The Infinite Zenith

Where insights on anime, games, academia and life dare to converge

Hell’s Kitchen: Angel Beats! OVA Review and Reflection

“I don’t care if you don’t like liver or not. This is delicious…at this very moment, this is the best liver I’ve had in my life.” —Les Stroud

It’s been five years since Angel Beats! finished airing, and three years since I crossed the finish line for myself. Three years is a nontrivial amount of time, and consequently, it was quite surprising to learn that there was another Angel Beats! OVA in the works back in December. The OVA itself comes with a new Blu-Ray set that was released a few days ago, and in the same spirit as the previous OVA, deals with Yuri’s plans to learn more about Tenshi’s true nature by having the members of the SSS eliminate one another to bring out a daemon of sorts under the cover of a picnic in the mountains. While most of the SSS are destroyed in amusing and mildly grotesque ways, the Girls Dead Monster group encounter considerable difficulty in ensnaring Masami, only to waste their coup de grâce on Hisako and inadvertently have her transform into a monster even beyond Tenshi’s power to stop. Thus, the outrageous nature of the OVA hails back to the comedic side of Angel Beats!, which is a hallmark of the earlier episodes.

Hell’s Kitchen initially evoked a vision in my mind’s-eye: I imagined that the episode would’ve dealt with more food preparation as per Gordon Ramsay’s Hell’s Kitchen reality programme. The OVA’s premise of a picnic seems quite far removed from anything related, and much of the time is spent watching the main members of the SSS betray each other in painful but hilarious ways. In a turn of events similar to their guild visit, Yuzuru manages to become the last man standing. This is immensely funny, but one must wonder where the episode’s namesake comes from: after all, no one’s cooked anything, and there certainly isn’t an anime version of Gordon Ramsay insulting everyone’s cooking. It turns out that the title foreshadows Miyuki and Shiori’s concoction that ultimately brings out Hisako’s inner demon. Consisting of laxatives and raw liver, the strange mixture hits Hisako rather than Masami owing to Eri’s error at the episode’s climax. The resulting daemonic Hisako proceeds to force-feed a distraught Shiori the raw liver/laxative mixture, easily dispatching anyone trying to stop her. While the camera angles might be misinterpreted otherwise, the daemonoic Hisako is not actually consuming Shiori (presumably, that would cross too many lines).At the episode’s end, suffers from a painful bit of bowel evacuation, done intentionally for comedy, of course.

Screenshots and Commentary

  • As a talk about an OVA, this post will consist of thirty screenshots. The above quote comes from Les Stroud’s Survivorman, specifically, from the Norway episode that aired back in 2012. During this time, I was in the midst of studying for the MCAT, and after the day’s work, I dropped by Discovery Channel to watch the episode’s second half, where Les had discovered hunters’ cabins with deer remains nearby.

  • It’s been quite some time since I’ve actually seen the interior of the SSS’s briefing room; I picked up Angel Beats! during March 2012 and finished by around April 2012. During this time, I was up to my eyeballs in cell and molecular biology, as well as biochemistry, and I still recall vividly coming home to study during noon hour. Of course, I would prepare lunch first, watch Angel Beats! or Mighty Ships on Discovery Channel.

  • In the time that’s passed, nothing seems to have changed within Angel Beats!, and although there are subtle differences in the characters’ appearances here and there, as well as slightly improved lighting and reflection effects in the landscape, the voices and shenanigans the characters of the SSS pull off remain as amusing as they had during the anime’s original run.

  • Unlike the anime series, Miyuki and Shiori get a lot more screentime in the OVA and play a pivotal part of the OVA’s story. One of the main laments fans have about Angel Beats! was its short length. Owing to the amount of detail and resulting emotional investment the major arcs yielded, viewers wondered what everyone else’s backgrounds were. This is one of those few cases where the fans criticisms are valid: there is so much possibility in Angel Beats! that the anime could have been presented over twenty-six episodes, and it would have retained its emotional impact.

  • Yuzuru’s story of the original anime was particularly moving: when he had been alive, he tended to his sister, who was terminally ill with cancer. Her death spurred him to become a doctor, but he died in a train accident en route to writing the equivalent of the MCAT. While he did his best to keep the survivors alive until rescue arrived, Yuzuru succumbed to his injuries. His last act was to sign an organ donor card.

  • Some of the characters I would have liked to see more story from include TK, whose tendency to dance and quote lyrics from English songs are quite interesting. Ooyama and Matsushita also merit additional exploration, as does Eri Shiina. This colourful cast of characters made Angel Beats! highly unique, giving the sense that every single character must have some sort of background that led them here.

