Well, I know that you guys have either heard this one for the umpteenth time now. However, I decided, well, maybe I should revisit some of the old shows that I’ve watched, and write reviews about them. No, it’s not like I’m running out of shows to watch, don’t worry. It’s more like I have less time to watch anime nowadays. Sorry for this lacklustre and ‘unoriginal’ review but I can only barely catch up with the ongoing shows this season. So, blame real life for that.
Anyway, today we have *sniff* Angel Beats. Fan favourite, I know, but bear with me, even if you disagree with me thinking that Angel Beats is not *sniff* a good show.
Well, I know that some of you people out there like it a lot, and some of you may have cried watching it.
Don’t worry though, ’cause…
I *sniff* GET IT.
Angel Beats is a show that is considered by the legions of anime fans out there, to be one of the saddest shows anime has to offer. *sniff* While I did not think that Angel Beats is a good show, I acknowledge that it is a fairly sad show, and it tugs a few heartstrings here and there. *sniff*
No, I am not crying. It’s just that I have a cold.
And my nose is blocked.
I’m not crying, okay?
It’s not like, I cried or anything, b-baka!
Anyway, jokes aside, *sniff* let’s get down to business.
If you don’t already know the plot, here’s a brief summary. A guy wakes up at a weird place with no recollection of his life memories at all, including his name. Shortly after him awakening, he meets a gun-toting girl who introduces herself as Yurippe and tells him that he is now dead and in limbo.
She then invites him to join her in her organization, the Shinda Sekai Sensen aka SSS, to do battle with Angel (Tenshi), a white-haired girl who has various abilities that increases her combat prowess.
In midst of all of it, he was introduced to the many members in the SSS and through their many endeavors, attempts to regain his memories, unravel the secrets of the ‘limbo’ they are in and ultimately, uncover the answer as to why they were trapped in limbo in the first place.
Oh, and did I mention that ‘limbo’ in Angel Beats is actually a high school?
As a reviewer, allow me to analyze the show’s plot and thoroughly put it into perspective. To be honest here, I don’t think the writers have done a good job with writing the story for the show. There are simply too many flaws with the story for it to be good, much less a great plot.
First things first, it seems like the writers have no intention of making a story that made sense in the first place. The characters in the show seem to be acting randomly and doing random stuff for the sake of moving the story along. No matter how random and utterly nonsensical some actions may be, the writers seem content on having the characters do it regardless, with no explanation whatsoever. I mean, how can someone in their right mind believe a guy who, out of nowhere proclaimed that he wants to marry you?
There are other absurd plot points and gaping plot holes, of course.
Then, there’s the rather ridiculous setting of the show. I mean, how random can you actually get? The premise of the story itself was so random that people will not even believe it until they’ve actually seen the show. Like, do you know just how ridiculous a purgatory / high school world sounds like? If I were to tell people who don’t watch anime on a regular basis about the setting, they would:
a) Start scoffing at the show, claim that anime is filled with high school tropes and fan service and give me the ‘I-told-you-so’ face.
b) Be politely nodding their heads at me, while thinking to themselves: “Is he drunk or something?”
c) Look disinterested.
To some people out there, it may be acceptable, but to me, the more I think about it, the more I find that the setting of the show and the plot throughout are both just plain ridiculous. If you disagree, how about you attempt to describe the show’s plot in a few sentences? I’ve had an easier time describing the setting and plot of Psycho-Pass and Ghost in the Shell in a few sentences than describing Angel Beats in a few paragraphs while making it sound believable.
The writers also tried to cramp everything they thought was a good idea into Angel Beats. They say, too many chefs spoil the broth. The same applies to a plot or a story. When you have too many elements in a show, you are also effectively drowning out the meaning of it all. Too many ingredients in a dish doesn’t mean that it’s going to be good. Furthermore, you only have 13 episodes, for goodness sake! If you cram too many elements in just 13 episodes, you also have to compromise. And compromising leads to the downfall of a good story.
So, that’s how bad the story is. It’s way too confusing and inconsistent with a pacing that has gone to shit, and throws its viewers off by not explaining anything at all. In fact, it’s so random that at some parts, I can’t help but laugh out loud. And don’t even get me started on the characters. Approaching the end, every single one of those characters are even less developed when compared to the beginning where we don’t even know anything about them. That says a lot about how much effort the writers actually put into developing these characters.
The result of all these crazy nonsense crammed into one show? Angel Beats, a show which is a slice-of-life, comedy, romance, sad, action, supernatural, mystery, thriller, sad, psychological, adventure anime with one-dimensional plot devices as pathetic excuses for its characters.
With that being said though, not all the characters were one-dimensional as I have described earlier. There are a few standout side characters with great development. In the more episodically structured episodes, the side characters featured like Iwasawa, were more interesting than all the main characters combined. It was in those episodes that the writing truly shines but it was too little to make up for the mess that was Angel Beats.
Anyway, logically speaking, I should be hating on the show due to its terrible and poor writing, the poor character design and development and its inconsistency. However, I don’t feel like hating it as much as I should. Despite its many flaws, it was a reasonably enjoyable experience due to the comedic relief and the considerably good execution of the terrible story that kind of rescued it from the pitfalls of no-return.
I can’t say that I liked it, but it’s the same otherwise. I know how people often compare this with Clannad Afterstory and whatnot, but, trust me, it is nowhere near, okay? Instead, I like to think of it as it’s own show rather than compare it with Air or Kanon. And in that sense, it was good enough for me.
I don’t mean to belittle the legions of fans out there. I could see why they liked it, and in a way, I liked it too. But if anyone were to say that Angel Beats is the best anime of all time, I would have no choice but scoff / smirk.
In short, this anime may, by no means, be a good anime, but it has reasonable entertainment value. If you are willing to ignore that one big pile of mess right in the centre of the show and just appreciate some beautiful, individual set pieces, then you’d have a blast with this show.
After meticulously calculating the points awarded for plot, characters, animation, sound and my own personal enjoyment, which involves me giving it a heart transplant and sending it to a limbo in the form of a high school, I decided to give it a rating of:
And so, I end this review. If you’re looking for more anime like Angel Beats, I bring to you Air, an anime adaptation of another Key visual novel of the same name. I also introduce you Kanon (2006), also an anime adaptation of another Key visual novel. At least, I don’t need to introduce them anymore.
Until the next post, Cheerio!