Warning: Spoilers for Rebuild of Evangelion 2.22 near the end
I will start off by saying that Angel Beats Episode 9 is pretty much the best episode of the series to date. A believable story, good background information on Otonashi, not mixing in humor with drama… Check, check, check. Good job guys! Unfortunately, the fact that Episode 9 is the best episode of the series doesn’t say too much. First the animation was a little uninspiring this episode, which had a lot more still and reused shots than usual. Secondly and most importantly, the revelation at the end concerning just how thick Kanade is is just too much. So the same BS that’s happening in Durarara where you have the problem of no one talking to each other is happening here too? I can’t even begin to formulate my growing dislike as I continue to type this sentence out.
Well setting aside the character issues and the stale animation, Angel Beats needs to change the course that was laid out at the end of episode 9 or risk losing what makes the show great. If the last few episodes are really going to be about Otonashi and Kanade trying to make the members of the SSS forget their regrets, then I want to drop this anime.
The reason why I feel that I want to drop this show is because I have this running theory. And everyone get ready for it because it’s a BIG one. I have this strange feeling… that the show is going to end… Ok ready? I think the show’s going to end with Otonashi and Kanade succeeding. I know, a far fetched theory am I right? In all seriousness though, with a show like Angel Beats, that’s almost certainly going to be the end result. Angel Beats has failed to just completely blow me away with a plot twist, but since it’s Maeda Jun, I sincerely hope that he’ll do something crazy with the last few episodes.
The problem with my predicted ending is that it ruins what makes the show a good anime. When I watched episode 1 of Angel Beats, my initial reaction was something along the lines of: “Wow what a premise! This must be one of the top shows of the Spring Season!” Perhaps the optimism was toned down a bit in my original response, but the point is that I found Angel Beats interesting because of the plot and the mystery that surrounded the characters and the world that they lived in. I had a ton of fun just theorizing about exactly what kind of a world they lived in, the rules, the conditions that led these characters to be here, etc. Already by episode 2, we found out exactly what motivated Yuri to fight against Kanade. Her background, although presented in a rather hurried and cheap way, still made me sympathize with Yuri and her plight.
As each episode wore on, I felt that each one expanded my knowledge of the world and made me much more interested in precisely what was going on. Episode 4 (the baseball one) kind of made the momentum of the show slow down a bit, but episode 5 solidly expanded Kanade’s character while episode 6 introduced Naoi as a twisted individual. After episode 6, I was really wondering where they were going to go with the show.
Turns out that Maeda Jun decided to take the show straight to the pool of mediocrity. I never really understood why Naoi joined the SSS brigade, and Naoi’s post-joining SSS personality never really flew with me… But the greatest problem that I saw about the show starting from that episode was a lack of any further scenes that revealed more about the world itself. To be honest, it’s as if Maeda Jun saw the fan reaction to Kanade’s removal from the position of school president, and decided to make the rest of the show Kanade-centric. All I learned from that little Kanade-harmonics thing is that Kanade is a moron for using a technique she can’t control, and also that Kanade’s computer program thing is pretty complex, and that she somehow has an English manual that tells her how to create her character. The manual was definitely the most interesting part about those episodes, especially since we don’t know how she acquired it, but with the entire focus on Kanade, I knew the manual was going to get shafted in favor of her.
When I watched the end of episode 9, I realized that the focus for the last few episodes don’t seem to be on the mystery anymore. Kanade basically told us every nuance about the world that we would ever want to know. In my eyes, that was one pretty terrible revelation concerning the world. Now we know that the world is a place where kids who had troubled childhoods go to shed their regrets from their previous lives. The final question, and the one that I would want to see the show tackle in the past few episode is: Is there a God? I mean that’s the direction that Angel Beats appeared to take at the beginning, but it seems to have lost that question amidst the injection of personality into Kanade.
But while Angel Beats is ruining the storyline with this ending, it’s also ruining the characters. After all, if Kanade and Otonashi succeed in making Yuri and the rest of the SSS brigade forget their regrets and move on, what kind of a message does that tell? That we should forget our pasts? That we should forgive and forget? That’s not the kind of message that I want to spread. We can’t forget our pasts. When we try to suppress them, we forget who we are and why we exist. Just like Vincent Law in Ergo Proxy, when he lost his memories and forgot his past, he lost his raison d’etre. What was his purpose in life? Why did he have connections with this other creature? I believe that the human personality is the sum of the human past. I’m a big Locke fan with regards to his tabula rasa theory that each person starts off with a blank slate that slowly fills up with experiences. If we erase a person’s past and memories, then that person loses his individuality, and that’s what ultimately makes him or her an interesting and great person. Following that line of thinking, I basically believe that Kanade-Otonashi are erasing the individual personality of each character that we have grown to love. I don’t want Yuri, Hinata, Takamatsu, Noda, Shiina, Matsushita, Ooyama, Yui, Chaa, Naoi, Takeyama, Otonashi, Kanade, and especially T.K to lose their personalities. Sure some of them might be annoying at times, but isn’t that why we enjoy watching their antics?
Don’t ever change T.K.
Making a connection to Evangelion, one of the major issues that Shinji had to come to grips with as the story continued was the idea of discomfort in life. Can one truly ignore the bad parts of life and merely enjoy the good parts? No, you can’t. It’s an idealistic view and one that can never come true. You can’t merely erase the bad parts of your life and pretend that they never happened. You can’t pick and choose the components that make up your life. If you have problems in your life, stop running away from them.
Stop running away damn it!
Instead, you should confront them with all your might. Anno realized that, and changed the story line of Rebuild of Evangelion 2.22 so that Shinji is now using his own power to change the bad parts of his life. Is he going to run away from Asuka and Rei? No, he’s going to enter Evangelion Unit 01 and kick the 10th Angel’s ass. Even when he runs out of power, his own willpower combined with that of his mother’s allows him to do the unthinkable and find his own inner strength to change the present. Kanade and Otonashi wants to stop this from happening. They want to stop each character from fighting the injustices in their past lives. Is that what we really want? For Shinji to run away again from the problems in his past?
If the essential end message of Angel Beats is that forgetting your regrets and moving on is a good thing, then I really don’t want to watch the show anymore. We can’t forget our past any more than we can seclude ourselves from the present. That just doesn’t work. Maeda Jun, please do something epic in the last few episodes of this show so we don’t lose what makes this show great.