Sunday, May 26, 2013

Angel Beats! Anime Review

Angel Beats!
Enjeru Bitsu!
Sentai Filmworks
Complete Collection - 3 discs
350 mins. - 13 episodes
$59.98 (2011)
$69.98 (2011) Blu-Ray
ISBN 814131011114
Japanese/English Audio - English Subtitles
Director - Seiji Kishi
Studio - P.A. Works

Synopsis: Yuzuru Otonashi wakes up without any memories at an unknown high school and is immediately thrown into a conflict involving a student group calling themselves the Afterlife Battlefront.  He meets their leader, Yuri (called Yurippe) Nakamura, and is recruited to join their fight against Angel.  He thinks they're crazy and talks to Angel to prove them wrong.  She stabs him through the heart and he dies again.  He wakes up fully healed a little while later and meets the rest of the Battlefront.  They all had tragic previous lives and found themselves in this strange afterlife world.
Otonoshi first appears in the afterlife world and meets Yurippe
Angel is the student body president at the school which is made up of two types of students - students with souls who had previous lives and NPCs (non-participating characters) without souls who act like regular high school students.  Angel has incredible powers of strength, distortion fields, creating weapons, and a host of others.  She keeps order in the school and is the Battlefront's chief opposition.
Otonoshi learns he cant die
Yurippe leads the Battlefront against Angel and runs special missions to rebel against the system.  Members have weapons like swords and guns to fight Angel, but she is an apparently invincible opponent.  The best they can hope is to distract her in order to carry out their missions.  They have a special rock band called Girls Dead Monster with a huge NPC following hold guerrilla concerts in the cafeteria.
Angel may look like a regular student, but she has incredible powers
The purpose of the Battlefront is to rebel against God for giving them unfair lives before they died.  If they become too complacent and lose themselves in the afterlife school culture they will become obliterated, disappearing from this world.  Everyone in the Battlefront fights to avoid being obliterated.  Angel has a special knack for making people become obliterated and that is why the Battlefront fights her.
The Battlefront plan a new maneuver using a band concert as cover
What is the origin of this strange afterlife world and who is Angel?  Will Otonashi's memories trigger him to become obliterated?  What are the tragic stories of the members of Battlefront?  Does this artificial world have any limits to what can be done?  An opposing force besides Angel gathers its forces, but can the Battlefront take on two enemies at once?
Girls Dead Monster play a gig in the cafeteria
Pros: Great animation (particularly the backgrounds), good music especially the opening theme, likable characters, an interesting plot and unique ending, great fusion of different genres like music/school life/action/supernatural
The Battlefront have a mission in secret tunnels beneath the school
Cons: Ending wrapped up too nicely, some of the characters were annoying, highly religious types will dislike the references to God and Christ, series could have been longer to build up the finale, the whole Guild piece was kinda far-fetched, includes the OVA episode "Stairway to Heaven", doesn't include the alternate epilogue included with the original Japanese release
Otonoshi sits down and has lunch with Angel
Mike Tells It Straight: I found Angel Beats! to be an interesting genre-fusion with high production values. It had great music and included a rock band in the story, but I expected some musical element since the word 'beats' was in the title.  It combines elements of school life being based in a high school, action as the Battlefront fights Angel, music, comedy, mystery, and supernatural elements with the whole afterlife theme.
The Battlefront take on an army of Angels
At first I wasn't sure what to make of the series since it was so all over the place.  Angel seemed like a simple antagonist, but her story unfolds as the series progresses.  Otonashi seemed like a typical protagonist and nothing special, but similarly grows with each episode.  I can see why a lot of people give this series praise.  It's not typical and keeps you guessing at what will happen next.  The theme of being unfulfilled in your life and getting a second chance is really well done.
Hinata takes down Yui after she annoys him
Being a huge mix of different genres kind of dilutes the overall strength of the series (i.e. it doesn't do any one thing really well, but a lot of things fairly well).  The comedy offsets the serious moments to a point of taking away their impact.  I see this a lot in anime which is silly one minute and then switches to action the next.  The character designs were a bit simple too.  The ending was great and one of the best I've seen in a long time.  It was poignant and capped the whole series off.  I'm impressed since most anime endings are kind of unsatisfying.
A new enemy appears besides Angel!
It's too bad the series was only 13 episodes as I bet the writers could have brought more twists into the story.  On the other hand more episodes may have just unnecessarily dragged out the series.  I would recommend this show to folks looking for something different and with a little bit of everything mixed in.  It was a pleasant surprise and kept me interested to the end (btw, watch the ending credits of the last episode for an additional epilogue).
The members of the Afterlife Battlefront
TO BUY and Recommendations: