Angel Beats! = Kobato.?
That’s right – Angel Beats! and Kobato.. Which is vaguely amusing given the fact that both had a penchant for unnecessary punctuation at the ends of their titles.
But, really – take a step back: Kobato. ends with Kobato and Fujimoto finding each other again after Kobato reincarnates (how I managed to not gag over the age difference there is anyone’s guess). Angel Beats! ends with Otonashi finding Kanade again after reincarnating. And both after they’d managed to relocate each other while at least one was in a not-dead/not-alive state of being (Kobato and Otonashi). For the record… I think I prefer Kobato. over Angel Beats!, filler and all.
Other than that, though, Angel Beats!’s closest kin in anime is arguably Revolutionary Girl Utena, particularly as far as the RGU movie is concerned, which is interesting given that the show itself made me mull over RGU when I first started watching it. Its the whole school campus as another world thing both have, wherein one can only advance if they manage to mature. And, ultimately, learning to accept things is a big part of maturation, even if one is learning to accept the fact that their life was crappy. Utena moves on because she learns to accept that she can’t be the prince swooping in to rescue Anthy – the best she can do is to support Anthy so that Anthy can accept that she doesn’t deserve to suffer.
Again, this works better with Adolescence Apocalypse than with the RGU TV iteration, if only because the movie clearly takes place in a realm apart at a school, as does Angel Beats!. Some people have suggested that Ohtori Academy in RGU: AA is actually the land of the dead, which would bring AB! and AA even closer. Time to re-watch AA!
Anyway, on the topic of Angel Beats! and solely Angels Beats!: I thought the last episode was… mostly boring. Oops. Guess someone broke my sympathy-meter. But, you know what? Graduation ceremonies in real life tend to be pretty dull, so watching one animated was probably going to be similar. I mean, hell – I dozed during most of my college graduation a month ago.
I feel very mixed about the epilogue – I’m irritated that the episode spent so much time on the graduation ceremony and on the characters talking about what they’d learned, etc. in part because I would’ve liked to see more of how the characters ended up after they left that world behind. However, I also think fading out on Otonashi about the touch Kanade’s shoulder worked extremely well (ignoring the fact that there’s no way they’d be at all close in age by then).
The end also means that my theory about everyone not being dead may be right! After all, Kanade wasn’t dead, and yet she managed to get into the world. So it doesn’t rule out the possibility that there weren’t others like her. I also tend to subscribe to the school of thought wherein not seeing the body means that the person in question isn’t necessarily dead. Not that we’re ever going to know either way in this case, but…
Nitpicking! Hinata tells Yuri that she seems less leader-ish and more like a girl after she wakes up and before the graduation ceremony. Gee, so girls can’t be leaders, huh? I’d love to introduce whoever came up with that brilliant little bit to the brigadier general I had the privilege of meeting at my own graduation.
So! Final verdict time. Was Angel Beats! good or not?
It was… incredibly uneven. And, yes, I am repeating myself… but it remained so until the end. Otonashi’s confession made some sense, but it also seemed very out of the blue. One of the problems I find in Angel Beats! is that, well, the seams show – other Key collaborations, Kanon, Clannad, Air, all have similarly ridiculous things going on in them, tragic things that are extremely over-the-top. However, those shows do a better job of essentially persuading the viewer to not react to what occurs as being absurd. They do better jobs of drawing in the viewers, baptizing them into their own world, and then tossing the teargas everywhere. I would also argue that they have a better sense of balance – yes, all those KeyAni efforts have humor, but they do a better job of not letting the humor damage any seriousness that occurs. Angel Beats! fails on both those count – the seams are showing.
Angel Beats! was ok. I don’t think I’d recommend it to anyone who wasn’t a big Key fan, or someone who was asking for a way to kill time with something decent. It was a deeply flawed show. I’m convinced that, given a twenty-four to twenty-six episode run, it could’ve been a lot better. As it is, I can’t even be sure that I feel like I used my time wisely. Better luck next time, ‘Key Works’.