Anime Review: Angel Beats Episode 4

(Originally published on Livejournal on May 27, 2010)

Anime Review:
Angel Beats Episode 4

About The Series: Otonashi awakens without any memories, on the campus of a high school that serves as a sort of afterlife Purgatory. He is met by the indefatigable Yuri, who leads a ragtag group of students who are fighting against God and their fate, and he soon learns that you cannot die in this world, but you can experience the pain of death. The campus is populated by “Non-player characters” who go about their daily lives as if in a video game; their only enemy in this world is the student council president, Tenshi, who has supernatural skills to defend herself.

In This Episode: With the lead singer of “Girls Dead Monster” gone, their biggest fan and supporter, Yui, steps in to try out for the position. After inadvertently killing herself during the tryout, they decide to let the band make the decision. Then, as a way to mess with Tenshi, Yuri charges the SSS Brigade to form teams and enter the school baseball tournament. Teams are quickly formed, except for Hinata who only manages to recruit Otonashi. The two of them then head out to fill out the rest of the team, but every person they approach has already joined other teams. Eventually they work their way down the list to Noda, Shiina (who spends the entire episode balancing a broom on the tip of her finger to improve her concentration), Yui (who is constantly at loggerheads with Hinata), and some “NPC” characters.

As the tournament begins, the other teams fielded by the SSS Brigade quickly wash out, but miraculously Hinata’s team survives to the final game against the team managed by Tenshi herself. Ultimately it comes to the final out with Tenshi’s team at bat – with Hinata spacing out in the outfield. Turns out this is not the first time he has been in this position — in his previous life he missed the opportunity to catch the final ball, leading to his downfall and demise. And now, he wonders, if he manages to catch the final out of this game, will his life be complete and will he disappear like Iwasawa did last episode? As if on cue, they hit a pop fly directly at him, and as he prepares to catch it…Yui charges in and tackles him, they lose the game, the end.

My Thoughts: As I noted with Working!!, Angel Beats suffers from waaaaaaay too many characters, much to my annoyance. In the first four episodes, I count *nineteen* named characters, impossible to adequately cover them all in the space of a short twelve-episode cycle. Bleah.

And then you have Yui stepping in to replace Iwasawa as the singer on the girl jpop group, two characters who couldn’t more different if they tried. Yui is the personification of all the cliches you expect from something dreamed up by a drooling otaku fanboy – she’s like a reincarnation of Ropponmatsu. Loud, annoying, stupid, bull-headed, clumsy, bubbly, a genki nekomimi with her own cutesy cat-girl pose. I dislike her immediately. I realize that she only exists as a comedic foil for Hinata, but that does not make her any less annoying.

As far as this whole episode goes, it’s pretty much entirely filler fluff. The explanation as to why they join the baseball tournament doesn’t make any sense, *how* they are able to enter the tournament is equally unexplained. If anything, this episode only manages to point out that every single member of the SSS Brigade is a complete idiot. Every. Single. One. Except for Otonashi, who has to suffer through it all, wondering how such a gaggle of misfits could ever have been assembled. The whole episode was wacky comedy through-and-through, until the very last moment when it suddenly shifts to a brief serious moment, wondering whether Hinata will receive his eternal release or not. But no…that moment of drama was abruptly shattered by Yui, of course.

(Just say Nyaaaaaaaah!)

Thanks to this episode, I wasted 25 minutes of my life. I suppose we learned a little bit more about some of the characters, especially annoying-pink-haired-girl, but I could have just as well skipped this and moved on to the next episode without missing anything important. I prefer Angel Beats when it’s dealing with the serious existential issues instead of the comedy.

tl;dr version:: Filler episode. Everybody takes part in a baseball tournament. Nothing of consequence happens, except we confirm that everyone is a complete idiot.

The Verdict: – well, actually thumbs down for the episode, but I’ll continue on with the show itself. But another filler episode like this, and it may end up on my drop list.

My review of Episode 1, Episode 2, and Episode 3.
Random Curiosity review of Episode 4:

Up Next: Kaichou wa Maid-sama, K-On Season 2, Arakawa Under the Bridge, Giant Killing, and The Tatami Galaxy.

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