Let me get one thing straight first. This review is not going to delve into the emotional depths provided by Angel Beats!, if your looking for insight on the life, death, injustice, tragedy of the show, I can personally recommend a review I thought was good on the topic.
So Angel Beats! was really hyped up when it was first announced, mainly because the series composition, script, music, story, planning, theme song composition, and theme song lyrics were all done by Jun Maeda, the same guy who was either the writer or composer for AIR, CLANNAD, and Kanon some of the biggest visual novels ever made. So with the help of P.A. Works, and Aniplex, Angel Beats! was born.
The plot is simple at it’s core, A boy named Otonashi (played by Hiroshi Kamiya) wakes up one day with amnesia, only to meet a girl named Yuri (played by Harumi Sakurai) that tells him he’s dead. The world that he is in acts like a purgatory, where souls who had a horrible life can come and give up any lingering attachments they still have from life before continuing to an afterlife or reincarnation. Yuri invites him to join Afterlife War Front, an organization she founded and leads which fights against God for the cruel fates the AWF members experienced in life. In this world their is only one enemy, Angel (thought to be in affiliation with God) the school’s student council president that has supernatural powers and is tasked with keeping order in the world. Yuri believes that anyone who follows Angel’s orders and behaves like a normal student at the school will eventually disappear and pass on. That’s why they fight her, the only purpose they have for living in the new world is to try and get revenge on God. I especially love this tag line for the series, they grab every weapon they can get their hands on and try to give Heaven hell!
The animation is, for me at least, one of the best things about the series. When ever I can, I watch anime on Crunchyroll so that I can support the creators, as well as see it in 720p. But as Crunchyroll users know, the website is very limited on what you can watch there, so most of the time I end up using things like GoGoAnime. GoGoAnime does not have the best quality for some series, so I ended up watching Angel Beats! in about 240p. And through the entire length of the series I can remember saying to myself that I would buy the Blu Ray for the sole purpose of seeing this in HD. (If you don’t believe me watch the Op above first in 240p then in 720p.)Their were some animation issues at the beginning of the show, that somewhat lowered fans enthusiasm, but every anime has animation issues, and their are just some amazingly animated scenes in the show like the concert and fighting scenes that I REALLY want to see in HD, and lucky for me the Blu Ray is set to release on July 26 2011, and I can say beyond a shadow of a doubt, I will be buying it.
I really did like the characters of the show, their was no one I absolutely hated, which is always a good thing especially with the huge cast the show has. However I would have loved some more back story then what we got, particularly with the character TK. For those of you who have never watched the series TK is a guy who wears a bandanna over his eyes, and speaks mostly English throughout the show, but his English is completely out of context with whats going on. Aside from the fact that he loves to dance, we never find out anything about him.
One of the problems many fans of the series had, was that it should have gone on longer so it could properly display the backgrounds of the enormous cast of characters. To an extent I agree, but also would you really want another 11 episodes for the sole purpose of character development? I agree that the ending was rushed, and the some of the characters deserved more back story then they got, but when it comes to things like this is usually either 13 episodes or 24 episodes and another 11 episodes would have been way to long. One of the things I do like that the series does have some very good moments of humor, particularly the rocket chairs scene that got my funny looks in my classroom when I burst out laughing.
What I do want to say about the ending really quick is that unlike most people I didn’t cry at the end of the show. Perhaps it’s because I was at the zoo on a forced field trip in 100 degree weather when I watched the last episode, perhaps I’m not as emotionally moved by things as some people are, but I do agree that it did have a very nice ending, the kind that wraps just about everything up and is satisfying.
Overall I do recommend this series. I don’t think it lived up to the original hype, but it definitely is a really good solid anime, with amazing animation and a really nice ending.