October 20, 202076/10087812 min
Alt. Name
Hell's Angels
Release Date
October 2008
1 hr. 57 min.
Overall Score
Rating Overview
Art Style
Animation Production
Rating Summary
This film will be a sure hit with fans of Studio Madhouse and newcomers for ages. Yamakawa and Fudeyasu have shown that taking a simple premise and expanding it without being too campy or becoming overly derivative can be appropriately done and shows the distinguished art of storytelling. Thus surprising audiences with a smashing hit for Yoshiki Yamakawa's directorial debut, an excellent choice for any anime lover.

Death can be a scary subject to tackle, no matter what age we are. Though, there are unfortunate circumstances that we are unaware of within our lifetime that may undoubtedly end our lives prematurely. However, talking about one’s life shouldn’t be a problem because of a straightforward philosophy. This simple way to look at life came from arguably the greatest entertainer who has ever lived, Michael Jackson. “If you enter this world knowing you are loved, and you leave this world knowing the same, then everything that happens in between can be dealt with.”

Hells is a 2008 Action-Comedy anime film created by the beloved Japanese anime studio, Madhouse. Though this film isn’t new territory for the studio or anime in general, death has become routine in many other series, both Japanese and worldwide. As Pet Shop of Horrors questioned, can a studios’ tremendous backlog of content be still worthwhile after so many years? However, not everything a studio makes will be magnificent and loved by everyone, and that’s the best of these unique finds. It’s hidden, and it’s intriguing. After examining the voice actors behind this film and coming up short on big names, it shows that perhaps this is the precursor to what’s ahead for a potential viewer.

Everyone hates the first day of high school, ending summer vacation, the end of freedom, and even worse, homework! But for Rinne Amagame’s first day of high school, she is slightly different from most first-year high school students; her school is in purgatory! After running late in the land of the living and getting unfortunately crushed by a semi-truck, Rinne found herself stuck in a world where her classmates are demons and monsters instead of cute boys. To make matters worse, there’s been a mix-up, as she isn’t dead yet! Now, surrounded by half-decayed dogs and satanic Elvis impersonators, what’s a once-normal schoolgirl going to do, and is there a way to get out of this Hell?

While some viewers may be turned off from the simplistic synopsis, this is potentially the biggest downside of giving information towards a film without giving too much. Spoilers are Hell sometimes to avoid. The biggest positives within this film are that it has something for everyone, it has comedy, it has horror, and it even has action. Three types of elements within a single film usually don’t do well together, but somehow Yoshiki Yamakawa had found a way to mold these together correctly.

Another Positive is the story development; the pacing was indeed better than expected. The action scenes don’t feel too rushed, the comedy isn’t overly used nor underused, but most importantly, they know when to use horror-like elements properly without becoming too campy. Although the horror within this film is a little elementary for my taste, it doesn’t detract anything from the film itself. The story’s progression easy to follow shows by adding elements one may not assume to be within a particular film can prove positive.

Unfortunately, this film does have some potential negatives within itself that must be said. For instance, there are many biblical references within this film, and they’re not very subtle. So if any potential viewers are turned off by religious jargon or relations, this film may not be for them. However, this film doesn’t have as many elements as Angel’s Egg but has enough to be a potential problem. The other negative this story has towards itself is that it is slightly predictable when it tries to throw a curveball towards the audience. When it tries to dumb down, that’s when the leaks start to burst open. The pacing becomes slower, the elements aren’t as fluid, and most importantly, this possible, engaging film entertainment is pulled to an ultimate standstill until the segment passes. When Hell’s doesn’t do this, it’s excellent, but once they start to downgrade the viewers’ brains, the story turns south quickly.

The art style within this film is rather quite interesting, and that’s most respectfully. Though to be fair, this is also the best and worst part of the film purely on the viewers’ enjoyment. The art is dark and gritty in some areas while also being more cartoony gothic in some regions, almost reminiscent of what one would find in a Tim Burton tale. At the time of release, one would think this was somewhat original. However, since so much time has passed, a handful of series and movies have followed suit with this style.

If this film’s art style was on fire, the production behind this series is the polar opposite – and that’s in the best way creating the ideally cooled climate. This series has one of the more exciting sides to Animation Production, and after watching this film multiple times, anyone can get a sense that it’s pretty solid. For instance, the music throughout the film is lovely to one’s eardrums. The inspirational music does the job quite good, but not perfect. While the straightforward approach to this film would be a stereotypical studio trigger production but doesn’t devalue the program for sexual eye candy.

If one is looking for a massive character-driven movie but by the halfway point, get rid of sixty-five percent of them. Then this is that movie; it’s rather unfortunate. Though to be entirely fair, the characters they do get rid of are rather dull and forgettable, but it’s still somewhat disappointing. Throughout the film, the viewer could easily fall in love with the characters, but the most heartwarming character within this movie was Steela. What this film does wonderfully is it knows how to pull at one’s heartstrings in a weird way that the viewers may not expect. Though the best comedic relief is Helvis, it all depends on if one will enjoy the never-ending Elvis Presley schtick.

Though watching Hells multiple times trying to come to a complete census has made quite the challenge with each viewing. A part of me loves the sentimental overlaps with the gothic style artwork, but one will notice many still shots to cut corners upon rewatching. Don’t expect to fall in love with the entire film but anticipate to enjoy most of the piece. Although I’m not a huge fan of biblical references, I am a fan of using them within a comedic sense that isn’t sacrilegious. This film somehow used the right amount of comedy without potentially offending anyone, possibly turning any viewer away if done incorrectly.

Throughout this entire film, pleasure varied; overall, this film can be easily loved and entertaining for everyone. If you’re looking for a somewhat easy story to follow anime movie and want a more or less atypical art style, this is a beautiful movie. As mentioned before, don’t expect to fall in love with everything, but what one will almost certainly fall in love with are the characters and their friendship. This film is a beautiful example of taking a simple subject and expanding it in a way that almost shows itself off to its competitors, and still be humble. Hells is one of those films that most anime fans don’t know about, but they should. This anime is a straightforward addition to anyone’s anime collection.

Cody Senpai

Cody Senpai is the creator of BakaNow, an anime review website that specializes in spoiler-free reviews for everyone. He is an avid anime watcher who has traveled to Japan numerous times to not only experience the culture and history but also to build friendships with people through a common interest. He is an avid animation fanatic from birth and even went on to major in communication to help share the importance of the stories we love to watch and listen to. Cody lives in Denver, Colorado and loves to do anything adventurous.

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