  • The amount of traps and the victim’s fates are passed off as strictly comedic, since this universe is one where there are respawns. The series of cruel and unusual fates that befall everyone is reminiscent of the second Angel Beats! episode, one of the earliest episodes that exemplified the sort of humour that was possible within Angel Beats! given the setting.

  • Angel Beats! irrevocably reminds me of March-April 2012, when I was enrolled in biochemistry. The days of my studying biochemistry and trying to memorise all of the processes in aerobic respiration have long passed, but in a curious turn of fate, I’ve revisited it several times for my own research. It is rather more pleasant to be learning about something without the threat of an imminent examination.

  • Despite the traps doing some rather brutal things to the individual unfortunate enough to be caught in one (here, Matsushita gets pulled apart by something the drama club set up), the level of actual violence occurring on-screen is pretty tame compared to the level of karnage available in something like the upcoming DOOM title, although it’s still sufficiently gruesome such that Ooayama vomits (complete with high-definition sounds of splattering).

  • The deaths get more clustered as the episode wears on, and continue to occur in order of increasing hilarity. Here, Fujimaki is pulled off by a fishing wire into the river and drowns, while someone (or something) mocks them from the river. Fujimaki cannot swim, and this is alluded to in the earlier episodes. His similarity to Noda in temperament means that I had a tough time telling the two apart.

  • Things get kicked into twelfth gear when a small squadron of helicopters (similar in function, if not appearance, to the MH-6 Little Bird) appears. Armed with gasoline canisters and Hydra 70 rockets, they begin targeting Ooyama, but TK ultimately takes the fire in Ooyama’s place. This is over-the-top, overkill and quite unorthodox, considering that the Guild was unable to recreate a howitzer, but has somehow managed to build something as involved as an MH-6-like helicopter.

  • TK ends in a blaze of glory, warning the others to be cautious of the manga club’s traps. While his English is seemingly nonsensical, the lines actually sum up most situations the SSS finds themselves in quite nicely. Michael Rivas (TK’s voice actor) delivers some of the best English in any anime out there, although given that he’s fluent in English, this should come as no surprise for the viewers.

  • Ooyama himself is caught by an unknown force in the river, putting an end to him, as well.

  • With Ooyama down for the count, it’s just Yuzuru and Hideki left. A trap in the woods ensnares the latter, and high-velocity calligraphy brushes are shot at him, annihilating him and leaving Yuzuru as the sole male survivor. This turn of events was probably deliberate and alludes to his survival in the original anime, and with the male characters (save Yuzuru) down for the count, the story returns to the members of Girls Dead Monster.

  • Unfazed by the sheer number of pitfalls that Miyuki and Shiori have set up for her, Masami continues to tranquilly continue her story about music, leading the former pair to wonder whether or not their plan was such a good idea or not.

  • Three days prior to the operation’s start, it turns out that Miyuki and Shiori were preparing some sort of concoction that involves what appears to be a laxative and raw liver sourced from their school’s canteen. This putrid-looking mixture is quite unpleasant and is intended to be a finishing move of sorts.

  • Eri is bought out when Miyuki and Shiori bring her a stuffed doll of sorts. I believe Angel Beats! is where I first noticed the prominent eyebrows so common to anime: they allow for more expressive faces and can do much to visually represent what the characters are feeling during a moment; here, while Shiori is enthusiastic about their plan, Miyuki seems a little more hesitant.

  • While some may find the comparison unorthodox, there does seem to be a fair bit of similarity between Gochuumon wa Usagi Desu Ka‘s Chino Kafuu and Angel Beats’ Tenshi. Both characters speak quietly and conduct themselves in a polite manner, sporting long white hair and a gentle mien. I’ll briefly steer this figure caption off-mission to remark that Gochuumon wa Usagi Desu ka‘s second season is now purportedly to air during Fall 2015, rather than my prediction of Winter 2016.

  • Yuri speaks with Yusa concerning their operational status. This is perhaps one of my favourite settings in the afterlife’s school; the view of the school grounds and surrounding forests is beautiful and nostalgic. It’s been some years since I’ve seen Angel Beats! in full, but I believe that several important conversations were set here.

  • Masami’s deplorable state becomes apparent through torn clothing, as well as the lodging of a tin can and fish bone in her hair. During Angel Beats’ original run, she was the lead vocalist for the Girls Dead Monster band, and disappeared after accepting her belief that she will be able to sing again someday. Her presence is how viewers deduct that this OVA was set between episodes two and three; Masami is still present (so it’s before episode three), and Yuzuru appears to be on somewhat familiar terms with members of the SSS (implying he’s already survived the journey to the Guild).

