I remember well all the hubub about Angel Beats! when it was making its initial run through Japanese TV. The main character was an obvious Haruhi Suzumiya clone. It could be nothing more than a "Sci-fi Melancholy". Opinions changed very quickly, but after watching the first episode, I was left with that very impression.
Angel Beats!' main character, Yuri, is little more than a palate swap from being the infamous "god character" herself. She has the same peppy altitude, a legion of male and female archetype followers (my favorite of which so far is TK) and... a beret + sniper rifle? Okay, maybe she isn't quite exactly the same, but Angel Beats! had a very obvious source of inspiration. If it turns out that Yuri is in fact god, then... well... this might as well be Haruhi fanfiction.
If Yuri is Haruhi, than that makes the evil, villainous, mischeveous, and downright despisable "Tenshi" is actually Yuki Nagato. That lengthy description seems to be the impression of Yuri's SSS (SOS?) Brigade, though through the eyes of the stereotypical protagonist Otonashi, Tenshi just looks like any typical unassuming girl..
And when I say "stereotypical", I mean in the worst way. Has there ever been an amnesic dead guy this boring before? I have to believe so. And while most of the characters are well designed, Otonashi almost looks like he was drawn differently, if not worse. Its as if they pasted some Fate/Stay fanart into certain scenes instead of giving the protagonist the proper animation treatment he deserves.
The plot is fairly interesting, in that everyone at the school (seemingly the only location in the afterlife) is dead, stuck in limbo. They have options; join the "NPCs" that populate the world and live a normal life, eventually disappearing (and possibly resurrecting), or skip classes and be a punk to stay in this school-world. You can die over and over (as the protagonist does repeatedly in the first episode) and will simply wake up later, fully recovered from your injuries, and still in the afterlife. The idea is used to good comedic effect, first as Otonashi asks to be killed to prove a point, then is victim to a 100 hit combo, and then by a hidden trap.
So I'm not really sure what to make of this show yet. It seems like standard fare so far, not quite what I was expecting from all the praise I've heard. Then again, its rare that the first episode is reflective of a shows' quality as a whole, so perhaps I'm just being too judgemental. The animation is quite nice and it seems to have a certain level of style, but I'm... cautious.