One Episode Turn-Around
I’ve been hating on Angel Beats like something fierce the past two weeks. I’ve also been secretly hating on Durarara! for even longer. Both series have been pulling off some majorly disappointing episodes as of late, and my opinion of both had severely dropped.
Then, like the proverbial Emeril, BAM! One episode from each series kicks it up a notch and gets me right back into digging them.
The problem with Durarara! is the fact that the entire series has been nothing but build-up. Introduce characters. Establish mood. Show relationships. Get into people’s heads. Reveal schemes and plots. Tease about future events. Etc Etc Etc. That was fine for a while, but once you reach a few moments that could turn into mini-climaxes and opt to reel back and de-emphasize the tension, a guy tends to get frustrated. Cockteasing only gets you so far before it becomes a hassle, and Durarara! crossed that point about five episodes ago or so.
What made the latest episode, 22, worthwhile is the fact that people are starting to have genuine conflict brought into their lives. Anri and Kida finally confront one another about the whole Yellow Scarves bit. Anri may chicken out and run away, but in doing so she resolves to not wuss out in the future. Hell, she was about ready to draw out her demon blade and kick some Scarves ass if it wasn’t for those meddling Dollars kids and their stupid bunny suit.
I really dug that scene between Kida and Anri, mainly because it was pretty ugly. Kida’s obviously a bit loopy and goes off on Anri for being an ice queen towards Mikado, but he’s obviously using that as means to vent his frustration with his current situation without punching shit. And Anri’s obviously struggling with emotional overload, what with all these people selflessly helping her get away from the Scarves punks and holding hands with Kida as they run away. She’s a bit like Shinji with his Hedgehog bit. She wants to recoil when she gets overloaded with positive feelings, and that spat with Kida seems to have knocked some sense into her to do something about that problem. At the same time, the way she reacted to him and his attempt to help her isn’t going to earn her any brownie points with Kida, so all of her efforts may be for naught if it means she looses one of her best friends in the process.
Also, much love for Celty’s “you can trust him he’s on your side” bit with Shinra. Yeah, you might have the hots for him, but at least you know well enough not to fully trust the bastard. There’s a difference between “knowing he’s on your side” and “knowing what he’s thinking at all times.” He might not try to sell you off to some pharmaceutical company anytime soon, but you sure as hell can’t turn your back on him without giving him the proverbial evil eye.
So yeah, in the span of one episode Durarara! cleared up many of my issues. Or at least eased my woes a bit to get me back into the flow. And it doesn’t hurt that they had that cute blonde chick with the freckles pop back up again. Fuck Kida and Mikado, I totally want a spin-off series starting Shizuo, Celty, and that freckled gaijin girl. That would be radical, dude.
The same went down in the latest episode of Angel Beats, although the bulk of it is the result of one line, pictured above. Preach it, Sister Yuri.
The series finally introduced the one thing I wanted: choice. Otonashi was essentially called out by Yuri, but rather than being exposed as the evil bastard that he is, she gave him the chance to voice his opinion. And when it was all said and done, Yuri gave her posse a choice. The options were on the table and everyone was given the freedom to choose their path: work towards disappearing or staying and fighting against whatever menace is behind all this bullshit.
That’s what I wanted out of this series. There’s nothing wrong with choosing to reincarnate or whatever it is that happens once you disappear, but it was bothering me that Otonashi was taking up a militant “I will make you pass over” approach that was bordering on a serial killer mentality. I also like that Yuri’s choice to stay behind and finish business is shown to be a positive choice, and that several of the main characters look to be making the same choice in order to stand by their comrade in arms.
Yeah, sometimes you just need to pick up a gun and shoot stuff until the problem is solved. Rock on, Yuri.
And I gotta give the series props for killing of a somewhat significant and interesting character completely offscreen. Yeah, he was just turned into an “NPC,” but by the standards of the main characters that’s far worse than simply dying. The dude’s been robbed of his freewill. He can no longer choose to pass over or stand and fight. Now he has to follow the programmed pathways that are the fate of the NPC. It’s rather nasty when you get down to it. It’s like getting assimilated into the Borg or something like that. You aren’t just dying, you’re being transformed into something completely different against your will. At least in death there’s some semblance that you’re beginning and ending as yourself. In the case of this dude’s demise, he’s no longer “him.” He’s just some random coding and a body that acts as its vessel. That’s damn scary.
At this point it’s pretty damn futile to try to piece together what’s gonna go down in Angel Beats. I rather like the fact that the damn series is all schitzo and chaotic. I just wish it wouldn’t flirt with sentimentality and all that nonsense. Yeah, yeah, I know the dude that wrote it wrote all those other series whose names I won’t mention here, but still. Dude needs to branch out, and having Yuri go Rambo on God is the very catharsis he needs.