Angels of Death: Mystery Horror or Buddy Comedy?

With the way the two main characters talk to each other, what genre does Angels of Death really fit into?

In April 2016 a show called The Lost Village aired. Leading up to its release and even several episodes into the series, it presented itself as a mystery series – some could even see it as being a horror series. However, as time went on and more episodes came out, there was a common argument that The Lost Village wasn’t a horror or a mystery series, but instead a comedy. Expertly hiding it’s true genre under a veil made of all the typical mystery and horror tropes, to some The Lost Village was actually a hilarious show that took creative liberties to fill it’s airtime with bizarre humur. This season, Angels of Death may be attempting the same bait and switch. Although evidence points towards a vicious horror series about predatory killers, what if it's all in service of hiding a dark and deadly comedy?

 

 

Deep in the basement floors of a mysterious building are our two protagonists. On one hand, we have the quiet and resourceful Rachel. As the original sacrifice in this building’s game and brighter of the two, she takes a much different approach to surviving each floor boss than Zach. Trying to sneak her way around the floors and carefully thinking how to approach problems laid out in front of them, from her perspective each floor is an intense death trap.

 

Rachel’s perspective and approach to her situation lend nicely to the horror aspects of the show. Every dark hole Rachel carefully and slowly walks into by herself ramps up suspense, especially given how little she has in the department of defending herself. Considering that Rachel knows nothing about each floor and the bosses that reside on them, the suspense we find ourselves in is from all to real of danger to a girl who could easily get killed by anyone in this building.

 

 

On the other hand, we have the blunt and violent Zach. Being a floor boss before he decided to defect from the system, he has a much different approach to the building than Rachel. Violence is typically his first answer to everything, trying to smash or kill anything or anyone what gets in his way, and he relies on Rachel for all of the harder problems violence doesn’t solve.

 

While Zach’s perspective has some things it adds to the horror aspects of the show, his role is more frequently used as a way to add drama and mystery to the series. With a clear distaste for each floor boss and a strange past as a serial killer himself, having Zach always by the side of Rachel keeps questions coming and makes sure there’s always a mystery to be solved for the audience. However, even though both of these characters add drama, mystery, and suspense to the show, it doesn’t always take itself seriously…

 

 

Surprising no one, Rachel and Zach often butt heads. Rachel is smart and tasked with doing all of the heavy mental lifting for Zach. She figures out how to open doors, call elevators, solve puzzles, and even defat floor bosses. By thinking around each problem, she finds solutions to problems that Zach just can’t brute force through. Whenever there’s disagreements or Rachel asks anything from Zach, however, we get something much more comedic than horrifying.

 

Whether it be Rachel instructing Zach to do something or just asking him a question, Zach will often have an over-the-top reaction and Rachel will always show indifference towards it with her expressionless personality. An excellent example of this is when Zach first becomes a sacrifice like Rachel. After chasing your female lead all the way from his floor and even betraying a fellow floor boss as he was about to end Rachel’s journey early on, Rachel wholeheartedly asks Zach to kill her.

 

As the music swells to the build up of her asking a deranged killer for a favor, it's followed up by a comedic response from Zach and him demanding she join his side to escape the building instead. Moments like this are repeated time and time again but to different points, always playing off of the dichotomy of the two leads. Even though their lives are constantly at risk, at moments Angels of Death could almost be seen as a buddy comedy.

 

 

On the surface, this seems like a ridiculous claim. How could a death game with insanely unfavorable odds be anything other than a horror series, let alone a comedy? Could Rachel and Zach’s relationship really impact the way people perceive the story that much? A vast majority of Angels of Death focuses on Rachel, Zach, and their relationship as characters. So, in a way, yes.

 

Floor bosses are a looming threat over the two during the entire story, but when the two characters being hunted either want to die or have an distaste towards them like co-workers that don't get along, the threat seems less intimidating whenever they're not present. All of the alone time Rachel and Zach get with each other is prime time for dark comedy and silly character development. It's the comedic relief amongst the suspense granted through Rachel and Zach’s interactions that makes us care not only about them but the relationship between the two.

 

However, that can also lend more to the point of horror. Whenever the beasts that are floor bosses rear their ugly heads and threaten our beloved leads, those moments of comedy and bonding turn into an emotional hostage. When a floor boss is about to kill Rachel or Zach the suspense is tripled with the consideration that if one of them dies all of the comedic relief is gone and all of the character development is dumped down the drain. In a way, Angels of Death is a horror show that uses comedy to increase suspense in a quirky and interesting way. One moment we’re laughing at Zach being absurd, the next we’re on the edge of our seats with eyes glued to the screen.

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Tsuyuki Arumaya is a fiction author, editorial writer, and anime reviewer. You can find his editorials on the blog Anime Corps and follow him on Twitter @Dististik.


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