Posted on 21 December 2010 with categories: Angel Beats



It was a long time a mystery what the Angel Beats OVA would focus on. I mean, the ending was pretty conclusive and left hardly any room for expansion. As it turns out, this is the “Bad End” version of Angel Beats. Yes, that comes directly from this episode and no, it’s unlike anything you imagine with such a title.

In the end, this pretty much is an episode in which this show takes the piss out of itself. The entire episode is based around the premise of Yurippe coming up with a plan that required everyone to confuse Tenshi with high tension. What follows is an entire freaking episode with non-stop yelling, screaming and people overacting. It’s a complete and utter chaos in which half the cast acts out of character in order to keep the tension as high as possible.

I liked Angel Beats, but I always thought that the director was a bit of a mis-cast. This episode however screams his style all over. It’s ridiculously high in energy without any subtlety whatsoever. The episode itself was completely stupid, but I laughed quite a bit. There’s also this constant tension level-meter that makes things even more hilarious.

There were some cheesy parts of the episode, like how the quiet girls like Yurippe and that ninja girl got the highest tension when they started yelling. It’s a complete filler, but it does fit within the series’ premise: this remains a series in which a bunch of confused spirits are just running around randomly and that’s exactly what this episode was.
Rating: * (Good)

Posted 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

Posted on with categories: Angel Beats



Well, what do you know? The creators actually did it. Talk about an awesome ending here, they really surprised me with the direction they went in, and yet it’s typical Key. It’s an episode that’s sentimental as heck, but it fits perfectly as an ending. It really shows that the creators were building up entirely for this episode, and had very much in mind how they wanted to end the series right from the start.

I really like how the creators used the time in which Yurippe was out cold in order to vanish all of the other characters: at this point, everyone has pretty much reached the point in which they fully understand the situation, and any sort of conflict is pretty much gone now. With this episode, we just have five characters remaining, mostly because Otonashi wanted Yurippe to have a smooth exit. It was far less dramatic than I expected, and I really want to thank the creators for that: Yurippe’s background was already way too angsty. Having her just accept the situation she’s in without trying to relate it back to that experience is a great way for her to go.

The entire first half was just one huge chunk of sentiment that worked surprisingly well. After everyone was gone except for Kanade and Otonashi however, the creators decided to pull THE final twist. Should’ve seen it coming, it was a bit cheesy, but who cares. It really fitted as a heart-warming climax to the series that was down to earth at the same time. As confusing as the series was, I love how this entire episode was so incredibly down to earth, without trying any twists beyond the mere necessary.

In fact, this entire season has excellent endings. I’ve yet to see one bad or disappointing ending out of all of the shows that have ended so far, and it really doesn’t look like there’s going to be any change in this considering the series that have yet to end. It’s definitely one of the pluses of the past spring season. The big minus of the spring season unfortunately was that there were just too many series that were too short. Really, Angel Beats should have been 26 episodes. I really believe that anime should find some sort of model again that would encourage for a bit more longer series. But that’s a topic that’s been beaten to death by now.

The only thing that I didn’t like about this episode was the epilogue. Really, that was just unnecessary and felt like it was tacked on at the very end by someone who didn’t know what he was talking about. The climax of the show ended really ambiguously: you really had no idea what happened to these people, and that really was left up to your imagination. That epilogue felt like “yeah they reincarnated and got back together, bye.”
Rating: *** (Awesome)

Posted on 19 June 2010 with categories: Angel Beats




This episode, to me, felt like it was desperately trying to catch a train. Sure, it got there in the end and it’s a damn cool train, but at the same time it rushed through everything and forgot to buy a ticket, and now just keeps hoping that a member of the train crew won’t drop by to find out about this. This episode came with a ton of interesting plot twists, but at the same time it just didn’t care about logical narrative. Things just… happened, while most of the necessary transition scenes were lost on the cutting room floor or something.

But you know what: who cares? This series has already been chaos, and in that sense this episode was everything this has been focusing on. The thing I liked best that yet again, whenever we feel that finally the setting itself is taking action, it yet again turns out to have been just another regular character who took his own ideas. This has been the same for Kanade as she played the evil part to get everyone to pass on, the new student council president with his God complex, the Tachibana clones who went out of control: all of them are just people who took advantage of the setting, and the setting remained very much like an axe or a saw: sure, you can kill people with them, but they’re usually pretty useful in getting somewhere.

