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Angel Beats! Episode 1

April 3, 2010

No doubt KEY’s name and background will be familiar to many, be it via Clannad or Kanon and the like in either their anime or visual novel forms, but this particular new season show sees the company taking a rather different approach by writing and designing for an anime series first and foremost. The result is the P.A. Works’ animated Angel Beats!, by far one of this season’s more highly anticipated shows.We join our male protagonist in this opening episode with quite a bump, as he wakes up on his back in the middle of some random school grounds at night, only to find himself right next to a girl with a sniper rifle pointed directly at some other student. The girl in question is quick to inform him that he’s dead, and offers him a chance to join up with her “battlefront” to fight against “Angel” to avoid simply disappearing entirely. It’s a pretty confusing state of affairs for anyone to wake up to, and any sense of uncertainty isn’t exactly helped by being stabbed in the chest, and then killed a few times more over for good measure.

If nothing else, this proves to our lead character (who is struggling to even remember his own name) that people don’t die when they are killed in this world, and so for now an uneasy alliance forms between himself and the aforementioned battlefront, and in particular their leader, the feisty Yuri. Next thing Otonashi (which is the only part of his name he can remember) knows, he’s engaged in his first mission with his new comrades, engaging in an all-out firefight with Angel for mere school meal tickets.

As opening episodes go, Angel Beats! certainly wastes no time in explaining and demonstrating the key tenets of the series; a decision which most definitely works in the show’s favour, as this first instalment can thus introduce some of the personalities and characters on show while also giving us an early dose of action, which is aesthetically spectacular if nothing else. At this early juncture it’s hard to really tell exactly how the show will progress, but if nothing else the concept is interesting enough and if utilised properly could make for a pretty entertaining series, and as usual P.A. Works have done a pretty top-notch job in terms of both the look and animation of this particular episode. Right now, Angel Beats! biggest danger is that it’s going to try too hard to pander to the tastes of its viewers, with this first episode randomly flinging an all-girl band into proceedings as if to say “Hey, who needs K-ON!! this season?” – Yes, it fitted into the wider plot, but it still felt a little out of left-field. That aside, this was as entertaining an opener as I could have hoped for, which will hopefully bode well for future episodes.

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