Knowing the entire narrative of Angel Beats!, I can’t help but view this episode as the end of an arc. Yuri’s scheme for this episode? It’s the last one in the show. Tenshi being the antagonist? That ends here. Yui getting to perform for GirlDeMo? This is the only concert scene you get to watch her perform in. Having hindsight really makes me realize how quickly the story goes and how much I wish it was longer.
At least Yuri’s last scheme is a good one. It’s probably the smartest plan she concocts in the show — swap Tenshi’s tests to sabotage her grades so much that she’ll be pressured into losing her position as Student Council President. Honestly, I’m surprised the SSS hasn’t tried this before but I suppose that’s just something I have to look the other way on. And look the other way I do as the comedy here is too good to ignore. The boys’ attempts to distract Tenshi garner a laugh because they don’t stick the landing. Yuri strapping them to rocket-powered chairs is a ridiculous image alone but the joke is pushed further thanks to the show “replaying” the footage and accompanying said replays with “Brave Song”. Again, the cue to the ED is one of the best jokes in Angel Beats!
The main takeaway from this episode is how much more we learn about Tenshi. Hell, you even learn her real name: Kanade Tachibana (and I’m with Otonashi, I love that name). She’s still puts on the same neutral face in general but there’s little moments that suggest that she’s far from emotionless. When Otonashi runs off for a student list, she stops him, concerned that he’s panicking about the tests, and encourages him to stay. When she’s suspicious of the SSS and Otonashi provides a wacky cover-up involving Hinata and Yuri, she not only buys it but also makes her own wild conclusion, straying from the image of an ace student. When Otonashi catches her leaving the faculty office, she denies anything bad has happened to her. Her demeanor may be the same but her dialogue suggests otherwise.
The concert scene at the end implies her humanity the most. Whether she’s dejected about her defeat is unclear (I personally think she’s feeling glum) but one thing that is clear that while everyone is enjoying the rock music, she’s just trying to get dinner. The meal she orders is mapo tofu and the fact that everyone considers it an unpopular meal gives a sense of individuality to her. She willingly picks this meal and she enjoys eating it. It’s too specific of a quirk and it puts a curve ball to Yuri and Otonashi’s preconception of her. When she ends up losing the meal ticket during the SSS’s scheme, you can tell that she is shocked and saddened about it. It’s the first moment where she subtly displays emotion.
I really love Otonashi’s interactions with Kanade. Besides Yuri, he’s really the only one having second thoughts about kicking her off the student council and whether or not she’s an enemy. That he is the one who finds about her real name and is the only one who successfully distracts her without a rocket chair (twice) is noteworthy. All he does is talk to her and that’s something no one else seems to have considered. There’s the moment where he spots Kanade heading to the dining commons and tells everyone not to fire. Just from a slight change in body language, he’s able to tell that she’s not here to fight. And finally, you have him getting Kanade’s meal ticket. Even though that’s by coincidence, he still feels guilty about it, as though he’s the one who stole a moment of happiness from her.
Moving on to the other characters, I wish more was done with Yuri. There’s moments where she’s clearly having second thoughts about how she’s been treating Kanade but she doesn’t contemplate to the same extent that Otonashi does and it’ll be a while before the show follows up on this. As mentioned before, Yui only performing one concert scene is disappointing. For crying out loud, you had LiSA singing the vocals. I do like the detail that she’s performing the last song Iwasawa wrote before she disappeared. It really feels like a passing of the torch. Honestly, Yui feeling the pressure of taking Iwasawa’s place and proving her own musical talent could’ve easily been its own episode. It’d even be an opportunity to explore the other band members who I must acknowledge are barely in the show.
As for the new Student Council President, Naoi (Megumi Ogata), he certainly makes quite the scene after the credits. He brings a whole squad of council members to practically arrest the entire SSS, a far more aggressive move compared to Kanade dealing with the gang’s shenanigans all on her own. It really sets the tone that he’s the new big bad and a pretty different one at that. That SSS didn’t see this coming makes sense since Naoi is seemingly a normal human being and up until now, just seemed like an unassuming background character (though him being named in Episode 4 is a telling sign). We’ll learn more about him soon enough.
ED: “Brave Song” by Aoi Tada
Thanks for reading!