Angel Beats! (エンジェルビーツ! Enjeru Biitsu!) is a multimedia project consisting of an anime series, a manga series, 4-panel comic strips (4-koma) and a novel. The anime series acts as the central plot source for the remaining material, while the mini-novel and manga act as an expansion to the series as prequel and adaptation-expansion respectively.
The story was originally conceived by Jun Maeda, who also wrote the screenplay, with original character design by Na-Ga; both Maeda and Na-Ga are from the visual novel brand Key known for producing such titles as Kanon, Air, and Clannad. Key is working in collaboration with ASCII Media Works' Dengeki G's Magazine to produce the project. The series began airing in Japan on April 3, 2010. Two manga series and a series of illustrated short stories based on Maeda's original concept are serialized in Dengeki G's Magazine. Jun Maeda is also responsible for writing the successful anime "Charlotte."
- See full article: Afterlife
The Yuzuru Otonashi, a boy who lost his memories of life after death. Upon awakening in the afterlife, he meets Yuri Nakamura, a strong-willed girl who invites him to join the Shinda Sekai Sensen (SSS) (死んだ世界戦線, lit. Afterlife Battle Front), an organization she leads to fight against God for their cruel experiences in life. Their only enemy is the school's Student Council President, Angel, a mysterious girl with supernatural powers, who the SSS believes is associated with God.
Yuzuru Otonashi wakes up in the afterlife with no recollection of his past. He is approached by a girl named Yuri Nakamura, who explains to him the environment of the afterlife, which is set at a local high school. All the people who are sent to limbo are young souls who have experienced trauma or hardships while still alive, and must overcome them before reincarnation. The terms for being reincarnated, or “obliterated”, is to learn to accept their circumstances by leading a normal teenage life at the high school, such as participating in class and doing various extracurriculars. These rules are further enforced by Angel, the school’s mysterious student council president. To help the humans accomplish obliteration, the afterlife is populated by fabricated students and teachers, whom Yuri refers to as “Non-Player Characters” (NPCs). In addition, the afterlife’s residents are still able to feel physical pain and can be killed; however, they will subsequently be revived.
Otonashi soon discovers that Yuri is the founder and leader of the Shinda Sekai Sensen (SSS), an organization which refuses to accept obliteration and rebels against God for their unfair circumstances in life. Aiming to draw God out in order to confront him, the SSS attempts to provoke him by antagonizing Angel, whom they believe is associated with God; however, she fights against the group by utilizing a computer program called Angel Player, which allows her to equip various defensive mechanisms, including arm blades called “Hand Sonics” and superhuman strength. Upon being recruited by Yuri to join their cause, Otonashi encounters several other members of the SSS, including Hideki Hinata, the co-founder of the organization; Masami Iwasawa, a talented musician; and Yui, an underclassman. Also amongst the SSS’s ranks are Iwasawa’s four-girl rock band, Girls Dead Monster (GDM), who act as a diversion during the combatants’ missions, and the Guild, weapon manufacturers who work underground away from Angel’s notice.
Upon joining the SSS, Otonashu participates in several of their operations and missions, despite still questioning the morality of their actions. He is first assigned to evacuate the Guild after it is brought to Angel’s attention, and there, learns of Yuri’s traumatic past. Otonashi’s second mission with the group is to break into Angel’s dormitory in order to uncover information relating to God. During GDM’s diversion performance, Iwasawa is obliterated after achieving satisfaction through her music. However, this allows the infiltrating members to discover the existence of Angel Player, leading Yuri to theorize that Angel is also a human soul that was sent to the afterlife. She confirms her suspicion after conducting a plan to discredit Angel, causing her to lose her position as student council president. This later results in chaos after the deputy president, Ayato Naoi, begins using powers of hypnosis to control NPCs and retaliate against the SSS; however, Otonashi convinces him to join their organization instead. With Naoi’s help, Otonashi regains his past memories, in which he aspired to become a doctor after the death of his younger sister; unfortunately, he was killed in a train crash on the way to an exam. Resentful of his fate, Otonashi devotes himself fully to the SSS cause.
