Posted by psgels on 25 June 2010 with categories: Angel Beats, Anime Reviews




For Angel Beats, Key decided to go into a completely different direction: no more visual novels but instead a straight-up anime production, instead of being a straight-up drama, it tosses in all kinds of different genres, it’s got a much more upbeat mood than any other Key work so far, but at the same time it still has some of the elements that made Air and Clannad so addictive. It’s definitely a great premise in theory.

It’s a comedy, adventure story, action series, drama, and sometimes also a romance and slice of life series, but at its core Angel Beats is a full fledged mystery-series. The characters are thrown into a setting they know nothing about, and gradually it unfolds its true nature. Really, the biggest reason why you’d want to watch this series is for the creativity, and the large amount of ideas that the creators tried to put into it. They really tried to create an original world with a lot of depth behind it, and the mystery itself is written quite skillfully to make optimal use of how it unfolds, resulting in a great climax.

The rest of the series would be best described as ‘chaos’, both in the good and in the bad ways. Over thirteen episodes, the pacing is really all over the place. It makes for a number of interesting episodes, but at times the series also just stops trying to make sense. A lot of scenes are just disjointed from each other, and this series hops from one plot twist to the other without much of a transition.

Unfortunately, Key just had way too many ideas that it wanted to put into just thirteen episodes. I think what suffers from this the most is the characterization: it’s often rushed and cheesy because of it, and while the cast as a whole is impressive and enjoyable to watch, nearly all of the characters are rushed through so that only two of them get some actual time to tell their story. The rest of the (for 13 episodes) HUGE cast has their moments in which they just don’t work or connect when they should.

These pacing and rushed issues really prevent this series from standing out, but nevertheless it has quite a bit to like, and its ideas will keep you busy as long as you don’t expect too much of it as a key series. While good, it didn’t have the “oomph” that I experienced with the Air and Clannad TV-series and movies.

Storytelling: 8/10 – Good mystery, very varied, but also rushed.
Characters: 7/10 – The cast shines as a whole, but most of the individual characters lack attention.
Production-Values: 9/10 – Excellent animation and visuals, especially the money shots.
Setting: 9/10 – Original settings. It may have a few plot-holes, but the creativity put into it more than makes up for it.

Suggestions:
Air
Haibane Renmei

33 Responses

  1. Avatar chounokoe says:

    I’m actually surprised how you could manage to give such a high rating for this series.
    I mean, even though DRRR didn’t make the best of it’s source material, does it really deserve to be put on the same level as Angel Beats?!

    Maybe we just got a different understanding of what a series should have. While you praised the fact how many things it tried to do, I found that very tiring after a while and it always kept the series from arriving anywhere.
    The finale was just pulled from a tophat along with a very flashy bunny to divert us from the fact that it does not make much sense.
    And as someone already pointed out on the comments for episode 13, the organ donor plot hole was even worse.

    Not only that, it featured an immense cast of which more than 50% stayed even below characterized. They were just there to deliver lines in certain scenes…

    I have to admit, I’m not a large fan of Key and I only really liked AIR. But even when I put my bias as much into the back as I can, this show is just sub-par in terms of planning and execution.
    It’s not that I don’t want you to like it, it’s just strange to see it so high up in the rating range.

  2. Avatar jcb says:

    Its story is sort of the Lost story, isn’t it?

    Pretty good series, except for some over the top comedy.

  3. Avatar Rockmanshii says:

    Actually I’m surprised too, even if I love this series, I thought your rating would be much more severe because of the repetition gags you didn’t enjoyed or the pacing issues.Hmmm I don’t know how to say it, I’m glad you said the “truth” that’s why I read your blog.

  4. Avatar GGGGG says:

    “It’s a comedy, adventure story, action series, drama, and sometimes also a romance and slice of life series, but at its core Angel Beats is a full fledged mystery-series.”

    Thank you for understanding that, psgels! Some writers can really lose focus when they try so many genres, but, in this case, they pulled all of those in a quite fluid way.

