Yuzuru Otonashi (音無 結弦 Otonashi Yuzuru) is the main protagonist of Angel Beats!, coming in as one of the newest members of the SSS, and a newcomer to the Afterlife. After suffering from an accident during his lifetime , he wakes up in the Afterlife without his memories. After discovering the ongoing conflict between a group of students who call themselves the Afterlife Battlefront and a mysterious girl known under the nickname "Angel", he joins the SSS to seek refuge in the group while he tries to recover his memories. He eventually becomes one of the most key and influential figures of the Battlefront as he was not only able to bring forth changes to the ideals of its members, which ultimately allowed the SSS to survive the greatest trials to the group, but single-handedly turned the tide of the war through his intervention with "Angel".
Otonashi is a young man in his late teens with short red hair (When he was younger, his hair was longer which covered the left side of his face) and has dark red eyes upon his first arrival in the afterworld, he finds himself wearing a typical man's black school uniform. Later, when he joins the SSS, he switches to a white long-sleeved polo shirt under a sandy brown coat and black slacks. He is 175.5 cm (5'9") tall.
In his middle school days, Otonashi didn't care much for school or socializing with his classmates. He admitted to his sister that he would honestly rather be alone and play video games than study and make friends. His main focus in life was mostly working to pay for food and buying manga for his younger sister. His personality eventually changed when his sister died.
After his sister's death, he became a more responsible person. He worked and studied hard to become a doctor and to pay for medical school to help people like his sister. He became a very smart and kind person. When he got into the train accident, he helped the other survivors by taking care of their injuries and helped find enough food and water for everyone. At one point he even sacrificed his share of water. Before he died, he signed a donor card stating that he would donate all of his working organs.
During his time in the Afterlife, he had the same personality as before he died though he was very confused most of the time due to the battlefront's antics.
In the Visual Novel, Otonashi's personality can be altered based on the decision made by the player throughout the game.
Not much is revealed about Otonashi's family, except that he had a younger sibling, Hatsune (and perhaps one other elderly relative; his grandmother though this is unconfirmed). The absence of his parents suggests that both he and his sister were orphans.
In Otonashi's emo years, his younger sister, Hatsune had an unconfirmed medical condition and was in the hospital. During the period, Otonashi didn't know what he was living for and what was his purpose in life. He detached himself from his friends and soon lived a solitary life, funded by his part-time jobs.
All he wanted was to make enough money to eat and live. Even so, he kept on visiting his sister every day and would buy her manga magazines with the little money he had. He always got her whatever he saw first in the book-shop, so he didn't even know if he gave her the same one or a different magazine. Never the less, Hatsune was always happy with whatever Otonashi gave her and she would always say, "Thank you so much brother," to Otonashi.
As Hatsune's condition worsened, Otonashi decided to do one good thing for his sister in his life. His idea of doing a good thing was to save enough to take his sister out, resolving to sneak Hatsune out if she didn't get permission from the doctors. Ultimately, Otonashi did sneak his sister out and took her to see the decorations of the Christmas trees on the street. Hatsune supposedly passed away while clinging onto Otonashi's back and after that Otonashi finally realised his reason for living. He felt alive when Hatsune expressed her gratitude and that was all it took for him to continue living. Otonashi realizes far too late that he was happy before and that he has lost that reason for living after the death of Hatsune.
Otonashi was left to live alone after Hatsune passed away and thought there was nothing in him anymore. Then, whilst walking down the street he saw a little girl saying thanks to a nurse and realises he might be able to find another purpose in life.
From that day onwards, Otonashi studied hard and was finally admitted to a university to study a medical course. On his way to the university for his entrance exams, the train he was on had an accident and crashed. When he woke up moments later, he found everything in a mess and everyone either injured or dead. There, he made friends with Igarashi, another youth who survived the train crash. Using his medical knowledge, he helped to patch up and treat all the survivors. Unfortunately, one of his patients died, leading Otonashi to question once again what he was living his life for.
While he was searching for a way out of the underground train tunnel, Otonashi discovered that he had been critically injured as well, but kept it a secret from the survivors to avoid demoralizing them. Otonashi and Igarashi, effectively became the leaders and did their best to ration the remaining food and water among the rest of the survivors. Otonashi notes that they only had enough supplies to last three days.
Otonashi and the rest of the survivors ultimately remained trapped for a week, gradually losing any hope of rescue and survival. During what would become his last moments, Otonashi recalled how his sister had once told him she wished that she had a donor, which could have saved her life. Resolved to help others, Otonashi took out his life insurance card and filled out all the information needed for consent with regards to voluntary organ transplant if ever he was to ever be declared brain-dead and said that by doing this, it let him have a reason for living. Every other survivor saw this and followed suit as well.
Yuzuru Otonashi died shortly afterwards after having been thanked by Igarashi for giving everyone hope, just as the tunnel was being opened and help finally arrived.
Waking Up in a Conflict
Yuzuru arrives in the middle of a battle without a single memory of his past. He stumbles upon a girl who is aiming a sniper rifle at a younger-looking girl with silver hair from a distance. This girl, who would later introduce herself as Yuri Nakamura, also explains the comings and goings of this unfamiliar world called the afterlife, and that she wants Yuzuru to enlist to the Shinda Sekai Sensen (Afterlife War Front) or SSS, a renegade group of students aimed to confront God for the misfortunes of its members.
At that moment, Yuri was targeting the group's main enemy, only known under the codename "Angel". Yuzuru was confused at the situation he is in, especially with having someone with a sniper rifle aiming at a seemingly normal girl, so he refuses Yuri's invitation and ends up trying to converse to the girl called "Angel". Alas, after failing to understand what Angel meant when she points out that he is in a world where everyone is dead, Angel decides to show it to him instead by summoning a sword from thin air and stabbing his chest with it.
