Posts Tagged ‘Tragedy’

Angel Beats (Anime)

July 26, 2011

Japanese title: エンジェルビーツ
Animation Production: P.A Works
Genres: Comedy, Action, Drama, Supernatural, Fantasy, Seinen, Tragedy
Number of episodes:
13

Plot Summary: It sucks being dead. Sucks even more to be trapped in a surreal afterlife where you’re caught between the living and the dead—where a mysterious, violent Angel is trying to pull you over to…somewhere. What do you do? Well, if you’re this group of rough-and-tumble teens, you grab every weapon you can get your hands on and give Heaven hell! High-caliber action and locked-and-loaded comedy meet on a rock and roll battleground in Angel Beats! Sentai Filmworks

Well, it might be a bit late for me to write a review about Angel Beats. It is so far away out of memory since it aired in spring last year, but I think about it fondly and I have just began re-watching the series. I do of course have a very good reason for writing about it today. You see, Angel Beats came out on DVD and Blu-Ray in the USA today. Exciting news for everybody, I am sure.

The anime itself is very strong, and I believe that everybody with even an inkling of interest should go watch it. My previous experience with P.A Works has in itself been very unimpressive as both Canaan and True Tears felt wholly uninspiring. Though the animation itself of those shows was top-notch, they felt like they were lacking a certain something to really make them click. The plot synopsis and the animation production company for Angel Beats might look unimpressive to some, but let me assure you, this is not the case. Angel Beats is an exceptionally good watch.

Angel Beats Title Screen, White, Piano

You see, the thing you need to be aware of with Angel Beats is that the original story, screenplay and music of Angel Beats were all conceived by the one and only Jun Maeda, who you may otherwise know as the script writer, lyricist and music composer behind the founding of Key. Key itself is a highly successful software company who has been responsible for some seriously famous visual novels. Kanon, Clannad and Air and their anime counterparts are significantly well-known, even out here in the UK and the US where visual novels are practically an unventured territory. Additionally, Na-Ga is behind the character designs of Angel Beats, who was also responsible for the character designs of the aforementioned Key visual novels as well. Works by Key are usually thought of as particularly heartfelt and well planned out, with excellent storytelling and usually stunning character development, and Angel Beats did not disappoint.

The opening 5 minutes of Angel Beats does an unparalleled job of setting the scene. Unlike a lot of anime, Angel Beats does a bit of an unorthodox job of throwing the main character directly into the action.

Yurippe Sniper rifle

Yurippe sets the scene.

The main character is suffering from amnesia and can’t even remember his own name. He wakes up in an unfamiliar location, with an unfamiliar girl with a sniper rifle. He is immediately told that he is dead, and that he is in the afterlife. The girl tells him to enlist in the fight against the Angel, the girl whom she has her sniper rifle primed on. Of course, the main character with his missing memory feels a little confused, and goes to talk to the ‘Angel’. Again, he is told that he is dead, and he asks the ‘Angel’ to prove it. Since he is dead, he shouldn’t be able to die. Then, suddenly…

Angel / Tenshi kills Otonashi

BAM! The situation is made pretty clear.

He wakes up unharmed in the infirmary, and the rest of the cast is introduced, thoroughly mysterious to be sure. You know the rules, but none of the why or how. I guess that is what I like about Angel Beats. The situation itself remains a mystery for a good majority of the show whilst each episode focuses on the immediate tasks at hand, but at the same time the characters are slowly expanded on and explained. The pieces of the puzzle regarding the characters and the situation are slowly put together to produce a beautiful picture and when I found that last piece, I almost got a tear in my eye it was so touching.

The music for Angel Beats is very good. The opening theme is just beautiful and the band that is introduced, Girls Dead Monster, both plays excellent music and are of central importance to the plot. Their story was particularly touching for me but are again just one piece of the picture, and stack up nicely with everyone else and their touching moments to produce a very compelling story overall.

Angel Beats Title, Landscape

The comedy in Angel Beats is also pretty good. The odd situation, and the fact that it is impossible to die makes for some ludicrous, classic moments, whereas the unique characters add their own style. My own personal favourite for comedy is TK and his horrendously ‘so-bad-its-funny’ English quotes, and I will definitely not forget his head spins. Unfortunately, although I thought the majority of the aspects of the show were far above average, I did feel that some of the characters were not addressed as much as I would have liked. It is a minor quip, but you may wonder to yourself ‘hey, whatever happened to that guy?’ once it is all over.

News of Angel beats getting a US release (With dub, if that is what you are interested in) was like angel song to me as I have looked forward to owning Angel Beats on my shelf since I saw it last year. I was initially skeptical as to whether Angel Beats would get a US or UK release, as previous Key anime has taken an unfortunately long time to be licensed. Sentai Filmworks did an excellent job however, and this may be indicative of future Key works being licensed more quickly. Although I live in the UK, and no release date has been specified or hinted at over here, at least it looks like it is heading in the right direction. I am still waiting for all the big Key works to be released over here, but with my experience with Welcome to the NHK, I know that if worse comes to worst, I can import it.

The cast of Angel Beats

I loved what they did with the end credits.

