Angels of Death

Angels of Death

Angels of Death anime cover art
Angels of Death Cover Art

Introduction

Angels of Death is a horror anime based on a game by the same name. As a horror anime, I could have done this review last week for the Halloween special, but since Angels of Death had just finished airing around that time, it was just too convenient.

Speaking of the Halloween special, if you missed it, I reviewed Ayakashi: Japanese Classic Horror which is an anthology of three different horror stories. It’s nothing like Angels of Death, but if you’re reading this I assume you like horror to some extent and so may enjoy that as well.

Overview

The plot at the most basic level is that there’s a building with multiple basement floors, and on each of these floors lives one mass murderer. Each resident has complete control of their respective floor, and interfering with the floors of the others is frowned upon.

There are then people who are brought into the building and let loose in the various floors for the residents to kill. I don’t know where these people come from, how they’re selected, or why anything in this series happens. As you’ll see, it doesn’t make much sense.

Throughout the series we follow a pair of characters, Rachel and Zack, who I’ll go into more detail about in the characters section. For now, all you need to know is that Zack is the resident of the lowest floor, and Rachel was sent down there, presumably to be killed.

However, Zack doesn’t end up killing Rachel, and instead the pair work together to escape from the building by going through the various floors above them. At this point it may kind of sound like the SAW movie series, but trust me, it’s not. It’s weirder.

The anime swaps back and forth between reality, and what I can only assume are hallucinations, randomly and without explanation, so it’s hard to keep track of what’s actually happening at times. By the end of the series, it was never explained if hallucinations, magic, or bad writing was at work.

Speaking of bad writing, there are also a number of plot holes that can’t be explained through the use of hallucinations or magic. The biggest of which sets the rest of the series in motion and involves our female lead, Rachel.

Characters

Rachel Gardner is a young girl who appears to have had a severe mental breakdown after the murder of her parents. But, to talk about her character much more than that I’m going to need to spoil the ending of the series.

We eventually learn that Rachel is actually the one who murdered her own parents, and she’s been in some state of mental denial ever since. However, her parents were not her first victims. Before them, she had killed multiple animals and sewn them back together, much like she did with her parents.

It’s shown that even before she became a murderer, Rachel had some severe mental instability, and it was only a matter of time before something like that happened. Rachel is also the resident of one of the floors in this murder house.

Now, this is where the plot hole comes into play. If Rachel was one of the residents, and murdering people is what she’s there to do, then why was she sent down to Zack’s floor to be killed by him?

Later in the series it’s explained that Rachel’s “sin” was that she corrupted Zack, but clearly there was something else she did prior to this, otherwise she wouldn’t have been sent down to his floor to begin with. This is never explained, and that’s a pretty big deal since it’s what starts the whole plot.

There’s only one explanation I can think of, but even that breaks down under scrutiny. The Father who’s in charge of the building is obsessed with murderers and believes them to be angels. When Rachel goes into a state of denial about being a murderer, this would have made him mad.

That line of reasoning makes sense for why Rachel would have been discarded. However, Rachel was already like this before she was brought into the building as one of its residents. This means that he already knew she would act this way, so I don’t see why she would suddenly be punished for it.

Anyway, enough about Rachel and how her character doesn’t make sense. Let’s move on to a character who’s easier to understand, even if his actions don’t always make sense, Isaac “Zack” Foster.

Zack is the resident of the lowest level and is basically your run of the mill slasher movie monster. His floor is designed to be a tightly packed maze of alleyways, throughout which he chases down his victims with a large scythe, maniacally laughing all the while.

Unlike with Rachel, Zack’s motivations are clear, he just wants to kill happy people. Seeing people who are happy make him mad, and seeing the terror in their eyes before he kills them is the thing he wants most in life. Everything else is secondary to him.

The reason he doesn’t end up killing Rachel when she finds herself on his floor is that she “has the eyes of someone who’s already dead.” Since Rachel has soulless eyes, Zack is unable to find any pleasure in killing her.

However, by not killing Rachel, Zack is breaking the rules and so will be punished. Because of this, he decides to break out of the building, but unfortunately he isn’t smart enough to do so. To make up for his insufficient brains, he recruits Rachel to help him escape.

Rachel wants to die, but Zack doesn’t want to kill someone whose eyes look so “boring.” Their compromise is that the pair will escape together, and then once they’re out Rachel will be happy and Zack will kill her. I know, it doesn’t make sense, but everyone in this anime is mentally unstable.

Isaac "Zack" Foster and Rachel Gardner
Zack and Rachel

The Other Residents

I could write a decent amount about each of the other floor residents as well, but I don’t want this post to get too long so we’re going to do a lighting round now.

