The most hyped up anime of the season because it was by the Key guy, Jun Maeda. Creator of Clannad, Kanon, Air and so on, except this time making something straight to anime format. Hence I was expecting something similar to them, except maybe with some action, but still with plenty of corny tear-jerking. Not my kind of thing but intriguing enough to check out. I payed much less attention to the fact it had the Seto no Hanayome director, Seiji Kishi, which turns out to be a mistake. Not just in the fact that he’s a capable director but in the fact that he’s a skilled comedic director. The combination of Maeda and Kishi, as bizarre a formula as it may seem, turns out to be absolutely marvelous.
The pacing of Angel Beats is lightning but at the same time never feels rushed. Dialogue is snappy and witty but not overdone. It draws you in naturally to it’s world, keeping both it’s sense of humour intact while giving you a glance at the characters. Probably one of the most notable things was the exposition. Too many times one finds themselves sitting through some of the laziest exposition around in the first episode, desperate to give the viewer some reason to continue watching. Angel Beats should honestly be a lesson how to do it. It wasn’t some stupid ‘repeat the rules. But I already know the rules. No repeat them for the viewer’ type things. The newbie wasn’t explained everything at painstaking length. It flowed, felt natural and was just so fantastically well done that I’m trying and failing not to delve into endless superlatives.
Probably the most remarkable thing about Angel Beats was there wasn’t a single moeblob. Characters are nods towards character archetypes while being noticeably difficult to place into any category perfectly. Unlike Sora no Woto, who took basic archetypes and showed you their past (which is, btw, a very lazy way of creating characters), Angel Beats starts from the beginning to make them different from other archetypes (apart from the designs. Did she have to look exactly like Haruhi?). It’s something anime should really do more often. If you make your characters unique at the very base level you’ve already gained one-up on the rest of your competition. Did I mention no moeblobs? That’s very important. Moe character designs yes, but the characters are certainly not in the same vein as those from previous Key Works. They don’t even fall into the moe category of anime like Toradora.
It’s got the wit on Clannad with the pacing of Seto no Hanayome and the animation of Canaan. It’s Kara no Kyokai with a sense of humour. It has a clear intention to entertain the viewer while also having a brain. It’s…probably jerking off a bit too much with that music concert scene and some of the other BGM tracks were a bit overdone, but considering that’s the same complaint I have about Cowboy Bebop, that’s not saying an awful lot. It’s got a story I’ve gotten hooked and drawn into already. It’s fucking fantastic that’s what it is. Maybe I’m going slightly overboard here but this far exceeded my expectations. Angel Beats is living up to the hype and it’s doing so without being fucking moe.