Yui Disappears – KEY and the magic of transforming melodrama into addictive tragedy : Angel Beats.

Angel Beats 10 in summary: Otonashi plans with Kanade to make Yui happy, Yui does what she wants to do, her final wish was marriage, Hinata promises that he loves her, Yui disappears, Episode 10 cut.

Why no review?

Heck, reviews are summaries , if not ‘plot coverages’. It’s better for the watcher to decide him/herself. Or maybe I’m lazy.

What I want to write today, however, is how Angel Beats is magical.

Magical?

To be frank, many have been calling Angel Beats melodramatic. Every episode has drama and tragedy ( standard Jun Maeda) and Episode 10 is not exempt.

The episode closes with a long , mushy promise from Hinata how he’ll always love Yui. He even goes to lengths to explain how he would meet her if they were still alive – Yui would be in bed, Hinata would break her window accidentally in a game of baseball. Since Yui was bed-ridden, he would talk to her mother a lot and soon he’d become a regular visitor. Eventually they would get married. How sweet and touching, yes?

Perhaps at first glance, but if you compare this to the other anime, or perhaps the previous episodes of Angel Beats, you’d find that it becomes lacklustre. All the girls who died in Angel Beats either died in some kind of tragic, horrific accident or were bed-ridden with illness. Same goes for the boys – all the characters died without accomplishing their last wishes, and thus were sent to this world , a world where youths without happy lives go to when they die. Coupled with Tenshi’s revelation of her intent all this while, it turns out that everything the SSS Battlefront has been doing was worthless-  they were just running around in circles. Kanade wanted them to be happy, the SSS felt she wanted to erase them and attacked her as a result.

So after a while, that touching, teary ending becomes classically average. It seems the same as everything else ; it doesn’t stand out anymore, in fact it almost seems extremely predictable and cliche. A girl who is bedridden gets her wishes from the only thing she does most of the time – watching television. Wishing to be a baseball player, a band member, a soccer player and even a pro wrestler amongst others- standard TV entertainment.

However, what transforms this so-called melodrama into true and painful tragedy is that it’s easy to imagine, to comprehend, or even relate to. I’m sure we, as children, got many of our dreams from Television – me wanting to be a policeman since young , watching Crimewatch, reading police stories, even to the extent of joining the ‘National Police Cadet Corps’,  – but only to realise, or to find that we cannot achieve our dreams. Which Asian parent would encourage their child, studying in one of the better schools out there, a future bright and shining to say myself, to be a police officer? Which dream is truly achievable? I also wanted to learn how to fly and for a short period of my life, deriving fantasies from endless seasons of Chinese-dubbed Digimon episodes. Who can’t feel the pain Yui feels when she can’t achieve her goals? Who can’t feel touched that she’s doing everything she can  – for true happiness?

Since I’m male, I’ll probably not understand this – but for the girls: Can you comprehend Yui’s hope for marriage as the ultimate joy? Marriage has always been considered as one of the ultimate joys, something that brings meaning and purpose to people’s lives, something that fills them, fulfils them and grants them meaning. The classic, timeless love story – a girl looking for love, and the most unexpected Prince Charming appears, the one she makes fun of at school, the one she has secretly, unknowingly been in love with – who is also in love with her – promises and devotes his love to her?

You see, the ‘melodrama’ in Angel Beats isn’t true ‘melodrama’ after all. Their drama is real and touching, not exaggerated and ridiculous. True, perhaps they might be extreme, but you do feel the drama, don’t you? I don’t know anyone who hates Angel Beats for its drama, in fact I don’t think I know any anime watchers who hate Angel Beats at all. We appreciate its drama, we appreciate its humour, we appreciate its very existence. The characters – some call them ripoffs of other anime – are sadly endearing. Some call Yuri “Haruhi with a gun”, or Tenshi “Nagato with long hair.” If I wanted to, we could compare every single character in existence to be a ripoff of another character – it’s impossible to have a truly unique character.

