What if after you died, you woke up in high school?
That's what happens in Angel Beats, a pretty
cool anime series that has been released by Sentai Filmworks, a unique
classroom comedy and shoot-em-up action.
This complete collection includes all 13 episodes and the single
adventure (which is pretty funny.) The
only real flaw with the show is that it's too short.
Yuzuru Otonashi wakes up on a sidewalk with no idea where he
is or how he got there. What's even more
disorienting is when a girl with a big gun, Yuri Nakamura, informs him
he's dead, and in the middle of a war.
Well, sort of. It turns out that
Yuzuru is in a sort of purgatory in the form of a high school. There dead teens are supposed to go to school
and obey the rules, but if they do they'll pass on and be reborn as any
crustacean. At least that's what Yuri
believes. To prevent this from happening
Yuri has formed the Afterlife Battlefront a group of students who rebel
the set ways and fight Angel, a super powered student that is God's
representative. They're hoping to either
destroy Angel or follow her to God.
Yuri also informs Yuzuru that since he's already dead, he
can't die, and then tries to shoot Angel, a cute young girl who shows
up on campus. This is too much for the guy
spoiling Yuri's shot he walks down to talk to Angel.
She has a quiet, computer-like voice and when
Yuzuru tells her that he doesn't believe that he can't be killed, she
arm into a sword and runs him through.
Yuzuru wakes up in the school clinic, good as new.
Yeah, being stabbed really hurt, but that's
about it. After that demonstration
Yuzuru, who still can't remember what happened to him before waking up,
Yuri and the Afterlife Battlefront.
The group consists of several other dead students.
There's the jock Hideki, the bright Takamatsu, the mysterious
TK (no one knows his real name or past) who breaks out in dance every
once in a
while and Ayato Naoi, the self-proclaimed God. (The rest of the school
population consists of NPC, non-player characters that are basically
There's also a girl-band, Girls Dead Monster, which put on
gorilla-style concerts that act as a diversion for the Afterlife
plans to battle Angel or to get food coupons from the NPC students. These plans are often hilariously complex and
bring a lot of humor to the show.
One of the things that makes this series so exciting is that
a lot of these seemingly two-dimensional characters get fleshed out and
very interesting. It turns out many of
the kids at the school had really horrible lives before they died, and
background tales, though sad, really bring the series to life.
The other aspect that raises this series above a lot of
other anime is that the plot advances and changes in unexpected ways. This could have been an 'adventure of the
week' show with a new plan to get Angel each time, but they soon move
that. The plot evolves quickly and by
the end of the series it's quite a different show than what it was at
The one complaint I have is that it moves too quickly.
If they had expanded the number of episodes
in the series it would have improved the story.
As it an episode will focus on a character only to have them
the background or get written out soon thereafter.
Just as you really get attached to a
character they're gone. A few more
episodes would have made the show unfold at a more leisurely pace,
have been nice especially at the end.
Aside from that, it's a great show.
This series comes on three DVDs housed in a single width
Viewers have a choice between the original Japanese audio
track and an English dub, both in stereo.
I was a bit disappointed that there wasn't an English 5.1 option
the standard for most anime dubs. In any
case I viewed the show in its original language and spot checked the
and both were very good. The dub was
very well done with talented actors who did a great job of not only
their speech to the animated lip movements but also brought the
life. Neither track had any dropouts,
background noise, or other defects.
This is a nice looking show.
The anamorphic 1.85:1 image is crisp and clear with tight lines
great amount of detail. The colors are
vivid and strong and really make this transfer shine.
There aren't any digital defects, with even
aliasing and blocking, the two most prevalent animation flaws being
absent. Fans will be very happy with the
way this disc looks.
Not much in the way of extras. There are
clean opening and closing
animation, but that's it. There's also
the OVA episode, which I suppose could be considered an extra. This episode takes place earlier in the
series and shows a rather bizarre plan that Yuri comes up with, and the
execution. It was pretty funny.
Angel Beats is a fun, entertaining and at times very
touching show. The only real complain I
have is that it moves too quickly in parts and if it was expanded it
been even better. This show gets a
strong 'recommended' rating.