The home of Critic, Writer and Film-maker: Liam Walters

Review: Angel Beats!

[ Review By: Liam Walters ]

[ Originally posted: 17/09/2010 ]

[ Contains Minor Spoilers ]

‘Angel Beats’ is a 13 episode anime series, created by ‘Jun Maeda’, and produced by ‘P.A Works’ and ‘Aniplex’. Jun Maeda, along with the character designer ‘Na-Ga’ are both from the visual novel company ‘Key’. You may have heard me talk about Key in the past. For those who do not know, Key have developed several animes based off their visual novels, such as ‘Air’, ‘Kanon’ and ‘Clannad’ (All of which are my part of my top favourite animes).

There’s something special in the writing of these animes. Something that just strikes an emotional chord, and with Key being part of the development process, I had high expectations when I first heard of Angel Beats. I am happy to sit here, and announce that not only did Angel Beats reach my expectations, but clearly passed it even in the first few episodes.

Here is a short promo video for Angel Beats:

Angel Beats takes place in a highschool, in the realm between the living and the dead (a somewhat purgatory). The students end up there when they have any lingering attachments from when they were alive, which they must learn to overcome before passing into the afterlife or reincarnation. The protagonist on this story is a young boy named Otonashi, who wakes up in this strange place, finding out he has no memories of who he is, or even where he is.

He quickly meets Yuri, who explains to him that he is dead, and asks him to join the ‘Like Hell I’m Dead’ Battlefront, although she adds that the name tends to change a lot. He see that she had a gun pointed towards another young girl with white hair, as Yuri explains that the girl is an angel, sent by god to erase those who appear at the high school.

Otonashi doesn’t believe Yuri, and decides to go down to the girl and ask her questions. She explains that she is not an angel, but the Student Body President. She also brings up that they are actually dead, although Otonashi is still sceptical of the idea, and asks for her to prove it. She does this by stabbing him through the chest. Yeahh, when an angel stabs someone through the chest, nobody says a thing, but when I do it, suddenly I’m a ‘danger to the community’.

Otonashi wakes up some moments later in the infirmary, shocked to see that there isn’t even a scar. In this world, no one is able to die, because they are already dead, although they can still feel the pain of death. Otonashi once again finds Yuri, and decides to join her battlefront, now named ‘The Afterlife Battlefront’, as he begins to meet all other members of the battlefront.

Throughout the series, they go on many different missions, fighting against angel, among some other enemy’s, and even turning some of those enemies into friends. About half way through the series, Otonashi begins to remember his past and the life he had led, as well as finding out about the lives of some of the other members of the battlefront.

Near the end of the series, the battlefront face a new enemy, one that is more dangerous than anything they have faced, and one that can even affect their entire existance in their world. The anime ends with some goodbyes, some feelings shared, and a lot of tears, although also gives us a glimmer of hope in the short epilogue.

The Main Characters of Angel Beats

My Top 5 Favourite Characters

#5 Otonashi

So it may seem weird to have the main series protagonist as far down as number 5, but I have my own personal reasons for liking the others more than him. Still, he is a great and interesting character, kind hearted and you really feel for him when you learn about his past. I think he does very well as a series protagonist, and is a very well made character.

#4 Yuri

Yuri is the leader of the Battlefront, and a very strong and capable leader at that. I was always two ways about her through most of the series. She seemed like a good character, but she didn’t seem anything special. But that changed in episode 11 for me, when I saw something that made me very happy. I can’t say what because I’m keeping spoilers to a minimum, but if you watch it, you’ll probably find out.

#3 Shiina

Shiina is a female ninja, who rarely speaks, and when she does, it is normally her signature phrase ‘How shallow minded’. I think the reason why I like this character so much is because of her abnormalities, as well as her eccentricities, such as her weakness for anything cute, or deciding to try to balance a broom on her finger for the entirety of episode 4, because she is mad at herself because Otonashi did better than her during one of the previous missions.

#2 Angel

Angel is actually a hard one for me to describe why I like. She just has some… aspects about her personality that seem to resonate within me. Unfortunatly, since I’m keeping spoilers to a minimum, I can’t go deeply into why she is one of my favourite characters throughout the series, but alas she still is.