And hey, how many other series can boast that they actually found a believable way to include the power of love as a plot twist? It’s actually quite an interesting idea, in a world in which spirits who find themselves at peace will disappear. If you were to fall in love there, and the other person disappeared, that would make it damn hard to disappear as well out of love sickness. The guy in question happened to know how the computer programs worked here, and I guess that he installed some kind of system to prevent the same thing from happening again. His methods were just too extreme, though. If you can’t make them disappear, then just turn everyone into NPCs. That’s cruel! I’m also very curious here which NPC this guy turned into…

In any case, the end of this episode dropped a ton of hints that Yurippe has disappeared. In terms of Key, it did not turn out to be as emotional as their other works. The thing is that Air and Clannad reserved a lot more time to get the best out of their emotional climaxes, while that clearly wasn’t the focus of Angel Beats. I do think that I like Angel beats more than Kanon, so at least that’s something.

To be honest, I’d rather see a rushed episode with a ton of interesting ideas like this one, compared to a series with no ideas that, while solid, is too focused on playing it safe. Especially when it doesn’t have much else to offer. That’s why I rather liked this episode, despite the obvious criticisms you can have against it.
Rating: ** (Excellent)

Posted on 12 June 2010 with categories: Angel Beats



Ah, so the shadows: the final end boss. The series needed an extra boost to quicken up the plot (after all, if it wasn’t for that, there would be nowhere near enough time for Otonashi’s adventures to make all of his friends disappear). It’s interesting to see that Key intended the finale of this series to be a thriller.

There were a few things that were a bit wrong about this episode, but that’s just nitpicking. It mostly had to do with the sudden stupidity of some of the characters: why did Otonashi not notice that Kanade was just a regular player? Also, why was Yurippe the only one who understood that Ooyama became an NPC?

But yeah, it’s an interesting thought: what if all of the NPCs were once these wandering spirits themselves, who failed to pass on? That really was the thing necessary to give the entire cast a good reason to think about where they wanted to go.

But someone actually created them. What’s up with that? My guess is that it’s Matsushita. I mean, he’s just gone. Ever since he left for the mountains, he’s just nowhere to be found.

Now, it really takes skill to make him the final villain without any hints prior to that. He could indeed be hiding things like most others, but as a teenager’s spirit who is so confused… does that really make him that good of an actor? Also, he’d better have some damn good motivations to do that. The last time someone tried to kill the cast it resulted into some guy with a god-complex who just slaughtered everyone and just got cured by a big hug.
Rating: * (Good)

Posted on 5 June 2010 with categories: Angel Beats



This episode contained the best joke of this series so far. The scene at which Tachibana stole Yui’s guitar was absolutely hilarious.

In any case, this is the Yui episode, and guess what? The Key bed-ridden girl finally shows her face. Her back-story was again rushed through, but it worked surprisingly well with Otonashi’s attempt to make her disappear. Otonashi’s weird plans in this episode really fall into line with the chaos that has been reigning over this series so far, which was mostly visible in the soccer match.

Right now I am beginning to see why Maeda Jun said in an interview that there were a ton of things that he wanted to put into this series, but couldn’t, due to restrictions. We’ve still got a huge cast left that needs to disappear. I feel that this series would have been better with an entire run of 24 episodes. The same of course goes for many other series, but this is an original series: the creators knew that this series would be popular and sell a lot. They could have easily planned the series across 24 episodes.

this episode was pretty good, actually. The confession scene at the end was cheesy in a good way, but at the same time I feel that this show could have been significantly better if it were longer. Seriously, something needs to come that will break the increasingly annoying ‘thirteen episodes’ trend that has been growing in anime for the past few years.
Rating: ** (Excellent)

Posted on 29 May 2010 with categories: Angel Beats



I’ve had my criticisms about this series so far, but really: this was the best Angel Beats episode so far. A great sign at this point.

I’m very pleasantly surprised: there is no villain anymore. At first you’d indeed think that there would be something darker behind everything, like some sort of evil overlord who enjoys toying with lost souls. Instead, the souls created all of the conflict themselves. The final episodes won’t be about beating some sort of end boss. It’ll be about getting these characters to accept their grudges. Most notably, Yurippe. It’s typical Key, but I mean that in a good way. June overall is going to be an awesome month: there are so many awesome series that are going to climax there, I really can’t wait to what they have in store here.

The trainwreck scene was probably the most focused part of this series yet, and it also was without a doubt the best background scene we’ve seen in this series so far. I think that the thing with the early flashbacks of this series was that they were just too short: we got to know why these people held a grudge, but we never got to know who they were. Young Yurippe for example: her character is sad, but also got the depth of a paper bag. It’s now up to the final few episodes to link the two of them together, because one of the things that made this episode so good is how it showed the growth of Otonashi as a character. If all we’ve seen of Yurippe is a little girl who gets scared when her siblings are about to die, you can hardly play with the character-development at that point.
Rating: *** (Awesome)

Posted on 22 May 2010 with categories: Angel Beats



There are some things about this show that just don’t make any sense. It’s been established by now that Tachibana somehow managed to create all of her abilities out of self-defence. Why then did she bother to also create the ability to spawn an evil clone? Even if someone else was behind it, wouldn’t she have noticed when she logged on? Then there’s the pink-haired girl. I mean, what the heck was her purpose again? If she was just a random side-character, then okay. But was it really necessary to put her on the promo-art for this series, along with Yurippe and Tachibana? Wouldn’t it have made much more sense to put Otonashi there, so that you really get the three central characters there?

