REVIEW: ‘FreakAngels,’ Season 1 – A Post-Apocalyptic Tale That Fails To Answer Its Own Question.

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FreakAngels

In FreakAngels, Six years ago, a mysterious event caused the creation of a dome over all of Britain. With the instant repercussions ending the lives of millions, what remains struggles to survive. The last bastion of civilization lies in White Chapel. This community is only able to continue on thanks to the abilities of a group of 11 individuals known as the FreakAngels, psychics who use their powers to protect the community from attack, as well as provide what food and medical care they can. But a sin from the group’s past is about to return to them and White Chapel will never be the same. FreakAngels Season 1 is a Crunchyroll Originals sci-fi animation series based on the webcomic from writer Warren Ellis and artist Paul Duffield.

At the core of much of FreakAngels Season 1‘s narrative is the struggle between the FreakAngels, and the non-powered majority of the White Chapel community, which the FreakAngels frequently refer to as “Basics”. While there is a tenuous peace within the community at the start of the series, by the end of its nine-episode run, the narrative explores the social conflicts that arise between the two groups. From the non-powered’s fears that the FreakAngels look down on them as second class citizens to the FreakAngels fears that the rest of the community will always hate and fear what is different, despite how hard they try to protect them.

If this setup sounds strikingly familiar to you it may be that you are familiar with Marvel Comics X-Men. And while FreakAngels Season 1 does explore things different from the famous Mutant band, the core issues that the series attempts to explore feel strikingly familiar. What’s most unfortunate for the series isn’t that it explores a well-known narrative, but rather the fact that it brings nothing of interest to the discussion.

As the season draws to its conclusion, it feels like the viewer is going to get the show’s grand conclusion on who is right or wrong. Can people overcome fears and differences, or are we doomed to strife? Rather than give any answer the show simply taps out in these final moments, bailing on the entire plot thread. This leaves FreakAngels Season 1 with the rather dubious distinction of being one of the most underwhelming endings I’ve seen to a story in quite some time.

This failure on the part of the overall narrative does a disservice to the solid cast of characters that go along for the story’s ride. The FreakAngels each bring a unique personality to the series and I thoroughly enjoyed how well the show presented the long-standing friendships and rivalries that exist between the characters. The only shortcoming in the characterization for me lies in the overabundance of profanity that gets used during the series. Anyone familiar with Ellis’ writing won’t be surprised by how much swearing there is in an animation based on his work. It’s not a huge deal, but it made my eyes roll on a couple of occasions.

The visual design throughout FreakAngels Season 1 does a good job of capturing the post-apocalyptic setting well. While it doesn’t do anything overly unique with the concept, it delivers what you would expect, leaving no serious issues to complain about.

This solid visual presentation also extends to the presentation of the FreakAngels powers. The variety of ways the group has devised to use their powers is fairly impressive. While minor abilities are given limited fanfare as one would expect. However, when the characters start to flex their muscles the show does a great job of delivering the scope and sheer power that is being welded.

FreakAngels Season 1 delivers a characterful story that makes solid use of its setting while failing to deliver on its plot. If the other elements of the show managed to excel more than just be good much of the time, the narrative shortcoming would be more forgivable. Instead, these shortcomings leave a glaring blemish that stands out far more than the show’s other elements.

FreakAngels Season 1 is streaming now on Crunchyroll.


FreakAngels Season 1
  • 7/10
    Rating - 7/10
7/10

TL;DR

FreakAngels Season 1 delivers a characterful story that makes solid use of its setting while failing to deliver on its plot. If the other elements of the show managed to excel more than just be good much of the time, the narrative shortcoming would be more forgivable. Instead, these shortcomings leave a glaring blemish that stands out far more than the show’s other elements.