I have to admit that I first started watching Angel Beats because of two main reasons: the pretty visuals, and the presence of guitars. But once I began watching the show in earnest, I found a lot more here than I expected. Angel Beats is a show that keeps me guessing, and consistently tugs at strings I didn't know existed until they were pulled.
Basically, Angel Beats is about an afterlife in which a group of dead students refuse to 'move on' to the next life, because they have some sort of peace to make with the world and themselves. There's a unique mix of
common school life against the supernatural. It's a setting that I found to be original enough; I also expected it to be a simple tear-jerker, but that isn't the case.
Angel Beats has a duality about it. One part of it is comedy - most of it is well timed, and on several occasions, had me laughing out loud at my screen like a nutcase. The English-speaking, nonsensical TK doesn't even need an introduction anymore. Even the slapstick comedy is quite well done, and usually timed with unfitting music which (for the most part) heightens the comedy.
The other part would be the melodrama. Most of the important characters have a back story to them, which are revealed piece by piece. And, as to be expected, many are torturous, depressing tales. These stories aren't your stereotypical 'my puppy died' stories; in fact, I've found that most of the stories that have been revealed are all original in some way or another, and interesting as well. Their common theme seems to be 'regrets' - especially those of teenagers struggling with family, society and life in general.
Topping it all off and decorating the whole package is a very clean, crisp presentation, and music that can move you from the first time you hear it. The rock concert scenes are some of the finest I've ever seen, with spectacular animation and crisp lighting effects. The music alone made me re-watch the concert episodes over and over. The art is also very pleasant on the eyes, with soft but vibrant colors and simple but effective character styles.
The greatest problem that many people make an issue out of is the transition between the two previously mentioned parts of comedy and drama. Sometimes, the parts can seem fragmented and poorly transitioned. But I only noticed this after I heard the criticisms and look for such inappropriateness. I'm a fan of such shows that mix in different types of enjoyment. Angel Beats also isn't a stupid show; I never felt that my emotions were being toyed with in a rudimentary or heavy handed manner.
What I'm trying to say is that while this may seem contradictory and schizophrenic to some, overall, it seems to be a fairly successful blend to me. I found I actually liked being proven wrong about my guesses as to 'what kind of show this will end up being'. And I know that many scenes will evoke familiar memories from other shows, but really, this show deserves to be considered as it is, by itself.
Let me do some breaking down:
The story is revealed irregularly; some episodes teach you various things about the world, while others spend their time screwing around. I had fun watching those anyway, but I can see how others would think it's a waste of time.
The art is beautiful. Beyond what we've come to expect, the animation is amazing (especially for the concerts), and the lighting effects give the show a slightly washed-out, surreal look - which I'm sure was the intended effect.
It's been a while since I've liked every song in a show. Some of the BGMs are repeated a bit often, but the feature songs are all brilliant. The seiyuu also do a fine job. No voices will annoy you - unless it was intentional.
This one's tricky, as many of the characters' back stories are still veiled. Some characters seem to follow the usual anime tropes, but they work. I definitely felt more interested in a character once I learned more about their past.
There's a very obvious sign as to how much I'm enjoying a show; I get antsy and check for updates every hour. The more I see, the more I want. The concert scenes alone are worth the watch.
I guess in the end, your enjoyment of Angel Beats will depend on whether its various aspects strike a chord with you or not (pardon the pun). For my part, I'm glad to have found a series that keeps me guessing, interests me with its premise, dazzles my eyes, while making me laugh and sniffle in the same episode.
This one's definitely worth your attention, at least until you're absolutely sure you don't like everything about it. Check it out.
After having finished this series, I needed to add a short addendum - because it helped me realize the potential problem of this series. In short, it's a little messy. If you watch the final episode, you'll probably come to realize the main theme of the series (the entire first half of the final episode is dedicated to it). But when you do, you start thinking of ways in which certain story elements could have been developed and presented a little better.
I can't help but compare it to Clannad, a series that expertly manages the drama and the waves of emotion from the viewer. It's almost like the show is psychic, and knows exactly when to say or show something in order to get the maximum emotional impact and reaction. Compared to that, Angel Beats is more than a little awkward; in particular, the final scene - it just didn't hit me as hard as I thought it should. I was affected, but was distracted at the same time by the clumsy dialogue and the sense of too many unexplained factors.
All in all, I'm very glad I spent time with Angel Beats, and will surely miss its presence. At the same time, it pains me to think of how much better it could have been if the show didn't feel so rushed, and if the writers had put a bit more planning and effort into the final moments.
Sometimes anime studios manage to confuse me, not because of anything they do, but because of what they don't do.
Take Angel Beats as an example.
Any fan of certain Key visual novels (or their KyoAni adaptations), will undoubtedly be familiar with the work of Maeda Jun, whose inimitable style, approach, and methodology to storytelling is clearly on display in Angel Beats, and on the surface this may actually seem like a good thing. Given the whole concept of a high school purgatory one would think there was enormous scope for the tale, and in some aspects the story is delivered very well. The only problem is
that as a viewer, I'm kind of getting bored of watching the same thing over and over again.
Here's what I mean. Angel Beats takes the idea of purgatory (to those of you who don't know that word, google it), and places it firmly in a high school setting, something which is familiar territory to Maeda, and while the plot actually works fairly well within that setting, there isn't actually anything that I found inspiring or moving in any way. In addition to this the whole basis of the story is that this particular purgatory is only for young people, however one has to question why this is so, and also why the only young people who get to go there are all people with regrets.
Confused? Throughout the whole series not one character actually displayed any kind of violent or vengeful behaviour in their past life, and this omission place a huge bias on the story. As far as I'm aware, the nature of purgatory is that it exists not only for those with regrets, but also for those whose sins aren't great enough for them to be sent to hell.
Purgatory is, in effect, the last chance a soul has to "get it right", and whilst Angel Beats does kind of show this, the lack of anyone who died for revenge makes the whole story unbalanced. The fact that almost everyone in the story only has regret makes the whole show a bit too sugary sweet, and while the whole series is actually pretty well written, this only makes the areas that are missing more pronounced.
Still, the plot is paced nicely, and the idea is definitely unusual for a high school series. There's also the inclusion of certain elements that are interesting, but the show never really puts them to good use until near the end of the series and at that point it just seems too little, too late.
Moving on to another area of confusion, the art and animation throughout the show is actually pretty decent on the whole. The characters are designed nicely and have a certain look about them that really does remind one of KyoAni's work with Key. The backgrounds and scenery are pretty normal (the high school setting doesn't really allow for much in the way of creativity), and don't really set themselves apart from other shows of this ilk.
The problem is actually the concert scenes. The whole series is designed and animated in a certain style which at first seems pretty decent. Then P.A. Works make concert scenes that not only look better, but have more fluid and detailed animation, are better choreographed, and are just plain superior to the show itself.
Why not do the whole show in this way? It's as if P.A. Works are telling the viewer "this is what we're really capable of, but we're not going to give it to you so you'll have to make do with the leftovers". If the whole series was animated in the same manner as the concert scenes then this would easily be one of the best looking shows in anime, and the fact that the viewer can clearly see that P.A. Works are capable of much greater things is more than a little annoying.
That said, while Angel Beats looks decent where it could have been great, it sounds so much better than one might expect. Given the high school setting there's a wealth of character types on display, including the voices. The acting is pretty decent throughout, but there's very little for the seiyuu to work with as the characters are pretty much one dimensional (more on this in a bit).
What really steals the show though, is the music. Yes, there are very well produced concert scenes, but the music that's actually used throughout the series is pretty good too. Surprisingly, Maeda is also the composer for Angel Beats, while the actual arrangement of the thematic pieces is done by Anant-Garde Eyes. As for the title tracks the OP, "My Soul, Your Beats", is a decent enough pop song, while the ED, "Brave Story", is a rather nice ballad.
As far as the characters go, it's here where Angel Beats begins to suffer from the inherent lack of creativity. While there are some nice ideas and concepts in the show, the fact that Maeda and director Kishi Seiji have opted for the stereotype leaves a lot to be desired.
That's not to say that the characters are bad per se, no, it simply means that they are very much as one would expect, right down to their personalities. Yuri, for example, reminded me of a certain leader from a particularly famous KyoAni franchise. While the similarities between characters from Angel Beats and other shows may sometimes be only skin deep, the fact that no thought was given to trying out something new, especially with the more interesting ideas that the show toyed with, makes one think that the business side of the industry has taken over, at least where this show is concerned.
Now while I've been fairly critical about Angel Beats, that doesn't mean to say that the series is bad, or that I didn't enjoy it. The fact is that this show has something to offer to many people, and while I may not be a hardcore fan of this anime, or hate it with a passion, I can honestly see why those perspective are valid. The simple fact is that Angel Beats truly did have the potential to be something special in anime, and that has been wasted in favour of producing something that will appeal to the existing moe fan base.
Granted, the whole industry needs to make money (and what better way than to milk it from fans who don't know any better by giving them more of the same), but it would be nice if, just for once, one of these creators would actually give us the series that they truly want us to see.
Then again, that's probably nothing more than a pipe dream.
Angel Beats!, an anime hailed by many to be one of the best, if not the best anime ever, but also an anime many think its bad and seriously overrated. So where does it stand? Well, it isn't downright terrible, but it's not the best anime there is either, no, it's not even close to it.
I think the main story is summarized pretty nicely on MAL so I won't go in much depth on that. The first few episodes were presented nicely, and definitely looked promising. It introduced you to the characters in the SSS and Tenshi, and for me, I think they did
a good job on it, making you want to know the truth of the afterlife and how the characters ended up there. From there, however, it started to fall apart, bit by bit.
You see, when an anime is only going to be 13 episodes long, it can have the tendency to get rushed a lot. And when an anime gets rushed, it can usually leave no room for development on both story and characters, sometimes cramming a huge amount of plot in one episode to even make it feel confusing. That's exactly what happened with Angel Beats!. The short duration of the series was at fault when the characters couldn't even get a proper development and backstory and mostly because of that, the story, on the whole, fell short. The huge amount of comic relief (at times, unneeded) didn't help much either. Honestly, they could surely have sacrificed some of the rather drawn-out comical scenes for some backstory right? Well, they obviously thought showing like only 6 backstory (out of like 18+ SSS characters) was ok enough, otherwise they could have shown at least one or two more even in just 13 episodes.
Also for the ending... well it's loved by a lot of people and disliked by others. As for me, I was very disappointed by it. The romance buildup towards the ending only had a few episodes to go for, and was rushed and just crammed together in the last few episodes, having almost no development whatsoever.
The Art is a standout. It was just stunning, beautiful and eye-catching. The character and background designs were, overall, great. The animation was also great. It was crisp and fluid, and everything from character movements to the little bits of battle scenes we had were animated very well.
Moving on to the Sound aspect, which I easily thought was the 2 of the best parts of the show, the other being the Art. The OP/ED were great but the soundtracks were really memorable to me. They fit the scenes very well, especially the beautiful and sad soundtracks. To me, without the soundtracks, some scenes wouldn't have felt the same way as it did.
Now for the characters. What started out as so promising ended up, not terribly, but marred by the short duration of the series. As I have said before, the character development was practically non-existent due to the series being short. The characters themselves, are interesting, but not entirely unique. Likable? yes, Lovable? maybe.
As I have mentioned before, I was really looking forward to seeing the character's past and how they got to the afterlife. However, with just 13 episodes, even if the character's past is cut short, it just seems so hard to fit all 18 members of the SSS + Kanade in the series. That led to having only about 6 character's backstory shown. This also led to the more interesting characters being overlooked. Characters like T.K., Shiina, or Noda had so much potential to become a great character, but were basically brushed off to the side.
