If you thought Angel Beats was good, you are wrong. Here is why.

Animated gif. You know you want to click it.

Angel Beats has convinced me that Jun Maeda doesn’t know how to write an original story. His previous hits Air, Kanon, and Clannad have been about a bunch of mentally and/or physically broken high school girls who all fall in love with a guy whose only significant character trait is that he exists, and along the way one of these girls will die of a mysterious illness. For Angel Beats, Maeda twists his tried and true formula by having all the characters dead to begin with, and stuck in some sort of high school purgatory, where a group of kids shoot a little girl in the kneecaps for no good reason.

As mentioned earlier, Maeda’s stories are very formulaic. First, he establishes a cast of one dimensional, but likeable characters, and a zero dimensional main character who is designed to be a self insert for the viewer. He then lulls the viewers into a false sense of security with a couple of comedic episodes before dropping a tragedy bomb. In time the main character recovers from the tragedy and an asspull miracle occurs, to ensure a happy ending and negating any kind of character development. Angel Beats follows this same formula to an extent, however due to last minute budget cuts; this had to be crammed into 13 episodes making the production feel rushed and uneven.

A lot of fans will defend the show by saying that it would have been more coherent had it been given 26 episodes. I don’t buy this. Maeda had a lot of options. He could have told half the story and left it open to a probable second season. He could have cut some of the characters or spend less time recycling the same gags (suicide rushes, rocket chairs, etc.) to make more room for character growth. It’s possible to tell a great story in 13 episodes or less. Haibane Renmei told a similar purgatory story in 13 episodes, and the world was much deeper, and the characters more sympathetic. Baccano had a huge cast, yet all the characters got their time to shine, without taking away from the story.

In addition, there is never a really good explanation for why they’re fighting Tenshi. They make her out to be evil incarnate at first, but quickly find out that she’s actually a normal girl. Yet rather than do their research, Yuri somehow convinced everyone to build an underground factory, stockpile weapons, and hold rock concerts just to fuck with everyone’s dinner time. If you stop to think about it, the war on Tenshi was nothing more than pointless bickering started by a petulant bitch. Using the budget cuts to defend the trainwreck of a story is like when high school student complain that they would have done better on a test had they gotten more time. Sometimes, you just have to admit that you didn’t know what you were doing.

While the music for the show was decent, part of me felt it was a ploy to milk more money out of the show. Some of the early episodes focused on a band called Girls Dead Monster who played music as some sort of distraction. However, because they weren’t central to the plot, and because singles were being released so frequently while the show was airing, it all felt like a cheap cash-in to ride the wave of success of K-ON.

So if I hated the story so much, why did I stick with it? Simply, it’s because I’m a big fan of the director, Seiji Kishi. He previously did Seto no Hanayome and Tentai Senshi Sunred, which are two of my favorite comedy series. I could see that a lot of effort went into the animation. The lighting and movement was dynamic and smooth. The backgrounds were nicely detailed and had a pleasing color palette. Unfortunately, none of this could save the production from its terrible story. Part of me feels the director was overcompensating for the terrible story by blinding the audience with pretty pictures. This seems to have worked on a large portion of the fanbase since a lot of reviews I have read comment on how pretty it is while glossing over the failure of the story.

Lazy production is lazy.

After watching Angel Beats and seeing the audience reaction to it online, I feel like it’s done its job of manipulating its audience with false emotions. Because of the heavy marketing done for this series, it feels like nothing more than a cheap ploy to get to peoples wallets by tugging at the heart strings of people who probably have never experienced real romance. It’s a formula that has worked for previous Key works, and their sales of figures and dakimakura prove it. Fans of the show that actually finished this review, watch the show again. Is it actually unique, or is it the same trite, repetitive crap that’s been plaguing the anime industry for years? Does the story make sense, or is it full of more holes than a cheese grater? But most importantly, is it actually good or are you still lying to yourself?

That certainly was a good rant. About to start my first year of graduate school, so sadly my summer is about to come to an end. Anime wise, it has been pretty dull. The only shows I really look forward to on a weekly basis are Seitokai Yakuindomo, Highschool fo the Dead, and K-ON but those are all sadly coming to an end in the next 2 weeks. I’m already very excited for next season, especially for Panty and Stocking, and Bakuman. Hopefully I will have time to post about them, but that honestly feels like an empty promise. Have a good weekend.

13 Responses to “If you thought Angel Beats was good, you are wrong. Here is why.”

  1. > I feel like it’s done its job of manipulating its audience with false emotions

    No surprises there. The show was apparently designed for children with easily-pulled heartstrings and enough money to purchase “Girls Dead Monster” albums. I watched it as well, but only because I wanted proof that Maeda was inept (because this was not his usual formula). And I got it in spades.

