Anime Contemplation Carefully considering the world of Anime, episode by episode.

19May/110

Girls Dead Monster Tour

Remember the awesome in-world band of Angel Beats, Girls Dead Monster? Back in 2010, they did a tour and that tour is now coming to BluRay!

The set list was as follows;

  1. Thousand Enemies
  2. Alchemy
  3. Shine Days
  4. Rain Song
  5. Answer Song
  6. Morning Dreamer
  7. Brave Song
  8. My Song
  9. 一番の宝物~Yui final ver.~
  10. My Soul, Your Beats!
  11. 23:50
  12. Day Game
  13. Run with Wolves
  14. Crow Song

Encore;

  1. Highest Live
  2. Little Braver

Looking at the digest video, Marina and LiSA (who sung for Iwasawa and Yui respectively) sound just as good live as recorded. LiSA is especially energetic and seems to really be enjoying herself!

I'm very much looking forward to seeing this - it's set for release on the 1st of June 2011.

11Jan/110

Angel Beats Special Episode – Stairway to Heaven

This is what Class SSS actually believe

After 6 months of waiting, the Angel Beats special episode is finally here. This episode was not shown on TV and was included with the last BluRay/DVD volume.

It appears to be set slightly before the midway point of the main series as [spoiler]they still refer to Kanade as Tenshi and she's still not on their side[/spoiler]. In this episode, Yuri enacts "Operation High-Tension Syndrome". Unlike the other operations, Otonashi doesn't imagine something crazy, rather he's completely taken aback, as are the others. The purpose of this operation is for the SSS members to act crazy all day - running everywhere, shouting and generally doing abnormal things. By doing this, Tenshi will wonder why they're not disappearing as they will appear to be enjoying themselves.

A lot of the members take this operation to heart and begin doing all sorts of crazy things. Some of them are extremely silly whereas others are highly amusing. I personally couldn't stop laughing at the floor cleaning competition, complete with racing car sounds as they ran around the building cleaning with floor cloths.

We eventually get a final showdown between [spoiler]Shiina and Tenshi[/spoiler] after [spoiler]Shiina massacres everyone for taking her puppy plushie[/spoiler]. After backing down from the fight, [spoiler]Tenshi[/spoiler] mentions that she needs to make a 'report'. Yuri instantly springs into action to follow her. After opening a heavy door, she walks into blinding light. Thinking that she has reached God, Class SSS chase wildly in after her, only to find out that it's a hydroponic garden where [spoiler]Tenshi[/spoiler] grows 'cute' turnips. Understandably, Yuri becomes really annoyed and takes out her anger on the other Class SSS members - no food for a week!

Overall, I did enjoy this special episode. It was good to see all of the characters again and there where moments that made me laugh quite a bit. It was however, not what I was expecting. I was expecting and dearly wanted to see an episode set after Episode 13 where perhaps [spoiler]they all meet up again[/spoiler]. That said, I think it would be difficult to make a full episode out of just that. There is another short special included entitled 'Another Epilogue' which is meant as an alternative to the Episode 13 epilogue, which does go some way to offset my want for a full post-Episode 13 episode.

Yui is a natural at being high tension

We know what he said and it still makes no sense

Out the way Noda! High-speed floor cleaning in progress.

High tension cheering battle! Or just an excuse for the animators to draw the characters in cheerleader costumes...

Shiina gets the high score

The Turnip or Tenshi?

27Jul/100

Angel Beats! Summary

All Class SSS members, goodbye!

Angel Beats! has now ended unfortunately, it doesn't seem that long ago that I actually started watching it.

Before it started airing, Angel Beats was promoted extensively and was highly anticipated. This was a show that had to live up to the hype it generated, and it certainly exceeded my expectations.

Angel Beats had an excellent, if somewhat rushed storyline. I was unable to accurately predict the events of future episodes as the plot line frequently twisted and turned. Any twists where very well thought out and fitted in perfectly - they didn't just leave you utterly confused and wondering what happened. As is typical with Key stories, the plot changes your feelings almost constantly, both in individual episode and thought the series as a whole. For example, in Episode 2 you're laughing as all of the members of Class SSS fall to successive traps, but when Yuri recounts her past you suddenly feel extremely sad. If anything however, the change between happy and sad is most profound in the final episode, for obvious reasons.

Angel Beats would have been a lot better had it been a 24-26 episode series rather than a 13 episode one. Due to the short length, we miss out on much of the background of the characters, only discovering the past lives of a handful of them.

The animation within Angel Beats is without a doubt some of the best i've seen. Backgrounds where highly detailed and the animation was fluid. In addition, background animation also featured which tends to be unusual within anime series. One thing I didn't like however was the use of motion blur, if you have a high enough frame rate then you don't need to use motion blur. This made it difficult to capture screenshots of certain moments, but wasn't especially noticeable when watching the show itself.

