I haven’t started a new anime series in a long time, considering how crazy sophomore year was for me. So now that it’s summer, I decided it was the right time to delve back into anime. At my friend Danny’s recommendation, I started Angel Beats, a 13-episode long anime. I was at first wondering how a 13 episode series could possibly be something worthy of such high recommendation from my friend, but I quickly figured out why myself.
Angel Beats! starts out with a boy waking up in front of a school. His name is Otonashi, and he has no recollection of how he got there, where he is, or who the girl in front of him is with a sniper rifle. The girl quickly gives him the breakdown of his situation- he’s dead, and he’s in the afterlife. She attempts to recruit him to her team of people who wish to fight God for the cruel lives they had on earth.
Their common enemy is a young girl with silver hair, whom they all call Angel. Otonashi is still suffering from amnesia, but he’s fairly suspicious of all this information and refuses to believe he’s dead. With that, he walks down to speak to Angel, and after asking if it’s true that they can’t die (something the girl, Yuri, told him) she responds by stabbing him through the chest.
He then wakes up in an infirmary in a panic, finds the remains of his blood-soaked shirt and yet no corresponding injury, and realizes everything Yuri said was true.
I feel like I’m going to keep reiterating this one point, but I am absolutely amazed that such a short series could go through so much plotline and emotion. I have heard that Angel Beats was supposed to have a longer run, but was cut short, so that may explain why some plot points felt rushed. The series became unbelievably sad when it detailed everyone’s pasts, and I ended up (as usual) in tears when they went into exactly how Otonashi died. It was so ridiculously sad, I can’t even. (Otonashi, all my tears, omg.) But there is also humor in the show. Death is often used as a joke, even by the characters themselves, because no one can actually die. They feel pain but given some time they will revive in perfect health.
There was an entire episode made up of gags where the members of the SSS were one by one killed by various traps. Thankfully the series employs gore discretion shots, never showing anything too extreme, or else I might have dropped the series at that very episode. I feel like the series meshed the depressing sadness and the light-hearted humor very well, so that it never seemed unnatural. The characters also grew on me incredibly fast, and even though I had (and still have) a hard time naming all of them, I was very attached to everyone by the last few episodes.
This series was also released very recently, with an original run of April 3 – June 26 2010. One of the first things I noticed was how clever the series was. Often the ending theme animation would change to correspond with the events of the episode, and once even the opening theme had a different animation. The entire thing seemed very modern and well put together, and somehow different from many generic anime series I’ve seen before. It sort of reminded me of Mahou Shoujo Madoka Magica, in some way I can’t pin down. I have no complaints about the art or animation, in fact, it impressed me. I saw no huge and obvious signs of the art suffering due to insufficient funding, which is something pretty common in more long-running animes.
While this is not the most spectacular series I have ever watched, this anime managed to win my heart and my recommendation in a surprisingly short amount of time. I highly recommend this anime and I think anyone with a little time this summer should check it out. I’m even thinking of rewatching a couple of my favorite episodes. It also has incredible music! Here’s the opening, and I hope you guys follow my advice and watch this series. : )
I am told this series is rated PG-13. That makes sense to me, as I wouldn’t recommend this series to anyone under 13 either.