Angel Beats turned out to be the biggest surprise of this season. Quite frankly, the initial few episodes were, in my honest opinion, downright ridiculous and I was rather skeptical about the potential drama (since this is y’know, associated with KEY, there’s bound to be drama) because well, the characters can’t die (among other things). My initial impression was mainly centered on the fact that the world they’re in is a much better deal than GANTZ. And that what if this was actually a spatial manifestation of Haruhi on the Disappearance Route.
However, as the series progress, Angel Beats easily becomes one of the most enjoyable of the current season. For a start, I like the concept, starting with the initial interpretation of ‘Rebel so that you don’t Vanish’. Seem simple and a straightforward rule, until we realize that it is not so much about obeying the rules of the Angel-verse, but more on accepting and dispelling one’s biggest regrets (as is the case of Iwasaki). Even then, Iwasaki’s situation was considerably more simplistic: she had a dream, she achieved and thus she vanishes satisfied.
Thus, the really interesting one however, was more on Hinata. On one end, he stayed and was thus unable to complete his one big regret when he was alive. On the other hand, because he gave up the chance to fulfill this ‘conscious regret’ of his, he stayed and instead gain many other things, with the recent bit with Yui being the most notable example. Was his decision considered not worth it simply because he ‘stayed on’ in the world rather than moved on like Yui and Iwasaki? Is it also considered not fulfilling enough because he didn’t vanish together with Yui after the confession? I think not, because sometimes there are simply no discernable means to compare one thing forgone and another experience gained. After all, in the case of Hinata (and possibly Otonashi), it can be said that by then, their original destination is no longer with trying to achieve their dream, but helping their other friends to achieve theirs. Indeed, that’s one of the reasons why I like this eponymous quote from Fullmetal Alchemist, in particular Alphonse Elric’s monologue at the end of the first series. Because I found it to be especially relevant to Angel Beats in how the various characters took hold of this second chances of theirs.
Last but not least, one can look back into the very beginning when Otonashi stopped Hinata from catching the ball. Is Otonashi being selfish as he doesn’t want to lose a friend? Who knows, it’s hard to say. Hinata didn’t manage to catch the ball, but with that, he unexpectedly managed to trigger a flag. The trade-offs may not be equal, but that doesn’t mean one is of less ‘value’ than the other. Calculating opportunity costs is serious business.
Well, with the introduction of the shadows, I wonder how it’s going to change the tone of the series. Aside the Matrix-ish nature of the Shadow, it looks like a Human Instrumentality Project is coming up (I hope not).
Also: Fullmetal Alchemist the manga has finally ended; awesome manga being awesome right to the very end.