The Mapo Tofu is a Lie
Got lots of good comments from my last Angel Beats post, a lot of them dealing with my off-hand bit about the series turning into “The Matrix where Agent Smith is the hero.” That was meant to be more of a joke than anything, but after reading the comments and thinking about it for a bit, I think there’s more credence to that comment than I intended.
The purgatory of Angel Beats is every bit of a “lie” as the computer world of The Matrix or the city-in-space of Dark City or the decadent domes of Logan’s Run. They’re all artificial worlds into which people have been placed to fulfill an arbitrary purpose, whether it’s to control the human population (Logan’s run), act as fuel cells for robots (The Matrix), unlock the human soul to prolong an alien species (Dark City), or to act as a means for people to get over their personal issues before reincarnating (Angel Beats).
The purpose of all of these worlds is to hide the truth from its inhabitants. The powers that be don’t want you to know that you can live beyond 30 or live in a world with sunshine or anything like that. They need you to be in the dark in order to further their goals.
Despite the seemingly benevolent purpose behind the Purgatory of Angel Beats, it’s just as much of deception as the others. The world was constructed to give a happy childhood to children who lived unhappy lives. Yeah, that’s nice and all, but isn’t it going about it the wrong way? Rather than trying to help the kids cope with their untimely deaths or tragic pasts, the world is set up in order to try to make them forget about their pasts. It isn’t about friends getting together to help each other come to some sort of reconciliation– the world is set up so that you forget about the pain of your previous life and remember this childhood as your real childhood.
You’re supposed to go about your life normally, going to school and participating in clubs and all that. There’s no evidence of councilors who are there to help you work out your problems or anything that’s meant to help you cope with your problems. The only person we’ve seen who disappeared and did so by working out her problems and coming to a resolution did so outside of Angel and God’s system. She rebelled against the artificial school life presented to her, but at the same time she worked towards fulfilling that which she couldn’t do in life.
Angel is basically saying “get reincarnated MY way and don’t question MY authority.” It isn’t about the choice that the leader of Girls Dead Monster made or anything like that, it’s about falling in line and obeying the Men in Black/Sandmen/Strangers in order to get what you need rather than what you want. And the fact that Otonashi seemingly falls in line with Angel at the end of the latest episode really rubbed me the wrong way. He’s going to make Yuri and company follow Angel’s decree for their own good, rather than allowing them to come to their reconciliation on their own terms like their friend did earlier in the series.
It’s the fact that choice is being taken out of the matter that’s pissing me off. If this were a case where choice didn’t factor into things, it wouldn’t be so bad. Y’all know that I like dismal, hopeless shit, and I’d be down with it if this were a case where there was no way for people to fight back and do things their own way.
But that isn’t the case. We’ve seen one person “fight the power” and do things their own way. The world is set up to where people can create the means to rebel. Free will exists in this world, and we have proof that you can achieve reincarnation by means other than Angel’s Way. We’ve been presented with alternative means to reach the same goal, but the “hero” of the story is seemingly rejecting these alternatives in order to satisfy the whims of a quiet little girl that reminds him of his sister (And whom he wants to fuck.).
Yeah, Yuri, Otonashi wants to rob you of your free will because he wants to impress a girl.
Of course, like everything else in this series I could easily be proven wrong with the next episode. That’s been the case with all of my pet theories thus far. Otonashi could very well have something up his sleeves that turns the tables on Angel and Yuri’s plans. God could show himself and say “What the fuck are you doing, Angel? What’s up with you hacking and slashing people in my name? That Crusades shit is old!” Maybe the “bad” Angel personalities really did take he over after the merger, and the story she gave Otonashi is a big fat lie and he’s falling into her trap. They could totally bypass everything and end the series with a big musical number with dancing unicorns and scat-singing armadillos.
Anything would make sense at this point in the series, I’m just trying to work through it all in my head as we go along.