Otonashi awakens only to learn he is dead. A rifle-toting girl named Yuri explains that they are in the afterlife, and Otonashi realizes the only thing he can remember about himself is his name. Yuri tells him that she leads the Shinda Sekai Sensen (Afterlife Battlefront) and wages war against a girl named Tenshi. Unable to believe Yuri's claims that Tenshi is evil, Otonashi attempts to speak with her, but the encounter doesn't go as he intended.
Otonashi decides to join the SSS and battle Tenshi, but he finds himself oddly drawn to her. While trying to regain his memories and understand Tenshi, he gradually unravels the mysteries of the afterlife.
Angel Beats! is an original anime that was created by screenplay writer Jun Maeda and directed by Seiji Kishi. A manga adaptation was later released by Jun Maeda and published by ASCII Media Works in Dengeki G's Magazine. The manga was used as a way to expand on elements of the plot that could not be fitted into the show's original running time. The series has been praised for its integration of music, humor, and action into a plot with deep and powerful themes. The show was chosen as a recommended work by the awards jury of the 18th Japan Media Arts Festival in the year 2014.
#1: "Brave Song" by Aoi Tada (eps 1-9, 11-12) #2: "Ichiban no Takaramono ~Yui final ver.~ (一番の宝物 ~Yui final ver.~)" by Girls Dead Monster feat. LiSA (ep 10) #3: "Ichiban no Takaramono (一番の宝物)" by karuta (ep 13)
I have to admit that I first started watching Angel Beats because of two main reasons: the pretty visuals, and the presence of guitars. But once I began watching the show in earnest, I found a lot more here than I expected. Angel Beats is a show that keeps me guessing, and consistently tugs at strings I didn't know existed until they were pulled.
Basically, Angel Beats is about an afterlife in which a group of dead students refuse to 'move on' to the next life, because they have some sort of peace to make with the world and themselves. There's a unique mix of
common school life against the supernatural. It's a setting that I found to be original enough; I also expected it to be a simple tear-jerker, but that isn't the case.
Angel Beats has a duality about it. One part of it is comedy - most of it is well timed, and on several occasions, had me laughing out loud at my screen like a nutcase. The English-speaking, nonsensical TK doesn't even need an introduction anymore. Even the slapstick comedy is quite well done, and usually timed with unfitting music which (for the most part) heightens the comedy.
The other part would be the melodrama. Most of the important characters have a back story to them, which are revealed piece by piece. And, as to be expected, many are torturous, depressing tales. These stories aren't your stereotypical 'my puppy died' stories; in fact, I've found that most of the stories that have been revealed are all original in some way or another, and interesting as well. Their common theme seems to be 'regrets' - especially those of teenagers struggling with family, society and life in general.
Topping it all off and decorating the whole package is a very clean, crisp presentation, and music that can move you from the first time you hear it. The rock concert scenes are some of the finest I've ever seen, with spectacular animation and crisp lighting effects. The music alone made me re-watch the concert episodes over and over. The art is also very pleasant on the eyes, with soft but vibrant colors and simple but effective character styles.
The greatest problem that many people make an issue out of is the transition between the two previously mentioned parts of comedy and drama. Sometimes, the parts can seem fragmented and poorly transitioned. But I only noticed this after I heard the criticisms and look for such inappropriateness. I'm a fan of such shows that mix in different types of enjoyment. Angel Beats also isn't a stupid show; I never felt that my emotions were being toyed with in a rudimentary or heavy handed manner.
What I'm trying to say is that while this may seem contradictory and schizophrenic to some, overall, it seems to be a fairly successful blend to me. I found I actually liked being proven wrong about my guesses as to 'what kind of show this will end up being'. And I know that many scenes will evoke familiar memories from other shows, but really, this show deserves to be considered as it is, by itself.
Let me do some breaking down:
The story is revealed irregularly; some episodes teach you various things about the world, while others spend their time screwing around. I had fun watching those anyway, but I can see how others would think it's a waste of time.
The art is beautiful. Beyond what we've come to expect, the animation is amazing (especially for the concerts), and the lighting effects give the show a slightly washed-out, surreal look - which I'm sure was the intended effect.
It's been a while since I've liked every song in a show. Some of the BGMs are repeated a bit often, but the feature songs are all brilliant. The seiyuu also do a fine job. No voices will annoy you - unless it was intentional.
