There's always one scene in every show, one moment, that has you sold on it. That's when you find yourself thinking "Damn, this shit's good!". It's when you finally feel that your time was spent well. Recently, while watching Angel Beats, there was an episode that had me enchanted throughout the entire runtime, when I finally felt that I was having a good time. Needless to say (but I'll say it anyway, because English's redundant that way), huge spoilers ahead.
Angel Beats, on the surface, looked like a mishmash of Haibane Renmei and The Melancholy of Haruhi Suzumiya. A couple of episodes in, I realized that apart from the premise, the two aren't really similar. But it also dawned upon me that while it hadn't copied the success mantra of the two, it hadn't carved its own either. It was gleefully brandishing machine guns and bazookas in a digitalized purgatory, which reeked of pretentious pratism. It tried to be so many things, succeeding at hardly anything. One moment it wanted to be a comedy show, next it wanted to be a badass action flick, the next a typical Key show... it just wouldn't settle down! Haibane Renmei stuck to its mysterious aura through and through, infusing drama neatly along the way. Angel Beats became the jackshit of all trades.
Until that episode happened. Episode 13, the final episode, was when Angel Beats finally hit the spot. While it was too late, it definitely wasn't too little. The show took its own sweet time to grovel around and find its groove. Because this was the one episode where things actually felt...right. This is what I wanted from Angel Beats all along. Packed with emotions, those twenty minutes will be ingrained into my memory for being one of the best episodes of all time.
The main reason I connected with this show on a personal level was because I recently graduated from school, and I know how it feels like, leaving behind your best days. But more than that, this show finally placed emphasis on the fact that they were actually dead. The feelings of happiness, heartbreak and closure all bundled into one was portrayed beautifully. It was heart-wrenching, the way it was driven into our hearts that even after leading lives of pain and suffering, they managed to accept the pain and instead of redemption, looked for closure. Their every movement was tugging at my heartstrings, because I knew that it was the end - it was over for real this time. These mates weren't going to see each other again. The bonds that they had formed, the bonds that were severed when they were living, had to be cut again. The bittersweetness cut across like sleet on a silent night. The sense of finality made even the most simplest of things, from the singing of the anthem to the receiving of the certificates, emotionally involving.
It displayed the soulfulness and heartfelt emotions that made me fall in love with After Story. No ridiculous shadow-monsters, no pointless battles and no fuckin stretched-out gags. It was sappy, I'll admit, but I don't mind that one bit here. It's what Key (more specifically, Jun Maeda) does. I'm fine with that, because each season we have a horde of mecha and unfunny school life shows shoved down our throat, so it's okay to take in anime like these in small doses. And kudos for making Otonashi a solid lead, who isn't a moe twat, a whiny wuss or an overly gar beast. The very ending, with Kanade revealing she was living on his heart totally bowled me over. I did not see that coming and I thought it was a great plot twist. Logically, it makes little to no sense, but this is Key, so lolphysics.
It took its time in getting there, but when Angel Beats focused, it hit hard and it hit strong. The show is still left wide open for stone pelting, because the flaws are more than a bit glaring. But for one episode, it managed to make me choke with emotion, something that hasn't happened in a very long time. Sure, Angel Beats wasn't a technical masterpiece, but it did a fine job of creating a touching episode. It revolved around the characters and their emotions, tugging them alone with pure dialogue. It's fun to just sit back and have our emotions manipulated sometimes. Plus, you can always count on Ichiban no Takarabono to make even a mosquito being splattered seem tragic.
P.S: This never happened.
P.P.S: Loved the soundtrack.