Here's what I hear a lot from people who have completed the series. Many of them say that they didn't cry or feel sad throughout the series simply because that they couldn't get attached to the characters in such short amount of time.
This, for the most parts, is true, but also depends on the person watching it. For me, I liked some of the characters, and found myself partly relating to some, (who had a backstory that is) but I didn't get attached to them. But like I said, this just depends on the person watching the series. Some could cry and feel sad for days, but others could just shrug it off and say "meh".
So will you be attached to the characters by the end of the series? It depends. Had the series went on just a bit longer to give characters some more time, most, if not all characters in SSS would probably have gotten a proper development and backstory, and also likely would have made you feel more attached to them.
I personally enjoyed Angel Beats! despite its flaws. Although most of the enjoyment score comes from the first couple of episodes, the last couple still weren't downright terrible, it was just too rushed to the point it became uninteresting. In my opinion, the comedy was decent but it was just too drawn-out. For the sad scenes, I personally found only one scene to be sad, I didn't cry, but it was still, sad.
Overall, Angel Beats! is a good anime with some outstanding aspects to it, accompanied by departments where it could have been executed a LOT better. A longer duration could have helped a lot for Angel Beats! as it could have had more developed story and characters, but what's done is done.
I'd say Angel Beats! is on the overrated side, but being overrated doesn't mean that you shouldn't watch it. Who knows? For you Angel Beats could be a fun, sad, and enjoyable experience as a whole.
Angel Beats! The anime that is praised by many and criticized by few. Sadly I was forced to go stand in the cold critic corner. In all honesty, I was excited to watch this anime after all the suggestions from people and raving reviews. The art looked amazing and I heard the music was incredible. What is a good anime in my book? An anime that effects my grades negatively, because just...one...more...episode! Angel Beats however never gripped me. It made me say: "Ok that's enough for today, I have a ton of homework anyway..." My experience can be best summed up in a quote from
another review: "I badly wanted to love this anime, but just couldn't..."
I obsessively try to spot the cracks and flaws in a plot, but I overlook a lot of flaws in the beginning of an anime to give it a fair chance. From the start the plot's foundation was already showing cracks, but I ignored them due to my high hopes for this "MUST WATCH!" The story begins with our main protagonist waking up in some kind of "afterlife" and he is greeted by a teenage girl with a sniper rifle. The apparent "antagonist" called Angel is, like everyone in this "afterlife", immortal, but she has extra powers (cause why settle for immortality, am I right?) The leader of the "resistance" is perfectly aware of their opponent’s immortality but she and her group of rebels shoot at her anyway (with guns made from dirt by the way...), even though one of her powers allows bullets to pass straight through her. I was just waiting for one rebel to shout: "Our bullets have been passing harmlessly through her for the past 5 minutes, sir!" Then the leader would answer: "Just shoot harder!!" I would be crying on the floor! (Not tears of laughter but tears of pain cause I would have fell off my chair laughing!)
This "Pre-afterlife" world is a highschool (cause every anime needs a bunch of not-so-normal teens that go to high school.) At this school you are given a chance to make peace with your tragic life and move on to your reincarnation. One of the ways to pass on? Get good grades... So this group of rebels against God decide to go to class but not pay any attention...brilliant! Why even go to class in the first place? Another thing that irritated me is they added filler scenes and 3 or 4 filler episodes to a 13 episode anime! The characters and plot never had a chance to develop in that short time because it was given 2nd or sometimes 3rd priority! If you take off your thinking cap, lend it to a friend, sit down and just immerse yourself in the art, music, action and comedy then you might enjoy this anime quite a bit. The plot is also very slow paced and when it finally picks up the pace the anime is almost over, everything is rushed and you end up with a horde of mini-arcs.
School scenario, group of misfits, each an embodiment of some stereotype, it's been done too many times... Let’s start with a positive. This anime had some of the most interesting characters I've seen in a while. I needed to know more and when I realized that they will be telling each character's backstory and revealing the reason for them "qualifying" for this school I was ecstatic! There was hope for this anime! Sadly the 3 most interesting/mysterious characters were not even developed the slightest! Their backstories were not even told! You had the chilled guy who never stopped dancing and only spoke small snippets of vague English. You had the introvert girl who was always on her own and who had a love for puppies and the weapon obsessed, hot tempered guy who had a crush on one of the main female protagonists. These 3 supporting characters in my opinion had the most potential. All 3 pushed aside and only used for comic relief... The waste of potential was shocking and really got to me.
Now I need to agree with almost every review here and admit, the art was amazing. The use of rays of light reflecting off objects and the creamy colours were very soothing to the eye. Beautiful backgrounds and scenes complemented the scenarios and were not too busy. The characters had simple, but original designs. (At least most of them...) Even though they were pointless, the action scenes were smooth and flowed. The art was one of the aspects that slightly redeemed this anime and that acted as a safety net to slow it's steady decent down my anime list.
The music matched the scenes and really added atmosphere and added emotion to the scenes that were "meant" to touch you. (It was incredibly easy to see the formula that the writer followed to try and tug at my heart strings.) One track in particular that played during the last episode in the saddest moment made a smile briefly creep onto my disappointed face.
I loved the art and sound, but those are just enhancers of the story. Sadly great art and sound could never save a wrecked plot, no matter how good. It did cushion the blow however.
This anime's last chance to grab a point or two from me. Sadly even this chance was squandered... I started watching this anime with the hope of sharing the same feels as all the fans of this anime begging me to give it a chance. The ending lacked any emotional impact though... I could almost see the writer add every typical element to the ending to make it resemble a genuinely sad yet still realistic ending. I unfortunately found the ending devoid of even a scrap of logic and even the timeline of past events shown to the viewer via flashbacks made no sense...(I don't want to spoil anything) But without spoiling I just need to say that the ending makes all the efforts and motives of the "resistance" redundant and laughable... Even their reincarnation theory or should I say fear of not wanting to risk coming back as a barnacle is totally blown out of the water...(No pun intended)
Now there is one thing about the end that I need to address, so please skip the next well designated paragraph but NOT the rest of the review if you want to avoid a slight spoiler. You gone? Good :) Don't say I didn't warn you...
***BEGINNING OF SPOILER***
At the very end the main character and Kanade (Angel) move on and are reincarnated as humans that look almost exactly like their former selves, that are also conveniently the same age and live in the same town/city and Angel is conveniently humming a song from the afterlife so that reincarnated Otanashi (Main character) can recognise the tune and they end up meeting again... Out of all the BILLIONS of lifeforms they could have been reincarnated as...or lets just say for arguments sake that humans can only be reincarnated as humans the odds are still impossible! That is complete and utter bullshit and terrible writing! Haha
***END OF SPOILER***
ENJOYMENT: 3 + OVERALL: 4
I know saying that you did not like Angel Beats! is like saying you prefer Dub over Sub in the anime community, but I'll carry that burden ;) The art and music were fantastic and the comedy made me laugh, but I struggled to take the anime seriously. I never knew if they wanted to make things seem realistic or not. If you are going to make an anime take place in the afterlife, might as well throw realism out of the window rather than to try and fix the many problems that come with anime of this genre. Summed up: A group of teens that go to highschool in the afterlife while rebelling against an unknown/unseen/faceless God and shooting an immortal enemy with bullets and guns made from dirt... Immortal teens afraid to die in a world where death means a trip to the school nurse... Some characters did not even have particularly sad stories. One failed to catch a baseball for f* sake... The school is "designed" to help souls who had tragic lives accept their fate and move on, right? But why are there no new arrivals throughout the anime? If you take the population of the earth into perspective, then there would be a massive influx of new arrivals at the school daily due to our world being the chaotic mess that it is. There has to be people/teens who live tragic lives 100 times worse than the characters of this anime, but why don't we see them arrive at the "school"?
I know this review was horribly critical of Angel Beats!, but I had no choice. Angel Beats! is a rotten egg that has been beautifully painted (Art) and coated in perfume (Sound)
"-You must be an idiot! You should try dying once!
by the way, that's a cliché joke in this world where no one can die. So, was it funny?"
I'm at a loss for words...
What could I say? I keep getting surprised with Key's scriptwriters. Who's already familiar with their works, probably heard the name Jun Maeda before. He's the original creator of Angel Beats. You may not like him, but Maeda's (and his coworkers at Key) manner of creating and conducing a story, be it a light-hearted comedy or a melodramatic romance, is definately worthy of praise. Just look around, Clannad, Air, Kanon and recently Little
Busters! are all well-known series.
When you see the description and the pictures for this anime, you actually think there's nothing of "special" with it. Guns, girls, music, baseball, god, angels... awesome! But can it all fit together? After a long sequence of Key's emotional stories, I wasn't willing to watch this (aparently) easygoing story with "afterlife" or "purgatory" theme. There's just too much of it nowadays that it's getting boring.
Fortunately I gave it a try and watched the first episode...
Sometimes you find these series with a kick off episode so amazing that throws away all your worries and uncertainties. Starting straight with the OP song, without a preview cutscene, you're introduced to the characters and just a few minutes after it, the story starts to develop. Fast paced like this, the viewers, just like the male protagonist are thrown in this "afterlife world" where those who doesn't want to disapear, or reincarnate as a caterpillar, must fight against god.
I've read a few reviews with really low scores for AngelBeats, the main reason being the "lack of originality" regarding it's story. Let's be fair, the anime industry has been producing series for more then 40 years, it's reasonable to think that some themes would be repeated. However, a recurrent theme doesn't mean the new releases will all be cliché or repetitive, what's important is the way the theme is approached and the individual elements each anime adds to it. That being said, I consider AngelBeats an "original" anime, even tough the basis of its story is not new, the characters, scenario, art and the development of the plot itself, makes it unique.
This series has that kind of sadistic/dark humor that you can't deny, it is funny, but without all that gore you would usually see in a show with this theme. It's tagged as "Supernatural" here in MAL, but it's the "family" kind of anime, that you can watch whenever you want. You won't experience those awkward moments where someone who isn't aware of what's going on see the screen in a not-very-correct moment. (Also the amount of fanservice in AngelBeats is minimal.) With "death" being part of the story it's certain that there would be violence in it, but it's in a level that isn't disturbing. In the end, you could call it a "slice-of-afterlife", since it has all the elements an generic slice-of-life just with a unusual setting.
For those who aren't familiarized with Maeda's animes yet, it's nice to point out that they're all full of symbolism, and this one isn't an exception. You always have two perspectives and some things are left in the open for you, the viewer, to make your own interpretation.
That's why I'd always recommend the subbed version. No offense to the dubbers, they're great. But while watching it in japanese you'll always get more from the dialogue and furthermore somethings become easier to understand.
The plot had some lose ends indeed, but I wouldn't call them "flaws". Considering it's just 13 episodes long, Key and P.A.Works did a marvelous work with it, if you watch it open minded without paying too much attention to the script you won't find a problem with it at all.
One common issue with series where there are too many characters like AngelBeats does is that you get lost within.
It becomes confusing to tell who did what, whose name is that, etc. This is something you won't experience with this anime. The characters -I mean, the PEOPLE- of it, each one of them have it's personality well written and it's own importance in the story (be it a main or supportive character) they all had a carefully written background story that does make you feel like you're watching real people with real problems even when it's something unrealistic as being dead.
