What’s it about? A young girl named Rachel wakes up in a strange room with no idea how she got there. Trying to find a way home, she finds cryptic messages on the wall, strange voices on the elevator calling her a “sacrifice,” and frightening men trying to kill her.
This is it, folks, the comedy of the season. It somehow escaped from 2005 and is here to charm us with its complete lack of restraint and scene kid aesthetic.
CONTENT WARNING for discussion of animal death, suicide, violence
It’s just so…so earnest that it has never stood in a room with subtlety, and yet it’s determined to glom onto every last bit of pretentiousness it can find: there are tracking lines on Rachel’s memories, and the footage is made grainy to resemble an old bit of filmstock; blossoms of paint bloom across white screens or line art; weird cryptic wall poetry cribs from existentialism 101, and the dialogue is as solemnly delivered as it is nonsensical (what exactly is a fake blue moon?).
Everything from every piece of art horror ever made is thrown at the wall to see what will stick. It’s adorable. I love it.
What’s even better is that beneath all that flourish is a beating schlocky heart waiting to burst out and splatter the audience.
A mysterious edgelord in a hoodie and bandages who looks like Jeff the Killer fanart and sounds like Nobuhiko Okamoto turned his Mamoru Miyano impression up to twelve? Check. A moment where the cute girl character snaps and starts doing spooky things with eerie calmness? That poor bird. A spooky doctor who clearly telegraphs “EVILLL” even before they get tired of playing at suspense five minutes in? He has mommy issues, too!
It is of course based on a videogame, which I suspect I didn’t need to mention to anyone who’s already watched it. The bones of gaming structure are basically unchanged: here’s the introductory mood setting scene where you put your name in and learn the controls; here’s where you learn how hiding works, complete with the stalker half-assing his spot check; here are the encounters which are even named as levels.
There’s even a CG door-opening animation that’s straight out of PS1-era Resident Evil. It has stood, stance broad and hands on hips, as if to say, “Oh yeah, my freeware game has an anime now!”
And y’know what? Yeah, good for them.
This kind of show almost always wears out its welcome before it actually ends, as the joyousness is largely sustained by a surprise factor that has to continually up its own ante. Rare are the Future Diary types that can sustain their trainwreck fascination all the way to the end.
Angels of Death purports to be 16 episodes long, and I simply cannot imagine how the content can sustain itself for that long when this episode has already burned through two floors of a purported seven (it’s honestly too early and narratively confused to tell if they’re trying to evoke the circles of Hell somehow).
There’s a real danger that it could get dragged down in its own navel-gazing nonsense and leave a viewer too much time to actually, seriously contemplate the nastiness of the content. In this episode alone there’s a dead, dismembered bird; plenty of gore, the implication that seeking counseling for trauma is untrustworthy because that’s what gets Rachel into all this; a suicide by hanging; and an undercurrent of sexual menace with this young girl being surrounded by adult men who throw her around and choke her.
If you don’t find the ridiculousness of the content funny, there’s basically nothing here; certainly not anything genuinely new or interesting to say that would justify the extremity of the content. If, however, you love some campy bloodshed, welcome to heaven.