Anime, Shows

It’s No Spoiler: They’re all Dead

Spoiler-Free Anime Review:

Angel Beats! Season 1

Rating: 8 out of 10 stars

Intro

When I first started Angel Beats!, I wasn’t sure if I liked it. After getting a few episodes in, it became one of my favorite anime. I watched it once with my siblings, partway with my ex-boyfriend, and again by myself because it was so good.

Background

This Japanese anime series, released in 2010, was based on the ideas of Jun Maeda and Na-Ga. The studios that produced the anime are P.A. Works and Aniplex.

Summary

High schooler Yuzuru Otonashi wakes up in the afterlife without warning and lacking any memory of his life on Earth. Once there, he finds that the members of the Battlefront are engaged in war against a mysterious individual they call Angel, who has supernatural powers. All members of the Battle Front seek to defy God due to their seemingly unfair lives and/or tragic deaths.

Pros

  • Unusual concept
  • Fascinating characters
  • Well-developed tragic backstories
  • Balance of humor, tension, and tragedy
  • Beautiful animation
  • Attractive intro and outro that change often
  • Phenomenal music throughout
  • Title that has significant meaning revealed near the end

Cons

  • Minimal character development for many characters
  • Felt rushed
  • Repetitive at times
  • Violent and uncomfortable relationship between two characters

Observations

  • An interesting theme to trace is characters’ attitudes toward God

Review

Concept

Battle Front Emblem

The concept is entertaining and held my interest throughout the anime. This is the only anime I’ve ever watched where the characters all start off dead. Nonetheless, the show encourages emotional investment because the characters can be obliterated. This can happen if they obey school rules and try to fit in, if they find peace, or give in.

It is interesting to trace characters’ opinions toward God throughout. There is a wide range of outlooks. Some openly defy God. Others are ambivalent. Still, others believe that He is potentially good and that the afterlife is no punishment. One character believes he is God, and another insists on being called Christ (even though no one is willing to call him that.)

Characters

Angel is a high schooler with supernatural powers such as Hand Sonic, which causes a blade to sprout from her hand. She is believed to be an agent of God’s will and not a dead human like the rest of the characters. Her personality is calm, collected, determined, and generally quiet. She is incredibly powerful, and it typically takes several members of the Battle Front to even slow her down.

Yuri “Yurippe” Nakamura is the fearless leader of the Battle Front. Due to her tragic past, she founded the Battle Front to defy God. Yurippe is defiant, stubborn, and serious, yet has a sense of humor. She is a match for Angel because of her great skill in combat, and she is the character that seems most traumatized by her past.

Yuzuru Otonashi wakes up in the afterlife without any memory of his life on Earth. Initially he is uncertain of who to side with, Angel or the Battle Front. Otonashi does not believe that it is impossible to die in the afterlife because he does not believe he is already dead. As a result, he needs proof. Otonashi is kind, adaptable, and willing to disagree with the crowd. He could probably be considered the main character, even though Angel and Yurippe are extremely important to the storyline.

Hideki Hinata is the co-founder of the Battle Front along with Yurippe. He is one of the strongest members of the Battle Front, but is not afraid to go against the crowd when his beliefs clash with theirs. He quickly develops a close friendship with Otonashi. Hinata gave Angel and Yurippe their nicknames. He is loyal and laidback, but occasionally violent towards Yui.

Yui is a fan of the band Girls Dead Monster. She has an awkward friendship with Hinata that is uncomfortable at times. She is short, easily frightened, energetic, and sometimes annoying. The other characters rarely take her seriously. She is also a skilled vocalist and guitarist herself, although she struggles when she has to do both at the same time. Yui’s tragic past makes her want to make the most of her time in the afterlife.

Backstories

The character backstories for some characters are superbly developed and tragic. Some characters have revealed deaths, while others just have tragedies revealed in their pasts. Many of the characters are not well-developed and have simple yet unique personalities that add to the show even though they are not developed.

Uncomfortable Relationship

The relationship between Yui and Hinata is uncomfortable at best. Don’t think that it’s just Hinata beating up on poor Yui either–they both beat on each other frequently and it’s played for laughs. If it wasn’t meant to be humorous it would be better, but it still would be disturbing to see them fight in a way that is that toxic.

Balance

There is plenty of comedy in Angel Beats! Above, there is a picture of Yurippe creating a distraction by rocketing a team member into the ceiling. While this is happening, dramatic music plays.

There are other sources of humor, such as when the characters consider what would happen is they were obliterated (disappear from the afterlife). They guess at various forms of sea-life they could be reincarnated as.

There is also a lot of sad moments, some of which made me tear up. The backstories of many characters are terrible and tragic too.

Furthermore, there are several tense missions that require a lot of sacrifice and pain.

Animation

The animation is beautiful, particularly the shots that involve light or the sky. It is one of the most attractive styles of animations that I have seen.

Intro & Outro

The intro is attractive and changes with every episode. I love when that happens because it takes extra effort and keeps people engaged during the opening. The piano playing of Angel in the intro is beautiful, and the song is fitting–called My Soul, Your Beats! The outro is softer and sadder, using a song called Brave Song.

At the end of the outro there is a preview that is basically snippets of conversations. It is very intriguing and always makes me look forward to the next episode.

Music

The music is phenomenal, whether its the intros and outros or the performances by the band Girls Dead Monster throughout the episodes.

Length

This anime would have been so much better if the creators had gone with the original plan of 26 episodes rather than cutting it down to 13. So many other characters could have been explored. Even though the show felt rushed, it was still amazing enough for me to watch it several times.

Repetitiveness

The Battlefront has a tendency to use the same battle plan multiple times upon finding it effective; for instance, Operation Tornado. Furthermore, once they find one way to solve a problem, they will often use the same solution over and over during the same episode.

Title

The title has a special meaning that will only be revealed to you if you watch the entire season. It is well worth it!

Conclusion

I would recommend this anime for ages 13 and up.

I think it is worthing noting that as a Christian, I still enjoyed this show and found it worthwhile and touching even though the characters were trying to defy God. The overall message was very positive and heartwarming, so I recommend it for Christians, those of other religions, and nonreligious people alike.

Rating System

If you are interested in how I rate shows, check out my rating system.

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