The first episode of Angel Beats! has aired and it certainly lives up to my expectations.
The premise was the most alluring aspect of this series for me. Students fight their fate by battling against angels in a world after death; an interpretation of an afterlife by the creator. This very notion of rebelling against God can spawn countless ideas, themes, and plot developments. Unfortunately, the anime will only be 13 episodes long, but they felt that this wasn’t long enough to tell all of what Maeda had planned for Angel Beats!, so illustrated short stories and manga will contain parts of the story that they weren’t able to include.
A lot of people have commented on Yuri’s resemblance to Haruhi, and the first episode only reinforces this notion by giving her a similar personality as well besides simply the appearance. As for the male lead Otonashi, he appears in this afterlife and initially has no idea what is going on. Throughout the episode, we can hear some of his thoughts just like Kyon from Haruhi. If you found his voice to be familiar, his seiyuu is Hiroshi Kamiya who is also voicing Izaya from Durarara!! and did Koyomi Araragi from Bakemonogatari. Be prepared for some witty humor during the series.
Yuri leads a group called the SSS—Shinda Sekai Sensen (Afterlife War Front). This reminds me of Haruhi’s S.O.S. Brigade. Anyways, we are introduced to various members of the group that each have their own quirks. One of their main strategies is to use an all-girls band (made up of SSS members) called “Girls Dead Monster” to put on concerts as a diversion. The first episode already features a concert by them that is performing in parallel to a battle against Tenshi raging on outside. I loved the way the view panned around the concert stage to give the viewer a sense of 3D. The animation of this was on a whole different level than the concerts found in K-ON!.
So the animation quality is top notch, and the music I heard so far is pleasing. This pilot episode didn’t include an opening sequence, so we’ll have to wait until the second episode to hear the OP. Maeda has composed about 15 songs for Girls Dead Monster and we already get to hear one in the first episode. Considering that the anime is only 13 episodes long, I wonder if they’re planning on including all 15 songs into the series.
Now for some speculation about the plot/setting. The image above shows Tenshi blocking a bullet with her Hand Sonic skill. As you can see, there are 0’s and 1’s flying off from the impact which is probably binary code. This leads me to believe that they could be in a Matrix-type world. That would also explain where they procured all their weaponry.
I realize this post is a bit longer than my usual first impressions, but Angel Beats! was just that good. I’ve only seen a single episode and I’m already addicted, impressed, and left pondering about aspects of the plot.