Angel Beats! – Life and Whatever-Comes-Next

"Everyone only gets to live life one time, and it's right 
here. I only get it once. This is my life. I can't entrust 
it to someone. I can't steal a new one. I can't force it on 
others. I can't forget it, or erase it. I can't stomp over 
it, laugh it off, or beautify it. I can't anything; 
I'd have to... I'd have to accept my one shot at life no 
matter how cruel or merciless or unfair I thought it was." 
                                           - Nakamura Yuri

It’s been a while since I’ve last watched an anime as good as Angel Beats! – okay, so maybe, it’s been a while since I’ve watched any anime at all, but still. Nothing changes the fact that this successfully made me smile, laugh, cry, and even learn a significant thing or two. :) As I usually do with my review, I try to keep spoilers to a minimum – but again, that doesn’t mean that there aren’t any – and focus on my personal thoughts and opinions.

Angel Beats! title sequence as it appears in the anime

With the first episode, I instantly thought, “Oh. That girl with the bow in her hair looks like Haruhi! [from the anime, The Melancholy of Haruhi Suzumiya] Will that red-haired guy be the Kyon-like character?” Well, Yurippe certainly has similarities with the beloved S.O.S. Brigade leader – she has her own War Front! – but she also stands on her own. And Otonashi Yuzuru is absolutely nothing like Kyon.

Angel Beats! is a combination of several genres and themes – there’s action, comedy, a little romance, drama, music, and – as I believe it being the most central of all – life and the afterlife. I honestly thought that it was just going to be another one of those school-life animes, absolutely nothing out of the ordinary, but I was certainly proven wrong! I found myself laughing at the crazy antics of the memorable characters, but even more so, I was crying with them, asking myself the same questions they were.

Why do I have to go on living every single day? What waits for me at the end of all of this? What do I have to look forward to, enough that the thought of it would keep me going against all this hardship? Why do people have to suffer? Is God really watching over us? Why is it all so cruelly unfair?
 

I think the premise was great. Angel Beats! takes place in a sort of in-between worlda world after life, but a world before the true afterlife. This in-between world is especially for the young people who have died with regrets, those who have not come into peace with their lives, those with unfulfilled dreams.  It’s a sort of afterlife school, where the youth can hopefully experience what they haven’t before they died and eventually, find peace with their selves. But, they don’t exactly know that this is the purpose for which they’re there. Led by the fiery Nakamura Yuri, fondly called Yurippe by her friends and supporters, a rebel group called Shinda Sekai Sensen (The Afterlife Battlefront) swear to transcend death and go against the unfair god. They go against the Angel, believed to be upholding the will of the kami-sama.

the characters of Angel Beats! as shown in the end credits of Episode 13. Graduation
the Angel [Tenshi in Japanese] || siiiigh. just look at those wings. if only i canprogram myself with those too; mine would have a flight function, of course~! not merely for decoration!

And yes, every single one of the characters have things they regret; each have their things they desperately attempt to bury deep in their hearts, unable to accept what has happened and what cannot happen. The story unfolds and focuses on only a handful of the characters featured in the series [This is only a 13-episode anime, so I guess the developers opted to only choose certain character arcs. If I’m not mistaken, the story of the others are featured in the manga.]. From Otonashi’s search for significance and fulfillment to Yurippe’s guilt over the fate of her siblings to Hinata’s feelings of worthlessness over a baseball to Yui’s desire to experience life as a normal, able-bodied teenager, I applaud Angel Beats! for showing the frailness that is life and how it is precious. No matter how it goes us, we must gladly accept our lives because it is truly a gift we are bestowed with. Ups and downs, twists and turns, everything is worth living. 

A notable scene for me was the main character, Otonashi Yuzuru’s life flashback. His search for meaning in life is something a lot of us share, I believe. Like all of us, he just wanted to find happiness – his came in the form of simple ‘Thank you’s he got from his younger sister, and eventually sought to get from his future patients as he formed the will to become a doctor.

GirlsDeMo performing ‘Alchemy’ in the anime series

Another favorite aspect of mine was GirlsDeMo – Girls Dead Monster – the all-girl band that served as the diversion division of the Afterlife Battlefront. I loved all their songs, with the lyrics staying true to the premise of the show, that is – life and whatever comes after it. Iwasawa’s story was something else, as well, and I kinda wished she had delayed “finding peace” since I preferred her over Yui as vocalist, but oh well…

I end this review by sharing my musings over what truly awaits us after this life. Will we get a chance to resolve conflicts that remain within ourselves? Will we even be aware when given that chance? Will we truly find peace and eternal rest?

Maybe some questions are better left unanswered at the time being. When the right moment comes, we’ll be able to figure those out on our own. For now, let us indulge in the wonders of life and live every moment to the fullest. Maybe then, at the end, we won’t have any regrets…

I want to live forever
And if I could live forever everything would come true
But everything I have keeps driving me
During the time I have left to live
Where can I find my dreams?
Even though everything is precious to me 
- 'Alchemy' by Girls Dead Monster
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