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10 Seconds of Ruination

June 26, 2010

Angel Beats ends in a gloriously sadistic manner.

It’s a shame that after the credits there’s a scene that goes out of its way to ruin this awesome ending.

Y’all know I hate Otonashi. Y’all know that I’ve gone on about how I didn’t like his scheme to get everyone to “disappear” from this reality. I was starting to feel a little guilty about those feelings during these past couple of episodes, since his plan was brought out into the open and everyone was given a choice in the manner.

Then, in the last few minutes of the series, Otonashi makes a complete 180. It turns out that he doesn’t want to disappear. He wants to remain in this world with Angel so they can continue to “cure hearts” like some metaphysical afterlife Sailor Moon. The thing is, it doesn’t come off like he want to stay behind because of his grand desire to help others. Rather, it seems like he’s finally come to feel the same way that the others in his little group felt. He’s finally found a selfish, regret-filled reason to cling to this existence: He loves Angel and wants to be with her forever.

There was a degree of righteous satisfaction as I saw him break down and cry about how he loved Angel and wanted to be with her. He wanted to forego all of his holier-than-thou feelings about the need to move on in order to fulfill a wish as self-centered as the ones he railed against a few episodes before. He was getting a taste of his own medicine, and it was beautiful.

I was worried that Angel would reciprocate his feelings, saying something about how she wants to join him in his quest to mend psychological wounds and whatnot. When she rejected him, stating that she finally found her own peace of mind and has no desire to let it go to satisfy Otonashi’s longings, I was fucking happy. She was thankful for all of the help Otonashi had given her in this life and the previous life, but she wasn’t about to give up her one chance at peace to satisfy his whims.

As Angel disappeared and Otonashi fell to the ground in a dismal heap of pathetic despair, I laughed. Not only was the moment hilariously melodramatic, I was happy to see Otonashi left alone and filled with regrets after everyone else he bullied into “acceptance” had already passed on. It showed that he most likely never really was interested in their personal salvation so much as he was interested in exercising  some deep-seeded desire to exert his will upon others in order to make himself feel better.

If the series ended with that image of Otonashi crying due to his inability to fulfill his own wishes, it would have made Angel Beats a thoroughly satisfying series. All of the nagging points I had about the series would have made sense, since it was all leading up to essentially crushing Otonashi for being the villain in the plot.

That’s where the title of this post comes into the picture.

I sat through the credits, figuring there’d be some sort of post-credit scene. Those ten seconds do their damnedest to ruin everything I liked about the ending and all but ruin everything I liked about the series.

We see Otonashi and Angel “reincarnated” and doing regular life shit. Right off the bat my theory about Otonashi succumbing to his regrets was thrown out the window. If he’s back in the “real” world, he obviously got over not being able to be with Angel. How in the hell could Otonashi still feel the desire to “disappear” if his newfound regret can never be cured. He no longer has his support system in place, so it’s unlikely that he met anyone anytime soon that could help him through his issues. And it doesn’t make sense that he’d be able to just “get over” the feelings he had at the end of the episode. A dude doesn’t collapse into a mound of tears only to stand up and say “Yeah, that got all of those regrets out of my system.” It just isn’t believable that Otonashi would reincarnate based on how things ended for him.

But let’s assume that it does make sense for him to reincarnate. The whole idea about reincarnating is that you won’t get to see the people you leave behind. That’s part of the tragedy. We’re supposed to feel that tinge of loneliness and loss that comes from never seeing these people again. That’s what made Yui and Hinata’s relationship so bittersweet: They only realized they loved each other right before Yui disappeared and they realized there was no chance they’d get to see one another again. But by having Otonashi and Angel randomly meet up again in the next life cheats us out of that feeling. It’s basically saying “Yeah, whatever. You live, you die, you’ll still get whatever you want in the end.” All of that angst he felt at the end of the episode knowing he was losing Angel was for naught. He just pops right back into life and hooks up with her like nothing happened.

What a fucking cheap ending. It went out of its way to screw up what could have been a brilliant downer of an ending, giving all of the events that transpired before considerable meaning. Instead, they chose to upend everything in favor of “and they lived happily ever after.” Happy endings only work when you earn them, and the only ending Angel Beats earned was a bad one.

