Laevatein: Hello everyone, Laevatein here.
Kaushik: Kaushik here!
Laevatein: And we’re here today to discuss Angel Beats! Kaushik, what did you think of Angel Beats?
Kaushik: I enjoyed it. It had some weak points, but I enjoyed how it all came together.
Laevatein: I feel the exact opposite of you, actually.
Kaushik: What problems did you have with the show?
Laevatein: I thought it was a mash-up of literally every popular thing in anime at the time, and not in an eclectic sort of way. It felt like an abomination at parts. Couple this with Jun Maeda’s usual manipulative writing style, and I got a show that I to this day don’t know how I finished.
Kaushik: I’m not sure what you mean by a mash-up of literally every popular thing in anime. If you mean the moe aspect, that’s in a lot of anime nowadays, and it doesn’t particularly make an anime good or bad. It’s just a visual style, and to some degree a personality type. As for the manipulative writing style, I didn’t have a problem with that. If you mean manipulative in the sense that is has the reader go through certain emotions at certain times, that would be every piece of fiction ever.
Laevatein: For the first point, I wasn’t referring to moe. What I was referring to was Angel Beats’ mash-up of several genres. For the first half of the show or so, Angel Beats felt like it tried to be supernatural action, light-hearted comedy, depressing drama, some sort of horror, and other genres here and there. I thought the way Angel Beats tried to incorporate these genres made everything feel incongruous. As for your second point, Angel Beats often goes for the jugular with the way it tries to wring tears from its watchers. For Angel Beats’ emotional scenes, the writing, cinematography, and music all converge to say “You will cry now”. It’s kind of funny I say this, because it seems they have it down to a science. At any rate, while not a problem in and of itself, this style runs the risk of alienating the audience who doesn’t particularly feel like following along with the emotions.
Kaushik: I will agree with what you said about the genre mishmash. When I mentioned that I had some small issues with the series, I was thinking about that. It was a really big disconnect to have some action in the first half followed by a lot of drama later. Still, by and large Angel Beats felt like a drama series and conducted itself as such to the end. And again, I’m not sure what or how Angel Beats’ writing in terms of emotional evocation is different from any other piece of fiction, particularly melodramatic pieces that are similar.
Laevatein: It indeed grew some focus later on. I admittedly can’t fault Angel Beats like I can fault usual Key shows for their supernatural deus ex machina, since Angel Beats starts off supernatural. The problem with Angel Beats’ handling of emotions is that it sacrifices story coherence. For instance, in the very beginning, perhaps the most emotional bits of the show had to do with Tenshi. Despite how much the main group tried to demonize her, she actually turned out to be somewhat of a normal, if a little shy, girl. After seeing all the repercussions of treating her like the devil incarnate, they rather quickly accept her into their ranks. To me, this felt like they didn’t know what to do with her after her emotional bits, and wrote something that felt very awkward. And this continues throughout the show.
Kaushik: I felt like that was more of a resolution of her character arc rather than kind of tossing her out. It happens in a lot of shows. I agree that she’s kind of rendered useless after her little issue is solved, but that happens with a lot of shows with kind of big casts like this. A lot of harem shows in particular go through this. The character is used for their story arc, and then kind of just hangs around, sort of useless, mostly for a joke every now and then. That’s just the kind of show this is, and I see it as normal.
Laevatein: I don’t think Angel Beats is like, or even tries to be like shows that do that, so I can’t excuse Angel Beats on those grounds. Another problem I had was the lack of conflict in the story after some time. Now, not every show needs conflict, but Angel Beats started with conflict, and lost it pretty early. I know there was the whole thing with the penultimate episode, but to be honest, that just felt weird and entirely out-of-place.
Kaushik: I think that’s just an extension of the complaint that the show has a dramatic genre shift halfway through, and because of that it has a vague and semi-inconclusive conflict. I also think that’s a problem, but I felt the greater focus of the show was the individual character stories, which I enjoyed.
Laevatein: I’ll be honest, I liked the tenth episode. However, I didn’t really enjoy any of the other character stories much at all. However, at this point, all I have left are opinions. I guess none of the other characters really clicked with me though. Maybe I just don’t like how Key handles characterization.
Kaushik: Key’s characters are all fairly similar in terms of melodrama and whatnot. If you don’t like it to begin with, you probably won’t like it to the end.
Laevatein: I guess that about sums up this anime quite well.
Kaushik: Yup, that’ll be it for this week’s Objection! Tune in next week!
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