Studio: P.A. Works
Publisher: ASCII Media Works
Genre: Action, Comedy, Drama, School, Supernatural
Release: S1 (2010), OVA (2010), OVA (2015)
Angel Beats! had me at ‘Rebellion against God.‘
Let’s start with an awesome trailer for this one, shall we?
While in the Purgatory, a group of students rebel against God for their unreasonable cruel fates despite having done nothing wrong. Will they be able to change their destiny or accept reality?
I finished watching this years ago (in one sitting at that!) and it still stands as one of my most favorite anime– it’s that good. Well, it’s the type where we can genuinely connect with the characters and sympathize with their plights via a mix of comedic and dramatic situations. This in turn subconsciously urges us, the audience, to look back at our own lives and make a deep reflection of the life bits we’ve just witnessed.
Quite a lot of manly and lady tears have been shed for Angel Beats!, that’s for sure. It’s a well-rounded anime instigating surreal themes of action, comedy, gore, unhappiness, regrets, the afterlife and finding purpose.
Plot: Otonashi wakes up out of nowhere, not remembering anything about himself nor what previously happened. He is greeted by Yuri Nakamura, who is seen wielding a sniper rifle pointed towards a seemingly ordinary high school girl whom she considers the enemy. She explains that they are in the afterlife, and that everyone in that world has already died.
Taking advantage of the confusion, Yuri invites him to join her Afterlife Battlefront or SSS (Shinda Sekai Sensen) – a group organized to rebel against God because of the cruel fates the members experienced in their lives. Otonashi refuses, and decides to talk to the girl being targeted instead.
Otonashi walks up to the one called Tenshi or Angel, and tries to get an explanation from her. He insisted to go to a hospital because his memory if fuzzy, but Tenshi tells him that there are no hospitals there since no one can die. Well, they’re already dead to begin with. Otonashi gets stabbed in the heart after daring Tenshi to prove that he can’t die.
Waking up at the school infirmary, he finally gets a grasp of the situation. Otonashi then heads to the school’s Headmaster Room and discovers that it’s the secret base of Yuri’s group. To pass time until his memories return, he decided to join them for the meantime and participate in the Afterlife Battlefront’s daily operations.
More things have been explained to him from that point on: that they rebel because Tenshi will ‘erase’ them if they try to live a normal life in that world, and that they don’t want to just disappear because they might be reborn as a water flea in the next life, as based from Buddhism belief.
There are a bunch of interesting characters around, including the all-girl band Girls Dead Monster or Girls DeMo, who usually perform illegally in the school gym to divert attention from Tenshi and the school NPCs (non-human people in that world without self-awareness) when the Battlefront is on a sortie. Tenshi is also the Student Council President. This is one of the reasons why she strictly tries to implement peace and order.
It’s probably hard to digest all of this, so let me spoil you a bit and get to the juicy part:
Everyone there is already dead and is now wandering in that Purgatory called school. Deep in their hearts, they don’t want to move on yet because they either have regrets and couldn’t accept their cruel fates, or that they haven’t fulfilled something they wanted to in life. Mostly it’s the former, and this is where their heartbreaking stories come.
They are infuriated at God because they’ve lived their lives the best they can, yet incredibly terrible fates befell them. The very wonder of Angel Beats! is that you get to be with the characters from their moment of breaking when they were still alive, until they find that miraculous enlightenment in that afterlife set for them.
Disappearing in that world would also mean accepting that they have already passed on, and that they no longer have any regrets in their lives. Remembering the stories now still give me goosebumps.
Here are a couple of previews:
Yuri regrets having failed to save her 3 younger siblings’ lives in the hands of deranged thieves.
Girls DeMo vocalist Iwasawa used music as an escape from her always fighting parents, and when she was able to support and live by herself while pursuing music, she later died from a brain injury due to her father hitting her head once.
Paralyzed since childhood, Yui regrets to have not done anything with her body, and to have taken her mum’s time by being dependent on her day-in and day-out.
As for Otonashi’s story, I’ll leave that for you to watch. Anyway, I hope you found this review useful! Angel Beats! is a must-watch so try to put it on your priority list if you haven’t yet. Also, watch out for the awesome soundtrack of this anime. Girls Dead Monster tracks and the background music are awesome!