. . . . everything will have something similar to it. It’s impossible nowadays to create a truly, 100% unique character that doesn’t suck. Kampfer? Unique but suck.  I don’t mind Otonashi being like a particular other character from KEY , or something along those lines. As long as it’s watch-able, it’s enjoyable and it’s tear-jerking all the same – it works for me, it’ll work for you.

Yui’s disappearance also marks one thing : the anime is going to get more and more sombre towards the end, as with other KEY works. The whole feeling of “adventure in school life” is gone. Gone is the whole notion of friendship, or protecting one another. More and more people will disappear, more and more pasts will be revealed, more and more of joke characters given actual storyline. Heck, TK might get a storyline soon for all you know.

What I like the best about KEY’s and Jun Maeda’s works are its character development. No character exists simply for the sake of existing. Let’s use Clannad as an example. Aside from Botan and Mei, every character gets elaborated at length upon. Tomoya has a drunkard good-for-nothing father and his tragic past is revealed. Kotomi’s past and her parents’s absence are told at length, with emotional backstory. Nagisa’s backstory does not need me to elaborate upon, if you’ve watched Clannad. They even have extra ‘chapters’ in the story, how things might have turned out differently if Tomoya chose another girl. Keep in mind folks, that Clannad is essentially a harem after all, just that they don’t employ the likes of ecchi to their advantage – they rely solely on character development. Without character development , Clannad and its highly popular sequel, Clannad ~ After Story – are completely nothing. However, just because this ‘harem’ has character development doesn’t mean that everything with character development is good. It’s just that Clannad has extremely high levels of development, compared to other “harems which “developed (not) its characters”. ” Like Rosario + Vampire.

Tell me , straight in the face, that this has any true character development. What do they develop upon? How the character falls in love with Tsukune (was that his name? I don’t recall) in some awkward, slipshod anime way. They just do. You don’t need to know why, they just fall in love. At the right (or was it wrong?)moments they include some poorly made drama on how they love him forever, yada yada yada, ecchi scene, end episode. Was there ecchi in KEY’s works? Which has a bigger fanbase? Self-explanatory.

Do you feel any emotion from R+V- other than perverted laughter? If you do, well damn, you have more emotions than I do. Or is it less emotion – particularly anger. As with my own policy of never skipping through anything, I watch the whole episode – perhaps skipping the OP and ED, but never anything else. Imagine my rage when I had to watch them come up with particularly strange ways of proclaiming their love- by attempting to rape him. Yes. I was practically leaving it running in the background and doing homework instead. I felt like doing that so many times. I couldn’t stare, yes stare, at it for 20 minutes per episode. Worse still, I actually finished both seasons hoping for it to get better, but no. Not at all. As if Twilight had not ruined vampires enough.

One more thing I like about Angel Beats- originality. Not only is the show original (plus points!) , it has original humour. What do I mean original humour?

I don’t mind having some situations similar to other shows, for example that fishing operation. It’s all about packaging. Let’s use a bad analogy.

I am selling coffee powder. Would you buy it if I pour it into your hands, or if I package it nicely, in sachets to boot? Both for the same price too. Of course, unless you have some powder fetish or something like that, you’d buy it in sachets. Easier to use, cleaner and more logical. Similarly, if it’s the same situation but packaged differently, I’m okay with it. It’s not just a “Hey everyone, let’s go fishing for some reason today” situation, it was actually funny how they packaged it as a “mission”, including that gigantic fish – I laughed, I smiled, I felt the humour.

What is an example of “not packaging it nicely” then? K-On suffers from using the same settings too many times- beach scenes and Mugi’s house. I couldn’t stand watching 20 minutes of what felt so like a ‘filler’ even though K-On is clearly Slice-Of-Life. I just couldn’t stand it. Something with overused jokes? Plenty. Who hasn’t seen the “random pleasure-filled moan in random situations” gag? Ladies V.S. Butlers , Rosario+Vampire, They Are My Noble Masters, to name a few.

So to conclude, Angel Beats stands out from other anime as:

  1. Original humour
  2. High development
  3. It has Kanade in it.
  4. Not as cliche as the others
  5. Enjoyable
  6. It has goddamned Kanade in it.
  7. Not a harem
  8. It has Kanade in it.