Music featured heavily within Angel Beats due to the presence of an in-show band. While most series wouldn't be able to get away with this, the band's usage as a diversionary squad fits in the the premise of the series perfectly. The music produced by this band was outstanding. Instead of using voice actors to sing the songs, professional singers marina (for Iwasawa) and LiSA (for Yui) where used. I much preferred marina/Iwasawa's vocals, but still enjoy LiSA/Yui's songs. More information about the music of Angel Beats can be found in a separate post.

The characters where detailed and had their own little unique personality, so you are sure to have at least one favourite out of them (Kanade :3). However, again we've got the problem of not having enough episodes to fully develop each character as mentioned earlier.

Overall, i've come away with a very positive view on Angel Beats! It was a very enjoyable show and is certainly one of the best anime series I have ever watched. The only thing preventing Angel Beats from becoming my favourite anime is the short length of the series and the effect this has on character and plot development. I would highly recommend this series to anyone, it's wide range of styles and intriguing story line should suit anyone.

As a small addendum, since writing the post on the final episode, some information has surfaced in an interview with Jun Maeda which clears up some of the unknowns that the final episodes left. It is confirmed that Otonashi [spoiler]did eventually disappear and reincarnate[/spoiler] and that [spoiler]he is not 'the programmer' - the Angel Player software existed before Otonashi[/spoiler]. Yui's voice actor has also hinted that a second season will be made and that she will be the heroine! I'm not entirely sure how that will fit in as a continuation, but i'm eager to find out anyway. More information on the interview can be found here.

An additional unaired episode will also be included with the final Bluray/DVD volume which will be released in December. I suspect that this may be an episode dedicated to the new lives of the Class SSS members but i'll have to wait in order to see if my suspicions are correct or not!

Thanks to Unlimited Translation Works for subbing the entire series, they where fast, had a good quality translation and excellent video quality. They have released a batch containing all 13 episodes and are also gradually releasing the Bluray versions as the disks come out. I've enjoyed writing about this series, despite the fact it took a very long time to write each post due to the amount of stuff that happened in each episode and i'm very much looking forward to the potential second season.

13Jul/100

Angel Beats! Episode 13 – Graduation

Hinata shows off his dance moves

3 days have passed since the events of the previous episode and the school is seemingly quiet. Yuri wakes up in the School Infirmary with Otonashi, Kanade, Naoi and Hinata by her side. While Yuri has been resting, most people have disappeared and moved on. However, the remaining members the have been busy arranging a Graduation ceremony. Both Yuri and Kanade appear to act more 'girly' now, a point that Hinata raises and is swiftly beaten by Yuri for even suggesting such a thing.

The ceremony gets underway with Otonashi both leading and participating in it. They start by singing the school song, at first it seems pretty standard but eventually degrades into a song about Szechuan Tofu. Guess who wrote it?

Next up is the presentation of graduation certificates, with Hinata acting as the principal - complete with bald head patch and glasses! After all of the certificates have been given out, Otonashi swaps places with Hinata to award him his own certificate. Otonashi, as the graduating class representative, gives a speech summarising his time in the afterlife, putting an emphasis on his change to accepting his previous life and making good friends in the afterlife.

As  the ceremony ends, everyone says their goodbyes. First to go is Naoi, he thanks Otonashi for all that he has done. Next is Yuri, she talks to Kanade and regrets that they didn't become friends sooner. Finally, Hinata goes, he thanks Otonashi for starting the entire process of getting everyone to move on.

This leaves just Otonashi and Kanade, who head outside. Suddenly, Otonashi asks Kanade if she wants to stay and help any others that arrive in this world to graduate. He finally confesses his love for her, but she seems to ignore it at first. She tells Otonashi that if she reveals her true feelings for him, she will disappear - [spoiler]Kanade received Otonashi's transplanted heart back in the real world and her regret was that she couldn't thank the donor[/spoiler]. Therefore, if she thanks Otonashi she'll disappear. Otonashi questions the truth behind Kanade's story - she reveals that she realised it when she first stabbed him, [spoiler]he didn't have a heart[/spoiler]. In addition, she reveals that Otonashi regained all of his memories due to the proximity to his [spoiler]transplanted heart[/spoiler] in [spoiler]Kanade's chest when he spent time with her in the infirmary after rescuing her from The Guild[/spoiler].

Kanade begs Otonashi to say he loves her one more time, but Otonashi doesn't want to if it makes Kanade disappear. Finally, he gives in and hugs Kanade tightly, saying the words that send her on her way. Realising she's gone, Otonashi breaks down in tears. Over this scene, Yui's [spoiler]disappearance[/spoiler] song (一番の宝物, ichiban no takaramono, My Most Precious Treasure) plays. It was sad when this was played for Yui and even sadder with Otonashi and Kanade.

In the ending sequence, instead of gradually fading in, Class SSS gradually fade out. The last person to fade out is Otonashi, hinting that he also disappears at some point.