#1 TK

TK is… Well… He is more or less a comic relief character. He is a member of Yuri’s battlefront, although no one knows much about him, not even his real name. I think I like him for the same reasons as Shiina, just his weird eccentricities, like the way he speaks broken English for most of the series, or the way he breaks into dance every so often. He rarely speaks Japanese, although does seem to understand what other people are saying, and will willingly sacrifice himself to help his team along.

This is one of the only times when I have chosen a comic relief character as a favourite from the series, although this just helps my point that this series is extremely well written, with fantastic characters, which are both well designed and well developed.

I also have to take a moment to talk about the music within the anime. Like Key’s animes and games, the music choices are excellent and well composed. I personally have the Clannad OST and the Air OST, and I would hope to get the Angel Beats OST as well. The ending theme I especially like, and I cant really say why, I just really love it, so much so that I’ve been listening to it whilst writing this review.

This anime is one of the reasons why I love the works of Key so much. There is just the right amount of laughter, but also the right amount of drama and sadness as well. It makes me upset that I have watched the entire series, because I just loved watching the episodes so much, it’s just a shame to let it end so soon, after only 13 episodes.

If you have watched the series yourself, then I urge you to comment and share your experiances with the story  and the characters. If you have not seen the series, then I urge you to do so, then come and discuss what you think of it.


7 responses

  1. I actually just read your article. A friend of mine told me there was an article about Angel Beats in the Unis newspaper and i just had to see it xP. I had to hunt around campus to find the newspaper it was in ( i was lucky they dont get rid of the old newspapers XP)
    I agree with you, its brilliantly writen, awesome music and has touching and hillarious moments but it needed to be longer ! XP I felt it was way to rushed, we don’t even get to see waht hapenes to some characters. The produccion quality was very good and i especialy loved the opening (i listen to it all the time XP).
    I especialy loved Hinata and Yuis ending, its so cute.
    Anyway, nice review :3

    December 18, 2010 at 01:50

    • BTW CLANNAD is the best anime ever

      December 18, 2010 at 01:53

      • And yes… As a owner of Clannad, Clannad After Story, and the Clannad Movie… I have to agree… It is the best anime series ever.

        December 18, 2010 at 04:49

      • I didn’t like the Clannad movie, mostly because it was done by another studio or something, it didn’t have Kyoto animations quality, maybe i was to quick to judge it because i never finished watching it but i just couldnt stand it since i watched it after watching clannad and clannad after story and it just wasn’t as pretty xP.

        December 18, 2010 at 04:55

      • I know, I have to agree once again. The production quality is much lower and the art style does seem a little weird.

        I watched it in between Clannad and Clannad Afterstory, so it ruined what happened to nagisa for me. Then again, it was a weird adaptions with the whole dream thing anyway. I found it hard to keep watching myself.

        I believe it was the same studio that did the Air movie, and maybe the original Kanon adaption as well. I know Kyoto did the Air series, Kanon 2006 series and Clannad + Afterstory series’.

        Oh, and stay tuned. I’ll be posting a review of the new Angel Beats OVA ‘Stairway to Heaven’ over the christmas holidays ^^

        December 18, 2010 at 10:25

    • First of all, thank you. I am happy to know that some people enjoy my collumn in the university newspaper.

      I’ll let you in on a secret. Originally, I wasnt going to post the Angel Beats review for the univerisity newspaper,. I actually only chose it cause it was recent and already writen, when I was supprised with a deadline that was one hour from when I read the email.

      You may notice that the paper review was slightly different from this review, which was cause I edited it to fit in with the paper better. As you probably now know, it was released in Issue 2 (it is lucky they dont get rid of back issues ^^)

      As for the anime, yes. It did suffer from only being 13 episodes long, when the original conception had it at 24 episodes, which meant the plot had to be quickened up and some characters didnt get the time they should have.

      Apart from that, I love every moment of it. And Yui’s end was both heartbraking yet heartwarming at the same time.

      I am happy to know that someone else at at our Uni is such a big Key fan as I am =]

      December 18, 2010 at 04:48

  2. Pingback: Review: Angel Beats! – Stairway to Heaven & Another Epilogue « [ Cybaria ]

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