What is it?
Angel Tales is a 13-episode harem series by Wonderfarm. The show revolves around Goro Mutsumi, a hapless fellow that was gifted with horrific luck. Whenever Goro leaves his home without an umbrella, the skies open up in a downpour. When he gets a job, Goro’s workplace closes under unfortunate circumstances. He’s never had a girlfriend and, from all appearances, he never will.
Goro’s life is forever changed when he encounters a mysterious fortune teller in the midst of a downpour. The strange seer tells Goro that he’ll have a most fateful encounter. Like any sensible person, Goro shrugs her off and heads home. During his evening bath, Goro is surprised by the sound of women talking in his apartment.
Mind you that this is a man who literally repels women. People go out of their way to avoid even thinking of him, let alone visiting his apartment. To imagine otherwise would require gigantic leaps in logic to accept in the context of the world.
But I digress. Goro confronts the three ladies, who tell him that they are his new guardian angels. They were sent from the spirit realm to turn his life around. These aren’t the normal protective spirits, though. They’re actually reincarnations of Goro’s former pets, and one after another begins to appear in Goro’s life. Though they all died under incredibly horrific circumstances, the angels want to repay the kindness that was given by their master. At the same time, though, they’re all fiercely competing to win Goro’s heart!
…You read that right. They’re Goro’s dead pets, and they all want him. On top of that, a majority of the characters are well under the age of consent. That’s not creepy at all!
No, really. What the hell is it?
Angel Tales originally aired in 2001, at the tail end of a major harem boom. This was a period that introduced the world to titles like the Love Hina Spring Special and DearS. At the same time, Japan was just beginning to enter a maid boom, as shows like Hanaukyo Maid Team and Mahoromatic began to enrapture audiences. While this period allowed for the creation of a number of modern classics, it also led to a number of incredibly unsettling shows hitting the Japanese airwaves. Among these low-grade creep-fests were shows like Happy Lesson and Angel Tales.
At its core, Angel Tales is a low-grade harem series. It’s a poorly-written series that can’t stand on its own merits, and instead resorts to shoveling heaps of female characters ontot he viewer, with the hopes that he’ll overlook the many glaring flaws. Female characters are never developed, and instead present themselves as two-dimensional objects for the viewer to lust over. They’re cheerful, they’re chirpy, and they live solely to serve Goro, which they’ll do with a simple-minded bliss that makes the Stepford Wives seem like feminist icons.
Oh! And each girl has a singular crippling fear which, when encountered, turns her into a whimpering mess. Because that means their personalities are more developed then the standard RealDoll! Really!
Eventually, a plot about some nefarious individuals arises, but by this point, the damage is done and most viewers have mentally checked out.
To top off the experience, the series is plagued with one of the worst dubs seen in modern anime. The voices are grating, and acting is inconsistent to the point that conversations sound stilted and unnatural. This is made even more tragic when one considers that the cast is stacked with industry heavyweights, including Michelle Ruff, Wendee Lee, and Karen Strassman.
And you want me to watch this WHY?
Watching Angel Tales isn’t unlike watching a train wreck in slow motion. It’s a show that starts off as mediocre, and just gets progressively worse with each passing minute. The atrocious writing, poor characters, and poor animation would normally be enough to have most people groaning. However, the sheer creepiness of the premise turns the series into something that will have half of the room cringing, while the other half watches with a look of helpless desperation.
This is a series that one screens for the strict sense of Schadenfreude. It’s a series that a host can use to get a reaction (usually of the negative sort) from the crowd. Some will squirm and groan, others will make snarky jokes or exclamations of disgust at the cradle-robbing dead-pet love-fest.
If screening the dub, the poor acting will welcome a number of fun reactions. One can turn the experience into a game of “spot the actor,” which will lead to a number of discussions and amusing bits of commentary. Some voices will be immediately obvious. Others, though, will lead to true bewilderment. In particular, it’s always fun to hear the reaction when people learn that the whiny rabbit girl is voiced by the same person who portrayed Cowboy Bebop’s Faye and Bleach‘s Yoriuchi.
When and how long should I screen this for?
Angel Tales is a series that should be screened just before you load up a palette cleanser. It’s a series that goes beyond the realm of normal badness, and has the potential to really drain a crowd if sandwiched between other bad shows. Depending on the crowd, this could see regular reappearances across several Bad Anime Night events, though it should definitely be screened with caution. Certain crowds will react poorly to the concept, in which case you should keep a backup handy for a possible quick-swap.