With dead and lifeless eyes, Rachel Gardner wishes only to die. Waking up in the basement of a building, she has no idea how or why she's there. She stumbles across a bandaged murderer named Zack, who is trying to escape. After promising to kill her as soon as he is free, Rachel and Zack set out to ascend through the building floor by floor until they escape. However, as they progress upward, they meet more twisted people, and all of them seem familiar with Rachel. What is her connection to the building, and why was she placed in it? Facing a new boss on each floor, can Rachel and Zack both achieve their wishes? [Written by MAL Rewrite]
Watching Satsuriku no Tensei (Angels of Death) gave me perhaps one of the strangest impressions of this year. Set in a mysterious building, we immediately meet main female protagonist Rachel Gardner as she is confused about her whereabouts. It doesn’t help that she has no memories except for her name. The show immediately drops viewers into this sort of storytelling out of nowhere and it’s hard to take everything in from the start. Make no mistake. Satsuriku no Tensei is one of those shows where I lost count how many times I rolled my eyes and asked myself just exactly what the hell is going on.
As the anime is based on a video game, it also does really feel much like playing one. Rachel meets a serial killer named Zack who nearly kills her in the beginning. The show begins to build on its suspenseful plot here onwards as we learn about both characters. An important element of the series is the psychological thriller style of storytelling. The plot can be rather confusing as it sells its ideas through the psychology of the show. With Rachel being in a confused state, she begins to wonder her purpose in the world.
The main focus is Rachel and throughout the series, she wonders around the floors of this mysterious place with no memories. However, she isn’t too desperate to escape and seemingly has a death wish. She mentions many times throughout the show of her desire to be killed by Zack. In order to accomplish that, she hopes to survive long enough and not get killed by anyone else. The anime presents her personality as being a calm girl with a lack of understanding about morality. She finds it difficult to express human emotions and often says what’s on her mind. It’s also noticeable that Rachel believes in the existence of God. In one particular episode, she declared Zack as her “God”. A behavior like this is far from normal but the show emphasizes on her inhuman-like personality at every chance it gets. However, that’s just the tip of the iceberg. Her partner in crime Zack tunes abnormality up to the 11. Known by his full name as Issac “Zack” Foster, the series pushes the envelope to make him a serial killer. He has actually been involved in previous murder cases before and the show explores some of his past through flashbacks. If you’ve seen his personality, then Zack would definitely be someone you hope to never run into in some dark alleyway. For his personality, Zack is bluntly rude and often uses foul language. He isn’t very intelligent either and between the two, he is more of the muscle while Rachel has the brains. However, there’s no doubt that Zack is mentally unstable and has survivalist instincts. The cause of his mentality is not exactly known and this feels more like a flaw of the show. The creators wants the audience to basically accept Zack for who he is without really getting us to understand him. In essence, I see Zack as a monster despite his alliance with Rachel. He’s the type of guy that gets the thrill of killing without any true reason. However, Rachel does bring out some human-like emotions out of him when the duo are together. As odd as it seems, they are like two peas in a pod that are inseparable.
The show features a variety of characters with Zack and Rachel finding that out the hard way as they navigate through various floors. It really does feel like a role playing RPG and the more I watched this series, the more I felt compelled to see what events await them. Unfortunately, I can’t really express satisfaction at the characters they encounter on their dark adventure. It seems the show tries to make its entire character as inhuman as possible. First, we got Daniel Dickens, an insane doctor who has an unhealthy obsession for Rachel’s eyes. Then, there’s Eddie, a boy who wears a mask and is in love with making graves. Cathy is introduced as a floor master and someone I’d describe as sadistic. She enjoys toying with others and inflict punishment for her own pleasure. Finally, there’s Gray, a religious priest who loves to pass judgement on others. His actions in the show should be condemned as sinful as he attempts to burn Rachel alive at a stake. It feels like the creator wanted the viewers to hate these characters as much as possible. And if that was the intention, it succeeded. These supporting characters also feel like video game bosses as they are the main obstacle for Rachel and Zack to overcome.
So what now? Does Satsuriki no Tensei really work as an anime? Or does it fail like a half-polished video game filled with bugs that needs fixing? Honestly, I think it’s a bit of both for the main TV series. I mention this because there are still 4 episodes left to debut in home release format. With 12 episodes, the show is incomplete without a proper conclusion. I have not played the game before but there have been some games I’ve played that resembles this show. Games like The Evil Within reminds me of this series as it adheres to psychological horror and thriller. The downside is that I never did once get scared in this show because it’s hardly any scary. Instead, the more accurate representation is more of a psychological thriller. The anime explores the human psyche as we see how these characters behave in unusual circumstances.
Adapted by J.C. Staff, you can easily tell that they were aiming for a dark and grimy setting. The uneasy feeling of the abandoned building and atmospheric feeling never leaves the show throughout the duration of its run. It paints the feeling of being trapped like a rat. Character designs in the series represent a creative style with our two main characters. First, there’s Rachel with her petite stature and blonde hair. She wears a stripped shirt with a white sweater complete with black boots. In many ways, she actually looks rather normal although her character expressions are often devoid of feelings. On the other hand, Zack has the look of a homicidal maniac. Compared to Rachel, he is much taller and wears a hoodie. His signature weapon is a scythe that almost represents him as a living reaper. His character expressions throughout the series is malicious and he is known to break out of insane laughter from time to time. The other characters in this series are decorated with abnormal traits such as Daniel’s freakish eyes, Eddie’s burlap mask, or Gray’s religious attire. The fact is, the creators definitely put their thought into making these characters distinctive as possible.
As a psychological thriller, expect an eerie OST that’s often quiet to bring an unsettling mood. Indeed, the mood of the show is often eerie even during some of the action segments. There are many moments when the music really amps up to make viewers feel like as if they are with them. Similarly, the theme songs contain cryptic lyrics that ceases every moment to make the show as uncomfortable as possible. Finally, I have to give praise to the voice talent in this series. Characters like Rachel and Zack are able to bring their characters fully to life despite their complex personalities. It’s not easy to step into the shoes of an emotionless character like Rachel but I fully embraced her role if judging by her voice. Zack is voiced by Nobuhiko Okamoto who is well known for his role as Accelerator from the Index franchise. From this series, he displays his full talent to bring out Zack’s personality to a menacing degree.
There’s a lot more to be said about Satsuriku no Tensei but for its TV airing, the show is more of a base game. I’d treat the reminding episode as DLC content to fully explore the story and give this anime a proper ending. Regardless, this show is not easily recommendable to anyone as the unusual style of storytelling will be difficult to get used to. It’s sometimes not faint for the heart either if you’re not comfortable with watching murder scenes. It almost feels like the creators are trying to get in our heads to see what we’re thinking. I would say that giving this show is more suited for thrill seekers or those who watch this like playing a video game.