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)