    I also didn’t think it was very pretty. It felt like a rushed KyoAni production that wasn’t trying to be creative or original. There was absolute no sense of uniqueness or identity here AT ALL. Just samey and boring stuff accentuated by some “meh” action sequences and pointless concerts. It certainly wasn’t bad, but it wasn’t enough to justify calling it “beautiful”. Lazy, yes.

    Ultimately it was a failure in any artistic or creative sense. It seems to have been created purely for marketing purposes. It had talent behind it, as you mentioned, which is the biggest disappointment. If they hired a competent and skilled writer to reign in Maeda, it might have succeeded.

  2. NOTAnonymous Says:

    So you say Angel Beats was bad.
    Can you name Anime that was Good and tell us WHY it was good?

    I personally like the humorous plot with the dramatic storyline; it compliments each other very well.
    If you’re going to criticize Key and Maeda, I hope you’re prepared for much argument from fans like myself who will be more than ready to point out that you’re wrong.

    Let’s start off with your argument that it twists the emotions of viewers….
    So What? That’s what entertainment is; to give us strange or new emotions in a positive way.
    Even if you were to argue that these were “fake emotions”, I’m sure the other 99% of the Angel Beats viewers will disagree with you.
    So you’re a big fan of the Angel Beats Director. That means that you listen or watch other kinds of entertainment other than Angel Beats.
    Can you really say that what you enjoy as a part of your life is “twisting your emotions?”

    Alright, let’s go to the argument that it “milked money”. Personally, I didn’t pay a single, damn penny to watch this anime; I torrented it. Is the police going to catch me for it? No. I’m sure I’m not the only one either. The real way they would probably get money out of this is from extra, overpriced franchise that can’t be easily acquired by normal people like myself in America. Still think they’re making millions from this?

    K-On? I’ve watched that, and it was a hilarious anime. I loved it, but can you say that it contained some kind of plot that was consistent throughout the series? How about Lucky Star?

    I think you’re just trying to be cool or stand out, how you’re ranting about something everyone else is obviously going to love. Sure, these are your opinions that I respect, but as I read your “rant”, it sounded forced.
    I don’t see ANY logic or “Going into the character’s mind” as you criticized the anime itself, and it only made me a stronger enemy of haters like yourself.

    I suggest that you try creating an anime. Better yet, try creating a story on a Word Document. Print it out and hand it to your friends to read. This is just a guess, but you’ll get a lot of “it’s no good” responses with the little psychology you base all your thoughts on

    • djwhack03 Says:

      I’ve been waiting for a comment like yours. Glad to see some fans are willing to read through an entire argument contrary to their opinions rather than keeping their head in the sand and refusing to to acknowledge the flaws of their favorite anime. Anyways, time to deconstruct your arguments paragraph by paragraph.

      You want a good anime? I recommend Gunbuster. It’s an OVA from the late 80s about giant robot pilots who are traveling around the galaxy at near light speed. However, due to the effects of time dilation, they are aging much slower than their friends and family back on earth. Is it campy? Yes, as are many shows/movies from the 80s. Are the characters shallow and simple? Yes they are, but it makes them relatable. So what makes it good? Part of it is the characters’ ability to overcome adversity and make major sacrifices for the greater good. In general a good show is any one where suspension of disbelief isn’t difficult. I am willing to accept ridiculous situations if it is well explained and the characters are relatable.

      I guess you can call the plot humorous if you like repeating the same jokes over and over again. Seriously, suicide rushes stopped being funny the first time they did it. Hell, most of the characters served to repeat a single gag, like TK’s Engrish or that ninja girl liking dogs. The drama felt forced with moments such as Yuri’s backstory. The humor and drama don’t complement each other, they switch back and forth like a bipolar disorder. The best example is the episode where Yui disappears. I honestly couldn’t take her seriously as she had spent a good chunk of the series being an obnoxious twat.

      I agree that a well written drama should manipulate the viewers’ emotions. Josei manga such as Honey and Clover do this very well. The problem with Angel Beats, and most visual novel adaptations for that matter, is that the characters are all based on idealized women who have no relation to reality. It’s this kind of escapism that I have problems with. I would go as far as saying that it is playing a major role in Japan’s declining birth rate.

      While you may not have paid a dime to watch Angel Beats, there were plenty of people in Japan who did. The CDs and Blurays usually debuted in the top 10 bestsellers the weeks they came out, so financially it was really damn successful. Remember this, anime is almost never made with foreign audiences in mind. Your opinion does not matter to the creators.

