Short Review: It needed 26 episodes.

Long Review: Angel Beats is a pretty interesting work. The writer, Jun Maeda, is responsible for a number of emotional masterpieces such as Air, Kanon, and Clannad. Maeda’s ability to invoke emotion in his audience is definitely outstanding and thus I had great anticipation for the series.

Angel Beats! is a treat to the eyes and ears. P.A. works did an amazing job with the visuals. The opening animation is a pleasure to watch and the backgrounds can easily rival Kyoto Animation’s which is no small feat. The music is also very memorable, and usually appropriate to the situation. Besides the opening “My Soul Your Beats” and “Brave Song”, there’s also a bunch of songs sung by the show’s band Girls’ Dead Monster. Some people have noted the songs by GDM sound a bit amateurish, but I think it’s appropriate and gives the feel of a garage band trying to make it big. 

The story, however, is rather confusing and keeps shifting gears. We start out in a mysterious world of the afterlife and in a place where not even the characters know what’s going on. Naturally, a state of confusion would make sense– except that most of the world is never really explored or explained. And the explanations we do get are often out of the field, and usually shoved in at the end of the episode. 

However, the overall idea isn’t bad at all; it’s just that the accelerated pacing due to the 13 episodes and the fact that the anime seems to not be sure about where it’s going. It just started too many threads.

The most jarring thing about the show is its inability to separate the comedy from the melodrama. It’s often mixed together at the worst moments and becomes very cheesy. The worst case of this is probably the character of Naoi, someone who should be interesting, but I wasn’t sure whether to laugh or cry. Also, frequently the melodrama feels very forced and manipulative because it’s just shoved in there– you’ve gotta develop a conflict or issue for it to have any real impact. This was especially true near the end. But Key fans don’t worry, there are still some very sweet moments even if it is very messy. 

Despite this, Angel Beats is still a very funny show. At first, the humor didn’t click with me, but two words: Rocket Chairs. The silly antics of the protagonist’s group– the SSS is fun and its enjoyable to see them do silly stuff like that in this world. And of course, the character TK himself seems to steal the show every time he utters a line.

The characters are all fun and likable bunch– typical for Key. Sadly, a lot of them remained underdeveloped due to time constraints. The ones that they do focus on are very well done– the amnesiac Otonashi, the competent commander Yuri who’s not just another Haruhi, the reliable bro Hinata. The enigmatic Angel is also a decent character who explodes the cuteness meter. 

Summary

Overall, Angel Beats is not a bad show, but it just feels underwhelming that with all the ingredients for success, the show couldn’t make up its mind on what to do. Nevertheless, if you’re bored and want a few laughs or a few heartwarming moments, you can check this out

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