Angel Beats Series Review: What Do You Live For?


Angel Beats Overview:

What is Angel Beats about? Otonashi wakes up and finds himself in a strange school. Nearby him is a girl setting up a gun and taking aim at another girl. The girl informs him he is dead and invites him to join a battlefront in a fight against god. Politely declining the girl’s offer, Otonashi decides to talk to the other girl. It is there he realises that he is in fact dead and he is now in the afterlife.

Angel Beats Review:

Angel Beats is one of those anime that you will either completely fall in love with or you will sit and stare at it wondering what the hell it is you are watching.  There’s very little room for inbetween given you either love the over the top humour followed by insane action and finally crush your heart drama or you find the whole thing an exercise in emotional manipulation that misses the mark.

However, for me Angel Beats is one of those very special anime that I can watch time and again and no matter how many times I see it I laugh, I get excited, and then I end up a teary mess before breaking into that final smile post credits of the last episode (and yes, you have to watch through the credits otherwise you are just going to end up a mess).


It is really hard to explain why I feel this way about Angel Beats though. The characters aren’t exactly riveting with such a large cast and so few episodes to develop them. While you will probably grow attached to Otonashi and Kanade, maybe Yuri if she doesn’t annoy you, and one or two other cast members, the vast majority remain strictly background or one note.

This kind of means that a lot of the events later in the series shouldn’t have a lot of impact given the characters are more or less only distinguished by their hair colour, weapon or catch phrase and yet somehow they all manage to charm me in their own way even if I know very little about the bulk of them. Possibly it is because of how little time they get to annoy that they manage to remain charming. I think that given enough time characters like TK could get super annoying.


Despite that, individual character moments are solid.  Iwasawa’s moment here we got her back story and then got to see her sing ‘My Song’ was incredibly emotionally wrenching and really consolidated that despite the zany humour, this show was serious about dealing with the themes it brought to the table when it set its story in the afterlife of young people who, for various reasons, never got to live their full lives the first time.

This is really the first turning point of the series. A character you were kind of familiar with from the first couple of episodes takes the spot light and then breaks your heart and you finally realise what this show is going for in terms of tone and theme.


Then there is Hinata and Yui. Yui may be an incredibly annoying character, but she still manages to have her moment to shine when we finally see her stripped of all the comedy, frantic energy and distractions. When you realise why she is forging herself into the person she became in the after life and you realise what she’s really trying to achieve it just hits you. The fact that she’s annoyed you every time she’s appeared on screen up to this point kind of fades away and Hinata steps in when Otonashi falters and he manages to give Yui the words she needs to hear at that moment.

And that’s probably the greatest strength of Angel Beats. It knows how to deliver moments. The overall narrative pacing and plot might be a bit of a mess with too many characters and at times too many ideas, but each of those character moments are beautifully spaced throughout the series that each time you think you might want to stop you’ll be hit with something really stunning and unforgettable. What you are left with is a series where the feeling of the whole is significantly greater than most of the individual parts.


Visually Angel Beats is a joy. Sure there are some moments where the characters are off model and the animation isn’t as clean as it might be, but again, the show knows when to put everything on the table and there are those scenes that just take your breath away and they are the ones you will remember after watching.

The dramatic moment when the lunch tickets float down to the ground, all the Angel’s recombining, the destruction of the guild, and the graduation sequence are each beautifully delivered and give you a sense of a truly gorgeous show. This is further reinforced by the fabulous music throughout the whole show (and one of the best opening themes of all time).


I’m not going to say everyone should love this. The plot is a bit of a mess and there are definitely a lot of moments that are pure filler or there forced in for a sub-plot that ultimately doesn’t amount to much, and as much as I came to love the characters, there are just too many of them for the show to really do the cast justice. Still, if you watch it through and it reaches you, this show will be the one you reach for when you want to laugh, cry and then smile and just be able to feel something.


As always, I’d love to know your thoughts on Angel Beats so please leave a comment and let me know whether you are in love with the show?

Thank-you for reading 100 Word Anime.
Join the discussion in the comments.
Karandi James

Or, use one of my product affiliate links.

24 thoughts on “Angel Beats Series Review: What Do You Live For?

  1. Angel Beats is an anime I’ve thought about reviewing but didn’t believe I could find the right words for. Just so well done! Yui’s moment was as impressive and emotional as any of the others because it was just as important to Yui as anyone else’s moment was to them. having her be a bit irritating makes the contrast even greater.

  2. Like you said, this anime was good whether it made me laugh or cry. I will admit, Yui did get on my nerves, but after learning about her and seeing her pass on, it made me feel bad.

    1. Yui’s character did the same to me. I really found her annoying and yet when she had her moment it just changed everything and suddenly seeing her move on just made me so sad even though it was kind of happy for her to finally live her dream.

      1. Yeah I didn’t expect that to happened. It’s amazing to see how this anime first trick you thinking about a character and then change your mind. It made me happy too when she was able to do the things she couldn’t do.

  3. So good to read such a balanced and thoughtful review of a show I’ve wanted to watch for ages, without knowing quite what to expect. If I’m put off by the odd thing when I do get round to this one, I’ll know to stick with it 👍

    1. Hopefully you enjoy the show. I really did fall in love with Angel Beats but I do get that some people just find it… well they don’t fall in love with it.

  4. One of those rare occasions where I ended up liking a series more upon re-watch than on the first run (though only in terms of enjoyment, not quality). I used to kind of hate this show, but re-watching it I realized there are actually things to this show that are worth liking. Definitely overrated, I think, but more than a serviceable series.

      1. Wrote a post on it maybe a year ago. Liked the humor, and the characters, while underdeveloped individually, have a great chemistry with one another that makes the show entertaining. Plot’s super stupid, absolutely. Emotional overload even worse. But I didn’t dislike the characters at all. Coupled with a very clean animation palette, it’s enough for a passing grade.

  5. I felt a similar feeling to you when I watched it. I laughed, I cried, I smiled. It’s the same thing everytime I watch it. The series definitely nails character moments and I think part of the reason it all works is because of how little time they’re given. It sort of reaffirms that they died young which is why their dreams and endings were so powerful even if they did come and go like butterflies.
    Damn, remembering this makes me want to go watch the show again!
    That was a great review, thank you 😊

    1. I agree. Despite having internet access, I’m commenting less at the moment because I’m either on a tablet or my phone and typing on either is just painful.

  6. This sounds a bit like the same rollercoaster ride I was on when I watched Your lie in April. I laughed…and then cried my eyes out. I immediately checked if this one was available for me over on Crunchyroll, which of course it wasn’t 😢 Really too bad though, as I love the premise of this one and your great review as always makes it very convincing to really start watching this one. Oh well, I hopefully next year on Animecon 2018 I can find this one on dvd. 😊

  7. Whoop! A great review for an anime I loved!
    Amazing work as always Karandi!
    And yes, I’m so glad someone else loved the Yui moment as much as I did.

    1. Glad you enjoyed the review.
      A lot of people really don’t like Yui so don’t find her moment all that touching, but it is just so well done.

Share your thoughts.

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.