      Trying to compare Angel Beats to K-ON and Lucky Star is an apples to oranges argument. You watch a comedy to laugh, so plot is unnecessary. All you need are lovable characters and well written jokes, and you’ve got it made. Trying to add drama to a comedy tends to break flow, and usually backfires. This is why a show like Seinfeld is still loved by many worldwide even though it ended over 10 years ago.

      I find it interesting that you mention psychology, since that was what I felt was completely lacking in Angel Beats with its cast of ridiculous characters.

      Ah the classic response of asking a critic to do better. I’m not going to even respond to this. I think I’ve already used enough time responding to a middle schooler. Come back one you’ve watched enough anime to form a more logical opinion.

  3. medhathobo Says:

    None of these points ever mattered to me. A good story is a good story no matter how many times it’s done. And by the way everyone duplicates motion animations, look at guitar hero or a number of other things.

    • djwhack03 Says:

      I agree that a good story is good no matter how many times it is done. Hell that’s why Hollywood constantly remakes old movies. Except Maeda doesn’t write a good story. It’s just manipulative escapism.

      The main difference between duplicated animation in Guitar Hero vs Angel Beats is that in Angel Beats this is the central focus of the shot, whereas in Guitar Hero, you’re more focused on pressing all the buttons in time.

  4. – I think Maeda didn’t shorten the story at all. He got a Burnout after finishing his script (why should he break his brain more with an already broken one?)

    – If the story was really bad, the series wouldn’t be produced with such a huge cast (Producer and other cast members would leave the team)

    – Hironori Toba was interviewed in the November 2009 issue of Dengeki G’s Magazine, where he commented that a 13-episode anime with about 21 minutes per episode was not enough to tell the whole story of Angel Beats! Maeda had envisioned

    – Therefore, the various additional media, such as the illustrated short stories and manga, contain some of the story that was unable to make it into the anime because of time constraints

    – Hironori Toba wanted fans of the series to be able to enjoy it to the fullest by exploring all of the media types

    – The other franchises are popular because they like the songs of the virtual band “Girls Dead Monster” and because of the OP/ED songs, all written by Maeda (he is known for his popular soundtracks and songs he wrote for KEY)

    – Please state why there are “fake”/false emotions and where you think there should be any of them

    – If you judge a story as a whole, then no story would survive. Every writer has an own style for his/her writing and reason why he/she writes it like this

    – I can understand why you don’t like this “Matrix” or how some call this. It is confusing and a story with many holes won’t satisfy many people. But many watchers feel entertained and satisfied after watching Angel Beats!

    -Conclusion: If you say Jun Maeda is not worth as a writer, then you are wrong. He already wrote in Key’s Visual Novels and its Animation how deep the story is written and the characters in those stories are all full characterized.
    Angel Beats! and its cast are just a victim of shortened time led by the industry and because of its following factors, which is not liked by everyone.
    The question if it was good or bad is the same as you wanna buy an iPhone or an Android. Some people set value on a one way leading plot, some accepts many ways of a plot. To the example: Some wanna have the ultimative design of Apple, some really needs Flash on their Android.
    About delaying the story to the second season for more space, do you really think there is money for one more? Would the cast accept this? Would the TV channels let them? I think doing a second season or an “extra” season just for this without the kind of responsibility is awful. Jun Maeda would have to rewrite, the whole cast has to deal with it or a new cast has to be found.

    The story has so much potential to be great. I know that you don’t like it. But just because of that saying Maeda is a bad writer, the others also have the responsibility of this Anime. Seiji Kishi, too.
    I also felt confused with the story but I liked how it is.

    Angel Beats! was good because of the amazing characters, story with potential, good songs, etc.
    If you don’t like it, I accept your decision, but tell me why you don’t like it. Not just because of the shortened story and how lazy people are.

    Sorry, if there are some mistakes, I’m not a native English speaker.

    • djwhack03 Says:

      I believe that a story should be able to stand on its own. Multimedia experiments such as the dot hack franchise weren’t that successful since they’re forcing too much material on the consumer.

      When I talk about fake emotions, I mean that you will never meet people like any of the characters in Angel Beats. Besides the obvious fact that they are all dead, people generally aren’t as convoluted (in the case of the main characters) or quirky (like the background characters). As people grow up they tend to find a comfortable middle ground balancing their unique and common traits. Watching Angel Beats or and other show written by Maeda, I didn’t see real people, just caricatures and fantasies, making nobody relatable.

      A story should be judged as a whole. I don’t know what makes you think otherwise. I good idea means nothing if the execution and ending are poor. My main problem with Angel Beats is that Maeda tried to apply his typical formula to a setting where it doesn’t work.

