I don’t think it’s spoilers to say this episode is the first and only one where you see Otonashi and Kanade teaming up to help the others move on. The post-credits scene made that clear and even if it wasn’t included, Angel Beats! has breezed through so many ideas by this point so why should this one be any different? It’s a shame. If not for the second half, this plot is a solid one for the concluding act. I suppose it just didn’t sound exciting so the staff changed course. That and you clearly need more than four episodes if you want to address even a third of the cast.
For what it’s worth, the one off that managed to squeeze into the cour is solid. Otonashi decides that the first target will be Yui, reasoning that with her upbeat and reckless attitude, she just needs a little push to move on. As it turns out however, Yui has a whole checklist of things she wanted to do in life — play music (which has largely been covered via GirlDeMo), wrestle someone with a German suplex, pass five opponents in a game of soccer, and hit a home run during baseball. She couldn’t do any of these as it turns out that she was paralyzed from her neck down for most of her life.
Otonashi and Kanade make a fun team here. The former acts as the planner while the latter follows the instructions to the letter, sometimes to a fault. Here, Otonashi wants Kanade to confiscate Yui’s guitar so that he can better approach her about her regrets. The plan works though some hiccups do occur such as Kanade initially showing up with guitar in hand but no Yui in hot pursuit and when she sends the guitar up in the air due to her super strength. It’s an entertaining routine. I just wish it happend more often in the episode and the show as a whole. You get one more moment where Kanade secretly helps Otonashi with the soccer game but that’s about it. Surprisingly, Kanade isn’t terribly present in this episode.
Maybe this is just me but I found Yui’s backstory to be handled differently from the others’. For one, you’re not shown the car accident that paralyzed Yui or learn how she actually died. Instead, you just get a prolonged scene of her in bed while her mother takes care of her and she watches television. It’s far less dramatic compared to how other flashbacks in the series have been presented and I find that to be a strength. The more tranquil tone befits Yui’s ennui, having to stay in her room indefinitely and not be able to do things she wants if she could freely move. Her bucket list of regrets are way more absurd than anyone else’s but there’s a cute innocence to it all. She aspired to be a singer and compete in various sports as those professions comprised much of her what she saw on television and those are all things she wished she could do if she somehow recovered.
Though way more than he expected to deal with, Otonashi still agrees to help Yui achieve her goals. With some practice, Yui manages to suplex him. Otonashi tricks Hinata and some of the other guys into a rigged game of soccer against Yui (who is of course also the ref). The one goal Yui technically doesn’t fulfill is hitting a home run in baseball. After a couple of days and dozens of attempts, Yui decides she can’t pull it off and calls it quits. I like the concession she makes, that what she truly wants is simply being able to move her body and she got that wish in the afterlife. Still, it would’ve nice if Yui hit a home run.
Another thing that would’ve been nice is a more proper conclusion with Yui’s GirlDeMo career. This episode brings up that Yui isn’t as good as Iwasawa with simultaneously singing and playing guitar and yet, it quietly puts that to wayside. I’m not sure how Otonashi could help with that but it would’ve been cool to see Yui overcome that as part of her achieving her goals. Plus, we’d get another concert scene with Yui. This show only gave us one (and no, I’m not counting the practice session in this episode).
Things take a more dramatic turn as Yui reveals that she does have one last goal on her list: marriage. That’s something she especially feels she had no chance at, reasoning that no one would want to spend their life taking care of her. She asks Otonashi if he’d marry her, to which he hesitates to answer. It’s not that Otonashi would see Yui’s disability as a hindrance, he even says he wouldn’t, but that he just sees Yui as a friend and Yui ought to marry someone who loves her. Fortunately, this is where Hinata comes in.
Maybe it’s a little surprising that Hinata offers to marry Yui. Much of their screentime together has been them bickering and beating each other up. An argument can certainly be made that there should’ve been more screen time depicting them actually caring for each other underneath all the noise they make. Even so, there is no denying Hinata and Yui are very close to one another so watching the former say that he’s actually in love with the latter and will gladly fall in love with her in the next life regardless of the odds or whatever handicap she has still works to good effect. It just feels right that Hinata is the one who proposes.
I also can’t help but be moved by the final montage of Hinata and Yui meeting in real life. Is it a hypothetical scenario or their actual future? The show implies the former more but I frankly prefer the latter for my interpretation (it’s more romantic that way). It doesn’t really matter either way. The point of the scene is to better convey the promise Hinata makes to Yui and, provided that you’re invested in these two, how much you hope it’ll happen. It’s not just the visuals either. Playing in the background is an insert song, “My Most Precious Treasure”, the lyrics of which speak of a girl who must depart with a loved one but will cherish the memories she has of him. Fittingly, this is the last song in the show sung by LiSA, Yui’s singing voice. If there’s one thing I can still give this show credit for, it’s that it knows how to hit hard. This scene is no different.
Ultimately, Yui disappears from the afterlife. Hinata actually stays and while it would’ve tugged at the heartstrings more if he disappeared with Yui, it does seem that he’s in the same boat as Otonashi. He’s more than willing to leave but he wants to make sure everyone else moves on first. Furthermore, this means that he’s not only cool with Otonashi’s plan but also wants to lend a hand to it as well. Too bad Angel Beats! doesn’t go further with that development.
As mentioned at the start of this post, this episode is the first and only one where you see Otonashi and Kanade’s little collaboration. The post credit scene makes it obvious that there’s a new threat to look out for, mysterious beings that can only be described as “shadows”. I’ll go ahead and admit that I actually don’t think this upcoming plot thread is half-bad. More on that in the next review. Even so, I’m just continually reminded how quickly things go by in Angel Beats!. Why was this only thirteen episodes?
Thanks for reading!