Angel Beats!: concluding thoughts and inquiries

もうおやすみ by u

Since I’ve already written a fairly long post examining the appeal of Angel Beats!, on this post I’ll be discussing the opinions and questions I have about the series after completing it…

As I discussed in my previous post, I, as well as many others, enjoyed Angel Beats! not because it was a serious, well-planned story, but because it has a specific blend of qualities meant to appeal to anime fans. A myriad of (mostly) one-dimensional characters in a vaguely defined universe interacting with a seemingly inappropriate mix of hyperactive comedy and gut-wrenching drama and violence, is definitely not a formula for everyone. But for those willing to put preconceptions aside and just enjoy the mess of blood, tears, jokes, action, and sob stories that make up Angel Beats!, it can actually be quite a fun series.

As much as I loved Angel Beats! and willingly overlooked its flaws, even I was irked by a few things. One thing is that I feel it should have been a 20-some episode series. I would have liked to see at least a little development for the rest of SSS members, either seeing how they died, how they passed on, or both. So much time was spent on Yui’s passing in episode 10, it seemed rather unfair that not even a fraction of that attention was given to the passing of the other SSS members (besides the main five in the last episode of course). At the end of episode 9 when Otonashi and Kanade decide to help each SSS member pass on, it seemed like that could have been the start of a new arc where the next ten or so episodes would show how they helped each SSS member. It started out beautifully that way with Yui’s episode, but after that it just rushed through to the conclusion. I’m not saying that each character should have had their own passing episode – maybe a few of them could have been crammed into one – but I really think it would have been better if we saw others besides Yui’s.

あたしの たいせつな ゆめ by PeaCh

Although I felt there should have been more episodes in between 10 and 13, I did enjoy the concluding episodes. Yuri is my favorite, and seeing her character truly come out in episode 12 (and a little of episode 11) was great. The graduation in episode 13 was quite touching and a nice, gentle way to end the series rather than with something flashy or intense. The romance drama going on between Otonashi and Kanade was crammed into the last few minutes of the episode, so that made it seem abrupt to me. I liked the idea, I just wish they could have given it more time.

The purgatory world that Angel Beats! takes place in also could have used more explanation. Exactly who/what created it? (was it simply God?) My interpretation is that there are a lot of purgatory worlds, perhaps depending on the age and circumstances of the person who died. The one we see in Angel Beats! is a high school because the characters are high school aged and/or would be able to pass on if they lived a peaceful high school life. Someone who died at a different age or with different regrets would go to a different purgatory. Perhaps this explains why Otonashi and Kanade were placed in the same purgatory – so they could each help the other pass on.

Most of us will agree that the majority of the Angel Beats! supporting cast is one-dimensional. I don’t like it when series introduce too many characters at one time and fail to develop them. But strangely, I didn’t mind the fact that many of the minor characters like Shiina and Takeyama didn’t get any development. Since their one-shot gags weren’t too obtrusive, I guess I just got used to them. But TK is one character I feel is best left undeveloped. His popularity shows that he’s charming enough as a background-less enigma XD

Yuri was my favorite character right from the beginning – guess I have a thing for tough, serious girls who also show subtle affection and hidden vulnerabilities (her resemblance to Haruhi helped too).

Love Beats by 切符@ついったーなう

I feel that out of all the characters, she goes through the widest range of emotions – from her tragic past in episode 2 to her jarring self-realization and resolution in episode 12. I even feel safe to say that she’s now made her mark fairly high on my list of favorite anime characters. My second favorite character is probably Hinata. He was just an all-around nice, funny guy who showed sincere care not just for Yui, but for Otonashi, Yuri, and others.

Similar to digital boy, I don’t have to be extremely attached to the characters or invested in the story to be moved by Jun Maeda’s talent with drama. Episode 6 was the first Angel Beats! episode that really touched my emotions – I think it was the combination of Otonashi’s growing relationship with Kanade, the sudden SSS massacre, and Naoi’s tear-jerking past. Again, Naoi’s past, and later Otonashi’s, moved me to tears not because I liked them in particular, but because of the way they were presented.