  5. Regarding the copy-paste people in the crowd, maybe there really are many of the same looking person in the Angel Beats world. They ARE NPCs after all…

  6. I never pay attention to the author, mostly because even if the author has made crap in his lifetime, I don’t want to hold it against him if I see something good.. Though, I didn’t like Air, I didn’t like Kanon, nor did I like Clanned. In fact, I never finished them. Knowing that Angel Beat’s is by the same author, I’ll probably drop Angel Beats soon enough (currently streaming it).

    I’m here, because after 6 episodes, I’m wondering if the show is really any good (despite rating), I mean; so much inconsistency, pointless elements, and non-existent plot. It’s just a series of random events with no consequence or future inspiration.

    I guess this one falls in line with Naruto, Tenjho Tenge, To Love-Ru and all other incredibly bad stories written the past few years which gains enormous recognition despite being an abomination.

    Sometimes I’m worried that there might be something wrong with me, I mean; I just can’t fathom what’s so “good” about a story filled with plot holes, shallow characters, inconsistent storyline, and illogical explanations; What’s the charm in it? What do people see that I don’t? How can they enjoy and be entertained by something as boring as watching a dust particle floating around in the window sunlight? WHAT AM I MISSING?

    • djwhack03 Says:

      I do not believe you are missing anything. Rather you possess something missing by a lot of anime fans. Objectivity.

  7. I’ve seen the other four Key anime, and I’m aware that they repeat the same stupid things over and over again. The first anime I saw that Key was a part of was Clannad. I thought it was really funny, but still managed to really make me cry at episode 9. There were a lot of obvious, apparent flaws with it… In the first place, it used all the harem anime tropes, and tsundere girls are obnoxious….

    Then I saw the first couple episodes of Kanon and started thinking, “Oh, Yuuichi is just like Tomoya… And THAT guy’s just like Sunohara! She’s just like Kyou… and she’s the same as Fuko!” etc.

    Yeah, so Jun Maeda just reuses the same stuff over and over again. That’s why I was really looking forward to Angel Beats, especially after Clannad ~After Story~, because I just loved it sooo much. The plot of Angel Beats didn’t sound like it was going to be exactly the same as the ones before, and the animation company and artist had changed.

    But when watching Angel Beats, I was really disappointed after episode two that I was looking more forward to watching the next episode of B Gata H Kei than the anime I’d been anticipating for so long.

    Also, I was surprised people cared about Girls Dead Monster, and I kind of wished that I saw what was so great about Crow Song from ep 1.

    I thought the ending of episode 3 was really sad until I understood why Iwasawa disappeared. And when it came to the moment where it was revealed that Kanade wasn’t the bad guy there, I absolutely hated Yuri for the rest of the anime. Even the special ep that just came out, I did think it was hilarious, but I don’t think Yuri making everyone starve for a week is funny. I think it’s terrible.

    And I remember a lot of people were talking about how hilarious it was that Yui strangled herself with the mic in episode 4, and I just didn’t get why that was funny. Actually, in the second scene of ep 1, when Noda started beating the crap out of Otonashi for no reason, I was already thinking, “Oh, it’s THIS kind of humor. This… this isn’t funny…”

    I hated how many people mindlessly followed Yuri even after getting their heads bashed into the ceiling without her even caring.

    And there were a whole lot of problems and plot holes that weren’t explained, and I can’t really consider this a finished piece until Jun Maeda explains things.

    I felt like Hinata proposing to Yui came out of nowhere, and was just a little stupid thing for Hinata x Yui fans. He really has no reason to like her for any reason considering all she’s done is annoy him nonstop and sabotage his chance of winning that really-important-to-him baseball match. I guess he did it to help Otonashi? If that’s the case, then Yui being satisfied with Hinata’s answer is just depressing because do you really think he’d marry her?!

    There was also a feeling of “Hey…hey… wasn’t this in LOST? Hey… wasn’t THIS in Lost too?!” There was a scary amount of things that happened the same way they happened in Lost for it to not be a coincidence… The very first few seconds of each show are identical, for starters… There were a whole lot more, too….

    Also, I know this bothered EVERYONE, and everyone’s already pointed it out, but how the heck did Otonashi get to the Afterlife after Kanade if he died before her? I know a lot of people have come up with theories that make sense, but I think anything you come up with is just an excuse… The plot twist that Kanade had Otonashi’s heart didn’t feel like a plot twist because it wasn’t explained. Plot twists only work when you’re like, “Oh shoot! Are you seriousl!!” Not, “What!? Wait, that doesn’t make sense…” It just wasn’t something you should be able to get away with doing.

    With Clannad, there were plot holes caused by plot twists too. It’s ridiculous.

    Ah, I didn’t mean to get off topic and start talking about other shows, but Key did the same darn thing with every single anime. Ugh. Ah… I didn’t mean to type this much. I got carried away…

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