• Genre : Josei, Horror, Mystery, Psychological Thriller
  • Studio: J.C.Staff

Have I used that as a title before? I feel like every single episode review for every single show, I’ve ever written could have been titled this way.

Angels of Death Episode 2
this could be the start…never mind…

I’ve been trying hard to destroy my blog under pretense of renovating it and as a result I had to get it reset at the beginning of the week. A handful of posts got reverted back to draft in the process and I lost all of your comments from last week. This really irks me because I wanted to bring them up again this week and now I don’t have them anymore.

Oh well, I guess I’m on my own this week.

For better or worse (I hate to say it but mostly worse I think) they tried to start inserting humor into Angels of Death. Now I am normally a big comedy fan so on its face, I would consider that a good move and it still may turn out that way, but I saw a few definite flaws in the execution.

Angels of Death Episode 2
execution, get it???

Right off the bat, we were treated to Zack (Isaac’s) creepy goofy shtick and saw him vomiting rainbows in reaction Rachel’s death seeker persona. At this point I was all in. Although I know that the rainbow vomit is sort of a classic anime staple, it immediately made me think of KonoSuba and I ended up liking Isaac more by association. Also having a psychopath seriously creeped out by the concept of someone wanting to die vaguely made me think of my bestie Nagito….Long story, medium length, I was all in at this point. Sure, there was no trace of scary anymore but black comedy works for me. I wanted to see where it goes.

Unfortunately where it went was to that cliched straight man and weirdo routine, with an emotionless, hyper rational little girl and a weird intimidating yet goofy big guy. We’ve seen this pairing a lot. It can be fantastic but it’s certainly not innovative enough to be the only hook.

Angels of Death Episode 2
odd couple, how original

As I watched the two go through their little schtick I grew considerably less thrilled. It took me a few scenes to realize what was off. To me, there’s simply a total lack of chemistry. The voice actors are quite good in their own right and embody the roles well in my opinion, but when it comes to interacting with each other, they fall completely flat. The banter is stiff and uninteresting, the jokes don’t land and the very few emotional moments feel false.

I was tempted on blaming everything on Isaac’s over the top crazy freak stereotype but as soon as they separated, he became considerably more bearable, while remaining as unhinged as ever, possibly more so. I really enjoyed his laugh for instance and his frantic nervousness seems to be covering up a lot of fragility rather than just being a psycho for plot’s sake.

Angels of Death Episode 2
I can tell you’re just reading the script

Accordingly, even the story became so much more interesting once Rachel and Isaac are isolated from each other. Abandoning the standup routine, the plot dove back into slightly ominous mystery. I quite enjoyed the odd and apparently all knowing letters. The personal files in the room. I liked the notion of having all those unfinished, preemptive graves and how badly it was messing with Isaac’s mind. I really enjoyed the cliffhanger ending.

The good news is that chemistry between actors can and often does improve through the run of a show. Moreover, it would be fairly easy to separate the two leads and have them running parallel stories. They seem to be setting up Rachel (the lone sane man) as the most terrifying thing in the menagerie of monsters, which is also a little cliché but nevertheless something I enjoy.

Angels of Death Episode 2
I dunno, I wanted to put a different lookin pic

On the other hand, the exaggerated insane maniac role Isaac slips into can get old fast. I believe both Karandi and Raistlin mentioned the villains being a bit too overbearing for their tastes in my episode 1 review (you’ll have to take my word for it), and while I was generally ok with it as long as they were plot devices, not more than set pieces to serve as obstacles in Rachel’s way, it’s a different story if one of them is going to be a deuteragonist. There is potential for an intriguing and complex character in Issac Foster (another super British name I might add) but so far there’s just as much chance he’ll end up insufferable.

