Angel Beats, episode 13 – Party of Five

So for the elder readers, does anyone remember an old show called Party of Five? I never watched it, but all I remember about it was it featured ridiculously hot girls and a lot of emo situations. Uh… not that I’m saying Angel Beats is anything like that.

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So Angel Beats has come to an end and the big question is whether it came to a successful end, especially considering how careeningly out of control it became in the last few episodes. Reactions have definitely been mixed. Chaostangent thought the pacing, tone and focus was lacking, and echoed Mecha Guignol’s disgust with the epilogue scene. Over at THAT, both Mystlord and EO gave it Angel Beats a lukewarm grade, what with its positives (melodrama, character resolutions) slightly washing out its negatives (the unresolved plot twists, a world unexplored). Even the more positive reactions like from Janette, Xebek and Yume were tempered by the nods to the wack pacing and occasionally nonsensical plot.

Myself? I figure the 13 episode romp was worth it for the couple seconds of Yuri moe.

Just kidding. Sort of. 😛

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The last episode was sort of a microcosm for the series. Remember all that crap Merv spewed the last episode about the world being created by a lovelost nerd who turned him or herself into an NPC? Well, it wasn’t Kanade. And you can pretty much forget whatever he said, because none of it came into play during this episode. Also, remember the rest of the gang? Well, at least that’s one person, because they’re gone. Poofed. Didn’t even get to say goodbye. You mean to tell me they all would’ve left without seeing Yuri wake up? I find that hard to believe. Especially, the axe wielding Noda, considering he seemed to have a thing for her. But whatever, time constraints are time constraints.

Honestly, the whole graduation ceremony was probably the most boring scene in the whole show until they finally got to the goodbyes.  I enjoyed seeing the scene between Yuri and Kanade, and like EO mentioned in THAT’s post, I ended up liking Naoi quite a bit. I never got used to how quickly people disappeared though. A hug and then the next moment they’re gone? We don’t even get to see them walk off into the sunset? It just feels way too abrupt.

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Meanwhile, what to say about Otonashi. I didn’t dislike him. I thought he was somewhat likeable. But the two biggest decisions he made, I felt were out of selfish reasons. One – his decision to erase people – ended up working for the best. But his confession to Kanade to stay with him in the NPC world to save new wanderers? I would much rather he have been honest with himself and say he wanted to stay just for her. Otherwise, it feels hypocritical. Especially when you take his selflessness during life into account.

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But here’s where things get interesting, because we learn that Kanade is the girl who received Otonashi’s heart after he died (how did she end up in the purgatory before Otonashi? I assume Otonashi wasted some time wandering around in some ether space without his memories). But it was sleeping on Kanade’s chest and hearing his heartbeat that he began to recover his memories.

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When Otonashi realizes this, he realizes that Kanade will disappear if he repeats his confession again. While Kanade implores him to do so, he initially refuses. And I thought the melodrama in this scene at this particular moment was perfect. You could hear Hiroshi Kamiya choke on his words and you could feel his anguish.

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But then instead of amping up the emotion when Otonashi finally does confess, Kamiya reins it in a bit. So I felt the final embrace between Otonashi and Kanade lacked that big OOMPH. It’s really ironic that I’ve been lamenting the missed melodrama opportunities in Angel Beats, consider my disdain for melodramas in general and past Key melodramas specifically. But there were a few moments throughout this show where I thought it was begging for that big, tearjerking feeling but it just came up short.

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How would I have directed the scene above? Like I mentioned I would’ve picked up the emotion level from when Otonashi was choking on his words and then started off the final confession and embrace with the feeling you get when you see Otonashi frantically grasping at the air after Kanade disappears. I would’ve brought him to his knees and then embrace Kanade. Instead of just confessing his love, I would’ve had him begging, pleading for her to stay. Bargaining, trying something, anything. All desperately, desperately, desperately. And then poof, she disappears and we pick up with him grasping at the air. Basically, I would’ve gone over the top, I wouldn’t have left any of Otonashi’s self respect on the table. He should’ve been willing to turn himself inside out for her then and there. Unfortunately, I thought that was missing.

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As much as I like Director Seiji Kishi, I gotta knock him for underdelivering in this scene. The choppy emotional escalation in the scene also seemed to detract from Kamiya’s performance, because I felt like he was all over the place. During some lines, he knocks it out of the park, and then during other lines, he seems to lack the necessary anguish. Would a KyoAni director have done this scene justice? I wonder.

