Seems we’re in the home stretch, and Maeda is doing what he does.
Episode 9 and 10 of Angel Beats has, in some ways, started the resolution arc of the end. I think there is more up their sleeves, but we now know that Otonashi and Tenshi are now working toward final resolution. Spoilers below, recommend you avoid until you’ve seen episode 10:
This show had it hard from the beginning. The powerhouse names and studios producing it put this on a pedestal before it was even given birth. Hype notwithstanding, the first couple of episodes were messy and confusing, with forced comedy and animation errors abound. Hardly what you expect from the team working on this.
So the plot moves along and slowly makes the way to the inevitable conclusion. Tenshi’s transformation from villain to comrade was evident to me from the initial stabbing of Otonashi in the first episode, but that could be just from what I know of Maeda’s previous anime adaptations.
So as Otonashi becomes aware of his past, he decides that what he could not do in his death, save the train accident victims, he would do for his friends here. Help them find absolution and move on from this high school purgatory. Omo gives some idea of what the barnacle idea that Yurippe speaks of in his recent post, but regardless there’s a thread here that I will explore.
All that silly crap in the beginning, the forced comedy, the hair brained schemes, the wacky deaths on the way to Guild, the rocket chairs, and finally Takamatsu’s hidden hot bod. All of that leads to one thing, which is that we know these characters well by the time Otonashi and Tenshi decide they need to help them find absolution and move them on in death/life/whatever this stop is in their world. So all of the silly crap was for something.
This is solidified in Yui’s final wishes being granted and her moving on. When Iwasawa moved on, it was similar, but too short as we barely knew her. Yui’s been with us since the beginning and her moving on, while it should be a happy thing (it is, just circumstantially played down by the narrative), ends up tugging at our loss receptors in the brain.
It was at this point that I realized that losing each of the characters is not possible in the remaining time allotted, but who and when will move on next will be interesting. Absolution, and dying with absolution are powerful things, because most people want to believe their life meant something. I believe that Otonashi died before he realized that the cadre of train accident survivors were rescued. He was gone, and his absolution was never realized, otherwise he wouldn’t be where he is now. I know they showed the light opening up, but they never clearly showed him realizing that his life meant something by saving those people. So now he works with Tenshi to make it mean something by helping his friends disappear.
So now we care about the characters, and we know them, and we will watch them go. Hinata and Yui’s dream sequence was a good watch, and didn’t feel terribly forced, because I somewhat expected it. I also think that Maeda putting girls in wheelchairs is all part of his master plan to tug at heartstrings and make the audience feel more.
And finally, Otonashi is heading down the same road as Tenshi. He might be enjoying his mapo tofu by himself sooner than he thinks.