I’m looking forward to how it’ll progress. With 3 episodes left, I truly and sincerely hope that KEY doesn’t screw it up.

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13 Responses to Yui Disappears – KEY and the magic of transforming melodrama into addictive tragedy : Angel Beats.

  1. Fabrice says:

    # It has Kanade in it.
    # It has goddamned Kanade in it.

    haha okay i see you like kanade =)

    Angel beats sure is great!

  2. Ming Xuan says:

    Ahahaha
    3 reasons are Kanade
    But yes, Key has character development and I like their male characters unlike other harem animes

    • Valence says:

      Agreed – name one male character from a harem that’s likeable. Difficult, if not impossible.

      …but I hope they don’t turn my goddess into some money-earning super moe character, that would suck.

  3. Valence says:

    I was proven wrong? ..

    but then again, Bakemonogatari has some of the most character development of all anime out there, doesn’t run heavily on ecchi and overused jokes like that. It supports my point then 😀

    • Ming Xuan says:

      Yea Bakemonogatari isnt heavily on ecchi like Rosario + Vampire
      and I like Tomoya from Clannad

      • Valence says:

        See? It proves my point. Any ecchi harem’s male character is so forgettable and hardly likeable, compared to those subtle harems . . .

  4. scorchnroses says:

    But didn’t you say a character from harem -.-? Doesn’t necessarily have to be heavy on ecchi to be categorized under harem.

    I don’t really find Saito from ZnT that detestable? Junichi Asakura from Da Capo is also not that bad.

    • Valence says:

      Haven’t watched those yet ;A; No time, I’m an amateur watcher.

      Problem is, no-one , at least no-one I know of, goes around calling great shows like Bakemonogatari “harem”. Harem is demeaning. Harem has negative connotations. Harem brings with it this sense of negativity , the feeling of being a ‘turn-off’, in my opinion. Let’s say we package one anime as a comedy or a harem anime. If they told me it was a harem anime, I’d already think to myself : What would this be like? The word harem brings to mind thoughts of crap like R+V or Omamori Himari. I’d never categorize shows under Harem like that.

      Besides, Harem seems to suggest sex, not love. I mean, look at shows like R+V (I’m raping it thoroughly.) Every female wants to rape the main character. Omamori Himari? Every female wants to rape the main character.

      There’s a thin line between harem and romance comedy in my opinion. It all depends on characters to pull the show out of the dark depths of being a shameless harem show, pointed at perverse otaku watchers out there. I mean, Fushigi Yuugi was a reverse harem, so to speak – but they don’t all want to have sex with Miaka. So no-one labels it as ‘harem’, they all label it as ‘rom-com’. It’s not as much a ‘definition’ kind of thing as much as it is more reliant on feeling and instinct. I’d abandon shows labelled as ‘Harem’, maybe watch them through if I stab myself in the eye.

  5. Bonini says:

    really nice post, i read it all its good informative knowledge 🙂

  6. biotoxic says:

    I think Yui’s dream of marriage was more of a “Something I’ll never have” scenario as opposed to a “girls dream”. Her other dreams were more superficial – baseball, football etc. But being loved by another person is by far a more fulfilling dream, hence she disappeared.

    Being bed ridden no one outside will know of her and she’ll have very little outside contact. So the dream of having someone else loving you; taking the time to know about you and visit every day; enjoying the time spent with you; and wanting to be with you forever makes this scene extremely powerful. That would be the ultimate dream, at least that’s how I read it.

    My only current gripe with Angel Beats! is it seems to lack direction, especially when compared other Key series since you knew they were heading somewhere. That doesn’t mean I don’t enjoy Angel Beats though, it’s still a fantastic series.

    • Valence says:

      …but it is after all, standard of girls in anime isn’t it? Yui’s illness made it all the more touching. A desire for true love- and finding it – that’s the stuff of dreams.

      And agreed, I really hope they don’t screw up. I mean, now they’re fighting (?) shadows(?) .

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