28 Comments leave one →
  1. June 26, 2010 10:09 AM

    I’m with you brother. The ending was shit. It makes me realized how unfair life is.

    • Landon permalink
      June 27, 2010 4:34 PM

      That’s part of my issue with the series. The series goes out of its way to make things fair… for Otonashi. He gets all of the second chances and opportunities, while everyone else is forced into a role that fulfills his desires. Yuri wanted a chance to avenge her siblings, but half the series’ plot was working towards her NOT getting that “fair chance.” It was like everything was happening for Otonashi’s sake.

      Real life isn’t fair. Angel Beats’ “real life” is only fair for Otonashi.

    • PiriPiri permalink
      November 25, 2010 2:04 AM

      You are complaining about the end and yet you obviously didn’t watch it well enough. at the last split second you can see how Otonashi’s hand is in a position to where he could or couldn’t have caught on to her shoulder. Its a double win for those who would wish for them to get together in the after-afterlife (this stories open to as many “afters” as you like considering they’ve had 3 lives to our knowledge) or for those who would be satisfied with everyone simply leaving that world without regrets and the 2 simply living another life. You cant end a story in a situation like this without the last 10 seconds, especially considering Otanashi’s final condition (QQ’ing being all alone). the credits show him disappearing last which verifies (obviously) that he moved on, probably leaving with no regrets knowing that even in death he saved another life.

  2. June 26, 2010 10:23 AM

    I was thinking as I was coming to the end of the episode and putting it in my personal rankings, then the last 10 seconds occurred. It basically dropped from 45th to 134th (out of 399) in just that amount of time. Only the 3rd worst ending I’ve seen though.

    • Landon permalink
      June 27, 2010 4:36 PM

      Had the series ended without the last two seconds, I’d rank the series relatively high. A 7 or 8 on that silly anime list thing.

      I just changed its score to a 3 this afternoon, so I feel you there. Curious to know what series you thought had a worse ending.

  3. June 26, 2010 10:38 AM

    Maybe it would have worked better if he had seen Angel Tenshi Kanade but not gone after her. Like a feeling of regret flew over him as he passed her but couldn’t place it and the chance was gone.

    Meh, I dunno. Didn’t like the ending that much myself because of the baawww-fest

    • Landon permalink
      June 27, 2010 4:37 PM

      That’d actually be pretty awesome. Yeah, they reincarnate and all, but despite being SO CLOSE they’ll never be together again. I’d love to see that.

  4. June 26, 2010 11:08 AM

    Yeah, that was pure shit. The Otonashi x Kanade scene is the only one I liked in that episode, and that epilogue lets Otonashi off the hook. Terrible. Grow some fucking balls, Maeda, seriously.

    • Landon permalink
      June 27, 2010 4:39 PM

      More proof that he needs to grow a pair: He was too cowardly to face TK’s “death” as well. A real man would give him a proper send-off. A sissy boy has him die off-screen.

  5. A guy from /m/ permalink
    June 26, 2010 1:31 PM

    The ending was just a convoluted mess. How can Angel thank her organ donor if she died before him?

    I didn’t really dig Angel Beats since either it was too melodramatic (sophistication, ever heard of it?) or the small amount of conflict present, was resolved very quickly, rendering any form of suspense useless.

    I truly hope the industry will find a way to change their current model in order to give ambitious shows a larger number of episodes to conclude, because often, 12 or 26 is simply not cutting it. Just imagine Legend of the Galactic Heroes with such a stupid design model.

    • Landon permalink
      June 27, 2010 4:55 PM

      I didn’t mind the melodrama all that much, but I can see how it’d be a turn-off for some people. But I feel you when it comes to resolving conflict quickly. They could have easily milked Angel’s replacement for a few episodes before having him fall head over heels for Otonashi.

      Galactic Heroes wouldn’t make it today, that’s for sure, but it’s also a product of a completely different time where massive OAV projects like that were still feasable. I’d chalk it up as a once in a lifetime sort of series that we’d never see again. That said, while it’s cool to see series get more time to explore characters and plots, the reverse can be true as well. I can’t help but think that Durarara! would have been superior if it was forced to tell a story in 12-13 episodes rather than 24.

    • derppy ;D permalink
      August 20, 2011 12:52 PM

      Kanade wasn’t dead. .___. watch the show properly this time. she was a special case.