Shiina and Yui, for example, are both supportive characters, but they're important in the plot just like the protagonists, also their mottos and catchy phrases "how unwise"/"what an idiot" adds that "spice", that extra thing, that were missing to take a laugh out of you at certain scenes. They're not just laying there with the sole purpose of being a side-kick for the main characters.
How often do you see it? A drama anime that manages to keep its direction and focus in the protagonists but still take care of the supportive characters' problems and happy moments?
There's just one opening theme for the 13 episodes. However, there are small differences in it from one episode to another. Remember when I mentioned the symbolism on Maeda's stories? The OP isn't an exception. The piano, the lights and the way the characters are presented, there's a reason for it all. When you realize it, you start to see it with different eyes and that opening that would be boring to watch becomes interesting. The same applies for the ending theme. The animation of it changes according to the story and in a couple of episodes it's a different song. This is a interesting thing to point out, there're some studios that completely fails to make an emotional ending because after the heartbreaking scene they throw the usual ending theme, a 100%-effective mood killer. In Angel Beats thankfully this doesn't happen and the songs choosen for these couple of endings are wonderful.
The background soundtrack made for it is nice. It's none masterpiece but fits well with the scenes. If I were to give prise for something of it, would be the sound effects. They used some really nice ones, from horror movies hollywood-style played with classical instruments to new ones made with synthetizers.
The artwork is nice, atractive and well drawn, but I'd like to open a paragraph here, if I may, for a special topic that isn't covered in the main score neither in the "art" section. It would be for the transitions and visual effects of the anime. This would be all those text boxes saying "in the next day" but also light and angle effects. These are subjects the animators took great care of. All the transitions from one scene to another had, how could I say, "style". Every time the scenario changed, there would be a tag in the corner with the place's name. It becomes even a visual joke in the anime when the characters goes through several places endlessly. The same for facial expressions, you can sense someone put effort on drawing it. From laughing scenes to dramatic ones, they seemed always convincing.
If I were to write a "Trivia" section in this review, it would become too long for it to be read. I'll just say you'll get some really nice laughing moments with some practical jokes, references they make and definately, character quotes. Specially T.K's ones (the english-speaking guy). Pay attention and you may even find "easter eggs" of other Key projects such as Clannad and Air.
I had so much fun with this anime but still I was moved with the emotional scenes. The deeper the story was developing, I was still laughing with the characters but also feeling bad for them. This combination is what makes Angel Beats a masterpiece for me. It's not too dramatic but also not a easygoing comedy, just the exact average between them that I came to love. A beautiful story about life and people.
Angel Beats is a "compact" anime with a clear ending. That's why I don't have hope for the 2nd season, however if it happens to appear someday I will be looking foward to it.
As a final consideration for this review, I'd like to give a advice: Don't watch the special "Another Epilogue" right after you finish the main series. Take your time, relax your brain. Otherwise you'll go crazy on theories and alternative endings. Watch it open-minded, without the "oh, this is so cliché" kind of thought, and you'll have a great time with it. Enjoyment-o'-meter: 100%.
Numeric score: Story:9/10 | Art:10/10 | Sound:9/10 | Character:9/10 | Enjoyment:10/10 | Overall:9,8...just give it a 10 already.
Uhn... I ended up writing a lot. If you read everything, my huge thanks :D
Goodbye Wild Heaven~
Angel Beats has convinced me that Jun Maeda doesn’t know how to write an original story. His previous hits Air, Kanon, and Clannad have been about a bunch of mentally and/or physically broken high school girls who all fall in love with a guy whose only significant character trait is that he exists, and along the way one of these girls will die of a mysterious illness. For Angel Beats, Maeda twists his tried and true formula by having all the characters dead to begin with, and stuck in some sort of high school purgatory, where a group of high school students shoot a little
girl in the kneecaps for no good reason.
As mentioned earlier, Maeda’s stories are very formulaic. First, he establishes a cast of one dimensional, but likeable characters, and a zero dimensional main character who is designed to be a self insert for the viewer. He then lulls the viewers into a false sense of security with a couple of comedic episodes before dropping a tragedy bomb. In time the main character recovers from the tragedy and an asspull miracle occurs, to ensure a happy ending and negating any kind of character development. Angel Beats follows this same formula to an extent, however due to last minute budget cuts; this had to be crammed into 13 episodes making the production feel rushed and uneven.
A lot of fans will defend the show by saying that it would have been more coherent had it been given 26 episodes. I don’t buy this. Maeda had a lot of options. He could have told half the story and left it open to a probable second season. He could have cut some of the characters or spend less time recycling the same gags (suicide rushes, rocket chairs, etc.) to make more room for character growth. It’s possible to tell a great story in 13 episodes or less. Haibane Renmei told a similar purgatory story in 13 episodes, and the world was much deeper, and the characters more sympathetic. Baccano had a huge cast, yet all the characters got their time to shine, without taking away from the story.
In addition, there is never a really good explanation for why they’re fighting Tenshi. They make her out to be evil incarnate at first, but quickly find out that she’s actually a normal girl. Yet rather than do their research, Yuri somehow convinced everyone to build an underground factory, stockpile weapons, and hold rock concerts just to fuck with everyone’s dinner time. If you stop to think about it, the war on Tenshi was nothing more than pointless bickering started by a petulant bitch. Using the budget cuts to defend the trainwreck of a story is like when high school student complain that they would have done better on a test had they gotten more time. Sometimes, you just have to admit that you didn’t know what you were doing.
While the music for the show was decent, part of me felt it was a ploy to milk more money out of the show. Some of the early episodes focused on a band called Girls Dead Monster who played music as some sort of distraction. However, because they weren’t central to the plot, and because singles were being released so frequently while the show was airing, it all felt like a cheap cash-in to ride the wave of success of K-ON.
So if I hated the story so much, why did I stick with it? Simply, it’s because I’m a big fan of the director, Seiji Kishi. He previously did Seto no Hanayome and Tentai Senshi Sunred, which are two of my favorite comedy series. I could see that a lot of effort went into the animation. The lighting and movement was dynamic and smooth. The backgrounds were nicely detailed and had a pleasing color palette. Unfortunately, none of this could save the production from its terrible story. Part of me feels the director was overcompensating for the terrible story by blinding the audience with pretty pictures. This seems to have worked on a large portion of the fanbase since a lot of reviews I have read comment on how pretty it is while glossing over the failure of the story.
After watching Angel Beats and seeing the audience reaction to it online, I feel like it’s done its job of manipulating its audience with false emotions. It’s a formula that has worked for previous Key works, and their sales of figures and dakimakura prove it. Fans of the show that actually finished this review rather than marking it “unhelpful” and moving on, watch the show again. Is it actually unique, or is it the same trite, repetitive crap that’s been plaguing the anime industry for years? Does the story make sense, or is it full of more holes than a cheese grater? But most importantly, is it actually good or are you still lying to yourself?
Angel Beats! is absolutely glorious and perfect. It made me laugh, and cry, and I just loved all the drama and the story is not as paper-thin as one would believe. I thought all the characters were awesome, especially TK xD. The ending made me cry it was so good. In summary, Angel Beats! is amazing and is really emotional and if you haven't seen Angel Beats! go watch it!
Haha just kidding. Angel Beats! isn't actually all that special, and I'm writing this review to just try and send out a message to those of you who have not watched Angel Beats! yet. No I'm
not trolling, I really hated Angel Beats! and the reason I stuck with it to the end is so I could tell other anime watchers to stay the hell away from it. Note: I don't give a shit about the 'moewave.' I like all genres and types of anime, and if an anime is enjoyable or presents a very powerful story (or both, god forbid!) I'd like to tell you about it. It's just frustrating when I see a review (on this anime especially) and the reviewer goes out of his way to say "I'm going to ignore story and characters because those aren't important." That kind of thing makes me flip shit. It's as if I were to sell you a fancy house, but tell you you couldn't go inside. Is that fair? Hell no! Then here, my review on Angel Beats!, and I promise I won't say anything like "X isn't important" and waste your time doing so.
Otonashi, our walking cliche protagonist as another reviewer pointed out, has lost his memories and wakes up in a new world where he realizes people can't die. There he meets several exciting and interesting one-dimensional characters. Yurippe, the leader (who looks suspiciously close to another KyoAni mascot character) is the loudmouth leader of a fighting squadron that wants to "rebel against god." The only thing Yurippe can think to do to "rebel against god" is to pick on the class president, who is a frail lolita character and to repeatedly shoot her until she is dead (in a world where people can't die... fascinating how KyoAni got away with this). Then entire episodes are dedicated through traversing a 'dangerous underground path' full of 'dangerous traps.' Then we learn that the guns Yurippe gets are made out of dirt (no explanation). Then a whole lot of sobstories come into play. Almost every episode a character reveals their "troubled and emotional" past, and the pacing that introduces it is horrendous and each background story takes around half an episode to go through.
Blatantly, I didn't find the comedy all that funny, seeing as it was just rip offs of other Maeda Jun works, oh and so were the back stories. One of the girls falls into a coma and it is even alluded to AIR.
Seeing as this was anime had so many random filler episodes and insert songs it's hard to really explain the story. Or maybe it's hard to explain because there wasn't one (or if there was it was dastardly weak).
Aside from the numerous background errors per episode where the background changed sizes and the costuming errors (WILL BE FIXED IN THE BLU-RAYS HERPDERP), the animation was really good. Yes, I hated this anime, but I'm not going to lie, the animation was amazing. Bullets bounced off things realistically, and everything was really fluid. There was even water used in the last episode that looked so real that it utterly shocked me.
Now the character design pissed the hell out of me. The main character looks no more original than any third-rate anime. He's a normal build, with a normal haircut, and a normal voice and manner of speech etcetc. Then Yurippe was obviously just a Haruhi rip-off. Try and prove me wrong. What? You can't? Just put a picture of the two next to each other and you'll see. Then comes the art. I really had no opinion but I was leaning toward dislike on it. It looked like a blocky version Haruhi, and all the characters looked like tetris blocks when standing still, they all had this square build for some reason.
The opening is awesome. A nice piano piece with Lia as the singer. The ending is okay, I didn't feel much for it, but music is a taste and this part of the review is very opinion oriented.
The voice acting was also really good. The characters (as bad as they were) had voices that brought out what the creators were trying to do. Ototnashi had a normal voice, Kanade (Tenshi or Angel) had a monotone voice. Etc. To be honest I didn't really know a lot of the seiyuu other than Hiroshi Kiyama and Kana Hanazawa (Araragi and Nadeko respectively, both from Bakemonogatari) but I didn't really care - they did good work.
Every character is a cardboard cut out and can be reduced to one word. There's the bland protagonist, the bossy Yurippe, the 'kuudere' (cool) Kanade, a bodybuilder, an egomaniac, a spaz, a dunce, a brute, a fatty, a ninja, and so on.
And then there was TK.
TK is the single most creative piece of work in this entire anime. 90% of his lines consist of broken engirsh and usually make no sense. BUT I'M OKAY WITH THAT! Why? BECAUSE IT'S CREATIVE. There is very very few pieces of creativity in this anime, very very few things that don't follow an archetypal story. KyoAni took a chance and put in something that might be DIFFERENT (oh god what is this) and it simply worked. TK is a funny character and does headspins for no reason and has no background at all. But who cares? He was more developed and more interesting than ANY OTHER CHARACTER. This whole section got a plus one - just for TK.