This one's tricky, as many of the characters' back stories are still veiled. Some characters seem to follow the usual anime tropes, but they work. I definitely felt more interested in a character once I learned more about their past.
There's a very obvious sign as to how much I'm enjoying a show; I get antsy and check for updates every hour. The more I see, the more I want. The concert scenes alone are worth the watch.
I guess in the end, your enjoyment of Angel Beats will depend on whether its various aspects strike a chord with you or not (pardon the pun). For my part, I'm glad to have found a series that keeps me guessing, interests me with its premise, dazzles my eyes, while making me laugh and sniffle in the same episode.
This one's definitely worth your attention, at least until you're absolutely sure you don't like everything about it. Check it out.
After having finished this series, I needed to add a short addendum - because it helped me realize the potential problem of this series. In short, it's a little messy. If you watch the final episode, you'll probably come to realize the main theme of the series (the entire first half of the final episode is dedicated to it). But when you do, you start thinking of ways in which certain story elements could have been developed and presented a little better.
I can't help but compare it to Clannad, a series that expertly manages the drama and the waves of emotion from the viewer. It's almost like the show is psychic, and knows exactly when to say or show something in order to get the maximum emotional impact and reaction. Compared to that, Angel Beats is more than a little awkward; in particular, the final scene - it just didn't hit me as hard as I thought it should. I was affected, but was distracted at the same time by the clumsy dialogue and the sense of too many unexplained factors.
All in all, I'm very glad I spent time with Angel Beats, and will surely miss its presence. At the same time, it pains me to think of how much better it could have been if the show didn't feel so rushed, and if the writers had put a bit more planning and effort into the final moments.
Sometimes anime studios manage to confuse me, not because of anything they do, but because of what they don't do.
Take Angel Beats as an example.
Any fan of certain Key visual novels (or their KyoAni adaptations), will undoubtedly be familiar with the work of Maeda Jun, whose inimitable style, approach, and methodology to storytelling is clearly on display in Angel Beats, and on the surface this may actually seem like a good thing. Given the whole concept of a high school purgatory one would think there was enormous scope for the tale, and in some aspects the story is delivered very well. The only problem is
that as a viewer, I'm kind of getting bored of watching the same thing over and over again.
Here's what I mean. Angel Beats takes the idea of purgatory (to those of you who don't know that word, google it), and places it firmly in a high school setting, something which is familiar territory to Maeda, and while the plot actually works fairly well within that setting, there isn't actually anything that I found inspiring or moving in any way. In addition to this the whole basis of the story is that this particular purgatory is only for young people, however one has to question why this is so, and also why the only young people who get to go there are all people with regrets.
Confused? Throughout the whole series not one character actually displayed any kind of violent or vengeful behaviour in their past life, and this omission place a huge bias on the story. As far as I'm aware, the nature of purgatory is that it exists not only for those with regrets, but also for those whose sins aren't great enough for them to be sent to hell.
Purgatory is, in effect, the last chance a soul has to "get it right", and whilst Angel Beats does kind of show this, the lack of anyone who died for revenge makes the whole story unbalanced. The fact that almost everyone in the story only has regret makes the whole show a bit too sugary sweet, and while the whole series is actually pretty well written, this only makes the areas that are missing more pronounced.
Still, the plot is paced nicely, and the idea is definitely unusual for a high school series. There's also the inclusion of certain elements that are interesting, but the show never really puts them to good use until near the end of the series and at that point it just seems too little, too late.
Moving on to another area of confusion, the art and animation throughout the show is actually pretty decent on the whole. The characters are designed nicely and have a certain look about them that really does remind one of KyoAni's work with Key. The backgrounds and scenery are pretty normal (the high school setting doesn't really allow for much in the way of creativity), and don't really set themselves apart from other shows of this ilk.
The problem is actually the concert scenes. The whole series is designed and animated in a certain style which at first seems pretty decent. Then P.A. Works make concert scenes that not only look better, but have more fluid and detailed animation, are better choreographed, and are just plain superior to the show itself.
Why not do the whole show in this way? It's as if P.A. Works are telling the viewer "this is what we're really capable of, but we're not going to give it to you so you'll have to make do with the leftovers". If the whole series was animated in the same manner as the concert scenes then this would easily be one of the best looking shows in anime, and the fact that the viewer can clearly see that P.A. Works are capable of much greater things is more than a little annoying.
