After the last episode of Angel Beats! brought us some interest twists to its particular tale, you'd be forgiven for expecting more along the same lines as we enter episode four. What we get instead, however, is baseball.
Aside from Yui's audition to take over Iwasawa's spot as singer and guitarist of Girls Dead Monster, the real focus of the episode is Yuri's latest plan to enter some guerilla teams within the school baseball tournament, in the hope of using it as an exercise to beat Angel at something fair and square.
From here, we follow Hinata as he tries to put together a team, discovering that you don't in fact always know who your friends are before ending up with a rag-tag assortment of some of the more... shall we say "unhinged" members of the SSS. The whole baseball tournament also seems to tie into Hinata's biggest regret from his life... but does that mean he's going to disappear just like Iwasawa if his team wins the tournament?
Considering the relative depth of the last episode, this particular instalment of Angel Beats! feels oddly shallow along those lines, and even a little odd in places as it seems to have simply been taken as read that Iwasawa disappeared because she made peace with the personal issues from her life - Surely if they've figured this out now then why are they still fighting against Angel? I suppose you could argue (and this episode hints at) being scared of effectively dying and facing the unknown again, but Hinata's case he seems to want to move on, so why carry on fighting the system?
Although this episode did little to enhance the overall story of the show, it was at least entertaining and actually downright funny in places - Yui's "death metal" audition amused me, although not as much as Otonashi and Noda's on-field rivalry, while some of the other jokes almost felt lifted straight out of Baka to Test to Shoukanjuu (which is arguably more surprising than it is bad). Certainly, Angel Beats! is doing quite a good job of wringing humour out of the character's ability to feel pain but not die, but all in all this felt almost a little like a filler episode after the more interesting moments of the previous instalment - With so much mystery still surrounding the show in which this world resides, I hope we get back to that side of things over cheap laughs and brief yet uninteresting character flashbacks sooner rather than later.