- Genre : Josei, Horror, Mystery, Psychological Thriller
- Studio: J.C.Staff
The show is back…. Yay! I mean the episode was…we’ll get into that in just a bit…but I had gotten into the show and when it was announced that the last 4 episodes were going to be on Amazon prime, I got a little worried. Thankfully, Crunchyroll didn’t just leave us hanging and is picking up where it left off after a week’s hiatus. I was relieved. The lack of completion would have driven me crazy…crazier.
For those that need a little reminder, Zack and Ray have apparently made it to Rachel’s floor and all I can say is: I told you guys! Ray be Cray! And I mean to the bone batsh*t crazy. She’s a resident of the tower like the rest of them, a killer like all of them and a liar. By Angels of Death standards, she’s really quite ordinary.
What I was wrong about is that her odd, emotionless personality is an expression of some type of traumatic fracture and that the remaining residence where those missing fragments of her mind or emotions made manifest. Nopes….she was always like that…
This episode also marked the return of the ridiculously overblown baddies. I’m not sure whether I had become desensitized and the week off brought it all back, but it was grating this week. I must say, it has given me a new appreciation for actors. The episode finally gave us Rachel’s backstory and we were treated to a flashback of other happy family.
If this show was live action, I would have sworn it was bad acting. Rachel’s parents were hamming it up BIG time. It’s only because this is anime that there was any scenery left as these guys were chewing it up with gusto. The writing didn’t help. The characters where all manically screaming all their feelings and intentions straight into the camera. Basically it was bad on every level. In execution at least.
In concept, I quite liked it.
The episode starts off by establishing Rachel as not quite right. We’ve known this for weeks, and probably suspected it from the start, then starts giving us a traditional Freudian excuse for her oddness. Classic abusive home story. Violent alcoholic dad (and a cop, of course!) taking his frustrations out on a fragile, broken wife who then turns on her kid in response. We’ve seen it before but it would have worked coherently enough.
Where Angels of Death broke away from the average, is in ultimately subverting Ray’s character. Rather than a lovely little girl destroyed by traumatic circumstances, we are slowly led to discover that Ray is in fact inherently broken. Born to a mother which seems to have been genetically predisposed to mental illness and a father with violent tendencies, the stress of raising a psychotic child is what broke them, not the other way around. This isn’t so much “I Spit on Your Grave” as it is “We need to talk about Kevin”.
Even after all that, Rachel is, and always was, the one true monster in the story. Even in the climatic face off with her dad, which included a straight up homage to the Shining (nice touch), we still get the feeling that this Rachel’s action weren’t motivated by fear or self-defence or anything a rational person could understand at all.
Aside from making Rachel a much more interesting character without betraying everything we’ve gotten to know about her so far, and giving us one of the lesser seen crazy bad guy archetypes, this great twist also dramatically changes the entire narrative flow. Now, on episode 13 of 16, the story flips the script and Zack is our sane man in the room.
This forces us to know cling to his viewpoint and interpretation as the closest thing we may have to a reliable narrator and it’s great. In fact, the episode got considerable better once we got Zack back in on the action.
We did leave off on a cliffhanger. Rachel and Zack having somewhat turned on each other and ready for mutual destruction. I’m not sure what, if any, the consequences of death are in this place. It certainly doesn’t seem like that big of a drawback. The real stakes is the future of Zack and Ray’s relationship. Those little weirdos had finally found one other person who they could connect with and it seems that’s gone now.
Like I said, in execution and delivery, the episode was lacklustre. Even framing and action animation was so so. But the concepts and narrative potential is still great. And as I write this, I’m still very happy Crunchyroll brought it back. Not my favourite episode but the next one could be. Also, Danny still has a fantastic laugh!
I even got a few more screencaps for you guys!