All in all, Angel Beats! can be very enjoyable if you don’t take it too seriously and just find things to like within its fan-pandering and flaws. Apparently there’s going to be an unaired episode on the 7th DVD volume, so I’ll be looking forward to that =)

23 Comments… read them or add your own.

  1. Aorii says:

    “Yui’s passing in episode 10, it seemed rather unfair that not even a fraction of that attention was given to the passing of the other SSS members”

    Omg you have no clue how much I agree with this. But at the same time, would that really be for the best? Just with Hinata’s past vs. Yuri’s, it’s already pretty clear Maede spent a disproportional amount of time working on each character’s backgrounds. While Yui left a very powerful feeling, it’s very doubtful that would be the case for half the characters… besides, one char after another for like 10 episodes? I get the feeling of Bokurano here and I know plenty who aren’t a fan of that series — it drags on after a few episodes. Better to take the highlights and leave with your winnings after a few… but nevertheless, just Yui is too cheap ;__;

  2. Yumeka says:

    @ Aorii

    Yeah, maybe all the characters getting equal attention would have dragged on too long, but I would have liked to see at least a few more. Maybe cram a few of the lesser character stories into one episode or something.

  3. Christina says:

    Your first picture both amuses me and pisses me off. I love how Naoi is clinging to Otonashi but I hate how Tenshi and Yuri are so close. Naoi was like that the entire time with Otonashi but Yuri and Tenshi magically became close because….well just because obviously.

    This series needed more than 13 (14?) episodes to explain all the characters. I was looking forward to Otonashi and Hinata (and possibly Naoi) helping along some of the SSS members the way they did Yuri. But then it became another enemy of the week and that plot point was forgotten as well.

    I too am a little miffed that there are lots of unanswered questions. The constant talk of computer programs made my head explode and I wanted to learn more about who/what made this world. But I am glad the series didn’t end with Otonashi alone in that world or I would have been more upset. XD I am a sucker for a happy ending (even if we didn’t get to see….almost everyone).

  4. Yumeka says:

    @ Christina

    Yeah, Yuri and Kanade did get close rather quickly, but it didn’t seem that rushed to me. Kanade stopped being the main enemy pretty early on, and Yuri admitted how she regretted her treatment of Kanade and how she wished they could have been friends sooner. I think her quick affection for Kanade stems from her lingering feelings of wanting to be a good “older sister.”

    I agree, the series should have had more episodes and more background about the setting. The abundance of computers and technology in an afterlife seemed kind of strange. But hey, since none of us can say that we’ve been in an afterlife, who’s to say what should and shouldn’t be there? XD

  5. Kairu90 says:

    Very nice thoughts. I like your analysis of the world and how their could have been multiple worlds for different age ranges. I felt that a lot of things were left unexplained about the world, but some were for the better.
    I hated that Yui got her own episode to “pass on.” I like Yui do not get me wrong, but why did they choose her? I will admit the 12th episode was my favorite. I love to see all the characters fight together side by side >.<
    Back to your post though, I really enjoyed reading your thoughts on the series. A lot of people disagree with the fact that the other characters needed more development. Personally I would have been happy with a simple montage of clips of each characters deaths and passing's. Just to give some clue of what happened.

  6. Yumeka says:

    @ Kairu90

    Thanks, I’m glad you enjoyed my post =)

    I think episode 12 is my favorite too (because of Yuri of course). I did like episode 6 very much as well.

    “Personally I would have been happy with a simple montage of clips of each characters deaths and passing’s.”

    There is no excuse for them not having something like this XD

  7. Glo says:

    I had that same problem. I loved the series, but with only 13 episodes, they had pretty much no development for characters. This series could have been really really great if they had more episodes to build up characters and maybe write some better plots. I feel like the more I think about this show, the worse it gets.

  8. Yumeka says:

    @ Glo

    Yes, the number of episodes did not match up to the number of reoccurring characters who needed development. I felt that the only ones done justice in that department were Otonashi, Yuri, Hinata, Naoi, and Yui. Kanade almost but I would have liked to see at least a little of her past.

    I would say I want a second season but that doesn’t seem likely. A part of me is secretly wishing for a 26-episode Kyoto Animation remake =P

  9. digital boy says:

    Nice review.

    20 eps sounds nice, but that’s the weird thing. Angel Beats is based on a 2-volume light novel series. 13 eps is more than enough to adapt two light novels, which leads me to believe that the anime follows the novels to the letter. It’s odd to say, but the novels themselves probably needed to be longer/another book.

