Today we visit with Angel Beats. It is an anime, set in the afterlife, based around themes like life after death, letting go of regret, and acceptance. Well, how did it do?

Angel Beats follows the story of one Otonashi, an amnesiac that suddenly pops up in what can only be called Purgatory. He quickly meets two of the residents of this strange world: Yuri and Angel, whom are locked in a never-ending battle of sorts. Yuri leads a group of humans like Otonashi in "rebelling" against the system, while Angel seems to be an agent of the system keeping them in line.

Eventually, Otonashi ends up with Yuri's group, the SSS, and the adventures really kick off.


The Good:

Angel Beats is another short anime coming in at only 13 episodes. As a result, the pacing is pretty good most of the time. The plot is presented in a fine manner. I do wish we had more character-centric episodes though.

That said, what we do get out of the series is good. There's quite a bit of character exploration going on with the main characters of the story (Otonashi, Yuri, Angel). Some of the supporting characters aren't bad either, Yui and Hideki are pretty well explored too.

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Without spoilers, I can safely say that they have some very complex reasons for existing in this purgatory. Everyone has some reason that they refuse to move on.

As a side effect of such a world, most of the members of Yuri's group are eccentric. These aren't the usual archetypes that you'll find mashed together in anime. Yuri openly opens that most of them are idiots and that she is only slightly better than the rest of them. It's an oddly funny (and welcome) way to lampshade these misfits.

The Great:

Angel Beats deals with themes surrounding life and death. This was inevitable since it is a series taking place entirely in purgatory. Essentially, the series tackles what happens when we still have lingering regrets and desires in our hearts when we pass on. Most of the characters have some sort of lingering problems that they need to work through that many will deal with in their lives.

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The series handles them with a lot of tact and explores how one should go about overcoming them.

This series is a huge tear jerker. It is. You'll be doubting me after watching the first episode, but it's true. It is extremely poignant and heartwarming.

The Bad:

Especially at the beginning, Angel Beats dips a bit too far into senseless comedy shenanigans. To be honest, it feels like we should have been doing something more important than having a music episode or a journey underground through traps (I will admit it was funny though).

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As such, the series gets a bit of thematic dissonance going between the early episodes and late episodes. They are just a bit too thematically different for me to give it a pass. Even if the early episodes were meant to help us get acquainted with the characters, it felt like there wasn't much of it going on anyway.

This all is probably a result of the short episode count though. The show is a bit too ambitious with such a large cast of characters. There's a lot of ground to cover in the series and only a fraction of the characters get any major development. I think the show could have very well benefited from more time to develop the cast more. This is probably the biggest problem that Angel Beats overtly has.


The Verdict:

Angel Beats is another 13-episode series that is hard to pass up. It's a giant tear jerker, has a fun cast of characters, and deals with themes of regret. It may seem a bit weird and out there during the first few episodes, but it manages to build itself up significantly in the penultimate episodes until it reaches tear jerk levels that I haven't seen in years.

OH MAN THESE FEELS.

It isn't without flaws though. It seems like most of the cast don't get a chance to share the development limelight. There's just too many of them here and not enough time to give everyone a chance for major development/exploration. As such, it seems like a bunch of series devotes itself to weird team-building shenanigans to help us get to know them. It seems a bit out of place though, particularly by the end of the series.

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This is best for someone looking for a good, short series that will invoke some powerful feelings. It is pretty much guaranteed to invoke one tear somewhere in its run. It has some nice characters and some wacky humor.

All things considered, it was good.

P.S. I didn't cry.

P.P.S. I lied.


Information:

Angel Beats! is available for streaming on Crunchyroll and Hulu.

As usual, I claim no ownership of the images herein.

I'm getting closer to my absolute deadline and I'm currently rushing to get everything ready for the big ending. I'm in preparations for the awards articles and I'm rushing to get back on schedule with the 31st deadline. I think I'll be able to get through one more review by the deadline. It seems likely that it would be Beyond the Boundary.

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This is part of my Anime Review Marathon that I began in October 2013 to record my thoughts as I watch a variety of anime on my ever growing backlog. These reviews won't come out on a consistent basis, they'll come out when I feel I have seen enough of a series to pass a judgement on it, although I will usually finish the whole series before the review.

You can see all my articles on Dex's Corner.