I'm sorry. I couldn't do it. I couldn't bring myself to like it, and I know a lot of people who write reviews saying that "they wanted to like it, they really did" - and hey same here. The day this anime aired I was so freaking excited. I was ready to call this the anime of the year and I told all my friends to watch it. By episode three I couldn't take it anymore and I absolutely hated it, but I pushed on. I tried to enjoy the next episode. I sat down with my favorite candy (the Hot Tamales) and got myself my favorite drink (a delicious Seltzer) and made sure I watched it when no one would interrupt me. Shit it was hell. Every week. I tried harder and harder and then I realized.
Why am I forcing myself to like this anime, which is pretty mediocre?
And there you have it folks. That's all it is. Mediocre. The visuals can be the greatest on the planet, but that's not going to make me fond of the characters, or become interested in the plot. It's like Avatar by James Cameron, you love it or hate it, and if you love it, you don't love it for the characters, you love it for the explosions and all the pretty doodads and doohickeys involved.
I just averaged the numbers. That's the number I think this show properly deserves. Hey! You may still want to watch this anime. If you do, don't go in expecting too much. If you're able to looks past this anime's flaws in story and character then maybe you're experience will be much different, but if you're bothered by this, I strongly advise against watching this anime. It is not like Haruhi, it is not like CLANNAD, it is not like Kanon, but sure is a blend of them.
The characters refer to themselves as "idiots." And holy crap that is one good definition, but please beware viewer, let me warn you, if you consume idiocy, you become an idiot.
OVERALL (4) I really don't understand how this show is so highly rated. This is absolutely no the show for you if you enjoy story, good characterization, comprehensible motivations, or a coherent setting. Other than the admittedly stunning visuals, the show has very little to offer compared to other media that are far superior in almost every other aspect. To nutshell: amazing animation that guilds an empty shell of a series with so little substance it may as well be filler from start to finish. Actually I take that back, filler from start to finish would actually be more entertaining.
STORY AND ENJOYMENT (2) I bundle
since I am watching this to have a story played out for me by a set of good characters. This is where I derive my enjoyment. But, the show so heavily under-emphasizes everything about the story that if just a little bit more time were spent on it, clearly fleshing out the world and spending more time exploring it I may have been more forgiving of the other failures such as lack of clear purpose to any of the characters actions, why certain characters exist in the world and can do the things they do (especially with reference to the guild), and what the twitbugger is going on? Maybe I'm being too harsh on this show. There were a handful of moments that were indeed funny and some that plucked at my heart strings like a confused infant first that first learned how to move its hands but it was all so token and felt like one writers half baked idea formed at the end of a storyboard meeting thinking, "Oh, what if we blow up this character!? It'll be funny! And what if the snarky character does the snarky thing and the wildcard character does something completely random? Lets all get drunk to write that last one cuz it'll be great!" The most engaging part of the plot were when there was almost none at all and the writers knew this so the story ended up dangerously anemic.
However, my biggest grievance with the show was how badly it handled what little plot there was. Without spoiling anything, the ending was so bad you could have served it with some snails and called it french cuisine; it was stale, moldy, utterly perplexing, and smelled faintly of flatulence.
But lets look at the good parts of the show, because nothing can be all bad.
ANIMATION (9) as I've said, the animation is simply superb. It is some of the best animation for a series I've ever seen, and I would argue, almost on par with something like Kara no Kyoukai. Its like visual crack. If you can stand the moe aspects of the show, the character design is varied (for the most part) and each character is visually distinct reflecting the personality of the character fairly well.
This leads me into the CHARACTERS (3). All of them, with the exception of the MC and one other, are basically one dimensional and can be summed up in a single sentence. This isn't necessarily a bad thing. Like I said before, the show does a good job of using the characters and their unidimensionality as a means of entertainment, but its all very same-y. No risks are taken on the part of the writers to try and develop most of these characters and the one character that was incredibly well fleshed out is put on a bus before even halfway through the season (yes my favorite was the one in the band). The entertainment from this show through its characters is very popcorn-y and safe but at least its still entertaining. But like a good drunk piss, all I really care about is the arc, which few of the characters seem to satisfy, and to me that is disappointing.
SOUND (7) is another area where the show does pretty okay in. I wouldn't say that any of the tracks really blew my mind, but they were all very well suited for the situation and, as stand alone music, were tolerable to listen to. Most of the tracks are some combination of synth and non-synth strings, piano, and an electronica drum-kit. I will make a special mention of one track, Angel's Flight, which really is just a delight to listen to. Overall a lot of effort was put into the sound track and it shows.
I think this is best closed by going back to my nutshell, especially since the show metaphorically resembles one. An outer solid shell of good sound and animation which crumbles easily to reveal a decaying seed of story and characters.
I will say this first; Angel Beats! is my favourite anime series. While a lot of people don't share my sentiment, and say that Angel Beats! is nothing special, I disagree.
Angel Beats! takes place in a kind of afterlife similar to purgatory. In it, young adults find themselves at a mysterious colossal boarding school that runs like most other schools...with one exception; Yuri and the Afterlife battlefront.
The members of the Afterlife battlefront fight the unfairness of life and also their idealogy of god. Otonashi is the protagonist, after he wakes in the new world with little to no memories about his past life. This may
seem cliche, well, because it somewhat is but this works well as a plot device as his motives change because of his memories being slowly regained.
After a long break from Anime this was the series that drew me back in. The mix of action and light-hearted comedy has it's subtle mesh and the Anime is brought together by some truly stirring musical pieces.
The main characters of Otonashi and Yuri work well and the supporting characters are developed in a way that neither wastes time nor feels that they are felt 2D dimensional.
All in all, it is well worth watching. It comes bundled in a short and sweet 13 episode set and leaves you fulfilled.
If you haven't read the synopsis, Angel Beats (in a nutshell) takes place in a fictional world at a school where the protagonists are unable to advance to the afterlife/next life because of regret or lack of fulfillment in their previous life. There were lots of ups and downs to this series. I was really excited to start the series since it had been so heavily recommended to me by several friends, so I had high expectations prior to watching Angel Beats. Whether or not this affected my opinion is difficult to say, but I
found myself disappointed and unmoved by the end of the series.
Before I break the series down into categories, I'll say what stands out in this anime. The visuals and audio are captivating. They really compliment the characters and story. Out of all the anime I've seen, I'd place Angel Beats in the top 5 for visuals and the very top for audio. The topic of the afterlife is nothing new. The overall idea of Angel Beats is somewhat identical to Haibane Renmei (protagonists stuck in life after death, forgotten pasts, regret, friendship, pass to next life, happy times), but it is presented more uniquely than any anime of the same genre that I have seen.
A show of such promise is subject to heavy criticism if that promise is not upheld and that was the case for me. I'll explain it in categories.
I was really impressed with the first few episodes. They achieved the goal of getting me hooked to the story wanting to unravel the mystery of this world between the past and future as well as why and how the protagonists ended up there. The premise of the show wasn't beaming in uniqueness, but it was presented and built up in a very promising way. A little over halfway through the series is when I felt that the story started to fall apart. The closer I got to the last episodes the less I enjoyed the show to the point where I would only watch an episode every other day. At times, the story seemed a bit rushed and sloppy with the addition of underwhelming antagonists. The conclusion had me shaking my head because of a romance that was crammed into the last few episodes rather than developed throughout the series. Normally, I rejoice with a "BOOYAH!" when these moments finally occur. This ending left me nothing with more than confused and sad "Booyah..?" Maybe the story would have been better off without the last second romance.
I thoroughly enjoyed the visuals. The background, character designs, and animation were practically flawless in my opinion. I felt that the art made the setting and characters seem dream-like, which fits the show perfectly.
The music was outstanding. I will probably never say this about a show again, but the songs in this series were so catchy that I even downloaded some of them. The OP was good but what really caught my attention were the original soundtracks played throughout the show. For those of you familiar with LiSA or enjoy Sword Art Online's opening theme (sung by LiSA) than you might enjoy this show simply for the music because she is featured in some of the songs. I suppose the background music wasn't anything special, but it fit each situation appropriately.
The character development is a big reason I was disappointed by the show. The show features a wide variety of characters, all unique and entertaining in their own way. Some of the characters were explored fairly in depth where their pasts were exposed and state of mind shaped as the series progresses. However, many characters were left in the dark that I would have enjoyed being investigated more. I found the supporting characters to be more likeable than the main characters a lot of the time mostly because they were generally the center of the comic relief and source of character uniqueness. Even so, I felt all the characters, both main and supporting, made the show unique and enjoyable.
Although I found many things wrong with this show, I couldn't help but love certain aspects. Much of my enjoyment came from the soundtracks rather than the plot and it slowly deteriorated as the show progressed. There were also more soundtracks in the first half, which is also why I enjoyed it much more than the second half.
As I said before, I was disappointed at how the show concluded. I feel that the series would have been much better if it had been lengthened to 20+ episodes with enhanced character development and plot adjustments. The plot of the show proved to be very promising in the beginning and never achieved its full potential. Even with all of this said, I do not regret watching the series and would consider watching it again. This show may not be memorable for everyone, but I feel that just about anyone could enjoy it.
Personally, anyone who liked Haibane Renmei, Sword Art Online, or Clannad could probably appreciate this anime.
Angel Beats is a marvel, no, a monument of modern Japanese animation. It is a series that has no reason to exist other than to market off of otaku and has no merit to it at all. I guess you could say that this is the spiritual successor to Code Geass, except at least that shallow marketing machine of a series had a little substance to it.
The series is about Walking Cliche Male Protagonist, Haruhi with a Gun, and her sidekick Nagato with her Hair Grown Out. The names are long, but you'll remember them. Follow them on a pseudo-deep story about rebelling against the
Gods of Television and becoming the most popular thing on TV while exerting the least effort. A quest which they are failing at so far, as Senko no Night Raid has been beating them in the ratings. To be fair though, that show has the unfair advantage of being original.
But really, being popular is basically all there is to Angel Beats. It's what everything in the series is about. Every aspect of Angel Beats is geared toward that singular purpose.
Its main characters are ripped straight from another popular show and its supporting cast is a band of archetypes. Its setting is an excuse to have well-animated action scenes to draw in those who like eye candy, but inexplicably shoehorns in a school for the sake of familiarity. It has concert scenes because they were well-received in other shows. It has comedic death and revival gags because another show was successful with it. Even the needless punctuation in its title is mooching off the success of something else.
It's not telling a story, nor is it doing much of anything except using a bunch of unrelated but trendy devices. It's a nightmarish monster of mismatched anime pop culture. It directly targets the lowest common denominator of anime fandom, and is barely succeeding. This is just sad.
Welcome to MAL where a mediocre and predictable tear-jerking/slice of life/ comedy series is ranked 100 spots over NGE. The magical place where fanboys will defend their favorite crappy anime just so a bunch of pretentious teenagers that think that they are intellectual can complain about their shitty taste and make fun of them (oh wai--)
If after reading that paragraph you are not quite sure what is my opinion about Angel Beats! then let's get down to the proper review.
I cannot bash this anime on this particular aspect as it has top-notch animation combined with beautiful art. It was
produced by P. A. Works, a studio with tons of money that prefers to invest it in these mediocre melodramatic stories instead of something good (although wether or not it works for them from a business point of view is a different story). The atmosphere is pretty much the same you see in any anime of this genre with the exception that in this case everything is perfectly made. Even if there are some pretty terrible frames and a certain sense of money-saving at some points, the overall animation is well done with outstanding effects.
As for the sound, the voice acting is pretty generic, although they certainly do know how to use effects. The soundtrack was surprisingly average. With the amount of music this anime uses (plus the fact that there's a rock band in it) it was absolutely marvelous that none of the songs were memorable. As for the opening it just flies over your head, and the ending is decent.
