Moving right along to a fairly recent series; Angel Beats! (2010). This is a 13 episode (1 OVA) comedy/drama anime.
What’s it about?
When Otonashi wakes up, he doesn’t know who he is, where he is, or what’s going on. Before him is Yuri Nakamura, a high-school girl aiming a sniper rifle at another student. She explains to him briefly that he is dead and in the afterlife, before trying to recruit him into the Shinda Sekai Sensen (SSS), a battlefront she has set up to overthrow God and take over the afterlife. The SSS fight a battle against Angel, a mysterious girl and the Student President, who they take as an agent of God. Otonashi is taken aback by this introduction, but after Angel stabs him through the heart to prove that he is dead, he decides to join Yuri and the SSS until he gets his memories back.
Angel Beats! is fairly well-known for its music and visuals. It’s opening and ending themes are nice and the music of the in-show band is decent. The soundtrack is also good. I liked the bright colours and the majority of the character styling, and movement was animated really well. The backgrounds were nice too. However, I did find that the faces were a little odd-looking at times.
Angel Beats! has a large host of characters. The majority of the characters are quite likeable and the cast works well together on screen to produce the humour.
Finally, this anime has a little bit for everyone in it. There are a lot of actions scenes, with all types of weapons involved, that are exciting to watch. There are plenty of laughs along the way and a lot of fun episodes. However, there are also a LOT of sad, touching episodes, as you’d expect with an anime that deals with dead teenagers. These are mainly in the form of the characters’ back-stories, and they feel quite sincere and not overly dramatic.
One of the things I noticed very early on in the anime was that there are a whole bunch of characters, and not enough screen time to share among them. As a result, the majority of them are under-developed and are usually only included to make up the numbers or for comic relief. For the majority of them, the way Yuri introduces them and their first actions at the start is how you know them; the painfully ordinary one, the one with the halberd, the one that dances, etc. As for the others who do get fleshed out a bit more, I wish the writers didn’t rely on ‘sudden focus on character x’, ‘character x tells sad back-story’, ‘character x disappears’. Luckily, the three mains; Otonashi, Yuri and Angel, get more attention, but still feel more generic than what they should.
The second major negative was the plot that wasn’t up to scratch. Although the pacing was good, the consistency was off, with characters facing an obstacle once, which was then never mentioned again (with a few minor exceptions). The writers should have focused more on the regrets-after-death theme, and explored that a lot further. Furthermore, I found the whole computer game undertone odd; with Angel adjusting her weapons using computer software, and even the other students who were not humans being referred to as ‘non-player characters’. Finally, the jarring plot-hole at the end of the series; in an attempt to get a meaningful relationship for Otonashi, the plot compromised the timeline it set-up from the start of the series. I didn’t react to that scene with ‘Oh, how sweet, it’s meant to be’, but ‘What the hell? How is that possible?’.
Anything else I should consider?
There are actually two endings to this anime, with minor differences focusing on Otonashi’s fate. I wasn’t interested that much to go looking for the other ending, but apparently the bonus on the DVD release was sadder than the original ending.
Art: 7/10: The majority of it is quite pretty, but some character styling is off and sometimes the faces look odd.
Story: 6/10: Actions, laughs, and feels are aplenty, but overall the plot wasn’t consistent and the plot-hole at the end was irritating.
Characters: 6/10: The majority of the characters are likeable, but there’s too many of them, and the majority are underdeveloped.
There’s a lot to like about Angel Beats!; it’s fun, yet sad, the characters are likeable, and the music and art is good. However, it does suffer from a poor plot and underdeveloped characters. Overall, it’s not bad for its length and certainly enjoyable, but jump on board for the fun more than the plot. Overall, I give it a 7/10.