Angel Beats, episode 2 – Blast from the past

I contemplated backdating this post to April 13 or whenever the episode came out and pretend like I’d been posting all along, but instead I figured I’d go for the sympathy play. It’s been a while since I’ve written a proper episodic post, so please be gentle with me.

So I’m going to be pretty brief with these posts until I catch up (which will probably take me about a week or two). I figure there’s no sense in going into a terrible amount of detail for an episode everyone’s watched nearly a month ago. But I still wanted to write individual posts for each episode instead of a combined catch-up post, because I like to go back and reference things occasionally. Plus, it’s that completionist tic in me. Hard to repress.

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Essentially, the plot for episode 2 involves the gang heading into a nest of traps to replenish their weapons. But actually, the real point of the episode is to expand upon this strange between-deaths world, and also give a surprising amount of depth into Yuri’s character – who I’ve loved in episode 1, but have really fallen in love with after learning of her shockingly tragic past. Director Seiji Kishi’s fingerprints were all over this episode. Their world where "dying" is a just a joke (because they can’t – although they can feel the pain) provides a surprisingly good backdrop for Kishi’s slapstick gags. And for the most part I thought it was pretty funny, especially the head nods to everyone’s "sacrifices." But the episode takes a surprisingly powerful turn when Yuri laments her failures as a leader and reveals a horrific incident involving her family when she was alive. Although we don’t learn how Yuri herself dies, it’s a stark contrast to how much weight death still carries for her, even though they’re in a world where death no longer seems to matter. The flashback was really intense.

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The other major revelation in the episode is that apparently, Yuri’s band of ragtag members aren’t the only ones fighting against Angel. You know how anime characters always do that predictable eye-popping thing, maybe when they see something they shouldn’t have, or hear something that hits them in the heart? Well, I echoed Otonashi’s eye pop with a "whoa" of my own when I saw the Guild. It was interesting them describe how they created things with dirt and imagination. Sort of like they were mini-Gods, no?

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There’s got to be something special about Yuri right? I can’t imagine anyone else being able to match Angel in hand to hand combat until Angel went all haxxor on her. Is there anything supernatural to Yuri herself? Or has she gotten to her level just by the strength of her will? I don’t know if people are still making Haruhi comparisons, but there were a bunch of scenes where if Aya Hirano voiced Yuri, I could’ve closed my eyes and completely believed it was really Haruhi in another world.

All in all, I really liked this episode. Hopefully the quality continues.

6 Replies to “Angel Beats, episode 2 – Blast from the past”

  1. Episode 2 was definitely a major improvement for me. On the one hand I liked the silly manner they handled a lot of the deaths, especially the false start of the end theme to do a sort of quick drama troll. The guild and the lengths they went to to keep Tenshi out were also interesting in that they showed how powerful she is. The Guild also explains how they get all that weaponry, though I’m not completely satisfied on that front. What, does this limbo-world just happen to be where mechanical engineers go when they die? Unless all they need to know is what an object looks like to make one.

    To reply to your comment in the previous post, I hated episode 1 because Yuri (still) seems way too much like Haruhi and because the plot and setting didn’t do anything cool. It seemed more like some sort of shallow, action wish-fulfillment show. For me, episode 1 was a disaster; so bad that I dropped it without my usual three episode test. But as I mentioned in my previous comment, I got drawn back in and the show definitely improved since then.
    .-= ExecutiveOtaku´s last blog ..House of Five Leaves episodes 03 and 04 – For a Few Ryo More =-.

    1. I assumed the mechanics were also part of the rebel crew recruited by Yuri. I was a little curious as to how they could build such a massive factory without Tenshi ever noticing. And why it was so important for them to destroy it, rather than have Tenshi learn about it (maybe they’re able to do things, she’s unaware of?).

      Interesting, I think I was impressed by episode 1, because I was afraid of the same old Key shenanigans, and instead the characters and the world they created seemed like a breath of fresh air compared to everything they’d done in the past. I guess we were coming from two different places.

      1. I assumed they destroyed the factory to either hide the extent of their weapons manufacturing capabilities or to make Tenshi think that they no longer had that capability.

        Might be that we’re approaching this with different backgrounds. I’ve watched about half of Kanon but that’s all that I’ve seen before of Key’s work. And I haven’t gotten back to the second half in months because I got a bit tired of everyone having a tragic past. In the two most recent episodes I think Key is up to their usual shenanigans in that regard, but not to the point of annoying me…yet. Though a nice touch is that they don’t limit the tragic pasts that main male character has sympathy for to the female characters.
        .-= ExecutiveOtaku´s last blog ..House of Five Leaves episodes 03 and 04 – For a Few Ryo More =-.

        1. I think the tragic pasts fit a lot better here too. It makes a lot of logical sense to me that the people who choose to rebel against God, are doing so because they have something they’re angry about when they were alive. Versus Clannad, where yeah, everyone’s got a tragic past, just so they can open the harem route.

    1. I think the humor’s an important part. I know the other Key shows had random funny parts, but it was usually only in the beginning until it turned into a sobfest. I’m hoping AB can keep the light touch throughout the season.

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