and a few others I read) I’m not really going to go out of my way to see this series.

    • meronpan said

      if you do have time, i still would recommend trying out the first two episodes. that should give you a pretty good idea of how the show feels and what sorta stuff it’s gonna cover. just 50 minutes, ne? ^^

      but yeah, try not to let any “omg it’s bootleg haruhi” thoughts cloud your judgment ^^;;

  8. Persocom said

    You basically just summed up how I felt about the series. If it had been extended to perhaps 20-some episodes I think it could have been much better. It was too fast paced, not enough development and was over before you knew it. Yes it was decent in the end, and there were a lot of parts that were really good, but it suffered because of it’s bi-polar nature and shortness.

    • meronpan said

      i think rather than 26 episodes or whatnot what they really needed to do was make a visual novel instead :P stick to your strong points, key! i guess maybe they were just tired of creating awesome visual novels. ^^;

      actually something just occured to me about pacing… though before i talk about it

      ****potential ga-rei spoilers****

      ga-rei is a great example of how you can mix in the serious with lighter stuff. and how you can even shock your audience within the first episode effectively.

      i mean, why was i more attached to the squad that’s brutally taken out by yomi than yuri after hearing about her terrible tragic past?

      ga-rei zero uses a more traditional mix of lighter scenes while gradually building back up to a very serious finale. so i guess i’m still not sure how i’d mix so much death-based slap-stick with a serious show… but at least this shows how a much more consistent theme can be achieved despite contrasting elements (at least that sits better with my tastes ^^;)

  9. I figured that Otonashi started falling for Kanade due to his predisposition to try and help those in need. We saw that in his flashback ep. It’s what got him to reach out his hand to her in the first place, seeing as he realised that she was pretty much alone in purgatory so seeing feelings develop from that are not too far fetched.

    Contrast to Yuri. Where the hell did that last bit come from??

    I thought that no-death in purgatory kinda worked but was taken too far. I kinda liked how they tried to show that being alive isn’t the same as living. But if you live in purgatory, then you get obliterated. hmm…

    But in the end, I summed up my feelings about angel beats into 1 sentence. Poor pacing pretty much killed it, or at least prevented it from being a great show! It could definitely have benefited from a few more eps as well

    • meronpan said

      yeah otonashi does have this help those in need side… i guess… just personally that’s not enough for a meaningful relationship ^^; but i see your point and not that i disapprove of his choice :P

      and yeah yuri was much more unexplainable ^^;

      like your view of them illustrating the differences between alive and living. but alas for the pacing ^^;

  10. Punynari said

    Fascinating read. I completely agree with just about everything you said.

    The show to me just felt like a mixing of popular shows but, unlike you, I just could not find myself attached to any of the characters. Kanade was cute, but her personality didn’t really standout much from other girls from similar series. I guess, she was my favorite character but….she didn’t feel very inspired to me (sterotypical girl) (don’t kill me ^^;). Same with the other characters….

    I made it to around episode 8 before I couldn’t watch anymore. The “funny violence scenes” just got too much and the final straw was all the “got to go to the bathroom” jokes.

    Maybe I’m getting old though but I didn’t find Angel Beats all that entertaining (it was actually a chore to watch). I kept thinking, maybe it gets better in the next episode but it just got more on the bland and uninspired side.

    Thank you for the write up!

    • meronpan said

      ahhh, especially in a show like this i find it super important to latch on to at least a few characters to keep my interest up. congrats for getting as far as you did without such ^^;;

      totally feel ya on the uninspired aspects of kanade. i guess she had her whole special powers and such but in the end i pretty much binned her as the generic quiet, no emotion girl. (well, though i must admit i loved that scene when she was walking slowly, flailing her arms fighting those shadow creatures ^^)

      i also felt old for not liking the series as much. strange ^^;;;

  11. Rin said

    To me overall, Angel Beats! was good. I liked the show a lot.

    I agree with what you said but you also have to think that what if they had more episodes. The people who made Kanon, Air, Clannad made Angel Beats! They had a huge story planned out with each unique character. The main problem was that they were given 13 episodes to do it. Obviously some parts that would explain such character or story was cut out due to time. If they had more episodes, I say the story would had been a lot better.

    I too shed a tear or two when watching the later episodes of Angel Beats as you come to an understanding with some of the characters in the show.

    The music overall was great and can’t wait to see GirlsDeMo live in Concert in Japan.

    I think most of the actual story would be explained in either light novel form or in the manga.

    • meronpan said

      mmm but the problem is they didn’t have more episodes ^^; i tend to evaluate what was delivered, not what could’ve been… ne? ^^; i guess there is a novel out and some manga but from what i’ve read neither of those would serve as a better retelling on the anime so far…

      maybe they will make a visual novel some day and it’ll round things out. if they did and it was good i could see myself coming back and liking the anime more ^^

      regardless, really cool you’ll get to see girls dead monster! you always seem to have the most epic trips ^^

  12. dakuro said

    Love kanada she’s really cute =D
    I can’t really understand what was the meaning of heaven of the creator of angel beats, we have a lot of believes about the heaven, but no one can’t confirm any of them.

  13. dakuro said

    A lovely anime i liked very much, i guess that the anime could reach more episodes or at least a second season because everything happened to fast and the way how yuzuru and kanade related between them, i feel that relationship should more deep.

  14. Brianna said

    I loved Iwasawa when I first met her but she didn’t have enough time on the show. I still give Angel Beats a 10 out of 10

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