Angel Beats is a very odd Anime. It’s a anime original that was hyped not only because Key was producing it, but PA Works who worked on “True Tears” and “Canaan” was going to animate the show. What we got is the Tsundere of Anime with inconsistent storyline and out of place drama and comedy. Even though I enjoyed Angel Beats, it felt like an experiment.
Angel Beats obviously takes place in a school setting in an afterlife. Humans end up here since they were dissatisfied with their previous lives and they lost their memories. In addition to the dissatisfaction, Yuri who is the leader of a rebel group called the Shinda Sekai Sensen or SSS fights against Tenshi, the student council vice president Naoi and the mysterious man who tired to play god with “Angel Player”. In all honesty, the fighting and the comedy made it somewhat difficult for some people to take the drama seriously. This is the main reason I refer Angel Beats a Tsundere of Anime. Why is that? Who puts the climax of soul-eating shadows in the last few episodes? It does not make any sense.
Story wise, Angel Beats was weak compared to the Anime visual adaptations Air, Kanon and Clannad. Angel Beats had a weak story since it does not have the luxury of having well defined arcs. In other words, the story was all over the place. In comparison, in the Key visual novel adaptations, the girls’ arcs were split up in several episodes. For example, Air had an organized arrangement to deal with two episodes for Kano’s and Minagi’s arc, four episodes for the Summer Arc, one for the Air arc and Misuzu’s arc mixed into the whole season. The organization of these arcs allowed for an enjoyable experience. The viewer did not have the feeling that something is missing. On the other hand, the drama scenes were done pretty well and gave the typical Key feel. This was exhibited when they shown the memories of Yuri, Otonashi, Naoi, Iwasawa and Yui. When I saw these memories, I felt sad and pretty sympathetic towards the characters since they didn’t get the chance to achieve. I feel the same when I go through the character’s arcs in the visual novel. A few people may not like how they throw melodramatic scenes. For most people however, they will feel the impact from these scenes and appreciate it.
In the character department, we have a lot of characters. The main ones are Yuri, Otonashi, Tenshi and Hinata. There are others like Naoi, Yui, and Iwasawa for example that have extensive character development. However, Angel Beats did not address the memories for rest of the characters and left them relatively unknown. This left viewers out in the dust trying to figure out how these characters end up in this world and other stuff.
Like I previously mentioned in my midseason impressions of Angel Beats, the animation looks nice and pretty close to the animation quality of Kyoto Animation. However, there were some instances that the animation looked messy. Even though these scenes didn’t look right, it happened only a few times, which wasn’t enough to make a negative impact to the animation overall.
Lastly, the music was a mixed bag. I did enjoy the OP/ED and also the background music since they sounded great. I can’t say the same about Girls Dead Monster by looking at my reviews of the singles that continues to disappoint me. However, the song played in the last episode, Ichiban no Takaramono pretty much made up the mediocre music from Girls Dead Monster, so I won’t complain.
Overall, Angel Beats had a lot going on and it did pretty good for the most part. On the other hand, Angel Beats was the weakest Anime production I seen out of Key since Clannad After Story. I expect more out of them. When you have stuff like inconsistent story line, out of place drama and comedy, mixed character development and disappointing music from Girls Dead Monster, it is not hard to get the mixed feeling about the whole series after watching it. Consistency is key with anything in life and throwing random stuff does not always work (see Mayoi Neko Overrun for another example that didn’t work out so well). I have to give them credit to Jun Maeda in the end for making the story happen within the thirteen episodes on his first try. It may not be a masterpiece, but its good enough for most casual viewers and fan of Key to watch. When Jun Maeda decides to make another Anime original, he will probably do better since he knows what works and don’t work in story writing in Anime.
7.8/10, C+, Good
The fanart used in this post is made by 九韻寺51子 ¶