      • Landon permalink
        August 20, 2011 12:58 PM

        This series was such a convoluted, ridiculous mess that not getting every single little detail is perfectly understandable. And it isn’t worth watching again because its such a mess. I’d rather say “Make a proper anime this time” to the creators.

  6. Anonymous permalink
    June 26, 2010 1:39 PM

    I would like to point out the reincarnation motto carries with it the theme of “fate” where the links connecting a person to another in a previous life will manifest itself in the next life. You might have seen this in Clamp stuff before

    As for Otonashi getting over Kanade’s disappearence, its really simple. He understood the fact that he might one day meet her again, so rather than waiting, moved on so he could have the chance of meeting her.

    The programmer in the last episode took the opposite apporach: sit still and wait

    • Landon permalink
      June 27, 2010 4:59 PM

      The problem is that there’s nothing in the series that hints at this. If anything the series hints at he exact opposite idea. When Hinata and Yui finally confess their feelings to one another, we get a scene where they act out what it would have been like if they met in real life. The way I saw that scene, they were showin what could have been and were emphasizing the fact that they’ll never get to live out those moments one Yui passes on. When Hinata says he’ll do everything to meet up with her in the next life, it came off more as hoping for the impossible while still trying to keep a positive attitue rather than a “we’re tied by a string of fate” sort of thing.

      So I can’t buy Otonashi and Angel being linked by destiny, especially since it cheapens everything that’s taken place. If they’ll just meet in the next life, why emphasize Otonashi’s anguish after she leaves? It just makes the whole situation silly and pointless. Tying them together by their fates just makes a bad ending worse if you ask me.

  7. universalbunny permalink
    June 26, 2010 5:44 PM

    You’ve equated two things: selfish acts and villainous acts. I go to the park because I have a selfish desire to enjoy the scenery. My act is selfish, but there is no malicious intent in it. Had I went to park to break trees, then I would have become a villain.

    The two characteristics: selfishness and villainous acts are often combined in narratives; however, they are distinct and do not presuppose each other.

    If you recall, when Otonashi appeared in the world – one of the first things he learned is that “disappearing” is horrible and must be avoided at all costs. Overtime, he realised that it is not so. He learned that those who disappear don’t do so because they succumb to the routine, but because they are ready to live a life again, because they are – in a way – prepared to graduate the purgatory.

    Note that no one can make a character disappear, nor – I think – can one disappear due to momentary happiness or joy. So what Otonashi does, is present the dilemma to people so that they can think for themselves and decide for themselves. This may be a selfish act, but there is no malice in it and hence this act does not make Otonashi a villain.

    Does his attempt to make Kanade stay make him villain? It shows he is selfish – but who isn’t, especially when so much is at stake – but villain? The judgement on the latter is a matter of opinion. For me it was not evil, but cruel.

    2 Some: As for the time thing: Whoever told you that you get to the World/world immediately after you died/vanished?

    • June 26, 2010 9:16 PM

      Just a quick note, villainy is a matter of perspective. Say for instance, you think humanity is a blight on the planet, and you want to wipe out humanity to save the planet. From a story perspective, you’d be the villain. You might not feel any malicious glee when you do so, but still, you’re the villain.

      Another example, you’re Galactus, and suddenly you want to eat the earth again. Or you’re Catwoman, and suddenly you feel like stealing lions from a zoo. Again, you’re not feeling any malice when you do so, but you’re still the villain.

      What I think you mean is, Otonashi wasn’t being overtly “evil”. He may have been selfish, but he was not “evil”. But from certain perspectives, he was definitely the villain.

      If you’ve played Final Fantasy Tactics Advance, Otonashi is a dead ringer for Marshe. Marshe is the main character in the story. He’s technically the hero, and he has a few people who support him. But from the perspective of the “villains” AND the player, he’s actually a pretty villainous asshole.

      • universalbunny permalink
        June 27, 2010 5:51 AM

        Then we are in agreement. :) I did say – second last paragraph – that him being evil is a matter of opinion. I think him cruel, you think him evil; not the same boat, but very close.

        • June 27, 2010 6:29 AM

          Actually, I don’t really think much of Otonashi one way or another.

