The Day I Became a God
by Nicholas Dupree,
How would you rate episode 9 of
The Day I Became a God ?
Well that sure escalated quickly. One week you're shooting a movie with your friends and having the best summer ever, the next you're running from the Men in Black who have been authorized by the UN to lobotomize your adopted little sister. Don't you just hate when that happens?
Alright let's back up a second, because while “The Day of the Deicide” does go from 0 to 60 the way that title would suggest, it does a few runs on the test track with Suzuki first. After establishing that he's hunted down Hina and figured out something pertaining to her grandfather's research, we get a flashback showing his backstory. In classic Jun Maeda fashion, he had some real garbage parents, who exploited his apparently innate hacking abilities to...I think they're laundering money for the mob? It's some kind of shady dealing, and the threat of failure was enough to have both parents beat and threaten the literal child once he started getting cold feet about committing international crimes. When they eventually got offed, Suzuki could only cackle at seeing them finally get their just desserts, and has spent the rest of his life reluctantly working for the CEO lady who took him in and absolutely never trusting adults any further than he can throw them.
Like I said, it's a fairly typical story for Maeda, and like many of the more severe tragedies in Angel Beats I find myself feeling just a little too distant from it all to really feel for Suzuki here. Part of that is just how condensed the whole thing is – all of this happens in about 15 minutes, while also working in the larger mystery of Hina's identity and origin AND some wonderfully goofy cyberspace imagery. Look at that hacker dolphin. It's glorious. But it also distracts from what should be a pretty affecting story of a kid who's grown up to believe his utility is the only thing that makes him worthy of life. Maybe that'll come back into play in these final three episodes, since Suzuki is still trying to stay involved even after his “guardians” shove him out after finding out about Hina, but for now it's failed to grasp many heartstrings.
Speaking of, we finally find out exactly what Hina's deal is. Apparently her grandpappy figured the only way to reverse her brain disease was to implant her with a bleeding-edge super-computer microchip that's so unbelievably powerful and efficient it allows her to connect with every single computer in the world and create 100% accurate predictions by analyzing the entirety of the human world. Which is...a lot. And not necessarily in a good way. Don't get me wrong, I love me some ridiculous high concept sci-fi, but the way it ends up being married into the emotional narrative of Hina and Yota's bond just feels clumsy. Angel Beats had plenty of its own weird speculative fiction rabbit holes, but it was anchored by the unifying theme of coping with death and the regrets of one's life. Everyone's had to deal with death in some form or another, and everyone has some kind of regret in life, so there was always something to ground even the oddest of that show's ideas. Here though? How many people have adopted a stray orphan and attempted to flee with her from the Illuminati trying to rip Skynet out of her cerebral cortex?
That disconnect makes the final 1/3rd of this episode just feel awkward where it wants to be cathartic, as Yota embraces Hina and begs her to run for her freedom regardless of how her super-brain tells her it's futile. I'm pretty sure I should be tearing up at that hug, but it comes sandwiched between so many other things and is so steeped in the weird logic of this universe that I mostly just really hoped they weren't trying to push a romantic angle between the two. Like with Suzuki, maybe this will play out better now that we can finally dig into this conflict instead of hinting at it for weeks on end, but I very much got a similar vibe to episode 5's stilted drama, and I sure hope I'm wrong.
The Day I Became a God is currently streaming on Funimation.
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