  10. Mystlord says:

    @digitalboy – The light novels are a prequel to the anime series. The anime series is completely original, so they could have done whatever length.

    But to the post, I agree about the series needing far more time to properly develop. I think this is actually Maeda Jun’s first work that has had less than 26 episodes, and I don’t think it turned out too well. Everything felt either rushed or too slow. I didn’t really get a chance to bond with too many characters, and a lot of characters, even the main ones, just didn’t get enough exposure. Oh well. Hopefully Maeda Jun takes something away from this experience.

  11. Yumeka says:

    @ digital boy and @ Mystlord

    I didn’t know there were Angel Beats! light novels – I had thought it was a completely original anime series. If the novels are only prequels, I wonder if they’ll continue making them or if they were solely made to be the springboard for the anime.

    “I think this is actually Maeda Jun’s first work that has had less than 26 episodes”

    Toei’s version of Kanon from 2002 was only 13 episodes long, but I heard it was bad. Kyoto Animation’s 2006 24-episode remake was better received. One of the reasons why I’m hoping for a longer KyoAni remake for Angel Beats! =P

  12. Fabrice says:

    Here is my long ass review i wrote.

    The story, however, is rather confusing and keeps shifting gears. We start out in a mysterious world of the afterlife and in a place where not even the characters know what’s going on. Naturally, a state of confusion would make sense– except that most of the world is never really explored or explained. And the explanations we do get are often out of left field, and usually shoved in at the end of the episode.

    However, the overall idea isn’t bad at all; it’s just that the accelerated pacing due to the 13 episodes and the fact that the anime seems to not be sure on where it’s going. It just started too much threads.

    The most jarring thing about the show is its inability to separate the comedy from the melodrama. It’s often mixed together at the worst moments and becomes very cheesy. The worst case of this is probably the character of Naoi, someone who should be interesting, but I wasn’t sure whether to laugh or cry. Also, frequently the melodrama feels very forced and manipulative because it’s just shoved in there– you’ve gotta develop a conflict or issue for it to have any real impact. This was especially true near the end. But Key fans don’t worry, there’s still some very sweet moments even if it is very messy.

    Despite this, Angel Beats is still a very funny show. At first,the humor didn’t click with me, but two words: Rocket Chairs. The silly antics of the protagonists group– the SSS is fun and its enjoyable to see them do silly stuff like that in this world. And of course the character TK himself seems to steal the show every time he utters a line.

    The characters are all a fun and likable bunch– typical for Key. Sadly, a lot of them remained underdeveloped due to time constraints. The ones that they do focus on are very well done– the amnesiac Otonashi, the competent commander Yuri who’s not just another Haruhi, the reliable bro Hinata. The enigmatic Angel is also a decent character who explodes the cuteness meter.

    Overall, Angel Beats is not a bad show, but it just feels underwhelming that with all the ingredients for success, the show couldn’t make up its mind on what to do.

  13. Yumeka says:

    @ Fabrice

    Heh, thanks for sharing your review. I agree with most of your points. The series is enjoyable overall if you can like the key (no pun intended) elements that the creators want you to like. But the drama and comedy didn’t always click together, it needed to be longer, needed more development for the characters and setting, etc, etc,. Despite these flaws, I think the main factors that kept fans watching Angel Beats! is 1) Maeda’s way with drama and 2) at least one character or pairing that they especially liked.

  14. Akikura says:

    I was really hoping to see more background stories for the characters. It seemed like it would be an important part of the story, especially considering the cast’s otherwise flat, static personalities. The last bit where Otonashi confessed his world-transcending love for Kanade was much too short and almost didn’t give you time to appreciate the moment. It was good, but could have been a whole lot better.

  15. Yumeka says:

    @ Akikura

    I agree that Otonashi and Kanade’s final moment really was too short. For Maeda’s other series, usually at least one episode is dedicated to this kind of final romance scene. It would have been better if the graduation was one episode, and Otonashi and Kanade’s final day together was the 14th episode.

  16. Aorii says:

    @Mystlord @Yumeka:
    Toei’s 13-ep Kanon anime skipped quite a lot of detail… for example, Mai’s arc was completely incomprehensible.
    But… there’s also AIR.
    The difference is, Angel Beats! had a lot more characters than Maeda ever juggled, even far more than the cast of Little Busters!; and I don’t think he knows how to do ‘simultaneous character development’ very well.