The floor above Zack’s is home to Daniel “Danny” Dickens, a doctor who’s obsessed with eyes. He’s the one who first brought Rachel to the building because he liked the soulless look in her eyes. Danny is the primary antagonist of the series for all intents and purposes.

Above Danny’s floor is that of Edward “Eddy” Mason, a child who loves to make graves for the people he kills. His primary motivation isn’t the killing itself, but instead the making of graves. It just so happens that a grave isn’t complete without somebody in it.

The next floor up is home to Catherine “Cathy” Ward, a psychotic prison warden who jails and tortures people to death. Of all the floors, hers is the most like the SAW movies, and was also the most interesting because of it.

The final “resident” is Father Abraham Gray. I don’t remember if his floor is the top floor, or if Rachel’s floor is supposed to be above his, but either way, he’s the “final” resident. He’s the one in charge of the whole building, and has a soft spot for Zack because his desire to kill is so pure.

Interestingly, the Father isn’t a mass murderer as far as we know, and the only person he’s ever killed was Danny at the end of the anime. He simply seems to be someone who’s interested in murderers because he sees them as being true to themselves and not hiding their impulses.

Angels of Death ONA

Now, here’s where I would normally move onto the conclusion, but Angels of Death is a bit strange. You see, while there was a 12-episode series which aired during the Summer 2018 season, the anime didn’t actually end there. And, no, I don’t mean that there was a second cour.

Instead, there was a 4-episode ONA (original net animation) which aired during the first four weeks of the Fall 2018 season. An ONA is simply an anime which airs online instead of on TV. But, why was this the case?

In all, Angels of Death is 16 episodes long, so my best guess is that the producers were unable to get four episode time slots in the Fall season, and so had to move it online. As far as I can tell, this was not something that was planned from the start for the series.

It’s also important for me to note that this 4-episode ONA doesn’t count as specials, it’s actually the continuation of the first 12-episode season. The season doesn’t actually have an ending of its own outside of this ONA, and so anyone who skipped the ONA would be even more confused than those who didn’t.

I also found it interesting that the ONA was actually much better than the 12-episode season. The art and animation were all the same, but the story suddenly got a lot better, so it’s a shame that it wasn’t able to air on TV in Japan.

However, I have mixed feelings about the very end of the series. Zack is arrested and Rachel is put in a mental facility, but then one day Zack breaks out of prison and comes to break Rachel out of her facility as well.

The two then remind each other of their promise, which was for Zack to kill Rachel, and they disappear without a trace. I don’t know if they went through with their promise or if they actually lived happily ever after, and that’s my issue with the ending.

Don’t get me wrong, I like a good ambiguous ending, but in this case the ending could be one of two extremes. I guess it doesn’t matter because they’re happy either way, but it felt a bit too ambiguous if you know what I mean.

Conclusion

I read someone’s review of this series in which they argued that it’s actually a comedy and that’s why people don’t understand it, but I have to say that simply isn’t the case. If this series was meant to be a comedy, then my rating of it would be even lower than it already is.

The first 12 episodes are a 4/10, while the last 4 episodes are a 6/10. Because of this, I’ve decided to give the series a 5/10 overall. I know that the math there doesn’t quite add up, but let me explain my reasoning.

Yes, the first three-quarters of the series is a 4/10, but without the setup of that portion, the final quarter couldn’t have been a 6/10. So therefore, if you put it all together and look at it as a whole, it works out better than if you look at it as two separate parts.

As with any 5/10 anime, I think if it sounds appealing to you from this review, then you should go ahead and put it on your PTW list. However, it’s not something I would really recommend to anyone else simply because there are better anime you could be spending your time watching.

Alternatively, you could check out the game, because I have a feeling the game is better than the anime considering that was the medium the story was originally written to be experienced through.

Have you seen Angels of Death? If so, what are your thoughts on this series? If you’ve played the game as well, let me know in the comments which medium you enjoyed the story more in.

If you enjoyed this post, be sure to click the like button down below and follow me on Twitter @DoubleSama. It feels like it’s been a while since I uploaded a series review, so if you want to see them more frequently, let me know.

You can also join our Discord server if you’re interested in discussing anime with myself or other community members. And, if you’d like to be more involved, there’s a Patreon page as well.

Speaking of Patreon, yesterday I added a new tier of patronage called “Sensei.” There will be an update posted on Patreon about it tomorrow which will explain it in more detail, but the short explanation is Sensei level patrons will be able to pick an anime of their choice for me to review, among other benefits.

Loading Likes...

Leave a Comment

Bitnami