It sucks being dead. It sucks even more to be trapped in a surreal afterlife where you’re caught between the living and the dead—and 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! - Official Anime Network summary
Most of the time I'm thoroughly annoyed when Netflix sends me a broken DVD. However, this time I can chalk this up to a very happy accident. If not for the broken DVD (which was totally unrelated to anime) I would have put off watching this nearly flawless, rare gem. Angel Beats! was the first on my streaming recommendations, and a few months back an acquaintance recommended it to me as well, so I figured I'd give it a shot.
At first glance, Angel Beats! seems straight forward and fairly run of the mill - Yuzuru Otonashi wakes up in a completely unfamiliar place, startled by the voice of Yuri (Yuripe) Nakamura who is, for some reason aiming a sniper rifle at the school's student body president. In short order, Otonashi finds out he's dead, and is advised to fight with Yuri's band of rebels unless he wants to get "obliterated." Later, after an unfortunate run in with the halberd wielding Noda, Otonashi meets the rest of what is known as the SSS, or Not Yet Dead Battlefront.
Angel Beats! is not simply about defeating the seemingly invincible Angel, whose real name is Kanade Tachibana. In fact, after a few episodes the main focus shifts to delving into the characters' backgrounds and how they got to the school, which is actually a sort of afterlife way station. Simply put, each of the main characters died bearing the weight of unresolved issues. These issues weren't typical, silly aspirations as with many teens - each of the main characters suffered greatly in life causing them to be unable to make peace with their lives before they died. This punctuated by the fact each one of the Battlefront has at least partial amnesia.
On the whole, every aspect of this thirteen episode anime is expertly blended. The transitions between comedy, drama, action, and romance are seamless. The animation is quite gorgeous for the majority of the series, and even the over the top comedic exaggerations are more than tolerable.
As for the dub, it's easily worthy of five stars. In fact, I watched the so called "alternate ending" (which was completely unnecessary and forgettable) at Anime News Network, and watched a long clip of one of the subbed episodes, and I like the English version quite a bit more. In my opinion, the English voice actors/actresses deliver much more convincing performances. The majority of the dub cast I don't recognize, but they did an absolutely phenomenal job voicing these amazing characters.
I searched several places for an accurate summary, and really couldn't find one. Angel Beats! is so much more than any summary can convey. It's truly one of the best anime I've seen in quite some time, and outshines anything else in it's genre. I enjoyed Ouran, Negima!, Fruits Basket, and Chobits, but none of them holds a candle to Angel Beats! My main complaint, which is largely incidental, is that this series is too short for the amount of characters. However, this is forgivable as the characters that are the main focus are without question charming, likable, and easy to identify with.
I highly recommend Angel Beats! However, I also recommend you go into it with an open mind. Once you get used to it, Angel Beats! delivers much more than it promises.
All said, I couldn't find a suitable trailer. Most only focus on the comedy aspect, giving the illusion that the series has little to no substance. For that reason, I'm including an AMV instead along with an alternate version of the opening song. On a personal note, episodes ten and thirteen I found to be particularly heart wrenching to the point I cried so hard I couldn't see. For me, this a very rare occurrence.