Alright! Who's ready for some shit-storm?! The anime has some good ideas, I'll give it that. The whole thing of seeing how people spend the after-life and making fun out of death constantly is not something you see everyday. But really...a high-school? From all of the possible settings to choose they decide to develop these ideas in...a high-school? I mean just imagine the possibilities of working with such a premise and they decide to go with the safest and cheapest route, by combining teenagers, angst, melodrama, bad comedy, a little bit of action and...a high-school.
But after all, being set in a high-school with angsty teenagers doesn't necessarily means it's bad, right? WRONG! I mean, sure it doesn't, but here the problem is that Angel Beats! is all over the place. The comedy is at times dark humour about how funny watching others die is, and then a light-hearted slice of life comedy. None of the themes brought to the table are properly developed nor answered. A massive amount of plot-holes that they keep adding just for the sake of...adding them. Cheap and bad melodrama that comes out of nowhere with absolutely no backdrop nor proper writing. Sometimes fast-paced action sometimes horrible slow-pacing. A group of teenagers that go to school, fight god, go to school, do shitty comedy, form a super-secret elite squad, AND THEY CHOOSE TO GO TO FUCKING SCHOOL.
The story is a big mess of multiple things with no proper execution on any of them nor interesting outcomes, neither feels or laughs. Is just a big ball of things with the word "MEH" written all over it.
I can describe Angel Beats!'s characters in three words: underdeveloped, uncharming and bland. All the characters have one or two aspects that reflect their personalities, thus all of them being one-dimensional boring and completely unrelatable. All of them with the exception of the MC Otonashi who totally LACKS any personality. He didn't have not a single aspect. He wasn't one-dimensional, he was zero-dimensional. I didn't like "Your lie in April" for many of the same reasons I didn't like this anime but at least that one knew how to build a f*cking great MC. In this case, our hero is totally overshadowed by the rest of the (plain and mediocre) cast.
The characters all lack a backstory (except Otonashi, props for that) and their development is all thrown into a single episode instead of being built overtime like a proper series would do. That has to do with the fact that the show has many more characters than it needs and many more than it can handle.
All in all, the cast is poorly designed, bad and surely doesn't provide anything to the already lackluster series.
This turned out worse than I expected. I didn't know I hated this anime so much. But now to the real deal, did I enjoy Angel Beats!? No, definetly not. The premise was somewhat interesting and the production was great. But the combination of melodrama, bad comedy, ideas all over the place, frustrating situations, predictable outcomes, enraging plotholes and dreadful cast, totally killed any chance this anime had of being entertaining.
It seems to me that there are currently three major anime that are upheld by the vast majority of the anime community as "the shows that bring tears". I have heard all three of them described as life-changing masterpieces, stories that transcend genre and qualify as immaculate art. I am of course referring to Clannad & its Afterstory, Ano Hana or The Flower We Saw That Day, and... Angel Beats. While I have my gripes with the other two (Clannad's first season is mostly unnecessary and Ano Hana relies on characters showing emotion counting as invoking the emotion of the audience) I can accept and
understand how these shows could have a profound impact on people as they earn their emotional moments by carefully developing their characters and setting up impacting scenes way in advance. Hell, Clannad Afterstory even worked on me: I was sobbing for hours. It didn't change my life, but it was a thoroughly fulfilling experience nonetheless.
With Angel Beats though... It's time to bring down the hammer.
I did not find the show to be impressive. It was actually one of the first shows I watched, so I was in a state of being easily impressed, and my first and foremost reaction to it was to forget about it. Nothing it did left a lasting impression on me, and few parts even made me think "hey, I'd use that element if I was writing a story!" It has any number of superficial issues that are enunciated by its brevity, and it never really comes together in any profound way to justify this. In fact, if I had to sum up what appears to make people believe that this is an emotional experience, it would be "disjointed sad things happen while pretty music plays". That's not really a review though, so lets get down to just about every problem I have with Angel Beats. WARNING: PLENTY OF SPOILERS AHEAD
Lets start with the superficial bits: the art and the sound. Both are fairly solid. The ending theme "Brave" in particular is absolutely gorgeous. The art style is crisp and the action sequences are clean and flashy. However, I don't really place a great amount of value on the art and music of a show unless they're used in clever or intentional ways to complement the story, so I'm not willing to give many points overall for these.
Now on with the premise. We're in purgatory. "Ahhh, that sounds quite interesting!" you say. "What's it like there? Is it a macabre bar, like in Death Parade? Perhaps a rural village trapped in perpetual sunset? A surreal forest full of fantastical twilight creatures? The possibilities are endless!" Yes indeed they are endless, and so of course the setting of choice is a high school because f*ck it it's an anime. Granted, this is a purgatory for unfulfilled children, but that's really just a lame excuse to bring us back to everybody's favorite overdone milked-dry setting. So anyways, dead kids who died unhappy come here and are policed by a mysterious stone-faced girl with superhuman powers called Nagato... I mean Angel. When they find fulfillment and are at peace with themselves, they disappear and move on. Our protagonist, Yuzuru AKA red-hair, who earns his name for being a rare example of a cliche male protagonist who doesn't have bangs of luscious dark chocolate, arrives at the scene with no memory of anything (although there's an 11/10 chance its something ridiculously tragic that demonstrates how goddamn great of a guy he is... oh look, I was right) and meets Yuri, one of I-shit-you-not three girls with varying shades of purple hair. There's some convoluted and meaningless exposition, he joins a club she's president of because this is pretty much a high-school show anyways at this point, and then we are introduced to one of the show's largest problems:
Its side characters.
There's about 75 of them and none of them serve any purpose. Some of them don't even seem capable of saying more than one line. What are these, Pokemon? Each of them embodies one or another anime archetype because the show seems to have this belief that it isn't making full use of its potential unless it has as many different archetypal characters as possible. This is of course with the exception of T.K, who also doesn't serve any purpose or have any depth but at least his eccentricity is original. Actually, he seems like kind of a f*cked up dude. The show might have been a lot better if it had actually delved more into his character. As if to drive home the point that none of these characters have any relevance whatsoever they all quite literally disappear between the second to last and last episodes. Yes, that's right, each and every one of these characters is written off by Yuri saying "oh yeah they're gone now!" and that's the end of it. GUESS YOU DIDN'T REALLY NEED THEM AFTERALL, HUH? This meaningless mass of cardboard-cutouts would actually have been a lot less detrimental to the story if it weren't for another major issue with the story:
This show knows how to do two things: throw dramatic bilge at you like its trying to bury you, and have filler. It's like it's not conscious of the fact that emotional moments only have dramatic weight if you develop the characters involved beforehand. The first third of the series is devoted almost entirely to d*cking around with Yuri and her team of soulless archetypes pulling one stupid gag after another. It gives us little to no insight into who these people actually are when they're not sobbing over each other or recounting their dark past. They're just shticks in a gag-reel, waiting for their turn to pop up and give their one-liner that fits their assigned personality type. Even in the later episodes, any moment that the show is not spending trying to be emotional plays out like an episode of goddamn Lucky Star! No one has any normal conversations! It's like they're dummies on autopilot, waiting to be activated when they're needed to gaze up at the sky in melancholy remembrance of the actual f*cking human beings they might once have been. Is this their punishment for being sent to purgatory? Have they been stripped of their ability to have uncliche interactions? Have they been trapped in the sick game of some depraved puppetmaster, pulling the strings and ridding them of their free will? I've kind of moved on already, but I guess I should announce it:
I'm talking about this show's characters.
I get the impression that the way this show was made was that some dude watched a bunch of crappy anime and formed an impression of how he believe anime characters OUGHT to behave. Then, he stuck a bunch of sad backstories on to those characters and had them cry all the time to simulate emotional depth. Seriously, here's a breakdown of the ENTIRETY of Yuri's character
- she's charismatic
- she's apparently a good leader because we are told so, though this is never shown
- she's got a villainous laugh
- she watched her younger siblings get their f*cking brains blown out at point-blank range by burglars and feels responsible for it
Oh sorry, what was that last one? Yeah, why bother with actually demonstrating who the supposed female lead is as a person through interactions and screen time when we can just give her a REALLY F*CKED UP BACKSTORY to contrast her happy and lively personality and call it development! We still know nothing about her as an individual, but... TRAUMA! Bam! Character done! Let's move on to the next one! Let's see... We'll make her a cripple who the world crapped on so that she never got to do anything she wanted. I'm of course talking about Yui, another of the purple-haired girls (yes, they named two unrelated girls with similar hair colors Yuri and Yui) who's character is 100% pure, refined tsundere of the finest essence with absolutely no real personality until 'the episode where she is given a tragic-as-all-hell backstory and then disappears'. Aw, she seemed so lively and excited but there was really misery underneath! Contrast! Sorrow! How did we not see this coming!? Maybe it's because she was an vacant doll up until the moment the story decided to steer its attention to her. You just can't do that: you can't suddenly bring your characters to life when you need them, you need to characterize them whenever their onscreen or else it just feels like a bunch of actors who stop trying as soon as the spotlight isn't on them.
This is a problem that the show suffers from right up until its very end: its characters only start acting whenever the spotlight is swiveled to them. In the end, we're left with a cast of main characters mourning their inevitable separation from each other in a series of scenes that are on their own quite well-directed but have no impact because I have no attachment to this group of people. I've never gotten to see their dynamic outside of idiotic anime humor, and several of them barely have relationships with most of the members of the group. The show's inability to mellow out, to have its characters interact in meaningful ways and grow closer without sobbing on each other in short, sharp bursts seriously bites it in the ass, as it means that when it is willing to put in the effort to have solid scenes they just don't mean anything. One of the reasons that Clannad Afterstory worked so well was that the first two-thirds were mainly devoted to showing the beautifully simple yet honest daily lives of the characters and the complexities of their relationships with each other. That way I care about the characters before anything bad happens to them. No show should have to rely on tragedy in order to make you become invested in its characters. Sure, Clannad also spent plenty of time messing around but inevitably it didn't hurt it nearly as much because it was still long enough to do everything it needed to. Angel Beats does not have that length. It is a 1-cour show, and it had no time to spare. The fact that it wasted most of it was absolutely lethal.
No review of Angel Beats would be complete, however, without addressing the most obvious aspect of the show: Angel herself. Angel was definitely one of the more subtly done characters, and suffered the least from the spotlight effect. She developed at a fluid rate and was always given enough attention to maintain her relevance in the story. If the show had earned the right to be about anything, it would be her for sure, not red-hair and his quest to be the single most upstanding dude around and save everyone. His character is standard visual novel trash not even really worth talking about as he falls into all the same pitfalls as the other characters, hers at least possesses an element of uniqueness (at least within the show) and some goddamn flaws instead of just being the most sensitive kind person ever who happened to have unrealistically horrible things happen to her. She's meat-headed, misguided and not especially bright. She's terrible at conveying her emotions and connecting with people. Steadily, she learns about who she wants to be and how to form the relationships she wants to.
But obviously, this is not what happens. Angel's character instead inevitably becomes defined by red-hair and proves to exist simply to disappear in his arms for emotional impact. She is given some contrived plot-twist to connect him to her ("My heart is yours by transplant!") and this of course causes him to...
...confess his love for her?
Excuse me? These two have about as much chemistry as Argon and Neon: they don't react. Even more importantly, the amount of development they've had together is enough to establish them as acquaintances at best, with confessions of love being almost as ludacris as That Time Hinata Told Yui He'd Marry Her. I can only imagine that the creators either made it up in the moment or totally forgot about it until it was time for them to air it and just threw it in there like unfinished cookie-dough into an underheated oven. There's only one reason for this: so that red-hair can end the show by wailing his despair at being separated from his love-of-two-seconds.