Despite these newfound feelings, Otonashi gradually becomes attatched to Angel, and as such, attempts to befriend her. He helps her make peace with the SSS, and begins calling her by her real name: Kanade Tachibana. After Kanade ends up in the infirmary as a result of a cloning incident, Otonashi recalls a missing fragment of his memories while waiting for her to awaken. He discovers that he had actually survived the train crash and died from his injuries while waiting for rescue to arrive; however, prior to this, he put his organs up for donation using his insurance card. Upon expressing his feelings of happiness to Kanade, he learns from her that the true purpose of the afterlife is to relieve its residents of their regrets by allowing them to fulfill the desires they couldn’t in life. He offers to aid Kanade in getting the other SSS members obliterated, having her reinstated as student council president as a means to keep Yuri occupied. The pair are joined by Hinata and Naoi, with the former obliterating Yui by fulfilling her desire of marriage.
Following Yui’s departure from the afterlife, mysterious shadow-like entities begin appearing and attack the residents of the afterlife. When Takamatsu, a member of the SSS, is devoured by a shadow, he later reappears as an NPC, to the other members’ dismay. In order to escape the situation, Yuri reveals having known of Otonashi’s agenda and opens obliteration as an option to the SSS. She requests Kanade’s assistance in combating the shadows while she takes on a solo operation to find the program responsible for the irregularity. Yuri’s findings lead her to the abandoned guild, where she encounters an AI guarding a room of computers. It informs her that the shadows were created to prevent love from blossoming in the afterlife, and recognizes Yuri as the source of its rapid development. Yuri destroys the computers, and, with her affections for the SSS members in thought, overcomes the grief of her past.
By the time Yuri returns, all the other SSS members, including Takamatsu, have moved on, with the exception of Otonashi, Kanade, Hinata, and Naoi. The five remaining residents of the afterlife hold a graduation ceremony before Naoi, Yuri, and Hinata are obliterated. When Otonashi is alone with Kanade, he confesses to having fallen in love with her, expressing a desire to remain with her in the afterlife and help other lost souls move on. However, Kanade reveals to him her regret that brought her to the afterlife, which was being unable to thank her organ donor for extending her life. She concludes that it was Otonashi’s heart that saved her, proving her theory by recalling that Otonashi regained his lost memories after falling asleep on her chest in the infirmary. Kanade thanks a heartbroken Otonashi before being obliterated, leaving him alone in the afterlife. In the epilogue, two people resembling Otonashi and Kanade meet in the real world, with the boy approaching the girl after overhearing her humming to Iwasawa’s last song.
Yuzuru Otonashi (音無 結弦 Otonashi Yuzuru)
A teenage boy who enters the afterlife with amnesia, Otonashi is recruited to the SSS by Yuri upon arrival. Due to a lack of knowledge about his past, Otonashi is open-minded and not fully committed to the SSS’s cause. However, he quickly grows close to several of their members, and gradually develops a strong attachment to Angel.
Yuri Nakamura (仲村 ゆり Nakamura Yuri)
The leader of the SSS, commonly addressed by the other members as “Yurippe”. Her passion and commitment to the SSS’s cause incites others to follow her command. Yuri’s residence in the afterlife is due to a traumatic experience from her past, in which her siblings were killed by robbers after Yuri failed to deliver them money. As such, Yuri bears a scathing hatred towards God, blaming him for the injustice of her siblings’ fate. Her resentment became the foundation of the SSS, which she founded alongside Hinata.
Kanade Tachibana (立華 かなで Tachibana Kanade)
The student council president of the afterlife high school. Kanade is a mysterious girl initially known to the SSS as Angel because of her stoic demeanor and supposed relation to God. However, she is later revealed to be a human soul who was also sent to the afterlife due to lingering regrets from her past. Kanade’s position as student council president places her at odds with the SSS, as it is her responsibility to uphold order in the afterlife. As such, she develops superhuman abilities in order to oppose their antics, using a computer program called Angel Player to create various defensive mechanisms. This allows her to equip arm blades called “Hand Sonics”, as well as Herculean strength.
Hideki Hinata (日向 秀樹 Hinata Hideki)
An upbeat, friendly boy who was formerly a baseball player in life. Hinata co-founded the SSS alongside Yuri, and quickly becomes Otonashi’s closest companion. His regret in life was failing to catch the baseball during an important game, later resorting to drugs in order to curb his depression.
Ayato Naoi (直井 文人 Naoi Ayato)
Kanade’s vice-president, who later becomes the deputy president following her temporary demotion. In life, Naoi was the son of a famous potter, and later assumed his deceased brother’s identity as their father’s successor. Due to lack of acknowledgement from his father, Naoi strived to reach his brother’s potential, but ultimately failed after his father fell ill. In the afterlife, Naoi is an accomplished hypnotist who initially used his talent to make NPCs do his bidding. However, after encouragement from Otonashi, Naoi joins the SSS’s ranks.