  17. KyonzumiNagato13 says:

    According to outside resources, in December 22 of this year, I think, there will be unaired episodes that will be included in the DVD they are going to release. Hopefully everything goes well…

  18. Burittopasta says:

    There are quite a few things that bothered me. I hate how they introduced that “programmed” guy and suddenly gets rid of him. I mean, who is he? It makes me curious and lead to conclusions. Another thing is, if Otonashi’s organs were donated to kanade, then how come she’s been in that world for so long? If you have read the ligh novels then you would know that she’s been in that world long enough before Hinata or Otonashi even came. I’ve read some possible reasons. But I’m still curious. Can someone explain to me? If there are releases of un-aired episodes, then I sure hope they cover these “flaws” out.

  19. Janette says:

    Thanks for linking me to this, as I haven’t had the easiest time keeping up with blogs lately.

    Not perfect, but definitely fun. I can’t wait for that episode either…hopefully it’s something else then them getting drunk *cough* Sora no Woto *cough*.

    • Shaden Ro says:

      Me and my brother talked about this. Remember that Otonashi wasnt supposed top be there neway. He had no regrets in his life. We came up with the idea that since he had amnesia, his soul didnt really know where to go and probably wandered until he found that purgatory. Or he actually went to a few other purgatories and helped them also. which goes with what Yumika said about multiple purgatories. what were some reason youve heard?

  20. Hotspot says:

    I agree with many of the things you pointed out, I thought the ending was too rushed. I figured that they would show how each of the characters died and how they fix their regrets in order to pass on.
    I really wanted to find out how Yuri died, we know what happened with her family but we don’t know how she died. Although she did mention something about suicide, by saying she didn’t do it; but I think that might have been what she did do.

    Another thing that bothered me was the relationship between Otonashi & Hinata and Otonashi and Naoi, there was totally a boys love in both relationships; but Otonashi and Hinata both ended up with female characters. I would have liked Naoi had said that he liked Otonashi romantically, although this is never revealed if it’s true or not; but the graduation ceremony was the perfect time for it. But instead of saying he liked him (if he did) he just said thank you; I was so annoyed at that! I mean they could have at least made it that Naoi did like Otonashi but it just never went anywhere cause Otonashi likes Kanade and Naoi disappears first.
    Also, about Otonashi and Kanade; I personally didn’t feel it. The spark wasn’t there to me, I didn’t see it at all. If anything, I think Otonashi would have been better with Yuri if anything; not Kanade. :/
    But I don’t know, I am not much of a fan of heterosexual romances really; so that could have something to do with it.

    My other thing was they never got to see each other again, we only see that Kanade and Otonashi meet up again after they all disappear . But what happens to everyone else? They vanish and we never hear from them again? I thought we would at least see Yuri again.

    Overall It was a good anime, but I think they should have filled some things in. And I really wanted to see Naoi say he liked Otonashi, I was really hoping that would happen!

  21. Holo says:

    I absolutely loved this series and agreed with your post. Angel Beats should have been a 20 + episode rather than a 13 episode series. Characters like Noda, Shiina, TK, etc. needed more development and not a simple “Oh everyone passed on”. Yuri is my absolute favorite anime character of all time. She may seem like a typical tsundere but she is so caring and dedicated to her friends and shows it in subtle ways. For example, she did not have to use Naoi to jog Otonashi’s lost memories. She did not gain anything from it. She did that because she was trying to help out a friend and promised that she’s stay his friend no matter what he discovered about himself. I’ll admit Yuri is one of the reasons I watched this anime.
    After I read the manga, I got a different perspective on the Hinata and Yui relationship. As sweet as it was, I did not see the development of their relationship. Yui clearly bothered Hinata and all of a sudden he is proposing to her. In the manga, Yuri and Hinata’s relationship is well developed and I think they would have made a better couple than Hinata and Yui.
    But once again, I think the series was a bit rushed and only Yuri, Otonashi, Hinata, and Naoi were really fleshed out. Even Kanade seemed a bit off to me. She had no personality to speak of and was just cute and a good fighter.

  22. khurai says:

    As heard from this side, the author of the scenario ‘Maeda jun? (is it spelled like this?)’ brought a 60 episodes sized thingy to the company but the company just cutted it into 14

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