Angel Beats 10 – The Formula Revealed!

No real relevance, it’s just not an Angel Beats! post without a TK picture!

There are times when Key’s work becomes so formulaic that it’s hard to be surprised at what they’re going to throw at us next. This is one of those times. I had my suspicions back in episode 3 when Iwasawa disappeared, but with episode 10, my suspicions have been confirmed. I present to you: The Maeda Jun Angel Beats! formula.

Step 1 – Set up the scene with something humorous. Episode 3: Christ’s introduction and Yui’s introduction. Episode 10: The “steal guitar” plan.

Step 2 – Add in backstory. Episode 3: Iwasawa’s backstory. Episode 10: Yui’s 5 second backstory.

Step 3 – Insert misc events to build up the tension between the revelation of the backstory and the conclusion. Episode 3: Hack Kanade’s computer and the concert. Episode 10: Otonashi plays with Yui.

Step 4 – Hit them hard with the drama. Episode 3: Iwasawa’s final song and disappearance. Episode 10: Yui and Hinata scene and disappearance.

Step 5 – Insert cliffhanger. Episode 3: “Tenshi got her own powers… Is there no God?” Episode 10: The Shadow.

Step 6 – Adjust elements in proportion to the amount of time left in the episode.

And that, my friends, is how you create an Angel Beats! episode using the Maeda Jun formula.

In all honesty though, I’m getting rather sick of seeing this stuff over and over again. I know this is supposed to make me feel all emotional inside, but I’m really feeling… nothing. It might be because I’ve just become completely immune to Key drama, or it might be because Maeda Jun failed with his proportions of drama vs humor in this latest episode.

In the Iwasawa episode, I would say that the emphasis of the episode was on the drama. Iwasawa’s backstory took up at least a few minutes, and the same deal with her ending. In the Yui episode, I felt that the comedy domianted and the humor took at a backseat until the end. Yui’s backstory took up all of about a minutes worth of the show. The ending was well done, if not cheesey, but the problem with Angel Beats! as has been reiterated over and over again by numerous people, is its absolutely horrendous disjoint between comedy and drama.

In every single Angel Beats! episode that I have watched, there has not been one episode where comedy and drama didn’t occur in the same episode. Yet that’s not a bad thing. In fact, mixing in a little comedy where appropriate within a dramatic episode is probably a good thing. Just look at episode 6, the one where Naoi went on a killing rampage. The ENTIRE second half of the episode was pure drama. There was no comedy to be had, which was perfect considering the setting. Yet I definitely didn’t mind the small bits of Kanade humor in the beginning of the episode. They never intruded upon the drama.

This was fine.

But in episode 10, this was not the case. I didn’t feel that the drama worked for me. I think it resulted from the length of time devoted to Yui’s backstory, and the even longer time that was spent on the German Suplex and the Soccer game. I think another part of the problem also comes from the completely unbelievable nature of the characters. I mean honestly, Otonashi came up with the most retarded scheme for getting the boys to play football with Yui. That was more of a facepalm moment rather than a “haha” moment for me. The characters are just so exaggerated that we lose the impact of the drama that’s supposed to make us feel sympathetic towards them. You know that you’ve failed at creating drama if this is the reaction from any fan. I don’t think anyone went “ha ha Nagisa is finally dead! That girl was so freaking annoying during the show!” That’s not really the reaction that anyone is looking for.

On the other hand…  You’ve got to be kidding me. What kind of a plan… Never mind

If I were to sum up the problem of Angel Beats! in just one phrase, it’d have to be “identity crisis”. The show doesn’t know what it wants to be, or what it wants to do. You can’t have fundamentally ridiculous characters in a drama. You can’t mix comedy and drama in disproportionate amounts. None of it works in Angel Beats! I don’t feel sympathetic to the characters when I should, and I don’t feel sad when I should. I just can’t stand characters that are absurd while trying to live in a serious world. I can’t stand the fact that the entire conflict of the show between Yuri and Kanade started because Kanade apparently lacks communication skills. I can’t stand the random introduction of Naoi into the SSS. None of this makes any sense.

I think I’ve beaten the dead horse into the ground, but I’m serious when I say that this “shadow arc” better pull something pretty crazy out of its hat, or I’m honestly going to rage so hard at this show. Such a great premise… Such poor execution… Bah.

