Man, if this string of screenshots doesn’t make it clear how varied Angel Beats‘ tone is, I don’t know what will.
Presumably because they fired all their guns at Tenshi last episode, Yuri reveals to everyone that they’re low on ammunition and must travel underground to Guild, where the SSS makes their weapons. I wouldn’t call the whole episode irrelevant but the actual trip to Guild itself does border on filler. I can only think of one other time the issue of ammunition is ever brought up again in Angel Beats! and that time, it’s just passingly brought up. One could maybe argue that Guild serves as a bit of worldbuilding. I’ll admit that once you see the location, it’s a stunning sight to behold — an entire industrial complex running underground. How Guild produces weapons is pretty vague though. Yurippe explains that so long as you know the method and theory behind an object, you can make it out of dirt in this world. It’s not too far fetched but what the Guild is successful and unsuccessful at creating feels a bit consistent. Grenades and C4? Easy peasy. A giant cannon? Not so much.
I’m critical but truth be told, the trip to Guild is still a lot of fun to watch. See, Tenshi has apparently located Guild and because of that, various booby traps (a giant boulder, a spiked pit, a falling ceiling, lasers, etc.) have been reactivated to fend her off. This forces Yuri’s team to make their way past them and with each trap, someone gets left behind. The ridiculousness of the traps alone is pretty funny but what really makes it riot are all the individual gags provided by the characters. T.K. (Michael Rivas) makes a heroic sacrifice but his friends just casually thank him because they know he’ll revive later. When the gang hangs above the spiked pit, Otonashi has to awkwardly grab onto Yuri in order to climb up. Hinata (Ryouhei Kimura) doesn’t get nearly as much leniency from Yuri when it’s his turn. And that stinking cue to “Brave Song” when the giant hammer sends Noda (Shun Takagi) flying. I forgot how good that gag is (and thankfully, it’s used again). There’s more but I just wanted to mention my favorites. The point I make is that all this may be hijinks passing the time but they’re still very entertaining.
Once we’re down to Otonashi and Yuri, things take a more serious turn as we get to learn more about the SSS’s leader. While I do see the old comparison between Yuri and Haruhi Suzumiya, I really only agree with it when the comedy is concerned. Where I think Yuri deviates is how much more serious she can be. She’s not afraid of letting someone sacrifice themselves and she’ll even make light of their misfortune but she clearly prefers not having any harm behind them. Being the leader, she still feels responsible for those “casualties”, something which she admits to Otonashi in a rare moment of admission.
You also learn about Yuri’s past and…man, I remember feeling so surprised at how dark it is. I’d argue it’s the darkest backstory that the show presents. One day when she was little, her house was invaded by robbers and her failure to cooperate with their demands results in the murders of her three younger siblings. It’s because of this that Yuri holds a grudge against God and wants to rebel in the afterlife. She refuses to accept that something so cruel could be allowed to happen in life. Something that stood out to me was the fact that Yuri lived for few years longer after that robbery, at least up to her adolescence. It makes me wonder what she was thinking and feeling in that period of time before she died. All those years pondering what she could’ve done differently, questioning why such a thing happened, and growing more and more discontent and bitter in the process. The only detail left unknown in the show is how Yuri died. I believe Heaven’s Door does explain how but in the show’s defense, it’s not too important. It focuses on what actually matters which is what compels Yuri to be so rebellious.
I really like the development for Otonashi and Yuri’s relationship. In Episode 1, Otonashi goes along with Yuri because that’s all he has to work with and he has nowhere else to go. This episode allows him to get to know more about her and from there, he recognizes and respects Yuri’s resolve. That change of opinion leads him to assist her when she holds off against Tenshi to buy the Guild members time to evacuate and blow up the facility. He pushes Tenshi right before she could land a finishing blow on Yuri. At first, he doesn’t understand why and chalks it up to instinct. By the end of the episode, he understands why. He recognizes Yuri as a leader and as someone he’s willing to follow and befriend.
ED: “Brave Song” by Aoi Tada
Thanks for reading!