|A second chance at... High School?||5 out of 5 users found this review helpful.|
It isn't too often we get to see anything these days that is truly original. Angle Beats fits this description well. I have seen other stories about the afterlife, but never one like this.
The story takes place in a High School of recently departed souls, who are forced to go though the motions of a High School student in order to past on to the next phase of the great beyond. No one seams to know why they are where there at, but a particular group of them, calling themselves the Shinda Sekai Sensen (SSS or The After Life War Front if you prefer English), led by a young woman named Yuri, and composed of her wacky small army of fighters and the members of her all girl rock band, named Girls Dead Monster, doesn't want to go along with this afterlife plan. Instead, they rebel against God's plan, and do whatever it takes to stop themselves from vanishing from the school and moving on, even if this involves the use of firearms.
As the story begins, we meet Yuzuru Otonashi, a recent arrival at the High School, and for some odd reason, can not remember his past life at all. He immediately gets recruited into the SSS, and after Yuri proves to him that he is indeed dead (in a very rude and funny way), finds out that everyone else does remember there life, and all there lives (as we come to eventually find out) sucked for one reason or another. He gets involved with Yuri and her SSS, as they fight someone they perceive to be there worst enemy, and quiet young loner girl they call Angel, who is basically a walking weapons platform, and can fend off the attacks by the SSS and inflict great harm on them with little effort. Fortunately for the SSS members, they can only die once, and that nasty bit of business is behind them. In this school, getting your head chopped off and having your body mashed to a pulp only gets you a short visit to the nurses office, and there is no nurse there, you just wake up good as new and go on with your afterlife. Yuri's band becomes cover to some of the actions her army is undertaking, used as a diversion, keeping the students, most of which are what Yuri calls NPCs (shadow figures made to populate the school but otherwise not real) distracted so her fighters can complete there missions or fight Angel without raising alarm or getting in the way.
Though the story starts off simply, it does get a bit more complicated as we find out who Angel really is and why she is so powerful, what purpose this phase of the afterlife is meant for, and what role Yuzuru has in all this. It does involve flashbacks to the different lives lead by the SSS members, as well as the other main players in this story. As this story had a few sad, tear jerking moments, we come to find out for many of the players in this anime, there life, rather than there death, was the real tragedy they had to face.
Stories like this tend to get wrapped up in themselves, and can quickly become overly complicated and impossible to follow. This anime avoids this smoothly, and delivers the story in a well told easy to follow way. The main plot was well conceived and presented, and the dialog was also well written. To be truthful I had low expectations for this anime, but was pleasantly surprised at what I thought was an intriguing series. I found myself drawn into this in a way few animes can do. Yes, you have to suspend your hold on reality to get into this anime, but once you do it's easy to get hooked on it. The action/battle sequences where exciting and well choreographed, and my only complaint was there could have been few more of them. There was also some good comedic elements to the story, sometimes funny but nothing spectacular. Character development was in reverse of the series time line, with much of it taking place before the characters died and are done with flashbacks. Though I am not a big fan of using flashbacks as a plot device, it worked well in this series, keeping the main story sensible. The art stile was well done, but nothing special, and there are a few surprises that I left out that also make this anime fun to watch and very entertaining. Though there where a few technical elements that could have been done better, and the rock band could have been used more often, I gave this series a five star rating based on the plot, story, dialog and presentation. It was action oriented, funny at times, and often touching and emotional in both story and dialog. The characters where like-able, many of them silly. As a whole it was very enjoyable and interesting. I feel it was well worth the time to watch this, and I recommend you do the same.