    And about the lack of characterization of the rest of the cast, @chounokoe, I don’t really see that as a flaw. IMO, considering the number of episodes, most of them were indeed put there just to deliver one-liners and for comedy value, but the fact that we got interested shows that even side characters doesn’t have to be 2D…

    Sad ending, btw…

  5. Avatar Bruce says:

    I think psgels gave this such a high rating because it was ambitious and tried to be creative, while DRRR chose to be on the safe side with its second half.

    Overall this series felt as if somebody created an utterly fantastic 26 episode series and had to truncate it into only 13 episodes. The result is that while the scope of this series is very large, the show really struggles to deliver on it.

  6. Avatar FlameStrike says:

    Wow I’m glad to see such a well rounded review. There are some people who focused in on the negative aspects of the show and ignored the positives, and others who ignored the negatives and just relished in the positives. I’m glad to see someone who takes both sides into account and gives his opinion. I agree with you in that it’s a good show overall and fun to watch, but it’s not nearly on the masterpiece level. Previous key works like Clannad had much more oomhp and etc, but for 13 eps I’d say AB did pretty well despite it’s numerous glaring flaws.

  7. Avatar m says:

    Angel Beats! was quite a project. You had a lot of music, with accompanying singles, animated musical performances, and whatnot. From that enterprise I got to enjoy the animation, “My Soul, Your Beats!” and “Brave Song.” The instrumental version of the latter is pretty nice.
    The anime itself has serious compression artifacts, and up until episode 9 it was repetitively missing the mark due to the humor whiplash. Episode 9 seems to be the high point for the show, but I think the episodes after that are OK, even if rushed. Even the jokes worked for me better after they stopped trying to cram them in. If they had invested more money for a longer series or tried to do less, the whole thing may have been a lot smoother.

    The show could use a reboot. I liked watching it, but their ambition was too big for their budget.

  8. Avatar Mizst says:

    It’s true that the action in Angel Beats is all over the place and that is somewhat of a liability, but each of those episodes tells us about the world works. The varied nature helps keep it from being repetitive while it does the explaining.

    On an unrelated note, I find that most criticisms of this anime out there stem from those critics’ desire to see every single detail explained LOTR-style – the story behind every character, thorough explanation for every plot point, even the story behind the creation of the world. This is an unrealistic expectation. I don’t think there’s anything wrong with having dozens of characters and focusing on two or three, or not explaining every little detail about the plot and the world. For a 13-episode series, the story is remarkably complete.

    The enjoyment of this series also depends on the realistic expectation on the viewer’s part. This anime is really one of the most excellent animes out there.

  9. Avatar the arbiter says:

    I agree with OP. Angel Beats! hardly deserves to be put on the same pedestal as Durarara!.

  10. Avatar Rockmanshii says:

    Hmmm I like both a lot but I guess I like Durarara!! a little more.

  11. Avatar MsteaK says:

    DURARARA is certainly better, but whatever.

    My main gripe with Angel Beats was its relentless attempt at creating (or rather forcing) melodrama. How the hell should I care so much about these characters when they’re one-dimensional and the drama is all character-based?

  12. Avatar betawatcher says:

    The biggest mistake the creators made was that they didn’t make this series a 26-episode series. Nuffsaid.

  13. Avatar Abxes says:

    I liked Angel Beats!, it is one of the best things I have watched this season and nobody will change my opinion about that. But I still read the critics because I like to see what other people think. It’s true, the story is a little rushed, especially at the end, but it is still a good series. I have noticed that a lot of the negative opinions of the final episode, come from a misunderstanding of its plot.
    -SPOILERS AHEAD-