That's her purpose? Poorly-simulated drama for the MC? The random shadow monsters were nonsensical, the massive purgatory fish was to be expected, but this was just... why? The best character is wasted, there's no weight to the situation because it's completely impulsive, and the after-credit scene undoes it anyways so what's even the point?
Okay, I've done quite a bit of bashing. I haven't even touched on all the specifics, but I've hit all the problems that I feel are consistent and what's left is a show that really doesn't have too much to offer. That said though, I didn't hate it. It was bad storytelling: awfully executed, little understanding of characters; but it wasn't offensive, and it did have some good ideas, it just had no idea what to do with them. I certainly wouldn't recommend it, but I've seen worse. Regardless, Angel Beats is not a masterpiece and its unending attempts to make cheap emotional grabs did not impress me.
Short Review: It needed 26 episodes.
Long Review: Angel Beats is a pretty interesting work. The writer, Jun Maeda, is responsible for a number of emotional masterpieces such as Air, Kanon, and Clannad. Maeda's ability to invoke emotion in his audience is definitely outstanding and thus I had great anticipation for the series.
Angel Beats! is a treat to the eyes and ears. P.A. works did an amazing job with the visuals. The opening animation is a pleasure to watch and the backgrounds can easily rival Kyoto Animation's which is no small feat. The music is also very memorable, and usually appropriate to the situation. Besides
the opening "My Soul Your Beats" and "Brave Song", there's also a bunch of songs sung by the show's band Girls' Dead Monster. Some people have noted the songs by GDM sound a bit amateurish, but I think it's appropriate and gives the feel of a garage band trying to make it big.
The story, however, is rather confusing and keeps shifting gears. We start out in a mysterious world of the afterlife and in a place where not even the characters know what's going on. Naturally, a state of confusion would make sense-- except that most of the world is never really explored or explained. And the explanations we do get are often out of left field, and usually shoved in at the end of the episode.
However, the overall idea isn't bad at all; it's just that the accelerated pacing due to the 13 episodes and the fact that the anime seems to not be sure on where it's going. It just started too much threads.
The most jarring thing about the show is its inability to separate the comedy from the melodrama. It's often mixed together at the worst moments and becomes very cheesy. The worst case of this is probably the character of Naoi, someone who should be interesting, but I wasn't sure whether to laugh or cry. Also, frequently the melodrama feels very forced and manipulative because it's just shoved in there-- you've gotta develop a conflict or issue for it to have any real impact. This was especially true near the end. But Key fans don't worry, there's still some very sweet moments even if it is very messy.
Despite this, Angel Beats is still a very funny show. At first,the humor didn't click with me, but two words: Rocket Chairs. The silly antics of the protagonists group-- the SSS is fun and its enjoyable to see them do silly stuff like that in this world. And of course the character TK himself seems to steal the show every time he utters a line.
The characters are all a fun and likable bunch-- typical for Key. Sadly, a lot of them remained underdeveloped due to time constraints. The ones that they do focus on are very well done-- the amnesiac Otonashi, the competent commander Yuri who's not just another Haruhi, the reliable bro Hinata. The enigmatic Angel is also a decent character who explodes the cuteness meter.
Overall, Angel Beats is not a bad show, but it just feels underwhelming that with all the ingredients for success, the show couldn't make up its mind on what to do. Nevertheless, if you're bored and want a few laughs or a few heartwarming moments, you can check this out.
Potential. That is exactly what this show was full of. Admittedly Angel Beats was indeed a good show that I really enjoyed watching. However, the show fell short of what I believe it could have achieved in a 24 episode season.
My God the story. THE reason why this show had sooo much potential. Angel Beats is about a student named Yuzuru Otonashi who finds himself with amnesia and in some sort of purgatory in shape of a high school campus. After meeting "Angel," Otonashi is convinced into joining SSS, where he and other students in purgatory fight off "Angel" to prevent obliteration.
Let me tell that to you again, kids in purgatory are fighting off an angel to prevent themselves from moving on. If you aren't intrigued by that I am shocked. To top that off, there is a plot twist later on that completely changes the dynamic of the show. AND since the anime is from KEY, the makers of Clannad, Kanon, and Air, the usual addition of very strong character arcs is present as well. Now, many of you may be asking, "if it has all these things, why is the story only 'enjoyable' to you?" Well the answer in short is that it all felt very rushed. With only 13 episodes, the story progresses very rapidly and tends to skip many important events, expecting the viewer to assume they happened as they are watching. This time restriction also made the romantic element of the show seem completely out of place because the two major romances in the show seem completely random due to scarce evidence that any romance was even budding between any characters until their big confessions. I do applaud the creators though for somehow making Otonashi, Nakamura, Yui, and Iwasawa's short character arcs thrilling to watch. With only 13 episodes there are just too many glaring flaws, plot holes, and important scenes (particularly the ending) feeling more out of place than dramatic. With a 24 episode season I feel that the story could have been much more fleshed out in every aspect, making it a truly spectacular occurrence. But even with only 13 episodes it was still a joy to watch.
Wow. The animation to this show was absolutely superb. One of the greatest art from technological standpoint. The only downsides were the lack of outfits for the characters, and the lack of varied locations. However, these flaws were necessary to the show's setting. Basically this show had top of the notch animation and will wow all those who watch it.
One of the main reasons this show stands out so much. The OP and EDs are fantastic pieces that fit the tone of the show perfectly. To add on to that, the characters in the show actually have a band named GDM that plays fantastic pieces on their own. Really the songs can even make scenes feel very emotional even though they are actually more contradictory and unecessary than emotional (particularly the ending). Like the art, Angel Beats is on another level with its music production. The voice acting isn't anything special however, not bad, but nothing really worth noting in my opinion.
I feel like some of the characters in this show have a good amount of fanboys and girls. I feel this because their designs, along with the superb animation make these characters have a very good look, although their personalities all were clearly lacking. I personally found most of the characters FAR too one dimensional. This is especially true with the very large ensemble of side characters that never seem to get any proper attention or development. With an uninteresting lead, and one dimensional characters, it usually spells trouble. However, the fantastic character arcs for four of the characters were so good that I really can't say the characters were anything worse than above average. These arcs were truly fantastic. However, because the majority of the cast was one dimensional, predictable, and lacked development, the overall score for the characters cannot really be too high.
I really liked this show. Its story was very unique and drew me in and kept me wanting more until the end. However I found some of the characters annoying, and found the plot holes, extremely random and forced romance, and poor ending pretty annoying as well. I definitely had a good time watching this show, but its issues didn't go unnoticed.
From the first episode I was captivated by the unique storyline, and this captivation continued until the last episode. However, the show did feel very rushed to me, and the ending seemed completely outrageous to me due to the randomness of it, and how it completely contradicted an entire half of the season. The show also left too many unanswered questions that will most likely never be answered. Because of the lack of episodes I was unable to do what a truly great anime would get me to do, and that is to connect with the characters. It was able to for short powerful bursts in its small character flashbacks, but those alone were not enough for me to truly care about the characters in the long run. I know this review seems like a negative one, but I'm just trying to address these issues because I feel most people have either missed or ignored them. I did like Angel Beats a lot, but I can't help feeling that if the series were twice as long, most of its flaws would have been resolved, and it could have been brilliant, probably passing Kanon on the KEY rankings (Clannad, Kanon, Angel Beats and Air).
A unique show that was undeniably good, but could have been MUCH more.
+ Concept for the plot
+ Fantastic music
+ Beautiful animation
+ Character flashback arcs are amazing
- Execution of plot was inconsistent
- Romance felt very forced
- One dimensional characters
- Ending is suspect
If you liked Angel Beats!, watch...
The Melancholy of Haruhi Suzumiya:
If you liked the earlier episodes of Angel Beats where they more or less just fuck around, then you will also like Haruhi Suzumiya. Both are funny and have unique concepts and are very enjoyable to watch.
If the latter part of the show appealed to you and were all aboard the feels train, then absolutely watch Clannad and Clannad ~After Story~ the saddest show known to mankind.
Yuzuru Otonashi has a problem. He’s just woken up on the ground outside of a strange school, to find out that his unconscious body has been guarded over by an even stranger girl wielding a gun that’s bigger than she is, and the only thing he remembers is his name. But before he can ask what the hell he drank last night, she explains that he’s dead. And she says this... while aiming her gun at another girl. She goes on to explain that this other girl, an apparent angel, is the mortal enemy of her and the group she leads... The
Underworld Battlefront. Or the “Like Hell I’m Dead Battlefront,” depending on what version you’re watching.
Believing this story to be bat-shit crazy, and who could blame him, the boy shrugs off her story, and decides to approach the other girl, who echoes the first girl’s claim that he’s no longer among the living. He asks for proof, so without hesitation, she stabs him through the heart, killing him. He wakes up in bed later on, his bloodstained shirt serving as a definitive reminder that he’s not in Kansas anymore.
He’s not in Oz, either... Probably. He’s in some vaguely defined computer-based version of Purgatory where teenagers end up whenever they die unfulfilled. You can’t die in this world no matter what happens to you, you can magically build inanimate objects out of dirt, and if you take school too seriously, you’ll disappear. This is a lot of nonsense for our hero to take in, but it’s all real, leaving him no choice but to take his circumstances at face value.
If the aesthetic of this series reminds you of famous Kyoto Animation titles such as Kanon, Air, and Clannad, you’re not too far off... Angel Beats was designed by the same people who created the original visual novels for those other shows. That’s where the comparison ends, however, as the animation was done by a company named PA Works... It’s a company that has a very small, but very impressive, production history. True to form, Angel Beats is right at the top of my list of the most well produced anime I’ve ever seen, and I’m not just talking about the visuals.
If there has ever been an anime that I rushed to buy the soundtrack to, it’s this one. I haven’t heard an anime soundtrack that was this beautiful since Bastard. The compositions are diverse, inspired, and in many cases, you can tell exactly what scene a tune is from just by listening to it with your eyes closed. It’s that good, and it’s that memorable. The opening theme is probably one of the least skippable I’ve ever seen, with a mind-blowing piano score set to our title character rocking out on that exact instrument. The ending theme is also great, as it has a very melancholic tone, and the way it ties into it’s video won’t really be made clear until the end of the series. But the heart and soul of the music... As well as the heart and soul of this series in general... Is the fictitious anime band Girls Dead monster, a pulse pounding rock band formed by a handful of the students. This band has it’s OWN separate soundtrack, and trust me, they deserve it.
When talking about the animation, the comparison to Kyoto Animation must once again be brought up... Angel Beats clearly had just as high a budget as the Kyo-Ani classics, with endlessly smooth and graceful movements from the characters and environment, but unlike most of those shows, it doesn’t waste it’s money on mundane slice of life activities... Oh no, they do SO much more with it. This show goes so all out with it’s big, epic Sci-fi action moments, smoothly blending CG with traditional visuals, that it even puts the first season of Haruhi Suzumiya to shame. Even the background characters... AKA the NPCs... Are well animated, and I’ve seen a ton of shows that didn’t bother to go that far.
