Home > Anime, Check-out Station > Check-out Station: Angel Beats (“‘Cause at this point, you can do whatever the hell you want.”)

Check-out Station: Angel Beats (“‘Cause at this point, you can do whatever the hell you want.”)

This has been a very random ride.  Angel Beats is perhaps the first show I couldn’t really figure out.  Up until the end, I wasn’t sure what category it fit in or if I really liked it.  I almost couldn’t even figure out a title for this.  It came and went quickly, almost too quickly.  I didn’t get much of a chance to really get endeared to the characters or the setting.  And in the end leaves me with some nagging questions.

I guess I should start with the characters, since that is where I seemed to get the most enjoyment out of this show though they’re not all enjoyable. This subject is pretty easy to cover.  We basically get a bunch of hyperactive idiots running around the afterlife fighting Angel, a girl with white hair, little to no facial expressions and who apparently took the necessary moe class that would allow us to welcome her into our hearts.  All while she slices and dices and tries to get these idiots to follow along the school rules and get along.  When it comes to the idiots, I think everyone’s favorite was TK.  I’m sure everyone has their theories as to where he came from, but I’ll be happy to assume he had a job as an arcade game announcer.  And he lived an unfulfilled life because he couldn’t get the world’s top score in Dance Dance Revolution.  Then there’s Otonashi, not at all an idiot,  who reminds me a bit of a personal favorite character, Tomoya of Clannad fame.  Only Otonashi doesn’t hit the highs or lows that Tomoya did, and didn’t quite have the interesting personality Tomoya had either.

Otonashi is obviously the most important cog in this series, since his appearance stops the endless cycle going on in this world.  It moves this world in an important direction moving forward and towards its end.  The series other main character, Yurippe as everyone here calls her was one of my least favorite characters.  I tried to avoid the comparisions, but she really did feel too close of a character personality-wise to Haruhi Suzumiya.  It made it hard for me to watch her performance and draw parallels and negative critiques.  I admired her skill and leadership, but the fact that you could tell that she and her goals were nothing more than vicious pranks and childish rebellion didn’t help me view her in a more positive light.  I didn’t see her as much more than a selfish, hateful girl until very near the end.

The other problem I had with this show was how it jarringly moved from subject to subject, and switched from comedy to drama.  The comedy was OK, but rarely hilarious.  The drama was seldom moving, with the exception of a few moments.  I count those as Yui’s send off, Otonashi’s backstory, Yurippe’s backstory and of course the surprise moment very near the end of the series.  And that send off is its own set of problems I’ll deal with later.  Also, the transition from problem to problem was very abrupt and felt really artificial.  It felt like after every episode where you could put a happily ever after stamp, a new problem would magically show up to keep the show going.  There’s very little foreshadowing, just a surprise moment where sh*t goes wrong.  This only gets more and more exasperated towards the end.

The biggest problem I had with the series was the ending (big surprise for an anime, right?).  I found the Matrix-Reloaded style ending very uninspired, and over-dramatic.  I found the revelation of a certain character having another character’s heart (literally), insane and confusing.  It left us with a setting, a concept and not much else.  I admit it did a good job of not being completely episodic, a very easy thing considering they could’ve covered everyone’s backstory and extended this series into the 20 episode realm easily.  But the constantly shifting gears, the brisk pace and the total disregard for answers left me with a slightly empty feeling.  It felt like Key decided to have some fun here, and once they got bored decided to quickly wrap things up and get the hell out of town.

In the end, the animation was awesome, the music very good and the characters for the most part were likable and fun, if not terribly memorable.  The main problem I have is with the handling of the concept and the plot.  I suppose those annoyances can be cleared up with a good movie, OVA or another season.  But I have no guarantee they will and I’m not judging the show on future promises.  Angel Beats right now is an above average show with a great pedigree and high production values.  Nothing more, don’t be fooled into thinking it was great.

Further Reading:

If you enjoyed the wonderful insanity that was TK then you’ll understand this member of my Twit-fam, Chii.

Visit this guy for a critical, though not necessarily negative look at that infamous final episode.

And for all my episode by episode posts on this show please visit this link.  Just look under any pick that says DonKangolJones.  🙂

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