    Sure, the donor is contra intuitive, one could think, prima facie that it doesn’t make any sense. How could Kanade be there to thank Otonashi for the heart he gave to her if she arrived earlier? Well, if you think about it, it can be possible. Otonashi had no memories when he got to this afterlife, it is possible to think that his soul wandered for days, months, years of real world time before getting to the afterlife, remember that Otonashi wasn’t meant to be there in the first place. It was possible for Kanade to arrive first, maybe she died shortly after receiving Otanashi’s heart at went directly to the school. When that made sense, you can see that everything in the end did! Why didn’t Otonashi disappear when he fully regained his memories? Why Kanade wasn’t able to disappear? I think it was beautifully planned by the one who made this anime. Sure, it could have been better, it is rushed, it needed to be an 26 episodes, it tried to do too much for an anime that would be so short (because of this, some episodes felt rushed or were even incoherent). I think the characters where also thought to be developed, but you can’t do that in only 13 episodes. It would have been nice to have a episode 14 so we could see how everyone disappeared instead of just knowing they did and it would be even better to have a episode 15 to know what happenen to them after that, but it’s still good.
    As betawatcher said, the only mistake the creator made was that they didn’t make this series a 26-episodes one. Overall, I think Angel Beats deserves the 82,5 rating. It could have been better, it has more holes than a Swiss cheese, and it is still that good and had the potential to be even better. Personally, loved the show.

  14. Avatar Anonymous says:

    Durarara better than Angel Beats? Please. I don’t know what you guys are smoking, but I want some. Durarara was quite bad in its second half.

  15. Avatar Denizen says:

    Whilst I liked this show, I thought it read more like a rough draft or short story – this wouldn’t be a problem if it weren’t for the fact that there were lots of great characters, interesting concepts and opportunity for something deeper within the setting.

    I liked it, but it’s one of many anime recently that have this potential and never give themselves the chance to really make the most of it. I would have liked to know more about the side-characters, see some more interesting antagonistic qualities, and generally just see the AB world’s interesting qualities much more.

  16. Avatar Aaeru says:

    Reading through Animesuki was generally bad. But it was actually visiting nihonreview forums that was a total nightmare. Those people say the most disgusting things regarding Angel Beats. They treated it like trash – like dirt to be spat on. I am not even looking for someone to agree with me. I just want people to see the show from a level-headed perspective, see the good and the bad, then appreciate it for what it is.

    If only some of these people would take a look at some of the stupid things that most Japanese people laugh at, or some of their most popular shows. Perhaps then, they might finally take Angel Beats too in perspective.

    source
    http://forums.animesuki.com/showthread.php?t=82070
    http://www.nihonreview.com/forum/index.php?topic=1380.0

  17. Avatar Roldan says:

    It was pretty good except for the fact that the anime couldn’t build up anything >_>.. except for the final twist with Ootanashi and Kanade, which was a pretty good twist indeed :D.. it could’ve have been close to 90 if it had been over 20+ episodes.

  18. Avatar Solaris says:

    Otonashi arrived after Kanade, as she’s still (half)alive. She’s like Shigofumi: a soul that departed from her body because of an illness. She’s an Ikiryou.
    Thes kind of ghosts are pretty common in anime, but they’re hardly understood by western fandom as they’re peculiar to japanese only miths. Other Ikiryou are Clannad’s Fuko Ibuki and Kanon’s Ayu Tsukimiya. These shows are also Key’s production by any chance :)

    And while the show isn’t terrible, it really suffered by little developement and lack of pacing and direction. I hope they’ll redo from scratch like they did it for Kanon, as Angel Beats was rather promising.

  19. Avatar Hogart says:

    Angel Beats was a simple premise that was poorly fleshed-out and even more poorly executed. It felt like they had a core story long enough for a 4-6 episode OVA, but had to fill out 13 episodes. Then they overshot that mark and designed something meant for 24+ episodes. They sure didn’t have a clue what to do with it, as they’re always jumping around hoping we’ll be distracted by some pointless new distraction.

    I can’t be kind about it. Angel Beats is a total mess. It’s rife with awful writing and bland characters. It only gets by because of it’s over-reliance on writing cliche. It has Maeda’s trademark ridiculous hyperdrama, and a ton of superfluous expy-like characters without a purpose. It’s Hollywood hack writing in anime form, and if it’s success is any indication we’re destined for more of it.

