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Angel Beats begins with a dead young man called Otonashi who awakes to find himself in the middle of a High School with no memories. Enter Yuri Nakamura, a girl who looks a lot like Haruhi Suzumiya at first glance and even acts like her too on many occasions. She explains to Otonashi that he has to fight to stay alive or else he will be erased by 'Angel' who then decides to stab him through the heart for asking 'Prove to me that I'm already dead!'.
From here on in Otonashi ends up joining the SSS (Shinda Sekai Sensen.... or The After Life War Front to me and you) and meeting a host of other stereotypical characters that are all rebelling against the system as they believe if you attend lessons and live a normal school life you will be erased.
Angel Beats! has a great sense of humour what with slap stick that isn't that different from Looney Toons thanks to the neat plot device that means no one actually stays dead as they are already dead. This means they can have fight scenes and gore without the loss of important characters. They also got some good memorable gags and one liners that'll keep you smiling.
Speaking of which this anime in general has you laughing one minute and on the verge of tears the next thanks to the general epic-ness of the story.
The biggest downfall I would say is the fact when the fictional rock band 'Girl's Dead Monster' play their gigs and the animation is amazing but then they never use it again. It’s like the animation studio are saying 'This is what we CAN do, but we will only do this once every 4 episodes' and as the series is only 13 episodes long this isn't that often. That’s not to say the normal animation is bad in anyway shape or form it just feels a shame that this higher scale of quality isn't used say for the fighting scenes which in my opinion could probably do with improved graphics to help them feel more epic (like how the school gigs feel).
The music is probably one the highlights of the whole series. From the catchy pop theme song, to the punk rock all girl band 'Girl's Dead Monster' and to the slow ballad at the end of the episode. Not to forget the great background music. The score is spot on and coupled with the bright colours of the animation makes the whole series not just pleasing for the eye but for the ears as well.
The roster of characters in the show is pretty large and although they all roughly get the same amount of screen time not all their backgrounds are filled out. This makes me feel that the roster has about four fully 3 Dimensional characters while the rest at times feel a bit like card board cut outs. It doesn't help that they are all rather stereotypical and are nothing that hasn't been done before. This I feel is a shame because some of the more interesting 2 Dimensional characters (For instance my favorite TK who has the best one liner’s of the series) are not fleshed out in the slightest. In fact at the end of the series they are practically nonexistent. We do get an explanation where they have gone but it feels like the writer just hid them in the wardrobe so they can just concentrate on the 4 main characters.
All in the all the series is good and is no way a rip off of 'The Melancholy of Haruhi Suzumiya' as many people seemed to be worried about as it’s made by the same people and some of the characters are alike. With great music, stunning visuals and enough interesting characters coupled with an intriguing story line that questions what exactly happens to people when they pass away.