As for the characters? Well, I guess we should start with the title character. Angel... Or, as she comes to be known, Kanade Tachibana... Is a very problematic character, as some of the greatest flaws in the series revolve around her. She has a really unique motivation behind her actions, I’ll give her that, but it doesn’t make her a well written character. I can’t really delve too deep into my problems with her without going into some pretty heavy spoilers, so I’ll be saving my comments about her for my much more liberal post about this series next week. As for her co-star, Otonashi, well, I also have some mixed feelings about him... He’s not your typical Key lead, as he doesn’t make a habit of getting involved in other peoples’ problems, but he also doesn’t really do anything else to make up for it... Aside from commenting on the crazy things all the other characters do, his only role in the story is to form a relationship with Angel so he can pass on what she knows about this world to the Battlefront, but that wouldn’t be an issue if she had ever just told them herself... Which she totally cold have done at any time. Having said that, the development of their relationship is one of the better aspects of the show, so I can’t complain too much.
Yurippe Nakamura(The girl with the gun), on the other hand, is a very compelling character. She’s active, she has clear motives supported by one of the cast’s most hauntingly tragic backstories, and she’s by far the only character who ever takes the initiative towards moving the story forward. She bears some similarities to Haruhi Suzumiya, both in her appearance and her attitude towards her followers, but she’s also a much more reasonable and intelligent character than Haruhi ever was. She’s strong and perceptive, and has quite possibly the best character arc in the whole show.
As for our secondary characters, Hinata is the first person who really befriends Yuzuru, and the dynamic between them is pretty enjoyable, despite the forced “Bromance or Romance?” jokes. He’s constantly insisting that he’s not gay, and in a flashback, he proves it by showing us how terrible a catcher he is. Yui is the fast-talking air-head, and while her hyperactive and sometimes idiotic ways are a constant source of annoyance for Hinata, they do show a genuine affection for each other. Naoi makes for a pretty decent villain when he first appears, but after having his cruel ways changed by the power of fwiendship, he basically just becomes a constant gay joke that never gets a punch line. Iwasama is the original lead singer of Girls Dead Monster, and... Well, despite only appearing in three episodes, you could write an entire paper on her. In a good way.
The rest of the cast barely deserves to be mentioned, if at all. Oda and Shiina make for some good visual gags from time to time, and TK is one of the laziest character ideas I’ve ever heard of. I’d really like someone to explain to me why he’s so popular. Those three included, everybody in th supporting cast is pretty much an interchangeable gimmick with a human face. You could swap any of them out with a girl who likes to skateboard while dressed like a crab, and nothing... Absolutely nothing... Would change as a result.
Unlinigual as I am, I can’t say too much about the Japanese dub... Just that it sounded really, really good. It’s leagues better than the English dub, which was written by the infamous Stephen Foster, and yes, it stinks opf all his trademarked awfulness. If you can stomach hearing an awkward line like “I thought you were just some gun-toting girl or something” and not switch languages, then you know less about how people talk than HE does. He takes a lot of unfortunate liberties with the dialogue, he’s probably solely responsible for the mispronunciation of the word ‘suplex,’ and it’s just an awkward time to be had in general. I’ll be honest, though, while I definitely noticed how bad the writing was, it didn’t really piss me off until he rewrote one of my favorite Yurippe quotes near the end.
Having said all that, I can’t condemn the dub completely.... Like with most of Foster’s work, the writing may be awful, but the acting overall is actually pretty decent. Likewise, there were a few really impressive performances. Luci Christian is at the top of the class as usual. She’s made a career out of being one of the best emoters in the business, and even though she only gets a single episode of screen time as Iwasama, she still lets her veteran instincts bleed through with every word. Hilary Haag puts her signature hyperactive energy into her role as Yui, forcing me to wonder just how versatile her insidiously high pitched voice can be. Brittney Karbowski owns the role of Yuri, and as I’ve mentioned in previous reviews, she’s always a joy to listen to. David Matranga takes the subtle, humorous edge that he gave to his character in the lead role from Clannad and carries it over to Hinata, to stunning effect.
But it’s not all sunshine and rainbows... Blake Shepherd is the flat out terrible lead role, and for the life of me, I can’t wrap my head around why they trusted him with it. Emily Neves, in the role of Kanade... Um... Well, she doesn’t do a bad job, it’s just sort of mediocre. I mean, if you have three of the best voice actresses in the company in your cast, and give the ‘lead role’ to an actress who’s career highlight at that point was getting booted off of American Idol, it’s not a very flattering comparison. I would have placed this role in the hands of someone more capable, like Jessica Boone or Taylor Hannah, but to be fair, Emily’s talent HAS grown by leaps and bounds since this role. And TK shouldn’t have had an English voice actor at all, since his entire schtick is that he says nonsensical one-liners in Engrish.
Personally, I’d recommend the sub, but if you’re a hardcore dub fan, then the acting in the dub should at least be satisfactory.
The meat of Angel Beats can be difficult to talk about, so I think I’ll open by saying it’s an anime that you’re supposed to watch with your heart, and not with your head. It’s full of intense passion, strong emotions, and just enough gripping characters so that any viewer will find at least one to relate to and root for. The romantic melodrama and tear-jerking tragedy of this mysterious world is designed to grab you right by the heart and hold on for dear life, because if it should ever fail to keep that part of you engaged, you brain would kick in, and you’d notice right off the bat just how much of an unholy mess this story really is.
One of the first things Yuri tells Otonashi is that he should just go with it, and accept things as they are. I’d like to think this advice goes double for the viewer... Turn your brain off, because this story doesn’t make a lick of sense. Now, don’t get me wrong here, a fictional story doesn’t have to make sense to our universe. It has to make sense according to it’s own universe. With nearly every single story element, we get an explanation of what it is, an explanation of how it works, and a direct contradiction within three episodes time.
There aren’t a lot of examples I can give of this without dropping some spoilers... Once again, tune in next week for that rant... But you can take, for example, the Battlefront’s attitude towards Angel. In an early episode, Yuri explains that they have to be careful, and keep all conversations about their plans under wraps, because they don’t know whether or not Angel can hear them. Well, in only a few episodes time, they’re nonchalantly discussing their plans right on the other side of the classroom from her... She doesn’t seem to notice, and for the most part, they don’t seem worried that she’ll notice.
And there are other examples... The other students who weren’t brought here from another life are called NPC’s, and while they’re supposed to turn a blind eye to the Battlefront’s antics, they show up in droves to a GirlDeMo concert, and line up for a monster fish meat give-away. The former of the two examples was pointed out by one of the characters... As a matter of fact, a lot of the inconsistencies in this show are pointed out by the characters, as if the writers thought that making the script self-aware of it’s own flaws would somehow make up for those flaws.
The pacing of this anime is a serious issue. We get plot point after plot point after plot point thrown at us at break-neck speed, and with no build-up or development for any of them, they just fly by without making much of an impact. There’s little to no character development outside of the main cast, and as a result, more than three quarters of the cast go completely unexplored, existing only to spout off their assigned one-note-jokes and occasionally die for our amusement. I strongly feel as though both of these problems could have been solved if the show had a 24-26 episode run, like it was initially supposed to.
We’re introduced to important details that quickly become forgotten or conflicted, plot points that are almost immediately made pointless, and the only explanations they ever stick to are the ones that sound like complete cop-outs. The incomprehensible nature of the world they’re in ultimately culminates with an underground scene between Yuri and some mysterious figure in a room full of computers. This is by far the most insulting moment in the entire series, as several of the questions we’ve asked about it are resolved with lazy answers ranging from “It was like this when I got here” to “The power of love.”
And all of this culminates in a conclusion that’s emotionally powerful, as well as a relentless tear jerker, but upon closer inspection is nothing but a clusterfuck of plotholes... And no, i’m not just talking about the one plothole that everybody knows about. There are deeper, much more destructive plot holes that undermine the entire premise of the show, take the stakes completely out of the climactic final battle, and render the two strongest episodes completely pointless. And once you’ve realized them, they will probably make you feel like the biggest fool on earth for loving it as much as you did. And even as someone who genuinely does enjoy the series, it just can’t be forgiven for writing that lazy.
Angel Beats is available from Sentai Filmworks. The DVD set has been out for a while, and it includes one of the few OVA episodes, which is worth a few good laughs. The set set can be found for a modest sum on Ebay, and at the time of this writing, it’s available for a bit cheaper as part of the Rightstuf.com December sale. There are a handful of CD soundtracks that can also be purchased, and if nothing else,those are worth paying a pretty penny for. There’s apparently also a prequel light novel, but I haven’t read it, because it hasn’t been officially translated yet. It’s not available on Netflix anymore, but it IS still available on Crunchyroll. And as long as you’re a member, and don’t have to put up with six commercials per episode, Crunchyroll’s awesome.
Angel Beats is a very poorly written story that relies entirely on it’s spectacular visuals to distract you from the phenomenal lack of logic or consistency. It works masterfully on an emotional level, and despite the messiness that you’re supposed to overlook, it never feels hollow or meaningless... but the logical side of Angel Beats is just so infuriatingly bad. It’s easier to appreciate for what it isn’t than for what it is, though.. It doesn’t follow any clichés throughout it’s thirteen episode run, and none of it’s characters fit into any of the tired stereotypes that plague the anime industry, so I’m willing to give it some credit for originality and effort. But the talent, overall, just isn’t there.
And do you want to know the absolute worst thing about it? The worst thing about this anime is that it is physically impossible to not enjoy it. It is relentlessly fun to watch, even for some stick-in-the-mud like me who kept his brain on full blast the entire time. There’s a lot of things it does wrong... Embarrassingly so, at some points... But when it does something right, it knocks it right out of the park. The overly complicated plot comes with a surprisingly simple, albeit poorly constructed, story. The humor isn’t as spot-on as it probably should be, but it’s inspired enough to keep you laughing just often enough. If nothing else, you’ll enjoy the hell out of the production values alone. I give Angel Beats a 6/10.
First off, I play a lot of Call of Duty, so when the first thing you see when you watch episode one is an Intervention sniper, that hooks you. But I digress, this anime is simply amazing. As to expect from Key and their history of making comedic, romantic tear jerker's, Angel beats does not dissapoint. While its not as romantic, well actually not romantic at all so far, as you would expect from the creators of Clannad, the storyline is downright addictive. If you pass on this, you're missing out on something huge. Although the storyline is its biggest factor the comedy is pure
gold. There was once an episode where I absolutely could not stop laughing. I spent one hour watching a 24 min anime b/c of my constant rewinding! The ending and opening music is performed beautifully and the latter is one of those songs you can listen to a billion times and it never gets tired. Trust me this is an anime you cannot afford to pass up.
Angel Beats is yet again another cross media collaboration between Key animation studios, and visual novel writer Jun Maeda. Together have worked on such projects like Air, Kanon, Clannad, and now Angel Beats.
The plot centers around Otonashi, a young man who wakes up in the middle of a school yard, with no recollection on how he got there or any memories of his past. He is then confronted by a girl holding a rather large gun, her name is Yuri, the leader of a organization called the SSS, a group devoted to fighting god and his angels. Confused by her offer, Otonashi declines and
decides to confront this 'angel', seeing how she appears to be a lonesome little girl. Unfortunately for Otonashi, this helpless little girl somehow manifests blades from her arms and stabs him. After waking up, again, but this time in a hospital. Yuri and the rest of the SSS reveal to him that they are actually stuck in purgatory, and how they can't really die within this world, but if they were to pass on, something Angel intends to make them do, they will reincarnate into another life. Yuri and the SSS rather not pass on, instead, they would rather fight against the god who destined them to have unreasonable lives and possibly reincarnate into water fleas. Otonashi agrees to join Yuri and her group, hoping to regain some recollection of his past and learn the mysteries of this new world.