In any case, with this we’re two-thirds in. In the next episodes, this series is going to have to deliver. Angel Beats overall has been nowhere among my favourites, but it’s definitely been fun. Knowing Key however, they do tend to hold a ton of trumps that they only plan to use near the end, and if anything this episode very much hinted to that when Tachibana absorbed all of those thousands of clones. Now, there are two possibilities after this: Tachibana turns evil and makes everyone’s lives miserable, or Tachibana turns into the typical Kyoani Key female lead. Of course I hope I’m wrong with this and things turn out a bit more nuanced than that.

As for the humour, it’s very typical of the director: his humour either just works, or it just falls flat, and this episode was about fifty-fifty in that. On one hand, the heroic sacrifices were pretty funny, however it also kept reusing a ton of jokes, like that annoying pink-haired girl, and the former student council president’s double-takes over Otonashi also were used way too much.

In any case though, this series has been very varied so far, and that’s what I like about it. Even though this episode revisited a previous location, it’s very different from the second episode and I’m glad to see that the creators didn’t just delete it when it blew up. Again though, I feel that these final few episodes are going to make or break this series. It’s been fun, but it’s definitely been building up to something. I really suspect that whether I’ll remember this series fondly or not will depend on how well the creators are going to handle these final episodes.
Rating: * (Good)

Posted on 15 May 2010 with categories: Angel Beats



Last episode I was rather afraid of the creators misusing the fact that Otonashi’s background was special somehow. Well, this episode proved me wrong. His background was in no way the most extreme. While typical Key, it actually made sense within the story.

All sorts of elements of Key’s usual stories returned in his back-story, I’m not sure whether it’s a homage or just lazy considering how creative the rest of the setting here is, but in any case: the reason he’s special in this series is because Tachibana reminds him of his dead sister. Him getting close to her… it’s all just for the sake of him, trying to get back to his sister.

The humour in this episode was also quite good. The recurring jokes remained rather lame (someone, please start calling Christ Christ so that he can disappear…), but the new material (the student council president) was very funny. For me it was the most successful episode of Angel Beats yet: it was charming and stressed how the characters rely on each other to keep them going though this strange world. The giant fish was a bit silly, but it had none of the nonsensical plot twists that plagued the previous number of episodes.

Now that we’ve already passed the series’ halfway point, I’m getting ore curious about the finale. Especially the Kyoani versions of the previous key incarnations improved significantly in their second half, and also the Osamu Dezaki movies just got better as they went on. At this point Angel Beats seems to be done with its introductions, so we’re about to get to the meat of the story.

On a side-note: these guys really ended up at an awesome school here. I’m not sure whether it’s from Key or some other anime staff, but the architecture of schools in Key adaptation really is fantastic. Gone are the boring schools with three floors that look the same everywhere.
Rating: ** (Excellent)

Posted on 8 May 2010 with categories: Angel Beats



Well, that was taken care of more quickly than expected. This episode went and completely changed the relationships between the different characters. As it turns out, the new student council president was just as Yurippe: confused, and trying to do something nonsensical because of the regrets that he held from the time that he was still alive.

Otonashi’s dramatic confession scene was a bit weird, since we knew so little about the new president at this point (his backstory yet again felt a bit forced here), but it did show that the real villain of this series is the setting itself. The end boss is probably going to be the one who created it, and I really hope that we’re going to see him soon, in order to be able to give him some depth before the thirteen episodes run out.

At this point it’s also pretty clear that Otonashi is special: he doesn’t seem to hold any particular grudge, or is particularly confused in the way that the other characters are. The creators are probably using his amnesia as some sort of plot device for later, to reveal god knows what kind of a background he had when he was still alive.

One thing that’s been irking me about the backgrounds of these characters is that we hardly ever see how exactly they died. This episode again: that student council president really must have angered the gods badly with his story: first his brother dies in an accident, then his father dies, and then he himself dies. His mother probably died even before that because there isn’t even a mention of her. To be honest, I feel like Key is trying a bit too hard here, like they did with Kanon. But then again, their previous stories have also shown that they like to hold a ton of trump cards for the end, so let’s hope that that’s going to be the case here as well.
Rating: * (Good)

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