水曜日 Wednesdays' Wanderings

美しく最後を饰りつける暇があるなら、最後まで美しく生きようじゃねぇか ?

[Angel Beats] of Opportunity Costs in the Pursuit of Happiness


"Humankind cannot gain anything without first giving something in return. To obtain, something of equal value must be lost. That is Principle of Equivalent Trade… …”

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.

“… … I choose to believe in its principle, that all things do come at a price, that there's an ebb and a flow, a cycle, that the pain we went through, did have a reward, and that anyone who's determined and perseveres, will get something of value in return, even if it's not what they expected …”

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.

“… I don't think of Equivalent Exchange as a Law of the world anymore. I think of it as a promise between my brother and I. A promise that someday, we'll see each other again." – Alphonse Elric, Fullmetal Alchemist

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).

Goodnight sweet Princess

Also: Fullmetal Alchemist the manga has finally ended; awesome manga being awesome right to the very end.


3 thoughts on “[Angel Beats] of Opportunity Costs in the Pursuit of Happiness

  1. Short Review: It needed 26 episodes.
    Long Review: Angel Beats is a pretty interesting work. The writer, Jun Maeda, is responsible for a number of emotional masterpieces such as Air, Kanon, and Clannad. Maeda’s ability to invoke emotion in his audience is definitely outstanding and thus I had great anticipation for the series.

    Angel Beats! is a treat to the eyes and ears. P.A. works did an amazing job with the visuals. The opening animation is a pleasure to watch and the backgrounds can easily rival Kyoto Animation’s which is no small feat. The music is also very memorable, and usually appropriate to the situation. Besides the opening “My Soul Your Beats” and “Brave Song”, there’s also a bunch of songs sung by the show’s band Girls’ Dead Monster. Some people have noted the songs by GDM sound a bit amateurish, but I think it’s appropriate and gives the feel of a garage band trying to make it big.

    The story, however, is rather confusing and keeps shifting gears. We start out in a mysterious world of the afterlife and in a place where not even the characters know what’s going on. Naturally, a state of confusion would make sense– except that most of the world is never really explored or explained. And the explanations we do get are often out of left field, and usually shoved in at the end of the episode.

    However, the overall idea isn’t bad at all; it’s just that the accelerated pacing due to the 13 episodes and the fact that the anime seems to not be sure on where it’s going. It just started too much threads.

    The most jarring thing about the show is its inability to separate the comedy from the melodrama. It’s often mixed together at the worst moments and becomes very cheesy. The worst case of this is probably the character of Naoi, someone who should be interesting, but I wasn’t sure whether to laugh or cry. Also, frequently the melodrama feels very forced and manipulative because it’s just shoved in there– you’ve gotta develop a conflict or issue for it to have any real impact. This was especially true near the end. But Key fans don’t worry, there’s still some very sweet moments even if it is very messy.

    Despite this, Angel Beats is still a very funny show. At first,the humor didn’t click with me, but two words: Rocket Chairs. The silly antics of the protagonists group– the SSS is fun and its enjoyable to see them do silly stuff like that in this world. And of course the character TK himself seems to steal the show every time he utters a line.

    The characters are all a fun and likable bunch– typical for Key. Sadly, a lot of them remained underdeveloped due to time constraints. The ones that they do focus on are very well done– the amnesiac Otonashi, the competent commander Yuri who’s not just another Haruhi, the reliable bro Hinata. The enigmatic Angel is also a decent character who explodes the cuteness meter.

    Overall, Angel Beats is not a bad show, but it just feels underwhelming that with all the ingredients for success, the show couldn’t make up its mind on what to do.

  2. Nice review, I agree with you there. One thing I like about say, Clannad for example, is that when they do comedy, they focus on that, and when the story moves towards serious scenes, they maintain the sentimental vibe throughout. In a way, some of scenes kind of killed the established ambiance in Angle Beats. I guess 13 eps really is too short since they’re cramming so much stuffs into it (I guess they’re just trying to go for as a wide a demographic/ appeal/ audience etc).

    On the other hand, I actually liked the fact that the world is never fully explored or explained – it’s not like there’s an overly abundance or use of deus ex machina, so I’m fine with it. Besides, I see this show as being more concern with trying to get across drama, the world they were in was more of a setting to explore the drama rather than the main point of the plot, so I’m not too bothered with the lack of explanation of the world.

    High production values, interesting concept – Angel Beats certainly is enjoyable but yes, as you mentioned, it would be nice if they had a stronger focus and also if it was more than merely 13eps.

  3. Hmm, biggest surprise of the season for me was BGHK, but AB was nice, however messy it moved along, it did have some touching moments… Yui’s story being ❤

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