    But you know what? People clearly don’t care. And frankly, neither do I. I’ve given Maeda enough of my attention, ditto PA Works. Since neither of them can create an anime that isn’t mediocre, this just gives me two names to avoid when picking up series in the future (unless PA Works gets back to just animating anime for other studios).

  20. Avatar Vir says:

    Honestly this is one of The best animes I have ever watched, I really wish it would have just kept going on. Hopefully sometime in the future they can come up with another cast and story line and make a second angel beats

  21. Avatar Justwon says:

    I liked Angel Beats! even though the episodes didn’t make coherent sense sometimes (most of the time), to me I was only really paying attention to Yuri, Kanade, and Yuzuru anyway. From the beginning I could tell that it was going to center on those three, and to me the rest of the characters were just extras when they were by themselves. I did feel a few pangs in my chest when I was watching their individual stories (the ones I got to watch, instead of all those who just magically disappeared with no camera time), so that was a plus for me.

    Now about the last episode… That fourth guy, the on that makes the jokes, should not have been there at all. As far as I’m concerned he should have vanished with the girl who filled in as lead singer when the original disappeared. When he came back the next episode, I was kinda feeling a bit of (a lot of) “WTF?”
    Other than that, I liked it a lot lol, could have been done better, but the whole series could have been done better. I don’t want to seem the copy-cat, but everyone else here is right, the studio was just too ambitious for the amount of episodes they were able to make, I think that the whole concept is great, but I hate those shows that just does things, half explains it, and then cuts them out of the rest of the story-line altogether (that half goes to Code Geass R2… LULU LIVES).

    If Key doesn’t remake this or doesn’t churn out 2+ very good OVA’s that actually explain in an easy to understand manner, I will be very disappointed.

  22. Avatar Alan says:

    the ending was sad. ;( lol i wish they had included more episodes. or maybe increase the storyline for a sequel or OVA or somethin!!! O___O
    for me, this anime just lacked the detailed description of the characters. >,…,

  23. Avatar Alan says:

    oh btw O.0 lmao the end was weird. thought something will happen b/w yuzuru and yuri. …..oh wait. meh >_> i guess i predicted too much just after seeing him say ‘why does she smell so nice O_O *blush* ‘

  24. Avatar SexyRexy says:

    I personally loved Angel Beats because the story felt unique. A world in the afterlife where you can’t die.(because they’re already dead) There is Yurippe who leads a group of people trying to fight against a God or whatever other great force there is out there that gave them an unfair life. A rather interesting goal that they had in mind.

    @JustWon Hinata(the blue hair guy) didn’t disappear because he had something he needed to finish up, which he says he wanted to help Otonashi in his quest to allow others to move on. I would consider that another one of Hinata’s regrets.

    I hear a lot of about how there needs to be more character development/deep story telling but remember that there are main characters and sub characters. Stories have a main focus on a certain person or certain people. In Angel Beats the story focused around Otanashi which is why he seemed to have the most indepth story telling of his memories before he died.

    There will be important characters and less important characters. If every single Battlefront member had their history told then they would start to become more of a main character. That isn’t possible because you will always have characters with more key roles than others.(Yurripe as leader for example) Developing many characters is nice but what’s the point of telling the history of a character when they’re rarely going to be used anyways. Take the band members for example. Why bother telling their story when they only show up when commencing operation tornado.

    Now I will say that although they can’t get all of the characters’ backgrounds told they could have gotten more in detail about Yurripe. They never explained how she died or what happened after that incident, how she made a living or acted at school.

    Also I don’t get what’s up with this and that about Clannad more “oomph”. Clannad was a notable series but in my eyes(yes we see the world of anime differently) it was just another anime about friends at school and 2 of them liking each other because they hung out so much.

  25. Avatar SexyRexy says:

    This is way late but I’ll also add in that it’s pretty stupid to compare Angel Beats to Clannad in the first place considering that they are 2 completely different series.

