Closing Thoughts: Angel Beats!

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’.

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9 Responses to Closing Thoughts: Angel Beats!

  1. kadian1364 says:

    There was a day I attended two college graduation ceremonies back-to-back, and involved climbing up an absurdly long and steep path to even get to where one of the things was held. Dehydration, soreness, and hours of immobility don’t make for days I remember too kindly.

    Haven’t seen Kobato. but the RGU:AA comparison might work since its pure crazy. Lessee, MAL’s Angel Beats page notes similarities to Haibane Renmei and .hack//Sign also. Though the Haibane Renmei comparison might be the most obvious, equating the two on any level makes me feel sick and wrong so I’ll leave that be. But the .hack parallel is interesting because of the emphasis on programming and data in both and that the protagonists meet in the “real world” at the end.

    • adaywithoutme says:

      .hack//Sign is not one I would’ve thought of, although I can see the connection one could draw between the two. I haven’t seen it in ages, though, so I can’t comment too thoroughly. I’m pretty sure I failed to finish it, too.

      The notion of attending two graduations on one day is kind of awful to me.

  2. glothelegend says:

    IT should have been longer. Each character was only briefly skimmed over and never really explained, besides Otonashi.

    • adaywithoutme says:

      Well, Yui was done somewhat in-depth, which is certainly not something I would’ve predicted at the outset. But even with her we didn’t see the ‘death moment’… if she even had one, given my theory.

  3. Sorrow-kun says:

    Ignoring the drawn out graduation, I think the comparisons between Angel Beats and Kobato (I like being different and dropping the unnecessary punctuation from both these titles) are pretty well founded. Personally, I was emotionally taken by both endings in the moment, but found myself reevaluating my impression of both endings afterwards, when the emotions subsided and reason took over. Kobato is, undoubtedly, a better anime. The execution is the difference. Kobato is extremely well executed and very polished. Angel Beats is not.

    I wouldn’t mind seeing another product of the P.A./Key marriage. Personally, I think there’s very little more that KeyAni can bring us… we’ve pretty much seen all they can do. P.A. Works can potentially bring a new, more fresh take on Key adaptations, and I think we saw a glimpse of that with Angel Beats. But I do hope that any future Key adaptation is helmed by a better director. People have sent a lot of flack Maeda’s way, and I think Kishi Seiji ought to cop more criticism for his involvement in the project than he has, because a lot Angel Beats’ flaws scream “director”, rather than “writer”.

    • adaywithoutme says:

      I would really like for KyoAni to do Little Busters, though, really. It falls in with Clannad, Air, and Kanon in terms of the kind of game it was, so I think it’d make sense to have KyoAni helm it. But I’d personally love to see what a P.A. Works adaptation of something like Planetarian would look like.

      I also thought Kobato was a demonstration of an extremely good working relationship between creators and animation studio, as the manga has yet to conclude, yet the anime at least appears to have carried out ultimately what CLAMP intends to do with the series. Of course, in this way, Kobato. and Angel Beats! are entirely different animals – Kobato. had source material, AB! didn’t. And, really, maybe that’s why AB! had a lot of flaws; there wasn’t enough forethought and P.A. Works wasn’t willing to allot twenty-four episodes to something that was wholly unproven. Of course, the fact that true tears and Canaan were decently done seems to argue that P.A. Works doesn’t do particularly well with no source material.

  4. Mikoto says:

    That’s… actually a pretty good comparison. Never thought about it.

    I still prefer Kobato, though. And I enjoy Angel Beats too. Not as much as Kobato. /myblatantfanboyism CLAMP has yet to disappoint me.

    I found the uneven quality to be the draw, though. It’s not as “good” as, say, other Key-related productions, though.

    • adaywithoutme says:

      Yeah, after reading some of these comments, I realized that I’d actually be interested in re-watching Kobato. already but really don’t feel much of an interest in revisiting Angel Beats!.

      At the end of the day, while Key has some solid stuff itself, CLAMP just is better at crafting a story. Of course, they have been at it MUCH longer, which is probably part of it.

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