The Summer season of anime is here, bringing with it some exciting new action shows, slice of life comedies, and psychological horrors. Angels of Death sits firmly in the “psychological horror” category, though with more emphasis on the horror aspect than on the psychological aspect.
The show follows a 13-year old girl named Rachel who wakes up in an abandoned building with little memory of how she got there. As she wanders around the building, she continuously finds notes scribbled on the walls that hint at her memory problems. The notes are the more subtle portion of the show, despite the fact that they flat out tell the audience that this world might just be in her head as a result of trauma.
As Rachel takes an elevator to an upper floor, a loudspeaker announces that she will be today’s sacrifice. Not long after, a man wrapped in bandages wielding a deadly scythe begins to chase her, loudly proclaiming his desire to kill her and feel her fear. Rachel escapes the scythe wielding maniac and enters an elevator to the next floor.
On the second floor, Rachel runs into her old doctor who reassures her that she is safe with him. His reassurances do not provide much comfort, as he juxtaposes them with talk of his love of her perfect eyes and his desire to keep her by his side for eternity. When Rachel attempts to escape from the creepy doctor, he attacks her. While she is pinned to a table, he reminds her that her parents are likely dead.
The doctor’s gloating is short-lived, though, as the maniac from the prior floor stabs him to death with his scythe. Upon the doctor’s death, the loudspeaker announces that the maniac, having broken the rules, is now today’s sacrifice. While he tries to escape the building, Rachel approaches him and asks him to end her life.
A show entitled “Angels of Death” with a first episode entitled “Kill me… please” was never going to be subtle. Rachel spends very little time on screen alone in the first episode. The maniac appears within the first ten minutes and the doctor arrives shortly thereafter. As far as the doctor is concerned, the show gives him very little time to seem human. His first words to Rachel are about his infatuation with her and her eyes.
Not every show needs to be subtle to create a feeling of terror. The issue with the first episode of Angels of Death is that there is little downtime in between things attacking Rachel. The show is paced more like a fever dream than a psychological horror, letting the evilness of the characters around Rachel drive the fear instead of leaning on the creepiness of the setting itself. While the pacing feels more realistic under the guise that the events of the show are a trauma fueled nightmare, the constant high energy can get tiring quickly.
The doctor’s interactions with Rachel were also problematic. A character obsessed with eyes can be sufficiently creepy, especially given the dark room filled with jars of possibly real eyeballs. The show deviates from this central point of fear when it cuts into a rape allegory with the doctor pinning Rachel to a metal table while discussing his desires for her. The creepy eyeball stealing doctor was scary enough. The rape allegory with a 13-year old girl didn’t really add anything useful to the scene while indicating that the show is going to lean towards being that type of uncomfortable.
Given the way Episode 1 ends with Rachel begging for death from the scythe maniac, it feels like the main show is going to pair the two characters together, leaving the first episode as a primer for the rest of the season. While the first episode on its own feels sub-par, the idea of these two characters navigating a nightmare building sounds more exciting.
Angels of Death
- Well animated with creepy music
- Concept of a many floored building of terror is intriguing
- Possibility of a team-up between scythe wielding maniac and 13-year old girl
- Paced like a fever dream with very little downtime
- Very little subtlety in characters, notes, and Rachel's lack of memory
- Unnecessary rape allegory hints at an uncomfortable season