As for Rachel, I quite like emotionless characters, not only because I relate to them…However, there’s a fine line between delightfully neutral and painfully boring. She can afford to be rather bland as her role is to even out the outlandish plot and cast but if she is to carry the entire show, there needs to be something there. At least one thing…

So this second episode was a flush for me. It had roughly the same amount of ups as downs and I’m left uncertain as to what to expect. To wrap things up on a high note though, I really loved the lighting in this episode. I think the use of light and shadows was interesting and enhanced the atmosphere quite a bit.

Angels of Death Episode 2
fine, I’m curious again

I didn’t realize as I was watching it but somehow all my screencaps ended up looking the same…

39 thoughts on “Angels of Death ep 2 – Cautiously Optimistic”

  1. By the end of this I really want Zack to be my favorite character.
    Although I checked to see how much time was left in the episode at least five times so that doens’t bode well.

  2. I wasn’t too keen on just how emotionless Rachel has become. Compared to how much life she had and how much more suspenseful last week’s episode was because of it, I got a bit bored this week. I liked Zack a lot more and the cliffhanger ending makes me excited for next time though! Especially if they both end up having to fight their own battles and these link up somehow

    1. I still have hope for this show as well. I am in fact looking forward to ep3 and a little scared as well

  3. At first I just cracked up at the “stand on hidden switch tile” -> “oh, that sounds like a hidden entrance opening” sequence, the most RPG Maker thing ever I’ve seen expressed straight in anime.

    But I can’t help being impressed at some parts of the episode, especially since I didn’t get it the first time around. Particularly the “you read it” scene. During the first watch, I was annoyed at the scene because I saw it as a continuation of the awkward exposition style from ep. 1 (characters reading things out loud that the player could read themselves in the game). Only much later did it click that the scene implies Zack is illiterate (or very bad at reading).

    – Zack’s easy admission to being dumb
    – “You read it”
    – “Brought up in an underground orphanage” reveal, Zack’s insecurity about his childhood
    – Flashback scene with the seductress, implying that Zack doesn’t “get” sexuality

    So it seems Zack mentally stopped at a very young age, which changes how I see the duo’s dynamics. Before it was a little girl and an adult psycho, now it’s an onee-chan/otouto pair. And Rachel obviously sucks at comforting her rambunctious little brother. He’s throwing tantrums and flailing around with pointy things to get attention, like many kids do, and Rachel gives him a dead fish look instead of a hug.

    Now I’m kind of worried about those two o_o.

  4. I see what you mean, thanks for explaining. At first, I wanted to say I’m not sure whether Zack is capable of processing something like that, but then I thought what you said might be true, even if Zack himself hasn’t realized that yet.

    1. I agree with Dawnstorm of Zack, mind you it’s just an instinct. I have a sinking feeling this is the type of show that could throw out characterization for the sake of plot

      1. That moment when I was trying to reply to Dawnstorm’s comment, but WP decided otherwise XD
        Anyway, it’s hard to tell yet, we’ll see how it goes…

  5. Blogstuff: The blog’s been acting strangely last week, for me: I couldn’t see who liked what post (only the number), and the blog would switch between fonts while loading, finally settling on the one I’m used to. The suddenly some review posts appeared below posts I’d already read (to this I’m not sure if I just missed them, I’m under stress and will be at least one more week, so that’s a good possibility, too). Those posts disappeared again, and I could once again see who liked what (probably due to a reversion), and – yes – some comments disappeared. And now it’s back to doing funky stuff: Again, I can only see the number of likes (but not who liked what), and the blogs switching between formats again while loading. Not a big deal from my end, but that’s what it’s like on Win7 under Firefox, when you’re not registered with WordPress.

    Now the show. I, too, liked this episode less than the first, and I’m also not that fond of their back and forth, but I’m seeing things a little differently. It’s definitely true that they’re trying for humor, but the dynamic between them doesn’t really remind me of the straight man/weirdo dynamic; they’re more of an odd couple (the tagline under the screenshot agrees with me more than the text in the post). In the straight man/weirdo dynamic, there’s a sense of someone out-of-control being reigned in by someone more sane. The temperament difference is certainly the same, but she doesn’t reign him in at all, and there’s no comment on his behaviour either. If anything, Isaac is Rachel’s straightman on the functional level, because he comments on her lack of emotion. If you’re trying to fit the conversation into that dynamic, you don’t have clear-cut roles.