That said, while Angel Beats looks decent where it could have been great, it sounds so much better than one might expect. Given the high school setting there's a wealth of character types on display, including the voices. The acting is pretty decent throughout, but there's very little for the seiyuu to work with as the characters are pretty much one dimensional (more on this in a bit).
What really steals the show though, is the music. Yes, there are very well produced concert scenes, but the music that's actually used throughout the series is pretty good too. Surprisingly, Maeda is also the composer for Angel Beats, while the actual arrangement of the thematic pieces is done by Anant-Garde Eyes. As for the title tracks the OP, "My Soul, Your Beats", is a decent enough pop song, while the ED, "Brave Story", is a rather nice ballad.
As far as the characters go, it's here where Angel Beats begins to suffer from the inherent lack of creativity. While there are some nice ideas and concepts in the show, the fact that Maeda and director Kishi Seiji have opted for the stereotype leaves a lot to be desired.
That's not to say that the characters are bad per se, no, it simply means that they are very much as one would expect, right down to their personalities. Yuri, for example, reminded me of a certain leader from a particularly famous KyoAni franchise. While the similarities between characters from Angel Beats and other shows may sometimes be only skin deep, the fact that no thought was given to trying out something new, especially with the more interesting ideas that the show toyed with, makes one think that the business side of the industry has taken over, at least where this show is concerned.
Now while I've been fairly critical about Angel Beats, that doesn't mean to say that the series is bad, or that I didn't enjoy it. The fact is that this show has something to offer to many people, and while I may not be a hardcore fan of this anime, or hate it with a passion, I can honestly see why those perspective are valid. The simple fact is that Angel Beats truly did have the potential to be something special in anime, and that has been wasted in favour of producing something that will appeal to the existing moe fan base.
Granted, the whole industry needs to make money (and what better way than to milk it from fans who don't know any better by giving them more of the same), but it would be nice if, just for once, one of these creators would actually give us the series that they truly want us to see.
Then again, that's probably nothing more than a pipe dream.
Angel Beats!, an anime hailed by many to be one of the best, if not the best anime ever, but also an anime many think its bad and seriously overrated. So where does it stand? Well, it isn't downright terrible, but it's not the best anime there is either, no, it's not even close to it.
I think the main story is summarized pretty nicely on MAL so I won't go in much depth on that. The first few episodes were presented nicely, and definitely looked promising. It introduced you to the characters in the SSS and Tenshi, and for me, I think they did
a good job on it, making you want to know the truth of the afterlife and how the characters ended up there. From there, however, it started to fall apart, bit by bit.
You see, when an anime is only going to be 13 episodes long, it can have the tendency to get rushed a lot. And when an anime gets rushed, it can usually leave no room for development on both story and characters, sometimes cramming a huge amount of plot in one episode to even make it feel confusing. That's exactly what happened with Angel Beats!. The short duration of the series was at fault when the characters couldn't even get a proper development and backstory and mostly because of that, the story, on the whole, fell short. The huge amount of comic relief (at times, unneeded) didn't help much either. Honestly, they could surely have sacrificed some of the rather drawn-out comical scenes for some backstory right? Well, they obviously thought showing like only 6 backstory (out of like 18+ SSS characters) was ok enough, otherwise they could have shown at least one or two more even in just 13 episodes.
Also for the ending... well it's loved by a lot of people and disliked by others. As for me, I was very disappointed by it. The romance buildup towards the ending only had a few episodes to go for, and was rushed and just crammed together in the last few episodes, having almost no development whatsoever.
The Art is a standout. It was just stunning, beautiful and eye-catching. The character and background designs were, overall, great. The animation was also great. It was crisp and fluid, and everything from character movements to the little bits of battle scenes we had were animated very well.
Moving on to the Sound aspect, which I easily thought was the 2 of the best parts of the show, the other being the Art. The OP/ED were great but the soundtracks were really memorable to me. They fit the scenes very well, especially the beautiful and sad soundtracks. To me, without the soundtracks, some scenes wouldn't have felt the same way as it did.
Now for the characters. What started out as so promising ended up, not terribly, but marred by the short duration of the series. As I have said before, the character development was practically non-existent due to the series being short. The characters themselves, are interesting, but not entirely unique. Likable? yes, Lovable? maybe.
