Welcome to the Imouri Anime Review, where people vote for an anime that the Imouri team will review. The anime will be reviewed using these four criteria; Story, Animation, Character Development, and World-Building. Each category will be given of score (1-10), and then an overall score will be determined.
It's December and we had an open discussion at the Secret Anime Club on which anime to review next. The users from the Secret Anime Club mentioned multiple times the anime Angel Beats! during the discussion. So, without further here is the review for Angel Beats!
Angel Beats! takes place somewhere between life and death. For this review, I am going to refer to it as Limbo. A rather large group of characters and some NPCs known as Non-Player Characters by the main cast inhabit Limbo. The story focuses on Otonashi Yuzuru, the newest person to arrive in Limbo, Nakamura Yuri; the leader and founder of SSS, an organization founded to fight God; and Tachibana Kanade, also known as Angel. Otonashi, Yuri, and the SSS organization all fight Angel in an attempt to defy God. Otonashi joins the SSS and helps them on various missions while trying to recover his lost memories and find out why he and everyone else are in Limbo.
Angel Beats! is a story of life after death and the fulfillment of one's life before death. There is a reason why the characters are in Limbo, but that goes into spoiler territory and is a primary plot device for the series. Angel Beats! does well to bring out the viewer's emotions through compelling storytelling and does a good job making the viewer become attached to certain characters.
It has been touted that Angel Beats! is one of the saddest anime, but overall that depends on a few factors. Such factors include how emotional the viewer is, how invested the viewer wants to be in the story, and the viewer's current mood. When it comes to delivering emotion in its storytelling, I think Angel Beats! does a good job.
While Angel Beats! is pretty good, the story does have it's shortcomings. First of all, there are only 13 episodes in the series. With the amount of depth the story could have, I feel this could have been extended to the 26 episode range. There is a lot of missed potential that could have expanded the story.
Second, I feel there is too much deep, almost dark storytelling involved. There are only a handful of moments where the mood lightens up, like when the characters have to navigate traps or when one of the characters' chair is launched into the ceiling. If there were more funny moments in the series, it could help cleanse the pallet of all the story's seriousness. Overall, the story is enjoyable, but it could be improved by adding more episodes and diving deep into the aspect of Limbo.
Story Score: 7/10
Angel Beat!'s animation style combines your standard anime art style with a bit more of that realistic art style when more serious or emotional scenes are playing out. It's interesting to note that Angel Beats! is an original anime. A manga adaptation was made after the series's airing, so when the series was being animated, there was no reference material to look back on.
I want to praise the opening of Angel Beats!, sung by none other than LiSA. My Soul, Your Beats is a compelling song that fits best with the opening animation and sets the tone for the series while introducing you to the series's huge cast of characters. The opening is beautifully shot, and the animation sequence is nice.
Overall, the animation is okay. It's not bad or spectacular by any means. The opening sets the tone for the series and builds on the emotional aspect of Angel Beats!, which is what this anime is built on.
Animation Score: 5/10
As I have said earlier, Angel Beats has a wide cast of characters. With only 13 episodes and a large cast of characters, character development is sacrificed a bit. Only a few characters have some significant growth. Otonashi and the impact he brings on the other main characters, Nakamura is questioning her leadership and past, and Tachibana's development from beginning to end as she is one of the series's main focal points. However, I feel that the rest of the characters either get a little development or none at all.
Most of the characters feel like they are just kind of there to fill a void, and with only 13 episodes, I think that most characters don't get ample screen time to flesh out their backstories and developed thoroughly enough throughout the series. Considering the place the series takes place in, I feel that the writers did just that, fill a void. In the series, there are even characters called NPCs that fill the void of Limbo to make it look normal. Overall, I feel the character development could have been way better for all the main and supporting characters.
Character Development Score: 3/10
Even though Angel Beats! takes place in Limbo, full of untapped potential, the reality is that there isn't much in terms of world-building. The story is more character-centric rather than world-centric. Yes, those NPCs living amongst the main cast and the whole mystery surrounding Limbo, to begin with, but other than that, the characters are mainly found at the school, where Limbo is built around.
There is much potential for more world-building in Angel Beats! If the series were expanded to 20+ episodes, I am sure we could learn more about Limbo and perhaps even use Limbo as a way to showcase manifestations of the characters' past that they would have to overcome. We see some changes and additions to Limbo as the series progresses, such as the existence of the NPC's, which could have been expanded more instead of an arbitrary plot device. Overall, I wish the world-building was a bit more thought out.
World Building Score: 3/10
Angel Beats! is an enjoyable, emotional roller coaster of an anime. While the animation and storytelling were good, I felt character development and world-building were lacking due to how the series was made. I feel that the writers were trying to include too much into just 13 episodes, which is its huge drawback. What delivers are the emotions Angel Beats! brings to the table. It is one of the few anime out there that managed to get me to tear up, albeit not full-blown crying. Angel Beats! has tons of potential but is still worth the watch, without a doubt. I do recommend this anime to anyone looking for something with a high emotional impact.
*All images are from the My Anime List website. We do not own any of these images. Credit to all artists of the images.