  • Eri understands that invisibility is a matter of patience and agility and lies in wait for Masami. However, despite being a highly capable practitioner of ninjitsu, her penchant for cute things is a weakness that her enemies will not share. She accidentally knocks the pail carrying the mysterious concoction over prematurely, drenching Hisako with its contents. To my understanding, pails exclusively refer to small, handheld, metallic containers; pails are a subset of buckets, with the latter can varying in size and composition.

  • Stricken by Masami’s state, Hisako is intent on dispensing punishment to Miyuki and Shiori. No explanation is given regarding how the transformation occurs, but it’s not unreasonable to suppose that it’s an emotional response that invokes some subroutine in the afterlife, given that Matrix-esque digits appear while Hisako is in a daemon form.

  • Despite Hisako’s transformation into a daemon, the OVA continues to treat things in a very nonsensical manner. I’ll clarify again, since it does appear that daemon Hisako is gouging out Shiori’s innards, but what’s actually happening is that she’s pulling the liver remains off her and forcibly making Shiori ingest the liver in revenge.

  • Not even Tenshi is able to stop the monstrosity that Mikyuki and Shiori have birthed, as daemon Hisako effortlessly picks Tenshi up and tosses her a fair distance, far beyond the realm of what is reasonable with normal physics. This here post was intended to have come out earlier, but the past few days have been surprisingly busy. On Friday, I went out with friends to finally watch The Avengers: Age Of Ultron, and thoroughly enjoyed it. While Ultron might not be as intimidating as The Dark Knight‘s Joker, the film was nonetheless quite fun to watch and continues with the story from Captain America: The Winter Soldier.

  • While Yuri is absolutely horrified at what she’s seeing, Masami’s so mellow and laid-back that she is content to watch the daemone Hisako rend her friends. Things on Friday were a tight squeeze with respect to scheduling, but my friend’s knowledge of a burrito place near the theatre meant that dinner was quick but tasty (it’s been a while since I’ve had a hard-shell taco, and tacos go rather well with sirlion beef). Then, yesterday and today, I spent most of the time building a wall unit. It’s largely done now, and we’re minus a screw that failed to come with the package, so that’ll need to be taken care of.

  • The others have respawned by the time Hisako becomes a daemon, but are promptly defeated in close-quarters combat. I’ve captured this scene of Hideki getting his clock cleaned, complete with comical facial expressions.

  • Yui makes a short appearance here, signing up to be one of the assistants for Girls Dead Monster. She’ll later become a full-on band member and lead vocalist once Masami disappears. To dispel any confusion arising from this here post, my verdict on the Angel Beats! OVA 2 is that, while not possessing a substantial story relevant to the original anime, its motley construction means that the OVA is nonetheless successful at evoking memories of the parts that made Angel Beats! fun to watch.

  • Hilarious this might be to watch in a fictional context (doubly so if it’s in a simulated reality or dream world), unsolicited bowel evacuations are absolutely not funny in any sense in real life. For the most part, such incidents caused by a viral vector are thankfully self-limiting, and usually stop once all of the nasty stuff arising from food poisoning is expelled fully.

  • The first volume of the Angel Beats! visual novel has been released, and features an all new opening song (“Heartily Song”) by Lia. It’s the first of six volumes, meaning there will be plenty of opportunity to explore the back stories for all of the different characters in the level of detail that they deserve. However, at present, I do not believe there is an English-translated version yet.

  • Masami’s smile is probably the best way to conclude this post, which was sort of an interruption from the original scheduling. I’ll be returning to regular programming on the next post to do a talk on the finale to OreGairu Zoku, followed by a talk on Hibike Euphonium‘s finale. July will open with a talk on The Disappearance of Nagato Yuki-chan; I’ve decided to do a separate post on the Disappearance arc, and then write the finale post to encompass the final few episodes, and from there, I’ll do my best to roll out a single post on the remainder of the Sabagebu! OVAs.

While Angel Beats! is perhaps best known for being able to fluidly switch between comical and more emotional moments, the Hell’s Kitchen OVA episode sticks purely to the amusing facets. Set between the second and third episode, this is a time when Yuzuru is still getting used to the intermediary world between life and the great beyond. As such, Yuri is still organising the SSS towards engaging Tenshi and striving towards a chance to fight against God with the aim of settling an injustice from when she had still lived. These are fairly serious topics, but by keeping a light-hearted mood in the beginning, audiences do have a chance to see the characters as being relatable, in turn allowing audiences to develop empathy for the characters when things do become more serious. This is how good stories are constructed. In the OVA’s case, the combination of a large gap since having watched the anime, and the inclusion of comedy means that even after all this time, audiences can immediately recognise the characters they’d seen years previously. The OVA allows for each character’s defining features to be showcased (even if it is only briefly in some cases), and consequently, although this OVA does not contribute to the story per se, it nonetheless represents a nice addition that succeeds in evoking the memories of Angel Beats!.

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