    An odd-couple dynamic fits better; they’re both weird, and the comedy arises out of the contrast. (It’s not funny, but that’s where it’s supposed to be.) A straightman is usually the audience stand-in and states the obvious. In an odd-couple dynamic, you get something “Why do you quibble about that nonsense?”

    Now, usually odd couples have a few points of friction but generally get along. There’s a four-man skit structure that reflects that: two people have one of their altercations, a thrid one say to the fourth, “They’re getting along well, don’t they?” and the fourth says “That’s getting along?”. And, yes, usually it is getting along. And this is where the show is bucking the trend again.

    I think going for odd-couple comedy doesn’t work here, because they genuinely don’t get along. He’s “stop being depressed; it’s not fun killing depressed people,” and she’s all “First you want to kill me, and now you don’t. You say you’ll kill me when we’re out, but I’m not so sure. Make up your mind, will you?” That’s not even a disagreement; they’re each living in their own world and are not connecting at all. That’s why their altercations are awkward. They’re being themselves out of habit, but they’re aware that it doesn’t work as it usually would.

    She’s being a good girl. Very likely she’s used to following (from her perspective pointless) rules and shutting up, which gives her the best results. [Most obvious during the God-says-suicide-is-bad conversation.] However, here’s someone who desperately wants emotional reaction. He wants her to be happy, to live to the fullest, because only such a life is worth taking. Before the run in with the doctor, she reacted fine – afterwards, not so much.

    He’s the ultimate tsundere. I don’t want to be your friend, and to prove it I’ll kill you. Where she’s completely stunted, he’s completely unhinged. And since fear is the only reliable emotion he can elicit, that’s what he goes for. But after she broke down, she doesn’t display any fear. It’s not just that she wants to die: it’s that she’s so emotionally exhausted that self-conservation instinct is weak. The connection he usually forges isn’t there.

    He wants to kill her, but she doesn’t want anything to do with him. She thinks him killing her has utility value, and she convinces herself that it’s not suicide if he kills her, so that’s okay, too. She instrumentalises him, which he’s not used to at all, while he takes an interest in her, which she seems not used to. As a result, they’re awkward around each other.

    And they’re just not mining this situation successfully for comedy, because they’re going for an odd-couple dynamic. The emotional moments, for me, work better. The way he destroys her grave without looking at her, and how her own reaction to that is just delayed enough to make sure he catches nothing of that. It’s one of the few show’s I’ve seen, based around such a dynamic, where the odd couple doesn’t hit it off. Instead they continually frustrate each other. It’s actually beleivable, for now, that they’re only together because the situation throws them together. They each want something from each other (though I’m not sure either of them is quite aware what it is), however they’re getting nothing.

    That’s where the comedy is actually a distraction, and makes it harder to see just how awkward they are around each other. There’s a trade-off here between comedy and subtlety I feel, and the comedy just isn’t funny enough to be worth the trade. On the other hand, if I’m right, they’ll likely be learning to get along, and that should make them more bearable in the future. (The frustrations may escalate to the point that they separate, before then. However, since the situation won’t likely let them succeed if they don’t work together, they’ll be thrown together again.)

    Whatever is the case, I did enjoy ep1 more than ep2. That’s just how it is.

    1. First – I’m sorry Dawnstorm – I didn’t mean to accidentally gaslight you…yet. I’m still ,messing around on the backend. Hopefully things will be settled by tomorrow
      Second I didn’t see everything you mention (I do thing she’s keeping him on a specific path whether consciously or not -she has no issue constantly telling him what to do even if it has had limited success) but I do see where your coming from.
      I have a feeling that the subtleties in the interactions that you point out may be easier to appreciate in the game. It could benefit from a bit of stillness

      1. Blog looks quite different, now. (I wasn’t really bothered by any of it. Reading was easy enough).

        I’m often overthinking things. But to me she feels obsessed with rules (even if she makes up half of them herself). Part of that is that the memories triggered her issue so badly that she’s now almost completely disaffected, but even before that she reacted to troubling situations with compulsive rule following (such as stiching a cut-up bird together, because that’s how it’s supposed to be).

