When Jun Maeda, a man more known for his work with visual novel/dating sim creator KEY [clannad, sky, AIR] announced his plan, in cooperation with animation Giant Aniplex, to create an anime series he must have suspected it to be a gamble – in a time of generic titles, of pressure from the outside world concerning pornographic artwork of underage schoolgirls, it would be hard to push another new series and to make it stand out. add to that the additional gamble to turn the project into a multi genre release, with an accompanying manga and light novel series released through Dengeki G’s magazine, the creators of Angel beats must have been watching with baited breath and clenched fists when, on the 3rd of April, the first episode of this, an intended 13 part series, aired on TBS.
Three weeks and three episodes in how does Angels beat fare?
First though a bit of back story.
Angels beats! [yes the apostrophe is there intentionally] is series that is one parts war story, one part school drama and follows the adventures of Otonashi, a boy who wakes up without any memories and who finds himself in a mysterious school, where He is enrolled into, and which as we and Otonashi gradually discover, seems to exist as a strange, Purgatory like area between Heaven and Earth where students who have died are given the chance to learn to give up any lingering attachments they still have from life before finally going to heaven.
So, how does he learn this? Well, this is where the SSS come into scene. We are introduced early on [infact literally in the first few seconds of the first episode] to a mysterious girl called Yuri who leads the Shinda Sekai Sensen ( or SSS) as a form of protest against the unfairness of their fate, and who resist the pull to move on, and who are staggeringly well armed [think gun crime in school is bad, imagine students running around with sniper rifles, pistols and semi automatic rifles….oh wait].
They however have to content with the mysterious girl, know only as Angel, who seems to be in charge of keeping the status quo.
I say seems though, as, with just the first three episodes alone, ours, and in extension yuri’s and Otonashi’s, apparent knowledge of the rules that govern this mysterious world are regularly questioned – is Angel truly working for god? Is following Angel’s orders is the only reason people disappear? Why is it that Otonashi seems to be the only member of the SSS with no clear memory of his life prior to his arrival? And what does it spell for everyone involved?
Animation wise I would say that although its an outstanding effort, with well integrated graphics and animation, and well synced movements and voice/mouth movement timing, there were one or two minor slipups – although to be honest I didn’t even notice anything wrong until they were pointed out to me!
The script, despite having a good mix of cartoony silliness and poignant, near tear inducing moments [in particular episode 3] at times though does seem it could have done with tightening up,
While the characters seem to run the gamete of character archetypes – from the bossy leader Yuri [who despite early critics, is anything but a Haruhi ripoff], to the regulars of the SSS – eternally halberd wielding maniac Noda, ninja girl Shiina, nonsensical English speaking TK , even Computer hacker extrordinaire Takeyama [or “Christ” as he prefers to be called] – through to the elusive, mysterious Angel.
Last ,but by no means least we have the music for this series and well…. i think its only fair i let it speak for itself:
in the end all I can say is that at this time:
As a first attempt at writing an anime series id say good work to Jin Maeda.
As to whether it’ll last the test of time, and not be forgotten like so many other series thought time[and the next 10 episodes] will tell……..