I want to say something good about Angel Beats before it does something naughty

I guess this has spoilers.

I am not as allergic to works by Maeda Jun as some others can be. I can’t say I’m fan of his work,¬† but I do appreciate what he does some of the time. To recap a bit, Kyoto Animation’s Air, despite at times no making sense, hit hard with raw emotional force. Their adaptation of Kanon, being longer and more polished, also did well to pull at my heart strings, even if I didn’t care for how it ended. Clannad was a bit of a misstep, this time being¬† far too long and far too much of a re-hash. It was a solid production, put lacked the kind of highs the previous two works had.

Angel Beats, unlike those above-mentioned works, is not in fact animated by Kyoto Animation or an adaptation. It’s instead animated by P.A. Works and an original story. As far as I can tell, it’s penned by Maeda himself, rather than being another person’s interpretation of his work. Suffices to say, it’s a little different from the rest.

Before I lavish bits of praise upon the show, let me get the things I don’t like out of the way first. The character designs, despite having grown on me, are incredibly generic and unadventurous. They should take a page from SHAFT, who while only adapting character designs from manga or light novels, manage to make the most interesting looking characters out there these days. I also think there are too many characters, so many of them just come off as one-note gags. And not in the good Sayonara Zetsubou Sensei way.

However, those complaints have all become trivial now, as the show has some fairly strong story and humour elements that keep me relatively entertained. Maeda is usually content to just smother the audience in sob story after sob story, and that’ll be the whole story, but Angel Beats takes things a bit further. Since the characters are already dead, it would be lame for the show just to concentrate on why they all died, though that is a part of it. What drives the show–or drove it, I should say–to this point was an underlying sense of mystery.

I shifted into the past tense because in episode nine (the most recent one as of this writing) brought to light the truth behind a couple of unresolved matters, such as just why these dead people are being sent back to highschool (They had unfulfilled youths.) as well as Otonashi’s mysterious past before he died!

The former is what really kept things interesting between the moments of (mostly) well executed humour and questionable offensives by the SSS-Dan. The latter didn’t really nag you as much as the setting did, simply because they didn’t mention Otonashi’s amnesia all that much, but it hits pretty hard. I think the first half of Otonashi’s story, which focuses around his sick sister, is probably Maeda at his finest. Call me a sap, but I enjoy seeing characters being pushed to the edge by an unrelenting force, even if that unrelenting force is a magical dying girl. It’s kind of silly, but I choked up inside. It’s how I like it. The second half–the subway story–was a bit too far fetched for me, but Otonashi dying right as the rescue crews come in was a nice touch.

With some of the main threads taken care of, along with Otonashi teaming up with Angel/Tenshi/Kanade to help bring the rest of the SSS-dan to rest, the show is gearing up to conclude. The problem is, the prospect of Otonashi and Kanade trying to bring everyone to rest by having them spill their sob stories sounds pretty lame, so I hope Maeda has something really cool up his sleeve.

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8 Responses to I want to say something good about Angel Beats before it does something naughty

  1. lelangir says:

    I also liked how Otonashi strived to be a doctor after his magical imouto died. Maybe it was similar (in a way…) to Akio and Sanae living their dream of acting through Nagisa? The last episode in the first season of Clannad hit really hard when Akio came storming to the auditorium.

    As for Otonashi dying in the tunnel, no coincidence that he died in the dark cave as soon as the light broke through the darkness.

  2. djwhack03 says:

    How do you find the humor well executed? They just repeat one gag over and over again over the course of an episode (suicide rush, rocket chairs, etc).

  3. Joojoobees says:

    You make several excellent points. Especially the generic character designs.

    If it weren’t for the issue of Yuri, I would have felt fine with episode 9 as the ending. Going through every character will be a waste. Putting some serous effort into “clearing” Yuri will basically resolve everything that remains, IMO.

  4. Yumeka says:

    I agree with just about everything you’ve said. The only thing I dislike about this show is that there are too many characters for such a short series, so it seems like a number of them are destined to be one dimensional (unless a second season comes up). For episode 9, it seems like an odd spot to start a new story arc with only four episodes left, so I hope they don’t end up rushing it.

    Like the other Key series, the humor in Angel Beats! doesn’t always work for me, but sometimes I get a chuck out of it. I’m more interested in the mystery and drama. I’m not sure whether Yuri’s, Ayato’s, or Otonashi’s past made me the saddest (I didn’t think Hinata’s was that sob-inducing).

  5. wah says:

    >>djwhack03
    Did you miss the “mostly” in parentheses? It’s not always on point, but they have some good ones. I did like the rocket chairs.

    One thing I neglected to clarify was that I don’t think this show is actually good. It’s just entertaining fluff that does some things right.

  6. elevated says:

    I’ll put money down that by the last episode there will be tears shed

  7. Rob says:

    The funniest part of Angel Beats! is how seriously it takes itself. At least, to me…

  8. Box says:

    I’ve enjoyed the anime so far and I’m not big on the whole Otonashi and Angel “team up”. I thought the whole anime was going to be a mostly comedy driven fight between them and Angel and I wasn’t happy to see that suddenly change but it’s an anime definitely worth checking out regardless. I do compliment the idea of stopping the bloodshed (as much as I love my animated bloodshed), and finding other alternatives–even if it turns into a sob-fest. All and all, I’ll be sticking with the anime until the end :)

    And I totally love the comedy gags in this anime! They don’t just rely on perversion, they have some actual humor to it! And who the fuck didn’t like the rocket chairs? That shit was original.