        And things aren’t as clear-cut as I say. (I say she takes no interest in him, but she did ask his name, and she did take his file.) So yeah, I’ve simplified. I think “keeping him on a path” is a good way to phrase it.

        1. see she seems perfectly normal to me – but I like rules. A lot. You can’t play the game if you don’t know the rules…

    2. That’s a great analysis and you’ve mostly got it right.
      Only Zack doesn’t take an interest in Rachel at this point yet, he just drags her along, because, as he says himself: 1) she’s smarter than him and without her he won’t be able to find a way out; 2) he has no urge to kill living corpses like her, and that makes it possible for them to work together (besides, unlike Danny or the owner of B4, she doesn’t pose a threat to him).

      As for learning to get along and frustrating each other it’s gonna be a bit of both.

      By the way, in my opinion, the anime shows the subtleties in their interactions better, in the game up to a certain point it’s a comedy element all the way, only it’s even more intense, and it’s impossible to take it seriously at all.

      1. I may not have expressed myself very well about “takes an interest in her”. The first time they meet, he wants to kill her, but the second time they meet she’s different. Normally, he’d ignore people like her second incarnation, but because of the reasons you state in (1), he doesn’t this time. That constantly reminds him of the difference between the first and second meeting. It’s, IMO, a form of taking interest in her personal well-being, the way a friend might, but for rather… different reasons. (Maybe not so different deep down, after Freudian analysis, but at this stage it’s too early to tell.)

        Tthat’s interesting about the game.

  6. I saw this episode before I went to work this morning (and honestly I was already in a bad frame of mind because A: I still could not acces WordPress, and B: I had to work all day) and this honestly did not really help me improve my mood.
    As I am not a big comedy fan in the first place, I totally cringed at some of the scenes in this episode. And you are completely hitting the nail on the head here: the chemistry between these two characters just doesn’t work. You are right by the way, both I and Karandi said that about the villains, and again I am agreeing with what Karandi said on her comment above: I’m nearing the drop point too…I quite enjoyed the first episode, despite the flaws..but this one just really turned it into a different show…oh well..maybe episode 3 will turn things again 😊😊

  7. I’m one episode away from letting this one go. The Isaac/Rachel ‘banter’ didn’t do anything for me and this episode really didn’t offer enough of anything else to keep me interested. I’d really like episode 3 to be the one that sells me on this show, but really I’m thinking this one is going to be a miss in the end.

      1. If I’m being realistic, there’s so little else I’m interested in this season, I’d probably keep watching. The question is whether I would review or not if my complaints end up being the same each and every episode and I can’t really find anything else to talk about.

  8. Optimistically, I am cautious about this series…
    I haven’t really enjoyed this series too much so far, but I am interested in watching the dynamic between the two leads. Homicidal maniac meets suicidal maniac, what a duo! I’m glad that they’re trying to use humor, rather than just flat edge. The execution doesn’t thrill me, but in theory, this show could end up being entertaining! (Optimitically speaking)

    1. I’m sort of diametrically opposed to everything you’re saying but somehow ended up in the exact same place.

  9. I am also cautiously optimistic. Although i haven’t seen all of episode two, that’s where I’m veering. If the popularity of the duo from the game is any help though, I have a feeling the chemistry will improve. But I do think there’s more to Rachel than we think; I mean, she came to the hospital because she saw dead bodies, (somehow) and then it was implied her parents are dead…idk.

    1. I don’t think it’s a matter of writing. It’s a bit shallow for the moment but I think at a good place for a second episode. It’s really the performances that don’t mesh. Now sure if this was an issue at all in the game since it was not fully voiced.

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