PS – The lateness of this post was due to me not knowing what my reaction even was to this episode. This was my initial reaction:

Lol Angel Beats. I don’t even know what to say. I don’t even know what to say. I can’t think of what to say… LOL.

PPS – I know that I haven’t touched The Tatami Galaxy yet, but I promise that I’ll have a huge series of posts on it when I come back from a short break on Thursday!

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  1. redlupine
    Posted June 7, 2010 at 6:10 pm | Permalink

    This show is trying to cram too many stories into too short a time and not fleshing out any of them

    also, whatever happened to the Guild, they were a plot point that was never touched upon again
    aren’t they people that need to disappear too?

    • Kobukson
      Posted June 7, 2010 at 6:19 pm | Permalink

      With the amount of time left, I’m guessing we’re going to cheat by shooting for killing “God” (Yuri), after which, Otonashi can easily take charge and organize the Battlefront into helping people to get over their regrets since Yuri won’t be spewing the whole “let’s make God pay” message.

    • Posted June 9, 2010 at 7:40 am | Permalink

      Actually, the show is hampered by what seems to be Maeda’s inability to resist trying to make people cry.

      Episodes 3 and 10 were arguably the best episodes simply because someone yelled at Maeda enough for him to actually develop Iwasawa’s and Yui’s stories. Hopefully.

      I consider it a terrible mistake when I find myself trying to rewrite the whole show for better story impact.

      So it’s either Maeda can’t write or Maeda is sticking to tried-and-tested Key tropes and not branching out from there.

      Then again, there are visual novels worse than anything Key has done, so I dunno.

      • Posted June 11, 2010 at 12:20 pm | Permalink

        Yeah I pretty much agree with all the above comments. I even feel that the shadows thing is a cop out for actually doing every single backstory to fit the show in the limited time that they have left.

  2. Kobukson
    Posted June 7, 2010 at 6:17 pm | Permalink

    I think the main thing that is throwing off this show is it has way too many characters and not enough time to really develop them. Take Yui for example – before this episode, all we really knew about her is that she worshipped Iwasawa and fought with Hinata. A lot of these insecurities and regrets that she exhibits (wanting to live life to the fullest) didn’t get hinted at that much in previous episodes. Part of that is a time issue because, to be honest Angel Beats just has too many characters running around and not enough time to spend to develop them beyond their shallow comedic elements. And I think that is why we have this sort of “identity crisis” with the show trying to cram everything in to 13 episodes and finding that it can’t really fit (and failing to transition it properly). But on the flip side, part of it is just lazy storyboarding I’d argue and the formula you’ve cited.

    Anyways, I disagree with the idea that you can’t have ridiculous characters in your drama. Take Sunohara in Clannad. That character is all sorts of ridiculous, but it worked since his character got developer past the comedic sidekick role he had. The issue with Angel Beats is that these characters are merely presented as ridiculous, but their regrets and issues are completely hidden until their 1 episode of disappearance.

    I really hope they have Angel Beats 2010 – 26 episodes redone by Kyoto Ani since I think the premise can be used well (as the Vice Prez episode you mentioned showed) if given more time so that it doesn’t do this bipolar story telling that it has currently.

    • Posted June 11, 2010 at 12:27 pm | Permalink

      Yeah I agree that the show is trying to cram too much into too little time. The comedic elements are drowning out the actual character development. All in all, the show suffers from far too much and brings far too little to the table.

      I probably should have used a better term when I typed that up. It would probably be better to just have said “Slapstick comedic characters” instead. I feel that too many of the characters are there just to be… there. And that shouldn’t really happen in a drama. Every character that you introduce should have some reason as to why he/she plays a role in the story.

      Haha that’d be a good idea ^^. The director/storyboard writers definitely need to get switched out.

  3. Posted June 7, 2010 at 6:47 pm | Permalink

    I do think this show has too many characters for a 13 episodes. We will not get
    a proper back story on most of the cast. But if it was 24 episodes long people would complain about that too.

    I think that Yui had a shorter back story because it was more important to see her potential relationship with Hinata. I do agree that too much time was devoted to gathering the troops. That time could have been spent elsewhere. But as sudden as this love confession was I like this pairing now.

  4. Matt
    Posted June 7, 2010 at 7:36 pm | Permalink

    This episode just killed the series for me, good post, very accurate on what Jun does. Wow does that guy need to get an epiphany of creativity.