          But that in Crazy-Landon-Land, he’s villainous. And that from certain perspectives, I’d have to agree with Crazy-Landon.

    • Landon permalink
      June 27, 2010 5:06 PM

      Update summed it up pretty good, but I’ll toss this in.

      Otonashi reminds me of those TV evangelists you see getting busted for whoring and drugs. They put on a show of piety and righteousness, but what they REALLY want is the exact opposite of the gospel they preach.

      Otonashi preaches about the need to reincarnate, but what he REALLY wants is to stay in this world with the woman he loves. He wants the very thing that he’s telling others is wrong. It’s wrong to stay in Purgatory, but I want to do it forever.

      If the series ended without those ten seconds, it would seem like the creators agreed with my assessment of his character (Or at least I would have reasonable proof for supporting that theory.). By adding in those ten seconds, the series not only proves my theory wrong, it basically says that how Otonashi feels is a GOOD thing. It’ OK to be a hypocrite because you’ll get what you want regardless of your behavior. That rubs me in every wrong way possible.

  8. June 29, 2010 7:49 AM

    lol ‘metaphysical’

  9. February 25, 2013 10:31 PM

    There are three ways this could have ended:
    1. Kanade and Otanashi both reincarnate, get back together or something.
    2. Kanade and Otanashi both reincarnate, Otanashi decides to leave Kanade.
    3. Otanashi does not reincarnate but instead stays at the academy.

    If number three were to happen, it would be quite interesting. Remember in the computer room in the second to last episode, where the strange NPC guy that Yuri killed was talking about his creator? The creator loved some girl, and the girl left him… reincarnated. Using this logic, the guy can be related to Otanashi, and the girl can be related to Kanade. Also, this being said, Otanashi would probably take the PLACE of Angel, since he would become the new headmaster or whatever since he is attempting to do EXACTLY what Angel did, recuperate everyone. Does this mean that Kanade loved someone like Otanashi loved her, and a huge cycle is forming? Eventually, a female will take the place that Otanashi had, rescue him, bring him salvation, then take the place of headmaster.

    Think about what I just said. It’s a huge cycle.

    As for the ending, it was just made so people wouldn’t bitch for a second season. Unfortunately this was the only way to get the message across.

    TL;DR: Ignore the ending, the TRUE ending is what I described in my paragraph.

  10. RJ - one time blogger permalink
    March 28, 2013 12:31 PM

    i wanted to feel something about the ending but as the final dialogue came about i couldnt help but be distracted by how little sense it made.
    how on earth did she die or enter the purgatory or whatever, if he made himself an organ doner moments before his death?
    the only way i think this could make sense is if he was in a comatose state in a hospital bed for about a year after the accident giving angel time to look for him which makes absolutely no sense, again. i was really upset that it had to end like that, the ending woulda been so much better without those last 7 minutes and 10 seconds… if you want it to be know that their wont be sequels you coulda shown them in the next life or reincarnated as friends thus tying up all lose ends, or even better confirm it in public away from the series. but no, for what was supposed to be a great ending i was to cry over, i got that terrible mess.

  11. John Smith permalink
    April 2, 2013 9:11 AM

    1. He was wandering the netherworld before he appeared in this. Hinted in the light novel.
    2. He was a flawed person, just like every single person was. Even Yuri knew that passing on was not in itself evil (Remember when the lead singer passed on and she took it nonchalantly? In fact, I suspect that Yuri was the key to keeping everyone engaged in that pointless war until Otoushi came and she had a paradigm shift.)
    3. The last moment was spontaneous, very much like a crazy idea appearing in your head. A good example is from Catcher in the Rye, when the protagonist just called his girlfriend and had this crazy idea to run away out of the blue. Especially apt when teenagers are prone to such delusions. However, I still believe that Otoushi is not the scheming type. Remember he volunteered to go as the 3rd person after graduation, but Hinata stopped him? Throughout the series, it was shown again and again how selfless he was, (forgiving the guy that stole the water, keeping morale up no matter where he was, organ donation, reaching out to Angel multiple times even when the whole SSS was against it.)
    4. I like Hinata the most in the whole series, followed by Kaneda and third is jointly TK and Shina.

    To conclude, I would say that Otoushi is a generally good protagonist, not perfect, but very human which is what makes him believable.


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