Japanese title: エンジェルビーツ
Animation Production: P.A Works
Genres: Comedy, Action, Drama, Supernatural, Fantasy, Seinen, Tragedy
Number of episodes: 13
Plot Summary: It sucks being dead. Sucks even more to be trapped in a surreal afterlife where you’re caught between the living and the dead—where a mysterious, violent Angel is trying to pull you over to…somewhere. What do you do? Well, if you’re this group of rough-and-tumble teens, you grab every weapon you can get your hands on and give Heaven hell! High-caliber action and locked-and-loaded comedy meet on a rock and roll battleground in Angel Beats! – Sentai Filmworks
Well, it might be a bit late for me to write a review about Angel Beats. It is so far away out of memory since it aired in spring last year, but I think about it fondly and I have just began re-watching the series. I do of course have a very good reason for writing about it today. You see, Angel Beats came out on DVD and Blu-Ray in the USA today. Exciting news for everybody, I am sure.
The anime itself is very strong, and I believe that everybody with even an inkling of interest should go watch it. My previous experience with P.A Works has in itself been very unimpressive as both Canaan and True Tears felt wholly uninspiring. Though the animation itself of those shows was top-notch, they felt like they were lacking a certain something to really make them click. The plot synopsis and the animation production company for Angel Beats might look unimpressive to some, but let me assure you, this is not the case. Angel Beats is an exceptionally good watch.
You see, the thing you need to be aware of with Angel Beats is that the original story, screenplay and music of Angel Beats were all conceived by the one and only Jun Maeda, who you may otherwise know as the script writer, lyricist and music composer behind the founding of Key. Key itself is a highly successful software company who has been responsible for some seriously famous visual novels. Kanon, Clannad and Air and their anime counterparts are significantly well-known, even out here in the UK and the US where visual novels are practically an unventured territory. Additionally, Na-Ga is behind the character designs of Angel Beats, who was also responsible for the character designs of the aforementioned Key visual novels as well. Works by Key are usually thought of as particularly heartfelt and well planned out, with excellent storytelling and usually stunning character development, and Angel Beats did not disappoint.
The opening 5 minutes of Angel Beats does an unparalleled job of setting the scene. Unlike a lot of anime, Angel Beats does a bit of an unorthodox job of throwing the main character directly into the action.
Yurippe sets the scene.
The main character is suffering from amnesia and can’t even remember his own name. He wakes up in an unfamiliar location, with an unfamiliar girl with a sniper rifle. He is immediately told that he is dead, and that he is in the afterlife. The girl tells him to enlist in the fight against the Angel, the girl whom she has her sniper rifle primed on. Of course, the main character with his missing memory feels a little confused, and goes to talk to the ‘Angel’. Again, he is told that he is dead, and he asks the ‘Angel’ to prove it. Since he is dead, he shouldn’t be able to die. Then, suddenly…
BAM! The situation is made pretty clear.
He wakes up unharmed in the infirmary, and the rest of the cast is introduced, thoroughly mysterious to be sure. You know the rules, but none of the why or how. I guess that is what I like about Angel Beats. The situation itself remains a mystery for a good majority of the show whilst each episode focuses on the immediate tasks at hand, but at the same time the characters are slowly expanded on and explained. The pieces of the puzzle regarding the characters and the situation are slowly put together to produce a beautiful picture and when I found that last piece, I almost got a tear in my eye it was so touching.
The music for Angel Beats is very good. The opening theme is just beautiful and the band that is introduced, Girls Dead Monster, both plays excellent music and are of central importance to the plot. Their story was particularly touching for me but are again just one piece of the picture, and stack up nicely with everyone else and their touching moments to produce a very compelling story overall.
The comedy in Angel Beats is also pretty good. The odd situation, and the fact that it is impossible to die makes for some ludicrous, classic moments, whereas the unique characters add their own style. My own personal favourite for comedy is TK and his horrendously ‘so-bad-its-funny’ English quotes, and I will definitely not forget his head spins. Unfortunately, although I thought the majority of the aspects of the show were far above average, I did feel that some of the characters were not addressed as much as I would have liked. It is a minor quip, but you may wonder to yourself ‘hey, whatever happened to that guy?’ once it is all over.
News of Angel beats getting a US release (With dub, if that is what you are interested in) was like angel song to me as I have looked forward to owning Angel Beats on my shelf since I saw it last year. I was initially skeptical as to whether Angel Beats would get a US or UK release, as previous Key anime has taken an unfortunately long time to be licensed. Sentai Filmworks did an excellent job however, and this may be indicative of future Key works being licensed more quickly. Although I live in the UK, and no release date has been specified or hinted at over here, at least it looks like it is heading in the right direction. I am still waiting for all the big Key works to be released over here, but with my experience with Welcome to the NHK, I know that if worse comes to worst, I can import it.
I loved what they did with the end credits.
I think that Angel Beats ended in the most fitting way possible. The final episode was moving to the point of near-tears, and I absolutely loved what they did with the final credits, it certainly kept the mood flowing. If you enjoyed Angel Beats and you would like to watch something a little more recent, I would recommend AnoHana. Additionally, I would like to recommend an old personal favourite of mine, Haibane Renmei, which similarly deals with the concept of the afterlife, and I also believe that if you enjoyed this, you would enjoy any of the previous Key works such as Clannad, Kanon or Air, although they have much less action involved than Angel Beats.
–“Goodbye Wild Heaven”
Download Angel Beats (Dual-Audio)
Download the Soundtrack