    Jun does this in all his works, has one consistent storyline for the episode, granted that I agree with the above post saying he has too many characters because he totally does, he will either have to rapid fire a whole bunch of them in on episode or he can just kinda ignore them; I like option two there. I think this whole ep was done to give Yui, who has her fans and I would count myself as one of them, one last hurrah before going into what he really wants to do with the show. But could he not have the formula of having 20 minutes on one topic and then do a 720 degree spin because we really really arent ever sure where he is heading and change the whole complexity of the show with the last 30 seconds. Like come on, freaking hate Jun. Gold class idiot right there.

    • Posted June 11, 2010 at 12:30 pm | Permalink

      Haha for some reason I didn’t even think about the possibility of Yui fanservice. Isn’t it interesting that the two characters who had the best character development episodes are the two lead singers of GirlDeMo? But anyway, I agree that what Jun is doing is getting rather stale.

  5. ahelo
    Posted June 7, 2010 at 9:55 pm | Permalink

    I thought the Yui and Hinata scene was kinda heartwarming. All in all though nothing still touches me emotionally. Maybe Jun Maeda should stick to his novels.

  6. Posted June 7, 2010 at 10:14 pm | Permalink

    The Yui and Hinata ending was fairly sad, but for all that it tried to be emotional I was just too aware that it was trying really really hard to tug at my heartstrings and for that I couldn’t really just slip into the reaction that Maeda wanted to elicit. Knowing that something is supposed to make me cry just makes me less likely to become invested in drama that’s trying too hard. And as you say, they spent all that time on comedy when they were trying to accomplish a dramatic goal. It was like strategic (or tactical) disconnect where the tools used didn’t match the job that needed to be done. Add to that the fact that there are precious few episodes left to resolve the story.

    But with all of that (and Naoki suddenly having a complete personality change to fit in with the SSS), I still try to put it aside so I can have fun trying to see how the mystery and some of the characters unfold by the end. Unfortunately that kind of means that I’m putting all of my hopes in one basket, and if the main plot and Tenshi’s background don’t turn out well then I’ll go pretty quickly from liking the show to hating it.

    • Posted June 11, 2010 at 12:32 pm | Permalink

      Yeah that’s actually what my hopes on the show are riding on for these last two episodes. I hope the “shadows arc” adds to the mystery and plot of the show. There needs to be something new introduced into the Angel Beats world to stop it from descending into another round of just stale story telling. We’ll see if MJ can pull off an interesting plot twist.

  7. Posted June 8, 2010 at 12:32 am | Permalink

    >You know that you’ve failed at creating drama if this is the reaction from any fan.

    But Impz, that’s no fan, that’s NovaJinx who hates everyone and everything without any basis behind his arguments ever.

    I think Angel Beats is the best show because the animation is like soooo much better than KyoAni and it’s really funny and Tenshin is cute. It’s not like it needs to be coherent, comprehensible and well directed to be a good show!

    • Impz
      Posted June 8, 2010 at 1:22 am | Permalink

      Wrong trolling. Mystlord is the blogger for this. I am still on episode 3 for Angel Beats, heh heh ^^

      • Posted June 8, 2010 at 3:18 am | Permalink

        Wait, there are other authors on THAT than Impz, Extrange and Tro-uh-Lupus? PLOT TWIST

        • Posted June 9, 2010 at 7:32 am | Permalink

          Shut up, you’re getting married to a trap. Your opinion is irrelevant.

          Also I thought impz threw away Lupus like a used condom after he was done with him. :3c

  8. Posted June 8, 2010 at 1:55 am | Permalink

    Hmm… I would just like to compare this is any other gundam series. You know when you start watching it’s going to be a trainwreak, but you can’t help but to watch it all the way through. I guess I’m more forgiving, easily swept the horrible parts under the rug and savor the juicy bits.

  9. Posted June 8, 2010 at 5:10 am | Permalink

    What a failpost..
    Don’t say Angel beats is shit, because you don’t like it. Angel Beat has no problem, you have problems with it, that’s all.

    “You can’t mix comedy and drama in disproportionate amounts” -> BULLSHIT

    You can, many TV shows do so and it works very well.

