Posted by meronpan on July 7, 2010
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…
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” ^^;;;
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…
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…
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.
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 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?
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.