As I have mentioned before, I was really looking forward to seeing the character's past and how they got to the afterlife. However, with just 13 episodes, even if the character's past is cut short, it just seems so hard to fit all 18 members of the SSS + Kanade in the series. That led to having only about 6 character's backstory shown. This also led to the more interesting characters being overlooked. Characters like T.K., Shiina, or Noda had so much potential to become a great character, but were basically brushed off to the side.
Here's what I hear a lot from people who have completed the series. Many of them say that they didn't cry or feel sad throughout the series simply because that they couldn't get attached to the characters in such short amount of time.
This, for the most parts, is true, but also depends on the person watching it. For me, I liked some of the characters, and found myself partly relating to some, (who had a backstory that is) but I didn't get attached to them. But like I said, this just depends on the person watching the series. Some could cry and feel sad for days, but others could just shrug it off and say "meh".
So will you be attached to the characters by the end of the series? It depends. Had the series went on just a bit longer to give characters some more time, most, if not all characters in SSS would probably have gotten a proper development and backstory, and also likely would have made you feel more attached to them.
I personally enjoyed Angel Beats! despite its flaws. Although most of the enjoyment score comes from the first couple of episodes, the last couple still weren't downright terrible, it was just too rushed to the point it became uninteresting. In my opinion, the comedy was decent but it was just too drawn-out. For the sad scenes, I personally found only one scene to be sad, I didn't cry, but it was still, sad.
Overall, Angel Beats! is a good anime with some outstanding aspects to it, accompanied by departments where it could have been executed a LOT better. A longer duration could have helped a lot for Angel Beats! as it could have had more developed story and characters, but what's done is done.
I'd say Angel Beats! is on the overrated side, but being overrated doesn't mean that you shouldn't watch it. Who knows? For you Angel Beats could be a fun, sad, and enjoyable experience as a whole.
Angel Beats! The anime that is praised by many and criticized by few. Sadly I was forced to go stand in the cold critic corner. In all honesty, I was excited to watch this anime after all the suggestions from people and raving reviews. The art looked amazing and I heard the music was incredible. What is a good anime in my book? An anime that effects my grades negatively, because just...one...more...episode! Angel Beats however never gripped me. It made me say: "Ok that's enough for today, I have a ton of homework anyway..." My experience can be best summed up in a quote from
another review: "I badly wanted to love this anime, but just couldn't..."
I obsessively try to spot the cracks and flaws in a plot, but I overlook a lot of flaws in the beginning of an anime to give it a fair chance. From the start the plot's foundation was already showing cracks, but I ignored them due to my high hopes for this "MUST WATCH!" The story begins with our main protagonist waking up in some kind of "afterlife" and he is greeted by a teenage girl with a sniper rifle. The apparent "antagonist" called Angel is, like everyone in this "afterlife", immortal, but she has extra powers (cause why settle for immortality, am I right?) The leader of the "resistance" is perfectly aware of their opponent’s immortality but she and her group of rebels shoot at her anyway (with guns made from dirt by the way...), even though one of her powers allows bullets to pass straight through her. I was just waiting for one rebel to shout: "Our bullets have been passing harmlessly through her for the past 5 minutes, sir!" Then the leader would answer: "Just shoot harder!!" I would be crying on the floor! (Not tears of laughter but tears of pain cause I would have fell off my chair laughing!)
This "Pre-afterlife" world is a highschool (cause every anime needs a bunch of not-so-normal teens that go to high school.) At this school you are given a chance to make peace with your tragic life and move on to your reincarnation. One of the ways to pass on? Get good grades... So this group of rebels against God decide to go to class but not pay any attention...brilliant! Why even go to class in the first place? Another thing that irritated me is they added filler scenes and 3 or 4 filler episodes to a 13 episode anime! The characters and plot never had a chance to develop in that short time because it was given 2nd or sometimes 3rd priority! If you take off your thinking cap, lend it to a friend, sit down and just immerse yourself in the art, music, action and comedy then you might enjoy this anime quite a bit. The plot is also very slow paced and when it finally picks up the pace the anime is almost over, everything is rushed and you end up with a horde of mini-arcs.
