Seething Cauldron of Pop Culture Talk

Irascible Analysis of Popular Culture

Angel Beats

At first glance it might appear as nothing more than a Haruhi Suzumiya knock-off, and the art style and characters certainly do nothing to ward off this line of thinking. It’s even set in a school and has a scifi bent to it. There’s even a band! However, beyond those surface similarities, it’s clear that Angel Beats isn’t content with riding that famous series’ coattails and desires to tell its own story in its own universe.

Created by Key, the creators of Air, Clannad, and Kanon, Angel Beats is a scifi story set in a sort of purgatory where highschool-aged children that have died in the real world awaken in. The story follows Otonashi, a boy who is the world’s newest student. He immediately falls in with Yuri, the self-proclaimed leader of the anti-Angel resistance. See, the way she figures it, it’s far better to fight against Angel, the emotionless watchman of their purgatory, than to accept Angel’s orders and simply disappear.

The first three episodes focus on the group’s struggle against Angel and their attempts to figure out some way to defeat her and confront God, who Yuri is convinced exists somewhere in their world.  Although there is an emphasis on humor, particularly during the first half of each episode, there’s also a heavy emphasis on melancholic drama, which shouldn’t come as a surprise given Key’s history. Some of the students can remember their lives before they died and awoke in purgatory and so far their stories have been dark and depressing, Yuri’s most of all. Otonashi has no memory of his past life, but it feels like his past will eventually come into play.

There’s also a great deal of action in the series. In the first two episodes, Yuri’s group has two high-octane battles, with guns and explosives, against Angel, who deploys a wide range of differing weapons and defensive capabilities to ward off their attacks. This element of the show aside, Angel Beats is very reminiscent of Yoshitoshi aBe masterpiece Haibane Renmei, which also was about a purgatory where children who died in the real world awoke in. There are some differences of course, in that the children in Angel Beats fight against their situation and attempt to understand what their world is and how they got there. Also, although Yuri makes it clear that Angel is their enemy, and possible evil as well, nothing in Angel’s actions suggests this. She only attacks to defender herself and is only against Yuri’s group because they’re trying to circumvent the rules of the purgatory. Otonashi realizes this as well and provides his character with an internal struggle as he helps Yuri and her group in their ambitions.

All in all, it’s a good show so far. Although it relies a bit too much on humor and goofy sounds at times, it’s also a deep and well-crafted drama with an interesting premise and some nice characters, though many of the side characters are a bit generic in design and personality. I’m very interested in seeing where this series ultimately goes.

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April 19, 2010 - Posted by | Anime | , ,

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