    “The show doesn’t know what it wants to be, or what it wants to do.” -> BULLSHIT

    He knows what he’s doing, but he can’t do it properly because of some limitations. I prefer that to Angel Beat becoming One Piece or Naruto like, with huge characters background etc etc.. useless.

    “None of this makes any sense.” -> BULLSHIT

    You just can’t find the sense out of this.

    Next time, say you don’t like it instead of saying it’s crap. You’re the crappy kid.

    • Posted June 8, 2010 at 12:11 pm | Permalink

      Butthurt fanboy alert!


      • Posted June 9, 2010 at 7:41 am | Permalink


        • Posted June 10, 2010 at 11:56 am | Permalink

          You are jealous of me getting married to a trap, your opinion is even more so!

    • Posted June 11, 2010 at 12:37 pm | Permalink

      Constructive criticism is preferred. And anyway, if MJ knows what he’s doing, he certainly picked the wrong studio to help him or something. Even if MJ knows what he’s doing, his presentation fails to impress.

  10. Yagami
    Posted June 8, 2010 at 12:34 pm | Permalink

    wow… dude is seriously butthurt.

    Angel Beats = crap

    if its crap u cant change the fact that its crap. no matter how u word it.

  11. WhoBeMe
    Posted June 8, 2010 at 8:36 pm | Permalink

    I like the series. I don’t care if it is predictable. It’s funny and emotional .. and it keeps me entertained. ‘Nuff said. Like it or hate it. You can’t win em all.

    And I’m actually gonna shatter your “In every single Angel Beats! episode that I have watched, there has not been one episode where comedy and drama didn’t occur in the same episode” comment. Episode 9. All drama, and you had pretty much the entire episode devoted to Otonashi and his death. Yet he didn’t disappear. I honestly thought he was going to.

    Either way. I like the series. So if you hate it this much, does that mean you’re going to stop watching it?

    • Posted June 11, 2010 at 12:39 pm | Permalink

      I certainly didn’t mean it in a literal way, but episode 9 still follows the trend of comedy and drama failing together. Even though the majority of the episode was focused on Otonashi and his troubles, the ending of the show completely diffused it. “Kanade such a klutz and socially awkward lolololol”. That definitely didn’t work for me and it made me hate Kanade even more.

  12. Posted June 9, 2010 at 12:45 am | Permalink

    This episode did feel like a return to the “help a lost soul a day” template that a lot of Key stories–not just this one–like to employ. I agree that episode 3 felt more balanced and more satisfying, though Maeda is not bad at the monologues and the “set pieces”: Hinata’s declaration of love wasn’t bad in itself, but coming as it did it felt rushed and a bit unearned, because as you pointed out so much of what preceded it was slapstick comedy. The ability to balance comedy and drama is rare, though in the right hands it can work extremely well. Comedy goes a ways in building empathy for a character, which builds a foundation for caring when the drama happens. Sadly, with Yui, I found her more annoying than endearing from the start, so it was hard for me to feel as much as I was supposed to.

    I really do hope the ending will address some of the concerns you’ve raised and perhaps even some of my own hopes that Yuri’s story in particular might be a fertile ground for the conflict between the rage for justice and the desire for reconciliation and acceptance. That is not a problem with as easy a solution as Kanade and Otonashi think at the moment, so Maeda better not be taking the cheap route here…

    • Posted June 9, 2010 at 7:42 am | Permalink

      Considering Maeda, it’s quite probable that he’s going for the cheap route.

      And he’s going to milk it for all it’s worth.

    • Posted June 11, 2010 at 12:54 pm | Permalink

      Just looking at the end of 10, it looks like MJ will take the cheap route :P. I think part of the reason why we couldn’t sympathize with Yui was because of her lack of characterization. All we knew about her was that she was presented as annoying as hell, stupid as hell, and clumsy as hell. Even when we knew her backstory, it just didn’t affect me as it should have. Even though the fact that she was paralyzed is supposed to make up for her personality, I felt that her annoying personality definitely overpowered the mitigating factor of her backstory.

  13. Posted June 9, 2010 at 9:18 pm | Permalink

    good call on the identity crisis, though I feel like it’s a pretty standard trap for anime to fall into. … and I’m not even sure if it can be looked on as a bad thing? If “On No’es, my mom is dead! Lolz I’m a drag queen” speaks to an audience (high schoolers, maybe?) then it is a successful message and formula. Just not one I want to watch…

3 Trackbacks

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