    They’re made from the same company but they’re not the same. Get it straight.

  26. Avatar Phaseus says:

    I loved this anime. Romance, action, friendships, guns, and comedy. What the hell isn’t there to like? One thing that really captured my attention was the fact that this has been the only tear jerker in my entire life (entertainment wise) But then I watched the ending so kinda fixed the mood.

  27. Avatar Phaseus says:

    I loved this anime. Romance, action, friendships, guns, and comedy. What the hell isn’t there to like? One thing that really captured my attention was the fact that this has been the only tear jerker in my entire life (entertainment wise) But then I watched the ending so kinda fixed the mood.

  28. Avatar Jono Funk says:

    I felt it was a great series, I don’t understand why everyone whines so much. No i don’t need every single character’s lifestory annoying flashed back to buffer the series length. (cough Naruto cough). For example I found that TK was a fun enjoyable character who only revealed how much he actually knew with his little one liners. I was happy with that and didn’t see the need to know about all the facts of his life. And he turned out to be one of my favorites. I’m glad that only the main characters got to explain their situation.

    If it had been 26 eps you people would be whining about repetition of the characters sob stories. Yes the plot progresses a little quickly, but it does so in a progressive manner (I never felt lost at any stage). I feel that is better than dragging it out more than necessary.

    I found the distinct lack of explanations only added to the mystery, and I think the only reason everyone gave such negative comments is because it left us hungry for more. The ending was satisfying and since i did not expect the final twist it left me in a state of shock. Which is rare achievement for the entertainment industry these days.

  29. Avatar Drako says:

    Just finished watching this series. I didn’t expect much of it, but it has left such a huge impression on me.

    The humour in the anime was what kept me going in the first few episodes, with the timing of it done very well, and made me chuckle quite a bit.

    What was the most impacting thing of this series was the plot, and when the ending came and the entire thing unfolded before me, I was utterly satisfied. The anime is definitely like a mystery-series, and each plot twist was surprising.

    Most characters weren’t explored in detail at all, but I still enjoyed each one. Especially Yuri, who manages to be a strong leader even though she has gone through so much hardship.

    The ending was the most emotionally wrenching part though. I’m not going to spoil it, but when it was revealed, I was tempted to cry and was mind-blown at the same time.

    I normally find it hard to let go of an anime I find good, but when it comes to Angel Beats, it’s the most hardest anime I’ve ever found to let go of. The ending was satisfactory, yes, but the emotion I felt was something I find hard to let go. I almost wish there would be a season 2 even though I don’t see at all how the series could possibly continue. Guess I’ll just have to be satisfied with what I’ve seen.

  30. Avatar Digi says:

    i liked this series a lot and based on the reviews of this site , umm sorry -_- this site gives tar driver 80/100 , it was such a shit , a complete shit anime, n i do think some of your reviews sucks , simply

  31. Avatar TenshiVersionSix says:

    You gotta give Angel Beats some credit though. The makers of Durara had a manga and a light novel to work off of. This was completely original.

  32. Avatar Ra says:

    Roughly the first half: Enjoyed the comedy and animation and all. Great cast doing funny and unexpected stuff. An absolutely brilliant anime in this part.

    Second half: The fairly cool “villain” is no longer. The show gets way more serious and less light-hearted. A bunch of episodes fleshing out a few people, a lot of things that seem like important plot points started… but then immediately comes filler, next and everything is wrapped up with a mostly forced dramatic ending that really made little sense in so many ways (events, character relations, setting … all very contreived) – but it should have in a series that takes this serious tone. For all the second part of the series, only the final ceremony was actually working quite well, but given how the show got there, even that wasn’t quite as strong as it would have been otherwise.

    Indeed, a much longer series or having the second half cut entirely would probably have been better.

  33. Avatar Frankie says:

    My one and only issue was not knowing who da heck TK (i hope i got his name right..been a while for show) really was..beside that i loved it and cried like a little biatch at end and for quite a few other moments.

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