Yui (ユイ Yui)
An underclassman at the high school, Yui is an agressive, hyperactive girl who is often seen bickering with Hinata. She later becomes GDM’s lead vocalist after Iwasawa is obliterated. In her youth, Yui was struck by a car and subsequently paralyzed from the neck-down. As a result, she was bedridden and became heavily reliant on her mother.
Shiina (椎菜 Shiina)
- Voiced by: Fūko Saitō (Japanese); Melissa Davis (English)
A kunoichi with heightened senses, which makes her a capable combatant. Shiina maintains a strict training regime, and has an odd habit of balancing objects on her fingers to improve her focus. Shiina is relatively quiet during group conversations, but frequently remarks “how shallow-minded” or “how foolish.” Despite her stony exterior, Shiina has a fondness for cute things, such as pets and wind-up toys.
Takamatsu (高松 Takamatsu)
An honors student who wears glasses, and contributes to the SSS through information gathering and other affairs. Yuri comments that he is “actually an idiot” despite his educated language. Though appearing to be slender, Takamatsu has an outrageously muscular build, and has a habit of removing his clothes to the other members’ discomfort.
Noda (野田 Noda)
- Voiced by: Shun Takagi (Japanese); Leraldo Anzaldua (English)
A hot-tempered, self-reliant young man who wields a halberd. He initiates a one-sided rivalry with Otonashi upon his arrival. Despite not getting along with other members of the SSS, Noda has a strong infatuation with Yuri and is extremely devoted to her.
- Voiced by: Michael Rivas (Japanese); Adam Van Wagoner (English)
An mysterious boy who often breaks out into dance at random. TK rarely speaks Japanese, and prefers to speak English instead, usually to quote pop culture. Despite this, he cannot actually speak English fluently. His real name is unknown.
Takeyama (竹山 Takeyama)
- Voiced by: Mitsuhiro Ichiki (Japanese); Dylan Godwin (English)
The SSS’s accomplished computer hacker. Takeyama is intelligent and focuses on information gathering rather than combat or physical operations. He frequently asks to be addressed as “Christ”.
Matsushita (松下 Matsushita)
- Voiced by: Eiichirō Tokumoto (Japanese); Rob Mungle (English)
Also referred to as “Matsushita 5-dan”, he has a large build and is a black belt in judo. Despite his athleticism, he is very fond of food, especially niku udon.
Fujimaki (藤巻 Fujimaki)
- Voiced by: Yūki Masuda (Japanese); Andrew Love (English)
A delinquent who equips a shirasaya. Despite his condescending exterior, Fujimaki is reliable in a fight, although he is unable to swim. He initially picks on Otonashi when he first joins the SSS.
Ooyama (大山 Ooyama)
- Voiced by: Yumiko Kobayashi (Japanese); Corey Hartzog (English)
A bland, ordinary boy with a noticeable lack of personality. Ooyama is rather innocent despite being a part of the SSS, and has easily hurt feelings.
Yusa (遊佐 Yusa)
The SSS’s operator, who usually conveys the state of the battlefield to Yuri during missions. Yusa is unexpressive and maintains a stoic disposition at all times.
Masami Iwasawa (岩沢 まさみ Iwasawa Masami)
The band’s cool-headed vocalist and rhythm guitarist, who also composes all of the group’s songs. In life, Iwasawa was an aspiring artist who strove to create music that influences other. However, she was hit over the head during one of her parents’ arguments, and subsequently lost her voice prior to death.
Hisako (ひさ子 Hisako)
- Voiced by: Chie Matsuura (Japanese); Elizabeth Bunch, Jessica Boone (English)
The band’s lead guitarist with a candid disposition. Hisako takes over as GDM’s leader following Iwasawa’s departure. She is a talented mahong player, and is noted to have good athleticism.
Miyuki Irie (入江 みゆき Irie Miyuki)
The band’s drummer. Irie is soft-spoken and easily frightened of ghosts and spirits despite being dead herself. She is best friends with Sekine.
Shiori Sekine (関根 しおり Sekine Shiori)
The band’s bass guitarist and occasional backup vocalist. Sekine is mischievous and rebellious, often playing pranks or improvising during performances. She is secretly envious of the attention Iwasawa recieves. Sekine is best friends with Irie.
Chaa (チャー Chaa)
The leader of the Guild. Despite his long facial hair and adult-like appearance, Chaa is still an adolescent like the other residents of the afterlife.