“Watch Angel Beats!”, everyone said. “You’ll love it”, they said. “It is just such a tearjerker”, they said.
I beg to differ. This is an anime that, on the outside, really does look enjoyable. What really pulled me in at first was the art, which looked fantastic. High school kids in purgatory? Oh yeah. Fighting against God? Yeah, let’s get this freaking show on the road. However, good animation, it turns out, is not reason enough to watch a series. And while the plot sounds nice on the surface, the execution is so poor it’s a wonder that I ever made it through the whole thing. Yuzuru Otonashi wakes up with no memories of his past. He is at a high school and runs into a girl wielding a machine gun, Yuri Nakamura, who invites him to fight with the Battlefront Brigade, against God. Because, as it turns out, they are actually all dead.
The main enemy they are seen fighting against is Angel, a pretty girl who they believe works under God. Of course, they have no LEGITIMATE PROOF against her, but they shoot her down anyway. This does, though, seem, at first, a minor flaw. Now, starting the series, one might say, “Well, hey, this isn’t that bad. It’s actually sort of interesting.” That is whatI thought. To be honest, I was rather impressed by the first few episodes. There was a nice blend of comedy and seriousness, and the fifth episode in particular was hilarious. The reuse of the same jokes over and over may not appeal to some people, but I actually thought it was pretty entertaining. And after episode five it all went down the drain. Okay, it wasn’t that bad, but I think the steep dive from hilarious to just plain boring is what really got me. It’s like the series just teased me with a relatively well-written, funny episode, and then just dumped a bucket of boring a over the rest of the series. I’m not really sure how to explain it, it’s just knowing that this series had some potential is what really got me. The series from that point on was just... dull. It’s like they thought that they needed to be every show - action, mystery, romance, comedy, drama. Now, some shows can pull off a feat like this surprisingly well. Angel Beats! can’t. The focus actually changed almost every episode, rather than smoothly blending all themes. One episode would be silly and fun, the next would be boring, and after that it would be a dramatic flashback episode. It was just all over the place. You can’t please everyone, Angel Beats!.
Now, I have got to say that the music was probably the highlight of the show. The opening, “My Soul, Your Beats!” by Lia was a lovely song, accompanied by the still good-looking animation. The ending, “Brave Song” by Aoi Tada, was quiet and pretty, though not particularly memorable. The insert songs are what I really did enjoy. The voice acting, while decent on the dub’s part, was annoying. I usually don’t hate Brittney Karbowski this much, so I’m guessing it’s loudmouth Yuri’s fault for being such an awful character. I would definitely recommend the subs instead. The other failing part of the show is these characters. While bossy, tsundere type characters can actually be rather likeable, Yurippe, the leader of the Battlefront Brigade, really just annoyed me. She lacked any sort of witt of likeability. Otonashi seemed to have almost no personality whatsoever, and though they tried to give him some sort of sarcastic attitude and intelligence, he really just seemed generic and uninteresting.
Any of the other characters, the ones who were actually sort of fun, usually got no development at all. The side characters actually had something to them. Isawara, the school band’s original singer, got her backstory told, and she was reasonably likeable. She is later replaced by Yui, who had a fun, bubbly personality. But the rest of the characters really deserved more, and really just weren’t lucky enough to receive backstories. Another problem I had was with the cheesy romance. After talking to her, maybe five times, Yuzuru is in love with Angel, or Kanade rather, when he discovers that the brigade really has no reason for fighting her. And the thing is, I have no idea why he loves her, considering she has no personality. It would have been better if she had been given some kind of decent development, but no, only about five characters did, and they didn’t have time for her. The final issue I had with the series was the god awful ending. It was meant to be emotional and sad, but it just made me upset. There really is no actual conclusion. It ends, with nothing left but Yuzuru crying all alone. Not only was it disappointing, it was just plain pathetic.
In conclusion, while it had a decent premise, Angel Beats! was not that good. I don’t hate it, but it just was not worth watching. From the poor execution to the lifeless, boring characters, the only thing this anime really succeeds in is, at first, confusing me, then annoying me, then just plain irritating me. While many people would say it was poignant or deep, I just thought it was a poor attempt at an action-comedy-romance-drama-mystery... or whatever it was supposed to be. I am very much prepared for the hate, but really, I didn't like the series and I see no reason for hiding my disdain.
I gave it 4/10, but it was so weak it probably deserved less. However, it was saved, only a little, by the art and music.