Angel Beats!

Angel Beats!

Angel Beats! anime series cover art
Angel Beats!

Series Overview

Angel Beats! (エンジェルビーツ) is a 13-episode, original anime series that was later adapted into a visual novel. Yes, as strange as that is, this series was an anime first and visual novel second, not the other way around. And this is probably for the best because anime based on visual novels tend not to have the most coherent plot.

As for what the plot of Angel Beats! is, Yuzuru Otonashi awakens to find himself on the grounds of a school at night with a random girl holding a rifle next to him. She informs him that he’s dead and that he needs to join her fight against “Angel,” another girl who apparently goes around an obliterates people.

The girl with the rifle is named Yuri, and she’s the leader of the Afterlife Battlefront, a group of high school-aged kids who are fighting for their (after)lives against Angel. The members of the Battlefront all died young and are using this existence within limbo as a second shot at the lives they never had.

At the beginning of the series, there’s a lot that doesn’t make sense. We don’t know how Angel “obliterates” people, but the implication is that they disappear. And the reason that’s strange is that, as we learn early on, nobody within the afterlife can die. No matter how much damage their bodies take, they come back as good as new.

If you do check this series out, I highly recommend you give it more than one episode before deciding if you want to continue it or not. I thought it was going to be a 5/10 after episode 1, but I was pleasantly surprised as the series progressed. It transitions from pure comedy into a compelling drama with some comedic moments.

This is the story of a group of kids who are fighting against their fates.

Afterlife Battlefront

Yuri “Yurippe” Nakamura is the aforementioned leader of the Battlefront. If you’re familiar with The Melancholy of Haruhi Suzumiya, she’s basically the same character as Haruhi. The way she acts reminds me exactly of Haruhi, from the way she asserts her dominance over those under her to her never-give-up attitude.

Yuzuru Otonashi is the protagonist of the series and newest member of the Battlefront as of the start of the series. Unlike the rest of the Battlefront members, he doesn’t remember anything from his life before awaking in the afterlife.

Of the other male characters, Hideki Hinata is the most important. Not only is he a founding member of the Battlefront along with Yuri, but he later becomes Otonashi’s best friend. Some of the additional male characters include T.K., who speaks random English phrases, and Noda, an aggressive boy obsessed with Yuri.

Yuri "Yurippe" Nakamura from the anime series Angel Beats!
Yuri “Yurippe” Nakamura

On the female side, the most important member of the Battlefront aside from Yuri is probably Yui, which is a strange thing to say considering her role as a mostly comedic character. Yui is a member of the band Girls Dead Monster, which was formed as a way of distracting the “NPC” students who attend the school.

I guess I should mention that there are other students at the school referred to as NPCs. These are basically just fake, filler students who were never alive to begin with.

The final character I want to mention isn’t really a member of the Battlefront, but she’s still very important. Kanade Tachibana is the girl referred to as Angel by the members of the Battlefront. She’s the one they’re fighting against. But despite this, Kanade is easily the best girl of the series.

The Final Beat

As I mentioned earlier, I didn’t think the first episode of this series was very good. But as the series progressed, I began to enjoy it a lot more, especially when it turned into a drama. However, the very end of the series had some issues that I want to discuss (spoilers incoming).

First, I want to say that I like how the ED song was used during the most emotional points of (most of) the series. This is something Violet Evergarden also did well and is something I disliked about anohana because it didn’t do it. But, there was a different ED song for the final episode of Angel Beats!

I think the ending of the series would have been much more emotional if it used the same song that it had been conditioning viewers with since the start.

Otonashi, Kanade, Yuri, and Hinata from the anime series Angel Beats!
Otonashi, Kanade, Yuri, and Hinata

My next issue with the ending comes from the final twist, which is that Kanade is actually the person who received Otonashi’s heart after he died. Unfortunately for her, it doesn’t seem like she lived for long afterward. But my problem here is that there’s a continuity issue regarding when Kanade and Otonashi arrived in limbo.

Otonashi died first, so he should have gotten there before Kanade. But instead, it seems like Kanade was there months or even years before Otonashi showed up.

And the final issue I had with the end of this series was the post-credit scene. I liked the way the series ended before the credits, with Kanade disappearing and leaving Otonashi behind alone. Then, in the credits, it’s implied that Otonashi also disappeared after Kanade — which is still a fine ending.

But after the credits, we got a scene of Otonashi and Kanade reuniting in their next lives, and I thought that was dumb. I don’t need a cliché happy ending at the end of a drama series. I’d rather be left with an ambiguous and depressing ending that makes me not want to watch another anime for a few days.

Conclusion

Overall, I have to say that Angel Beats! is a 7/10. It was a good anime, despite what I originally thought. The very beginning and very end had some issues, but the middle portion of the series was entertaining. And as far as drama goes, this series had some of the best “bits” of drama I’ve seen. The character stories in Angel Beats! were better than expected.

I guess I should also mention the OP and ED since I usually do. The OP is a classic (song-wise), but the visuals were pretty boring. The ED I actually liked even more than the OP (the main ED, at least). The song is great, and although there’s not much going on, I think the visuals convey the emotions they’re supposed to.

Oh, and I almost forgot to say that this series had a surprising amount of high-quality animation. I wasn’t really expecting it, but Angel Beats has better animation than most modern seasonal anime (it came out in 2010).

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