We see a brief epilogue which is seemingly set in the real world. Otonashi walks past someone who looks extremely like Kanade, who is also humming Iwasawa's My Song. He turns around and reaches out for her, and then the episode ends.

To summarise, wow. This episode really was an emotional rollercoaster - I went from being really happy at seeing them all move on to being extremely sad when Otonashi had to say goodbye to Kanade. It might be hard to convey that feeling by just reading the episode summary above, but go and watch the episode and i'm sure you'll feel the same.

I'm curious as to what this means for the timeline. When Yuri found the second computer lab in the previous episode, we learned that a long time ago there was someone who loved another who disappeared and was stuck alone in the afterlife forever, hence creating the program to take measures to stop love in the afterlife. Is Otonashi the programmer? In addition, if Kanade [spoiler]received Otonashi's transplanted heart[/spoiler] that means she died after he did, however she is in the afterlife before he is - what?! Hopefully this will be clarified soon.

This has to be one of the best episodes of the series, sure it had no action but I loved the plot of this episode, even if it did make me feel sad at the end. If it hadn't of been for that small epilogue however, I would have come away from this episode feeling a lot more negative about it, at least we have a glimmer of hope that Otonashi and Kanade have been able to meet up again.

A series summary post will be up soon. It has taken me two and a bit weeks to write this post but I hope to have the summary done much sooner - blame my general lazyness and the significance of this episode for the delay!

...stop this pillow from hitting my face, oh wait!

Not seen this timid side of Kanade before, cute 😉

Class SSS Graduation Ceremony

*waves*

Especially for Otonashi 🙁

*kanadeface* :3

Kanade's rising star, easy to miss

Otonashi and Kanade back in the real world?

30Jun/100

The Music of Angel Beats!

The Angel Beats! anime has a fair amount of music associated with it - mostly thanks to the band 'Girls Dead Monster' within the series itself. The band had two vocalists, Iwasawa and Yui. When performing, their character voices where not used. Instead, professional artists sung the songs. Iwasawa's vocalist was marina and Yui's was LiSA.

My Soul, Your Beats!/Brave Song cover

My Soul, Your Beats! / Brave Song (Opening and Ending)

The opening song, My Soul, Your Beats!, was sung by Lia who has also sung other songs for other Key production - such as Air's opening theme - 鳥の歌 (tori no uta, Bird's Song). The opening is extremely upbeat, however the extended version is somewhat lacking in variety. The ending song, Brave Song, was sung by 多田葵 (Tada Aoi). Unlike the opening, Brave Song is much calmer. The combination of an upbeat opening and a calm ending suits the series perfectly. Both songs where released on an album which was creatively entitled My Soul, Your Beats! / Brave Song.

Girls Dead Monster released 4 CDs, in order of release they are;

Crow Song cover

Crow Song

Contains the songs Crow Song, Alchemy and My Song. All of these featured within the anime itself and where sung by Iwasawa/marina. My Song is very different to the other two as it is a ballad. marina is able to sing all of the songs perfectly and this is my favourite Girls Dead Monster album.

Thousand Enemies cover

Thousand Enemies

Contains the songs Thousand Enemies, Rain Song and Highest Life. Thousand Enemies features in the anime and was the first song that Yui sang. LiSA is a good vocalist, but I prefer Iwasawa/marina slightly more.

Little Braver cover

Little Braver

Contains the songs Little Braver, Shine Days and Answer Song. I felt that these songs where better than the ones on Thousand Enemies but still not as good as the ones on Crow Song by Iwasawa/marina.

Keep The Beats! cover

Keep The Beats!

This CD was released shortly after the end of the series and contains a mix of songs. It includes Yui versions of Iwasawa's songs, Girls Dead Monster versions of the opening and ending songs and 4 new songs - 23:50, Run with Wolves, Morning Dreamer and 一番の宝物 (ichiban no takaramono, My Most Precious Treasure). The first 3 songs are nothing special, just your standard Yui/LiSA songs. However, 一番の宝物 is a truly beautiful song which played over the end of Episode 10 ([spoiler]Yui's disappearance episode[/spoiler]). Unfortunately, I felt that the Yui version of My Song wasn't as good as the original version - it changed it from a beautiful ballad to a rock ballad. While it is still a fairly good song I much prefer the original version, especially considering the context within which it was sung.

Original Soundtrack Cover

Original Soundtrack

The OST release totals 47 tracks (including the opening and ending songs), it was great to hear the full versions of them and there are a couple that I don't actually remember featuring in the series. Fans of the song 一番の宝物 (ichiban no takaramono, My Most Precious Treasure) will be pleased to hear that a background music version and one sung by karuta are present. Both are beautiful pieces of music that I really like listening to. The music which first featured in PV6 is also present on OST release - theme of SSS, not Angelic Angel Beats as some people had called it.