Genre(s): Action, Drama, Supernatural, School
Age-Appropriateness: 13+ (Violence, blood, language)
Platforms: Crunchyroll, Netflix, Funimation
Episodes: 13 (+2 OVA)
TheAwersome Rating: 6.6 / 10 (Has great moments, has awful moments)
Premise: High schooler Otonashi awakens 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 Afterlife Battlefront and wages war against God and the student council president Angel, a girl with supernatural powers. Unable to believe Yuri’s claims that Angel is evil, Otonashi attempts to speak with her, but the encounter doesn’t go as he intended.
TheAwersome’s Thoughts: There’s a good amount that I really like about this show, but unfortunately about the same amount that I really don’t. The overall afterlife premise and existential questions that arise in debating “moving on” to reincarnation vs. obliteration/death are very interesting. A good handful of the characters have very intriguing, touching stories. A handful of the characters have good character development and you get pretty attached to them, and there’s a good number of very emotional moments (I did in fact cry at the ending, very good twist).
Unfortunately, the whole thing feels like it was put together by three separate high school fanfic writers. With another high schooler doing character design. There are too many characters overall, and so half of them are one dimensional, one-trick gag characters, e.g. “The calm collected glasses character, the American cool-guy wannabe, the guy who only thinks about food, the Tsundere girl, etc.” These characters get no development, backstory, and are merely used as “comedic relief” that really doesn’t work, gets overused, and tries far too hard that it distracts from the drama that does happen.
TLDR: Very high school-y, has some great moments, is cringey at other times.
There are a lot of really good individual character stories in this show. There is a lot of stupid, over-the-top, tropey shonen-flavored “comedy.” Overall it feels like someone had a really cool dream that gave birth to this concept, but there are some glaring plot holes/inconsistencies that you wouldn’t mind other than that they try to explain it too hard. Just let the supernatural be supernatural man, don’t worry about it. If you aren’t Brandon Sanderson, don’t try to explain your supernatural/magic stuff too hard.
I just finished “Angel Beats” on 12 November of this year, and honestly I would definitely re-watch this series. Yeah, the action was a bit wacky, some of the characters were pretty cringe (Yui-nyan, Takeyama, Ayato: I’m looking at you) and the concept of the afterlife (in this case, the semi-purgatorial high school) were hard to square with my Traditionalist Catholic beliefs on it, but at least it’s balanced against the emotional/thought-provoking moments (Yurippe’s backstory and the question of the origin of evil, the role of charity and prayers to best girl Kanade and Otonashi’s ending). Maybe I’m just a sucker for the deep stuff, lol
LikeLiked by 1 person