I didn’t quite expect Angel Beats! to hit us with the full force of Key melodrama this early. But this ep… it was a full visual novel character path packed into a single episode, completely with a short emotional rollercoaster ride. Yet despite the focus on Iwasawa’s character development,episode 3 skimped out on none of the other stuff: we’re treated to more Key humor (especially the Miyazaki touch), another top-quality concert scene, and the advancement of a significant main plot hook: just what exactly is Angel? On top of the already ‘just what exactly is this world’?
Magnificent. This kind of Key work should be done more often, where Maeda Jun isn’t constrained by the dragged-out pacing of your typical Key Nakige…
Iwasawa’s life story is yet another trope: the character with a tragic background who was saved by the discovery of music. As expected, everyone in SSS is fighting for something they tragically lost in life, and for Iwasawa it was her music, which had been brutally ripped from her by the same despair it once saved her from. It’s a simple and straightforward background, but the emotional depth of her melody, especially the desperation within, contrasted sharply with the inspirational Alchemy that preceded it and really touched my soul with the meaning of her life.
At the same time, she realized her own calling and finally accepted her life to begin anew. Her sudden disappearance, in addition to the emotional shock effect, begs the question — how many other members of the cast will accept, vanish, and pass on before the end of the series?
This was melodrama, musically told, at its finest.
From the RPG perspective, we’ve picked up a new party member: Christ, whose catchphrase was nice at start but got really annoying really fast. With the class of Hacker, his special ability is Pi Chant, with an attack-type of [Intellectual] and is super-effective against idiots. It appears every series with an RPG theme (e.g. ZnT, Negima, and especially BakaTest) has a party composed of idiots.
Their raid was also successful in obtaining information on Angel’s special abilities, the Guard Skills. Yuri notes that Angel is actively developing her skills, rather than having pre-designated hax like you expect of a video game final boss. Combine this with the distinctively human emotions she showed during this episode, it brought out the question of just what Angel is once again: is she a self-evolving weapon-grade AI with its sentience becoming more and more human? Or was she once a spiral who threw away her humanity in order to become an anti-spiral and the guardian of this dimension?
What about this entire game-like world we’re in? Is it just another one of Key’s surreal parallel worlds like the dream worlds of One and Clannad? Or is it more like the world of Little Busters! where the main character was placed in purposefully so he could become stronger and face reality? Is it really reincarnation once you log off like Iwasawa, or will he find this entire adventure to be an elaborately planned scheme, a dream that he wakes up from?