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And then finally, the infamous epilogue scene. Where a seemingly reincarnated Otonashi meets a seemingly reincarnated Kanade. Was it unnecessary? Yeah. Did it seriously detract from the show? I wouldn’t go that far. It wasn’t bad, a little cheesy. But more than anything, it’s just another of those scenes where the plot logic doesn’t seem to flow and it doesn’t make a terrible amount of sense.

All in all, Angel Beats was entertaining. I’ll give you that. Like many, I was disappointed by the pacing and the haphazard story, but throughout I was entertained and that was the most I would’ve expected from it. I know Jun Maeda’s previous works have been greatly admired… but let’s be honest, Air, Kanon, Clannad, none of them were exactly works of classical art. They were just over the top, harem-by-the-numbers creations with nonsensical fantasy elements of their own. I give Jun Maeda a lot of credit for trying to craft a more ambitious, cohesive story with Angel Beats. Whether he succeeded or not is up for debate I guess (and maybe the source material makes more sense), but for me, Angel Beats with all its warts, is hands down, without question, my favorite Maeda story.

10 Replies to “Angel Beats, episode 13 – Party of Five”

  1. I had a fun time watching AB!, even though I think the story mostly made no sense. I wasn’t disappointed that the final episode didn’t make more sense. Heck, I wasn’t even disappointed that it made less sense (e.g. Otonashi really has no heart? 😕 Does that mean he has no heart in the next world as well?)

    There are some shows you just need to turn your brain off for. As long as you can come at this show with the right attitude (like, “Ooh, pretty explosions!”) it is possible to have fun watching it. I don’t, therefore, begrudge AB!, though I am glad it is over.

    1. I think you sort of need to turn your brain off for all of Maeda’s stories, at least to date. But who knows, I hear there’s some Angel Beats backstory that explains some of what happened before Otonashi even showed on the scene. I’m willing to give Maeda the benefit of the doubt and attribute some of the nonsense to the way the anime was paced.

  2. 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 left 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 on where it’s going. It just started too much 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’s 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 protagonists 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 a 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.

    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.

    1. I think my biggest disappointment was that they didn’t focus more on the world. The characters were all likeable, but none of them were fantastically interesting IMO. But every time they’d show a little detail of the world off, I’d get completely sucked in. Even if we didn’t get any more answers than we did, I would’ve been happy if they just showed more of what the world was like and what was possible.

      Definitely agree about the accelerated pacing, that’s probably what turned so many people off. It had so much promise, but sort of got derailed.

      You know, the abrupt shift between serious and comedy isn’t something I minded. I can totally understand where you’re coming from, because a lot of times, it didn’t feel quite right. But I think compared to the Maeda’s previous comedic pacing (eg, funny intro episode, slightly less funny second episode, melodrama for the rest of the show), I felt sort of relieved every time they put a silly moment in, because I knew it wouldn’t get too heavy.

      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.

      Ah, 24 episodes would’ve been such a boon, I think. Or even a 2nd season. If only they’d planned it better.

  3. Ah, RP, I agree with your last paragraph so much.

    Despite it’s flaws, I think I will always love this show, but I also have to give it some serious credit for trying to be something. It may not have worked perfectly, but with so much uninspired works in anime, just having the heart to be different I think can go a long way.

    1. I wonder if people will eventually look back on AB a little more favorably. Nonsense-aside, I definitely enjoyed the last 5 episodes of AB much more than say… the last 5 episodes of Durarara, which petered out atrociously.

  4. I, for one, thought they sort of squeezed romance in the last scene with Kanade and Otonashi. It just didn’t seem right. Oh well, I enjoyed the laughs and the teary eye moments in Angel Beats and I agree with you with the whole gang leaving without saying a word. It would of been nice to see them saying their farewells. Maybe even a little scene with Noda confessing his love to Yuri while shes still unconscious, and then disappear. Eh, that’s just me, I guess.

    All in all, Angel Beats will always be in my Top 10 Favorite Animes of All Time.
    Oh, and I also enjoyed reading your blogs for Angel Beats, and I’ll be reading some more!

    1. Agreed about Kanade and Otonashi. It was predictable, but the romance felt like it got lost in the shuffle amidst all the other shenanigans. But not as buried as the potential Noda x Yuri romance. 😛

      Thanks, I’m glad you enjoyed reading! I hope I can continue to keep your interest! 😀

  5. when i watched angelbeats i was addicted and finished it in a day, never stopped no matter what and watching them all in a day and the show made me cry i thought the characters could be real people overall 5stars i love u forever ab

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