School scenario, group of misfits, each an embodiment of some stereotype, it's been done too many times... Let’s start with a positive. This anime had some of the most interesting characters I've seen in a while. I needed to know more and when I realized that they will be telling each character's backstory and revealing the reason for them "qualifying" for this school I was ecstatic! There was hope for this anime! Sadly the 3 most interesting/mysterious characters were not even developed the slightest! Their backstories were not even told! You had the chilled guy who never stopped dancing and only spoke small snippets of vague English. You had the introvert girl who was always on her own and who had a love for puppies and the weapon obsessed, hot tempered guy who had a crush on one of the main female protagonists. These 3 supporting characters in my opinion had the most potential. All 3 pushed aside and only used for comic relief... The waste of potential was shocking and really got to me.
Now I need to agree with almost every review here and admit, the art was amazing. The use of rays of light reflecting off objects and the creamy colours were very soothing to the eye. Beautiful backgrounds and scenes complemented the scenarios and were not too busy. The characters had simple, but original designs. (At least most of them...) Even though they were pointless, the action scenes were smooth and flowed. The art was one of the aspects that slightly redeemed this anime and that acted as a safety net to slow it's steady decent down my anime list.
The music matched the scenes and really added atmosphere and added emotion to the scenes that were "meant" to touch you. (It was incredibly easy to see the formula that the writer followed to try and tug at my heart strings.) One track in particular that played during the last episode in the saddest moment made a smile briefly creep onto my disappointed face.
I loved the art and sound, but those are just enhancers of the story. Sadly great art and sound could never save a wrecked plot, no matter how good. It did cushion the blow however.
This anime's last chance to grab a point or two from me. Sadly even this chance was squandered... I started watching this anime with the hope of sharing the same feels as all the fans of this anime begging me to give it a chance. The ending lacked any emotional impact though... I could almost see the writer add every typical element to the ending to make it resemble a genuinely sad yet still realistic ending. I unfortunately found the ending devoid of even a scrap of logic and even the timeline of past events shown to the viewer via flashbacks made no sense...(I don't want to spoil anything) But without spoiling I just need to say that the ending makes all the efforts and motives of the "resistance" redundant and laughable... Even their reincarnation theory or should I say fear of not wanting to risk coming back as a barnacle is totally blown out of the water...(No pun intended)
Now there is one thing about the end that I need to address, so please skip the next well designated paragraph but NOT the rest of the review if you want to avoid a slight spoiler. You gone? Good :) Don't say I didn't warn you...
***BEGINNING OF SPOILER***
At the very end the main character and Kanade (Angel) move on and are reincarnated as humans that look almost exactly like their former selves, that are also conveniently the same age and live in the same town/city and Angel is conveniently humming a song from the afterlife so that reincarnated Otanashi (Main character) can recognise the tune and they end up meeting again... Out of all the BILLIONS of lifeforms they could have been reincarnated as...or lets just say for arguments sake that humans can only be reincarnated as humans the odds are still impossible! That is complete and utter bullshit and terrible writing! Haha
***END OF SPOILER***
ENJOYMENT: 3 + OVERALL: 4
I know saying that you did not like Angel Beats! is like saying you prefer Dub over Sub in the anime community, but I'll carry that burden ;) The art and music were fantastic and the comedy made me laugh, but I struggled to take the anime seriously. I never knew if they wanted to make things seem realistic or not. If you are going to make an anime take place in the afterlife, might as well throw realism out of the window rather than to try and fix the many problems that come with anime of this genre. Summed up: A group of teens that go to highschool in the afterlife while rebelling against an unknown/unseen/faceless God and shooting an immortal enemy with bullets and guns made from dirt... Immortal teens afraid to die in a world where death means a trip to the school nurse... Some characters did not even have particularly sad stories. One failed to catch a baseball for f* sake... The school is "designed" to help souls who had tragic lives accept their fate and move on, right? But why are there no new arrivals throughout the anime? If you take the population of the earth into perspective, then there would be a massive influx of new arrivals at the school daily due to our world being the chaotic mess that it is. There has to be people/teens who live tragic lives 100 times worse than the characters of this anime, but why don't we see them arrive at the "school"?
I know this review was horribly critical of Angel Beats!, but I had no choice. Angel Beats! is a rotten egg that has been beautifully painted (Art) and coated in perfume (Sound)
School life is an important part of youth so it is not unusual that there is a huge variety of anime shows exploring this theme. Take a look at this list of the best 15 school anime to see what makes them so interesting and captivating!