I want to make it perfectly clear that I am enjoying Angels of Death. I just can’t tell if I’m enjoying it for the right reasons. Despite being marketed as a horror anime, it hasn’t gone beyond mildly eerie and intense. In fact, I’d argue that Episode 2 wasn’t scary at all. The lighting’s still dim, the mock graveyard is a strange sight, and the new boss is clearly a twisted fellow but I wasn’t holding my breath or anything.
There’s two major reasons that I think of as to why the tone lacks suspense. One is that Rachel isn’t afraid to die right now. She wants her new bandaged scythe-wielding pal, Zack, to kill her. I’ll get to what I like about this character trait later in this post but here’s the con: there’s less of a life or death situation going on in Angels of Death now. The thing about horror is that a big foundation to it is the high possibility of death and the fear associated with it. Since Rachel wants to die anyway, that fear aspect is essentially nulled and death could start to feel trivial to her. Obviously, the intent should be to make you not want Rachel to die no matter what but I think it’s a shame that her sense of fear from last episode has been sapped.
The second reason is the increase in comedy. Now that Rachel and Zack are more or less buddies, their relationship tends to get played up for laughs. Zack tries to intimidate Rachel with a story of his nefarious deeds only to remember that Rachel wants him to kill her anyway. Rachel wants to die so badly that she isn’t 100% convinced that Zack will live up to his promise of killing her once the two escape the dungeon. Even when the one of these two are on their own, it’s hard to take seriously. There is absolutely no way I could look at Zack beating up gravestones with a pickaxe while the screen puts on a red tint and fake blood splatters as anything but a joke. I know I accused the show of being a bit on the goofy side but I was not expecting its two lead characters to become quite the comedic duo.
That all said, I am having a good time with Angels of Death. Zack and Rachel’s relationship may have gone in a surprising direction but it’s still entertaining and compelling. There’s such an interesting dichotomy between their personalities: Rachel’s so stoic now and wants to die while Zack is on the whimsical and loves killing people. When you think about it, Rachel is practically an antithesis to Zack. The latter is so used to seeing people beg for their lives that seeing a girl politely ask him to do the dirty deed just makes him look at her as if she’s the weird one. In terms of acting, I think Haruka Chigusa’s deadpan acting for Rachel plays off nicely with Nobuhiko Okamoto’s hammy delivery. All things considered, I can’t help but enjoy watching these two interact with each other.
I am also finding the locations to be pretty interesting. Last floor resembled a hospital while this one looks like a graveyard. It seems that each floor is now representing a phase of Rachel’s mind. The psychiatric ward was the last place Rachel was in before she ended up in this strange domain and thus the first place she’d hope to return to. Meanwhile, graveyard symbolizes her desire to die, hence why there’s a tombstone with her name on it. That the floors represent what Rachel is currently feeling is a bit on the nose. Thinking back, it’s too coincidental that Danny was even a floor master to begin with. And looking at this episode, I find it strange that the puzzles are designed with two people in mind given that the building sends one victim in a time. What, is this entire building designed like a video game….wait a minute…
If cheese really is what Angels of Death aims to deliver than it’s clearly doing its job. If not, well, I’m still enjoying the show so I suppose I don’t have much to complain.
OP: “Vital” by Masaaki Endoh
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Angels of Death is officially available on Crunchyroll.
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