[RR] Angel Beats Review
“My Story, Your Beats”
Angel Beats is definitely one of the most anticipated anime of 2010. The anime was an original production carried out by various companies and production studios, basically a special joint project. Both the script and music are done by Jun Maeda from Key, a visual novel author who had produced famous masterpieces in the past like Kanon and Clannad. Na-Ga, also from Key, is in charge of the character designs, who had drawn and created beautiful characters like Rin and Kud from Little Buster. P.A. Works, which had been involved in shows like Canaan and True Tears, is the studio managing the animations here. With such a line-up, it is no surprise Angel Beats caught attentions far and wide even before it started airing.
Angel Beats is about a group of people, who refused to move on with life. This caused them to reincarnate because of their regrets when they were alive. Their regrets are mostly regarding family, society or life in general. Thus, they had to remain in this puratory. One of them though, formed the group called Shinda Sekai Sensen (Afterlife Battlefront) and battled against the god who destined her to have an unreasonable life.
One of the first thing I noticed about this anime is the freshness and uniqueness of the plot. There are a lot of elements mixed in yet, still blended in perfectly together. First, is the main setting itself, which is basically school life settings mixed brilliantly with the purgatory theme. The characters died in real life and with their longing regrets in real life, their spirits wandered and remained in the purgatory, and in the purgatory, there’s actually a school. It’s weird though this favors Jun since school settings are his kind of specialty. Of cause, there are also a lot of supernatural scenes, live band music, tear-jerking drama and a lot of other unique elements presented, yet blended in well nicely. Jun also don’t forget to mix in a bit of Key-style humors here and there, though I still think Little Buster is still the best in the humor departments.
Although, the story does indeed seems a bit rushed as it is scheduled to end at episode 13, resulting in a lot of loopholes and unexplained theories. Some members of the SSS are left unresolved and I’m sure some of you would have love to see more back stories, or even just some more attention behind characters like this.. and this. All the complicated information are packed in during the series near-end, making the pacing so unstable is like hell and heaven if you compare the last two episodes.
There are a lot of ways to introduce and develop characters and anime nowadays like to introduce characters in two main methods. One is slowly developing them one by one and the second method is to introduce all of them at the same time and slowly develop them later. Angel Beats is of the latter, and is actually a method I’m least fond of. A lot of characters are dumped in just episode 1 which made viewers hardly have anytime to learn anything about them. They certainly did get certainly after more then half of the series after that which deals with their regrets. Though, aforementioned, with the restriction of 13 episodes, a lot of character’s regrets are left unresolved and it felt like they just want to end the whole show since they don’t have the time to take care of the other regrets.
Still, that doesn’t stop Angel Beats from having a really great character cast. Yui and Hinata are fine characters so to speak, and Hinata’s “declaration” almost caught me off guard. Yurippe is a decisive character, displaying great charisma and leadership. Not much need to say about Otonashi and Kanade as they are probably the most exposed characters out there. Also, an honorable mention to TK who did an excellent job in building up the show’s humors and comedies. The English-speaking, nonsensical TK even made references to Bob Dylan and other late 80s rock bands with his random Engrish catchphrases.
Although Angel Beats had a lot of great elements, the graphic still remains one of the most attention-grabber of the series, other then the fact that this is a Key product that is. Frames are tight and nicely done, resulting in fluid action sequences. Animations are top-notch. You could certainly see some high-budget productions especially during the rock concerts. Individual animations, bright stage lighting, crisp movements, these live rock scenes are spectacular!
As you may have known, Na-Ga is the one who came up with the original character designs for most of Angel Beats. No complains from me here as I’m quite liking his works on Little Buster’s character designs; Rin, Kud and Mio to be exact. It also interesting to note that some of the characters are based on designs from other popular characters as well. For example, the design for Yuri was based Persona 4’s Yukiko Amagi, which was Na-Ga’s favorite game at that moment (He is awesome indeed).
Voice acting is decent although Otonashi’s voice actor is a bit awkward during dramatic scenes as he needs more expressful tones during those times. Hanazawa Kana did an awesome job with her role with Kanade. Her quiet voice has a distant and solitude feeling, which suits the character even more. Kanade had quite a big character shift in the last episode as she suddenly turned more outgoing and cute all of a sudden, but Kana did a good job in adjusting her voice in the very last minute. But I guess what I like best sound-wise are the soundtracks. The background music ranging from mellow ballads, hyperactive beats, soothing melodies accompanied the anime well. Of cause, Girls Dead Monster needs no introduction. The fictional band had constantly topped the Oricon charts (not as epic as K-ON sadly) and one of them was even awarded with a Gold Disc by the Recording Industry Association of Japan.
Angel Beats is pleasing to both the eye and ear, specifically the band scenes which are even on a whole new level itself. The story itself is already excellent, with thrilling storylines and plot twists along the way. The plot is very rushed, notably towards the end and is one of the main flaw of Angel Beats. If it had 26 episodes, I feel Angel Beats would be an even greater show than it already is.
Ultimately, Angel Beats falls short in comparison to other great Key titles like Clannad, Kanon and Air though Angel Beats is still a more then decent show overall. It is still definitely one of the better show in 2010 and deserves the attention it receives regardless!
This review is part of the
Reviews Recollection Project.