Home > Angel Beats!, Episode Reviews > Angel Beats! Episode 8 – Attack of the Clones

Angel Beats! Episode 8 – Attack of the Clones

I was hoping that the cliffhanger last episode would result in the show gaining a focus again (to the extent it can ever be said to have had one), but at this point it’s too early to say. This episode also finishes on a cliffhanger, so at least we can hope that the plot will keep advancing, but many parts within the show were recycled or otherwise retread. Unfortunately, the recycled parts included the bad more often than the good.

The second Tachibana (whom I’m going to call Angel to distinguish between them) wastes no time in challenging the group for being out late at night, and then proceeds to attack them for their rule breaking. As usual, they are helpless against Angel in a fair fight, so eventually Tachibana intervenes herself, resulting in both Angel and Tachibana getting stabbed through the heart. The rest of the group drag Tachibana to the nurse’s office so she can recuperate, and try to figure out what just happened.

Yuri explains that it is likely that Tachibana used a previously unseen skill, harmonics, that they found on her computer during episode three. Harmonics creates a copy of Tachibana, but it seems that the copy has her own personality and will, and because Tachibana split while in a state of stress and desiring to kill something (the fish), that aggression defines the copy. It’s not quite clear why Tachibana can’t just absorb the copy, but the group reasons if she could she would have done so instead of getting stabbed.

In case you forgot, there’s a helpful flashback for you. By helpful, I mean unnecessary

With a violent Angel looking for mischief makers to punish, Yuri has her team play innocent in class (while secretly not paying attention to avoid being obedient and possibly disappearing) while she breaks into Tachibana’s room again and starts mucking around with her computer. While finding a new set of programs, she can’t exactly figure out how to deactivate it remotely, so instead she puts in a time limit on the program, so that it automatically deactivates 10 seconds after activating. That way, all Tachibana has to do is activate the program again, and all versions (both the one she just created and any earlier ones) will vanish.

Of course, that would be too easy, so on regrouping after class they find that Tachibana has been forcibly taken from the infirmary. With some scout work, they manage to determine that Angel likely put Tachibana in the blown up cave where Guild used to be, being the deepest and most inaccessible place within the boundaries of the school. They go in expecting heavy resistance, but are completely unprepared when two Angels attack them. After using almost all their ammo to escape, they realize that the cloned Angel made a group of clones herself, presumably before Yuri did her reprogramming work.

Instead of showing the scouting, there’s a three second clip of TK dancing. TK’s one defining quirk is that he speaks English most of the time

Tachibana isn’t the only thing in this episode that is cloned. Everyone’s subtle misbehavior in class while Yuri does her research resembles their open misbehavior in episode six, and Yuri’s computer research has a parallel in episode three, although the scene has a very different meaning and feel to it this time. The journey to the defunct Guild site of course mirrors episode two, differing only in the kill order and the lack of variation in how everyone bites it.

This time, the traps are deactivated, but facing a small army of Angel clones at various points in the map, the group gets dwindled as the outmatched and under-equipped team deals with Angel the only way they can—having a member jump on each clone they encounter and get skewered, holding her down by the weight of his corpse while the rest of them get away. The slow descent marked by brutal deaths might remind you of episode two, but lacks even the variety that had.

One of the few hints at variety was Naoi using hypnosis to make another guy die (happy) in his place. Apparently I’m not tired of hypnosis gags yet

Anyway, only Yuri, Yui, and Otonashi make it to ground zero of the original explosion (and Yui manages to get killed almost immediately) so Yuri fights the one remaining Angel while Otonashi search for Tachibana. I’ve been bashing this episode a bit, so I’m pleased to report on the positive side of the ledger that the action is finally back in the form of the Yuri-Angel fights that mark the beginning and ending of the episode. It’s been a while since they’ve got up against each other (also since episode two, really) and while brief it’s just as well done as it was before.

That Yuri actually outwits and neutralizes an Angel clone is even better: having seen a new “howling” program on Tachibana’s computer, she comes prepared with earplugs, and then cripples the clone while she’s occupied creating the effect. Even if Yuri comes off as really smug while explaining herself, it’s still the first time we’ve ever seen Angel actually defeated by anyone other than, well, Angel. That might be useful, based on what happens next.

Angel neglected to consider that the technique as programed takes up both her hands

Otonashi finds Tachibana, weakened but barely conscious. He informs her that everything will be fixed if she activates harmonics again, and she trusts him and does so. A new clone appears, who realizes instantly about how the program has been rewritten. With a bit of what seems like sadistic amusement, she informs him that the consciousness of each of the clones will not vanish but will instead merge with Tachibana’s when they are absorbed. Then the ten second count down ends, the clones disappear, and Tachibana starts screaming.

So, another week and another cliffhanger. There’s no certainty at this point whether Tachibana will be able to overcome the invading consciousness of a dozen or so malicious clones, and thus go back to being the villain of the show. It seems odd to give her such positive development over the past few episodes only to re-villainize her now; if she were going to be corrupted it would have been better to have her as “good” from the outset, but it’s also possible that they’ll bring her back from this.

Maybe letting Tachibana know the full plan in advance would have been a good idea

Aside from the action, there were a couple of decent developments this episode. Despite Tachibana having remarkably few lines, her implicit trust in Otonashi shows how much she has come to rely on him (and makes the plan’s backfire all the more distressing). Not only Yuri but also Hinata note how close Otonashi and Tachibana have become, and work deliberately to keep him alive until the end so he can be the one to reach her. Of course, this all assumes that such a relationship will still exist next time, but it might add a level of tragedy to the proceedings that will, no doubt, promptly get ruined by the show’s latest attempt at a gag.

There’s also the question of where Tachibana’s skill program came from in the first place. It’s unlikely that she’d create a guidebook (in English!) for something she wrote herself. The program is just so unlike anything else that exists in the world that its existence warrants a bit of a explanation even without this hint, but with it joins the pile—alongside Tachibana’s longevity and devotion to the rules—of “what we still don’t know about Tachibana’s backstory that better be explained sometime.” It’s still possible there’s some other force behind Tachibana, which might wind up serving as the ultimate villain for the show.

Told you the instruction manual was in English. Where’s TK when you need him?

All this is speculation, though. Unlike last episode, where you knew that dealing with the second Angel would be the plot of what followed, here it’s anyone’s guess what comes next. While this is technically still a problem for the show (eight episodes in the show really should have given us more than occasional hints about what it intends to do), it is also keeping me watching. Maybe that just reflects on me.

(For the record, I am not trying to make the titles for these articles match the names of the Star Wars prequels. And no, I don’t think Night Raid will give me a good opportunity to label an article “Revenge of the Sith.”)

You can watch the episode here.

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