Angels of Death – Anime Preview
Synopsis: Rachel Gardner wakes up to find she’s no longer in the hospital she thought she was in. Instead she finds herself in a strange new environment, one where on every floor a nasty individual lurks, looking to slaughter her for their own pleasure. With no choice but to go forward, Rachel must make her way from floor to floor, hoping to find a way out and learn the truth of this bizarre situation. (Synopsis)
1st Episode Review (Warning: Minor Spoilers to Follow):
Tom: Angels of Death keeps its first episode simple, foregoing deeper characterization, exposition, etc. all in the favor of nailing its creepy, uncomfortable atmosphere and unnerving tone. The audience, much like Rachel Gardner, is thrown in the deep end with little to go on, only coming to understand what’s happening through snippets of dialogue and the visuals themselves. In this way Angels of Death feels like one of the few effective horror anime in the last few years, instilling an uncomfortable atmosphere from the very first scene and managing to carry that creepy vibe all the way through.
Linny: Angels of Death is perfect for fans of survival horror done anime style, with villains and scary moments that can be a bit tacky and over the top. The episode has a fair amount of horror tropes such as a protagonist with amnesia, no recollection of how they ended up in their current situation, friends turning foe, etc. But the episode manages to make it feel ‘fun’ and avoid feeling like just a tired retread of popular horror cliches thanks to its voice acting and characters.
Tom: Angels of Death is based off a freeware video game from Japan (Available for sale via Steam and the Nintendo Switch) which gained a cult following and explosive popularity. Receiving a manga in 2015, the anime is just the next step in adapting Angels of Death to additional mediums. While the manga, recently published in English by Yen Press, largely follows the game quite closely, often keeping gamey type dialogue that feels at odds with the change in medium, the anime goes a few steps further, improving upon the more lukewarm and hammy aspects of the game’s and manga’s writing. While retaining that over the top guilty pleasure quality, the anime cuts superfluous dialogue, overt game references, and adjusts certain scenes to have greater impact through subtlety and visualization. These cuts not only help to improve the unnerving tone and remove on the nose, immersion breaking elements, but keep the story moving at a brisk pace that feels natural. It’s really a huge step up in quality up from the manga, only improving on an already fun, shlocky experience, elevating the material.
Linny: Our ‘heroine’, Rachel Gardner is interesting (if a bit predictable) in that she shows hints of having a disturbing past like all good horror protagonists tend to. This also feels like yet another sign that Angels of Death may not blow anyone away as a unique tale but at the very least will appeal to devoted fans of violent survival horror by managing to hit all the staples and hopefully preserve its own take on them.
Tom: Overall I think Angels of Death offers a strong first episode amongst a sea of mediocre premieres in this early half of the Summer line up. The one way in which Angels of Death might be flawed, is in how obtuse it can be regarding the setting. Viewers who would like a few more answers, or guided explanations for Angels of Death’s setting and plot are going to walk away disappointed, as Angels of Death leaves the greater details of where Rachel is, and what she’s going through, entirely in the dark. If you’re someone in need of a better understanding, and still potentially interested in what Angels of Death has to offer, I might suggest picking up the manga. But if you’re more along for the unnerving atmosphere, the creepy tone, the guilty shlock pleasure of its over the top villains, then the Angels of Death anime is shaping up to be a major contender for Summer’s top offerings.
Linny: Angels of Death starts off decent, its appeal maybe limited to fans of survival horror and further boosted by what feels like a weak start to the summer season. It’s not a story that has universal appeal thanks to its twisted content, featuring more blood spilling than usual for an anime. It’s not extremely graphic yet, but doesn’t shy away from showing a copious amount of blood spraying out from one poor soul. Also, you will have to either chuckle along or roll your eyes at cliches, like villains who have ridiculously long flopping tongues sticking out as they unveil their total insanity, yet are able to talk perfectly clearly. On the plus side it’s not sexual either, as neither of the villains featured have expressed any intention or desire to commit sexual violence on our heroine. Angels of Death seems like the latest competent entrant to the horror genre that might not emerge as the best but should likely entertain nevertheless.