Angel Beats starts off with great promise, interesting concepts and likeable characters, but ultimately fails to live up to anyone's expectations. People put the blame on the fact that everything in this series is restricted to only 13 episodes. But personally, I put the blame on the writer Jun Maeda. His work in visual novels is quite apparent in this series, as it seems like he's only good at writing scenarios, not a straight linear storyline. A competent writer should find a way to string these characters and events in a organic matter, instead of turning it into a nice jumbled mess.
Everything in the show feels episodic. It presents 'important' plot points and characters, but by the next episode, it disregards all previous plot points in favor for this new one. Rinse and repeat over the course of 13 episodes. As a example; the series also introduces a new villain about mid-way through the series, but over the course of a single episode he joins the SSS. Because of this, the story of Angel Beats feels aimless. It has no conflict, no resolution, doesn't center on a particular character or even a villain. Jun Maeda blames that he 'wrote too much' for Angel Beats, which is why it turned into a cross media project, but why couldn't he craft a storyline just for the anime, and leave everything else to the small series of light novels or the manga?
The one thing that does shine in this series is it's diverse cast of characters. Like I said earlier, they are all very likeable and surprisingly memorable. Even more so with a fan favorite called TK, a mysterious english speaking character who's constantly dancing. Because of this, the humor and interaction between the characters works really well, it makes for some enjoyable moments. But isn't it a little sad when the humor is more enjoyable than the drama in a supposedly 'character driven' series?
Speaking of the drama, it's nothing but forced. It's mostly used for the sake of making the viewer feel sad or a weak attempt to feel something for a otherwise unlikable character. This of course is done in a series of flashbacks into the character's lives, before their new lives in the SSS. Does it have any real impact on the storyline? No. Does it add anything to the characters? It does in a few cases, but not all. Most of the time you'll be wondering what was the entire point of that sequence, as it only serves as a weak selling point to feel empathy for the character. Which I hear is more apparent in Jun Maeda's other work such as 'Clannad', but I have yet to seen that series nor have interest in it.
Something I feel like I should point out is the finale, I won't reveal any spoilers, but it does start with a lick of promise and is touching in a sense, and it leaves on such a bittersweet note that could have left the viewer feeling satisfied with the conclusion. But there's a added scene after the ending credits that almost destroys everything the series is built around. Instead of teeing the story together, it just leaves you with more loose ends and questions. Now, there's a 'unaired' episode that will be included with the DVD and Blu-Ray release, but I doubt it will add much of anything to the ending.
Overall, Angel Beats has nice characters and good looking animation, but the episodic pacing and muddled story leaves the entire experience a little left to be desired.
I find it a little hard to recommend a series like Angel Beats, because of the reception for it seems to be quite mixed. People who are fans of Key's past works seem to enjoy the series, but think it's one of the weakest ones they produce yet. While people like me feel like it's one of the most underwhelming anime's to premiere this season.
Check out if the show somehow interests you, but don't expect much.
Firstly, I've heard that Angel Beats is best enjoyed by exploring its other media types as well (short stories, manga). However, I have neither the time nor urge to do so, and therefore this review is based solely on the anime series. Created by the same people who made Clannad and Kanon, many had high hopes for AB and I myself predicted that it would be nothing short of excellent. To be honest though, it did not entirely meet my expectations.
The first episode starts off strongly by introducing many ideas regarding the story, although a lot of things are left unexplained. However, as the
series progresses details are gradually revealed bit by bit. The setting of AB is a school that's part of the afterlife, and it's this mystery and intrigue which makes this anime quite appealing in the early episodes. Another interesting twist is that all the main characters are already dead, which opens up many opportunities for creating comedic situations. Throughout the series you'll encounter drama, comedy and a fair bit of action. Personally, I thought the drama (eg. flashbacks on how unfair life was for certain characters, which is why they won't accept their deaths) was most effective at telling a story such as this. I found that the strongest episodes were the ones which took the plot seriously and focussed on the drama aspect instead of the comedy. The comedy can make you laugh whenever it’s done correctly, but too many jokes are rubbish and/or repetitive. At times, comedy is put in the wrong places and ruins the momentum of the anime, causing a sudden standstill to the plot.
The animation is excellent in AB. The studio responsible is P.A. Works, who've also produced high quality animation for True Tears and Canaan. Character models look great, although some of the characters look similar to each other. The various action scenes in this series are done very well which makes the battles fluid and exciting to watch. Music concerts which take place in specific episodes are a visual treat and a great spectacle. No complaints here.
The music is another one of this anime's strongest points, especially the theme songs. The opening is probably one of the best I've seen, with a soulful track accompanied by superb animation which changes slightly for each episode. The ending credits also changes as new characters are introduced and older ones disappear. The timing and choice of background music at certain moments are a big help in setting up the emotional scenes as well as the funniest parts. There's also a music band in the storyline who play insert songs (ranging from good to great ones) throughout a few episodes. The dialogue is okay and voice acting pretty decent. Together with the animation, this shows a lot of time/money was put into the production to makes its quality stand out.
The characters are a mixed bunch, and represent one of the weakest areas of this show. The protagonist, Otonashi, is quite bland at first because he's lost his memory and we know nothing of him, but he doesn’t improve much throughout. There's Yuri, the leader of the SSS with a strong personality, and when you see a flashback of her life it's easy to understand why she wants to be a rebel in the afterlife. Her rival is Angel, a mysterious person who tries to deter the activities of the SSS group. With the exception of maybe two or three, the rest of the (reasonably large) supporting cast don't have much development and are only around to say a few lines and contribute to some comedy and fighting. Perhaps it would have helped if this anime was longer, like 26 episodes, to explain how more of them came to the afterlife and why they fight. I didn’t judge the cast by their appearances, but by a combination of their personalities, backgrounds, significance to the plot and their interactions with the other members. Taking this into account, many characters in AB are largely forgettable and difficult to become emotionally attached to. Deep characters (main and supporting) are a must in an anime that relies heavily on mystery and drama, and in this aspect AB fails to deliver.
One of the major flaws of AB is the episode count. I’ve seen anime which have done okay with only 13 episodes, such as Kino’s Journey and Elfen Lied. Angel Beats, however, is not one of them. It doesn't help that as the story picks up in the final episodes new plot elements are introduced and existing ones are just dumped to the side or rushed to completion; this results in terrible pacing and leaves more questions than answers. Also, a lot of suspense and mystery is built up in the first half of AB, but the revelations and plot twists are far from massive. By the end of the series, we still only know the backgrounds of four or five of the cast. As I've mentioned, the drama is one of the things AB does very well, but when it's squeezed into an episode it can feel forced and unnecessary. It also doesn’t help that some early episodes barely progress the plot and instead acts like filler material, with comedy being its main focus. I like comedy, and I'd welcome it in any series if it improves the entertainment, but not at the cost of other aspects. AB is already too short, and a lot of the "funny" dialogue/scenes could have been devoted instead to developing the plot/characters/drama further.
Overall, there are some great ideas here, but it's a little frustrating when the fantastic production values (animation, music) of this anime aren’t matched by the other areas of it (plot, characters, pacing). It has its fair share of flaws but also some great moments, so if you like the plot summary, or have enjoyed Key's other works, then give this series a try because a lot of people probably enjoyed it more than I did. Angel Beats is a good anime series, but I think that it had the potential to be so much better.
All right, I need to come clean and say, this is probably one of the hardest reviews for me to write. Probably because it might seem like my scores don't justify what I'm actually saying.
First of all, Angel Beats might be my favorite anime of all-time. Is it the best anime I've ever seen? From a storytelling point of view, probably not. I won't lie and admit it has its flaws. However, there is just something about this anime I found extremely enjoyable. So much so where I go back and say, "flaws? What flaws?"
I guess I should just start with the story. Otonashi wakes
up and finds himself on a school ground that he isn't familiar with next to a girl holding a sniper rifle. She informs him that he is dead and that they are fighting against Angel, a girl that also attends this school with supernatural powers. Otonashi reacts about how you'd expect him to...in that he doesn't believe her and then confronts Angel, only ends up getting killed again and wakes up in this school rebellion's base. Everything at that point is explained to him and he ends up joining this school's rebellion against Angel, even though he has no quarrel with her, in fact, if anything, is intrigued by this girl. I realize this is an extremely vague way of telling the story, but I do not want to spoil too much for the later events that happen in this series.
Perhaps I should begin with what I liked about this series. The primary thing I liked most about this series was the characters. It had probably the most likable cast of characters I have ever seen in an anime. Each character had their own personality quirk and it was interesting to see how they all interacted with each other. They shared their happy moments, their intense moments, and even their sad moments. Despite the horrific back stories that many of these characters have, it still felt like you could relate to the characters. That would be the second thing I liked most about this anime and that was the main characters' back stories. They were gritty, scary, heartfelt, you name every possible sad emotion, you could tie it to the back stories of many of this anime's characters. The one that stood out to me the most was Yui's back story as well as her story arc that was expanded upon in one episode. I can honestly say I have never cried so hard at an entire episode and I would say it had a lot to do with a relatability I had with Yui's situation in that episode. I would be ignorant not to mention the excellent animation and music within this anime. It was just fantastic. Many fans/reviewers that I see use this as one of the few bright spots about this anime...although, I'd say that it has a few more than they would say.
Like I said, this was a hard anime for me to review because it was one of the most enjoyable animes I have ever seen despite it having many flaws. One of the major flaws was the setting. I will admit, it was unique and it seems to cause quite a bit of confusion to what it actually is. I've seen it called heaven, a purgatory, a realm, etc. To be honest, calling it a purgatory seems to grind my gears. I have a very hard time calling it a purgatory since purgatory is supposed to be (according to my beliefs) a spaceless, empty void, which this world is not. However, its not Heaven or Hell either and it's not specifically explained throughout the anime as to what exactly this world is. If I had to make an extremely broad guess, I would guess it is similar to perhaps the Bosom of Abraham. The Bosom of Abraham has many definitions due to the belief system that you have, but according to mine, it is a place in Hell reserved for those who will ascend to Heaven, a place where you won't be punished for your sins in the pits of Hell, among my belief of that is where Jesus spent three days before rising to Heaven on Easter Sunday. Sorry for the Christian banter, but it was really the best way I could possibly put what this world was. All-in-all, what we know (or learn) about this world is that it is an afterlife of some sort and once the characters learn something about themselves or accept themselves, they disappear. Once they disappear, it isn't explained what exactly happens to them. While some would call that a flaw, I don't necessarily call it a flaw. I see it as more of "you're seeing the world through more of a 1st person point of view rather than a 3rd person. You're sort of learning as the characters are learning. In essence, you don't know more than what the characters know. It makes for a rather intriguing dynamic. While I don't consider it to be a major flaw, I was still puzzled as to why there wasn't a definitive explanation at the conclusion to this anime.
I would say another minor flaw to this anime was the backstory of Kanade Tachibana (Angel). While we get a vivid back story on Otonashi, Yuri, Yui, Ayato, Iwasawa, and a few other characters, Kanade, who was a major character got very little explanation to her back story. Considering she is one of the major characters, I found that odd but it did leave to mystique and mystery throughout about who she really is. In the end, it wasn't really explained which disappointed me a little, but not to the point where I'd call it a major flaw.
Overall, I'm just not sure what to think of Angel Beats because to say it is a flawless anime is incorrect. It does have flaws but what I liked about it was that the flaws did not retract from the overall experience. This anime was a fun experience that really did a great job of tying in several different emotional attributes. From comedy, to drama, to romance, to action, this anime has a little bit of everything and while many don't have the highest opinion of this anime, I found it to be absolutely fascinating. Definitely worth a watch.