I’ve had quite a love-hate relationship with Angels of Death. It was a first for me, as I usually tend to be good at picking out what I will enjoy from the trailers, synopses, and videos I stumble upon on facebook.
The trailer for Angels of Death offered a lot of promise, and the first episode was great. I loved seeing Rachel’s desperate struggle to survive, and the episode was atmospheric, and really got me invested in it. That all changed in episode 2 however, when Rachel suddenly became emotionless and indifferent, losing the personality and spark that really caught me in the first episode.
Flash forward a few episodes, and I’ve gone from getting quite tired and bored of the artificial relationship between Rachel and Zack, caused largely by the former’s indifference to everything making it seem like poor Zack is banging his head against a brick wall any time he tried to communicate with her, and I had been seriously considering dropping the anime. But I’ve never done that before, and really didn’t want to as a result, so I stuck with it, and things did get more interesting. There was finally some sort of mutual connection between the two of them, which developed in Cathy’s room, whose challenges I loved. The development we saw via Zack’s past was refreshing, and made him a much fuller character by putting his current state into context. I also started to piece together Rachel’s true identity when I saw her shoot Cathy dead with a gun she just happened to have. Watching Cathy die after the torment she subjected Zack to was very satisfying.
Then we reached the priest’s floor, which was a bit of a mess. Firstly, Zack really should be dead already and I struggle to believe some magic medicine exists that will enable him to just come back from losing so much blood. But hey, this is anime, it doesn’t have to be realistic right? While it was interesting to see Rachel’s callousness, which convinced me that she had killed her parents (a revelation that was revealed to be true), these episodes were full of so much nonsensical religious-imagery laden spiels. It was genuinely painful to listen to, and this is coming from a Christian who has never doubted their faith. It was all just reams of drivel about God which made no sense, and served no purpose to the narrative. What is Zack being Rachel’s god all of a sudden supposed to mean? And don’t get me started on the utter ridiculousness of the priest’s trial of Rachel for being a witch. Like seriously, what the actual fuck was the point of that?! No-one’s arguments made any sense whatsoever, there was no actual case for her to answer, it was all just a total mess. At least it ended with a rather touching scene of them together in the chapel before they left.
And this was when we discovered who Rachel really is. I was right, she did kill her parents, but I didn’t realise she was also a resident of the floor. It makes me wonder how she got into her current situation in the first place. Soon more religious nonsense that was meant to sound intelligent followed, but at least Danny vs Zack was interesting.
The conclusion to the series was also a mixed bag. The penultimate episode was very good, and Zack was finally able to take his much-deserved spotlight. I loved the characterisation of him genuinely enjoying himself smashing his way towards the top of the staircase, while retaining a human side when he gets triggered by fire. And the priest turned out to be good, I didn’t really know what to make of him, so at least there were genuine, unforced plot twists up until the end of the show. But his spiel about Zack apparently being an angel because all he was doing was killing was more nonsensical religious-imagery drivel, but at least it served a purpose in concluding Zack’s journey from mindless killer to human, as the priest acknowledged, so I can’t begrudge him this one.
I was glad the story ended how it did, it would have been so easy for them to force the pair of them apart and have an unsatisfying ending, and while Zack’s ability to escape prison can surely be questioned in terms of realism, it was fitting, and I liked the shots at the end.
The anime was a very long slog for me, having to take breaks to regain interest on multiple occasions at its worst parts. Was the destination worth the journey? I would say probably yes, as I remember the good points more than the bad. Zack definitely made the show more worth watching, and interesting, and I do think without his development throughout that the show would have been so much worse.