I think that Angel Beats ended in the most fitting way possible. The final episode was moving to the point of near-tears, and I absolutely loved what they did with the final credits, it certainly kept the mood flowing. If you enjoyed Angel Beats and you would like to watch something a little more recent, I would recommend AnoHana. Additionally, I would like to recommend an old personal favourite of mine, Haibane Renmei, which similarly deals with the concept of the afterlife, and I also believe that if you enjoyed this, you would enjoy any of the previous Key works such as Clannad, Kanon or Air, although they have much less action involved than Angel Beats.

“Goodbye Wild Heaven”
Download Angel Beats (Dual-Audio)

Download the Soundtrack 

Advertisements

Deadman Wonderland (Anime)

July 15, 2011

Japanese title: デッドマンワンダーランド
Animation Production: Manglobe
Genres: Action, Horror, Sci-Fi, Drama, Mature,  Shounen, Supernatural, Tragedy
Number of episodes:
12

Plot Summary: Ganta Igarashi has been convicted of a crime that he hasn’t committed, and sent to a new, privately owned and operated prison, where the inmates are the main attraction in a modern day twist to the gladiatorial coliseums of ancient times. Throw in a healthy dose of weird little girl, some new-found super powers, and a little conspiracy theory, and you have Deadman Wonderland. – ANN

So, Deadman Wonderland eh? In all honesty this was one of my more anticipated shows to come out this Spring. Manglobe was behind this one, and judging by their track record I have to say I was seriously looking forward to it. The World God Only Knows (2010), Samurai Champloo  (2004) and Ergo Proxy (2006)  are definitely some of my favourite shows to date, so yes please! Unfortunately, Deadman Wonderland did not quite live up to my expectations.

The most appealing aspect of Deadman Wonderland was how dark, gritty and atmospheric it was. The characters were often ruthless and deceitful and the concept of “Deadman Wonderland”, the setting of the show, speaks volumes about the author’s view of humanity; a view which I share, and for that reason alone I certainly enjoyed it. Not only that, the characters were intriguing, and seemed to have a genuine past. The show constantly painted a moral shade of grey and the world itself was well thought out. Additionally, the show seemed to have a great shock factor not often seen in anime, I found myself cringing more often than I would have expected and not because it was bad either.

Deadman wonderland episode 2 sniper guard

"Deadman wonderland" is a fascinating place.

Deadman wonderland exhibits a prevailing sense of irony throughout, it is beautiful. The main seat of my enjoyment was within episodes 1-6 and for a while the show seemed highly promising.  The early episodes did an excellent job of setting the mood; The situation was depressing, it was dire. For the viewer it was very exciting, particularly the “games”. Around about episode 7 however my enjoyment dwindled. The shock factor certainly remained, that much is true, but the focus very much shifted. New characters were introduced and suddenly, there was a plot. The pacing of the show felt dramatically different, possibly sped up to fit within the 12 episode window and it started to feel very shounen-eque in nature. The fights felt shallow and the superpowers whilst very interesting in concept, felt poorly executed. Furthermore, the main character became quite irritating, whiny and dense; a typical shounen male lead.

Ganta Igarashi - the whiny crying loser

Irritating main character.

There could easily be a second season to flesh out the story, but  due to the story being slightly rushed, many of the more interesting characters got swept to the sidelines. The initial sense of mystery and intrigue did wonders for this show but unfortunately the show lost some of that charm part way through. The closing episodes left a lot of loose ends to be tied, but there has been an OVA scheduled for release since before Deadman Wonderland even aired. It is set to be bundled with volume 11 of the manga this October in Japan.

In terms of animation this show was great. The production was right up there along with earlier Manglobe works, and the show did not fall into many noticeable  clichés or traps. The choice in animation style did feel questionable at times, with the camera panning and zooming to make up for what seemed like a lack of real movement. It was by no means horrendous, but it did draw my eye, and the show was so dark in terms of colour, that I had to turn up the brightness of my television to make out some of the details.

One gripe I had with this show was some of the major censorship in parts. This show has a lot of blood, after all, this show is rife with torture and violence. Hell, the powers themselves are blood, but the censorship seems to only cut in at arbitrary moments, and when it does, you notice. The show has been licensed by Funimation, so hopefully, the DVD and BD will be released uncensored.

Deadman wonderland censorship blur owl arm chopped off

Censorship often cut in arbitrarily and is very noticable.

The soundtrack for this show was also fantastic, I particularly liked the opening song “One Reason” by Fade and it was refreshing to hear an anime opening actually tailored to the show. Unfortunately they did seem to overuse some tracks at times and again, it was noticeable.

Saying all that however I really did enjoy Deadman Wonderland. It is by no means perfect and in retrospect quite shallow, but it was well worth watching and I do recommend that you do the same. I have a feeling that if you enjoyed this, you may also enjoy Rainbow and Now and then, Here and there, both of which portray a very grim situation, but don’t end up feeling all shounen in style.

Deadman Wonderland did leave me with one nagging question.

Deadman Wonderland Toto androgenous

Is Toto male or female?

-“So make me your deadman”
Download Deadman Wonderland 

(more…)


%d bloggers like this: