Was the ending too meta for me to understand or was it just bad writing?
I can't tell
All you need to know is that Schwarzwald was right.
Neither. The writing was good & the ending is intentionally ambiguous. It isn't particularly complex or deep, just bizarre. You don't have to be smart or savvy to figure out that the show was mysterious for the sake of it. That was the point.
It wasn't really supposed to be the actual ending. Adult Swim wanted a third season but the creator was worried Sunrise wouldn't let that happen so he made episode 26 ambiguous in order for it to work both as a conclusion and a cliffhanger.
This is the key here.
The second season just took what was implied by the structure of season one and turned it into an explicit, literal part of the plot (with mixed results). I still like the second season, but the first is much better.
I interpreted as
big venus has the power to rewrite everything
angel rewrote history so that none of the shit hit the fan; a good ending of sorts
and this isn't grasping at straws, it's literally what was stated in the show (assuming english and jap voice acting differences weren't significantly different)
>Was the ending too meta for me to understand or was it just bad writing?
A little of column A, and a little of column B.
More to the point, there mystery of Paradigm City was never meant to be explained, however Cartoon Network would only fund the second season on the condition that they did explain the mystery.
It was a bad situation, and the (ultimately unrealized) possibility of a third season didn't help matters.
This, budget concerns are far more of an issue with story quality than some incapability on the part of Japanese to write good stories.
It's very difficult for the Anime industry to be able to generate the type of revenue which would attract the best talent, they gotta use what they've got.
To want an ending would mean I would wanted Big O to end.