After that ordeal with the girl called "Angel", Yuzuru finds himself in the school's infirmary, only to be killed once again by a student wielding a halberd, who showed up to punish him for insulting Yuri and refusing to enter the Shinda Sekai Sensen. It was minutes after that Yuzuru fully recovers from his wounds discovers first-hand the "mechanics" of the afterlife.
Yuzuru initially thought of letting himself "disappear" like what Yuri was warning him about and heads to the Principal's Office. Unfortunately, the room has long been the headquarters for the SSS and has traps installed to deter intruders. After being caught in one, Yuzuru wakes up in the middle of a meeting between members of the SSS trying to argue about the official name of the group, which was currently the "Like-Hell-I'm-Dead Battlefront". The members soon enter an argument with Yuzuru about his decision to disappear from the afterlife, and Yuzuru was eventually persuaded into rethinking his decision when the members of the SSS explain the possibilities of reincarnating as a nonhuman living thing based on Buddhist reincarnation principles. Yuzuru also ends up joining the SSS afterwards, and was given the SSS uniform to wear. At this point, Yuzuru only introduces himself by the only name that he can remember "Otonashi".
That afternoon, Yuri explains more about the afterlife, revealing the presence of "other entities" Yuri calls NPC and the role of "Angel" as the one who maintains the peace and order in the school complex. She also reminds Yuzuru to avoid acting like a model student to avoid disappearing and to avoid provoking Angel to avoid getting killed.
Although he was warmly welcomed by the Battlefront, Yuzuru still does not consider himself a member of SSS. At that moment, he wanted a refuge until he regains his memories, though he is not sure what he will do when he does regain them.
The Afterlife War Front
To Yuzuru's surprise, he was immediately assigned to join one of the basic activities of the SSS: Operation Tornado, which is basically SSS's plan to steal meal tickets from students. In the operation, as the diversionary division of the SSS, the all-girls band Girls Dead Monster, plays inside the Academy Main Dining Hall, Yuzuru and the others try to slow down Angel's approach. Yuzuru ends up confronting Angel before the others, but the rest of the SSS was able to cover for him as Yuri initiates the main part of the operation — turning on the massive fans located throughout the Main Dining Hall, sending the meal tickets of the other students into the air. The SSS quickly retreat soon after, but not until getting enough meal tickets for the entire battlefront. The operation left Yuzuru still confused about the workings of the Afterlife and the conflict between Angel and the SSS, but he decides to put aside his questions for the meantime.
In his stay as member of the SSS, he slowly learns of the stories behind the members' discovery of the afterlife, Yuri's past being the first. In Episode 3, Otonashi was told about Masami Iwasawa's, leader of Girls Dead Monster, past before she disappears after her performance, leaving the rest of SSS to learn a lesson that they themselves could disappear without Angel interfering. Other people's past which are made known to Otonashi includes Hideki Hinata, Yui, Ayato Naoi and very little about Angel at the end.
A Backfired Plan
Upon Yuri Nakamura's discovery of the true nature of Angel as more human than they first thought, she involved Otonashi in a plan to humiliate her as their plan to weaken their supposed enemy. The plan worked perfectly, but even though the plan succeeded, Otonashi has deep doubts about what they did.
He later finds himself interacting with Angel, who seems like a normal human being, and after learning about Yuri's fight against Ayato Naoi (who replaced Angel as Student Council President), he rushes to the aid of the SSS, foiling Naoi's plans for the SSS to forcefully move on. Also, because of his inspiring remarks, Naoi joins the SSS and becomes attached to Otonashi like a little brother would be attached to his older sibling.
His True Purpose
After Ayato Naoi joins SSS, Otonashi agrees to let Naoi use his hypnosis ability to help him to regain his memories. As it turned out Naoi was only able to restore a portion of Otonashi's memories (up until the crash itself), but even so, Otonashi was left devastated by the recollection of the life he had lived and wept openly, especially when mourning the loss of his sister. As a result of this experience he becomes a changed person.
Whilst he is now fully behind Yuri Nakamura and the SSS, Otonashi soon doubts that the conflict he is involved in is as straightforward as it seems; he starts to act on his own, befriending the very enemy which is supposed to be SSS's true target. At first, the members of the SSS are skeptic of Angel's "lack of hostility" towards them; but soon, after the events in Operation Monster Stream, they realize that their enemy is really a nice person.
This outlook changed when Yuri was attacked the same day when Angel (that time known as Kanade Tachibana) joined Operation Monster Stream. In fact, the culprit is one of Kanade Tachibana's Harmonics which turned rogue, and after a bloody confrontation between the original, the battlefront begin their descent to the destroyed Guild Headquarters to save her. The descent needed most of the team to do their "sacrifices", but they managed to save Kanade.
Otonashi watched over Kanade as she slept, recovering the rest of his memories in the process. Upon waking he and Kanade start to become closer to each other, and he decides to help her in her mission, which in reality is to help the people in the afterlife to move on to the next world. After he helped in fulfilling Yui's regrets in life, they are suddenly faced with another problem: the Shadows.
Facing the Shadows Figures
Otonashi's team-up with Kanade was put on hold when mysterious creatures appear to attack and consume the students in the Afterlife; Hinata and Naoi soon join his side to help out as well and they attempt to continue with their plan while keeping it hidden to Yuri. Unfortunately, thanks to Yusa's surveillance, Yuri discovered their plans. But instead of apprehending them for doing the opposite of their mission, she gives them credit, as she realizes that disappearing would be the only way for the others to be saved.
With Kanade on his side, he leads the members of the SSS to defend Yuri as she tries to find out more about the world. Yuri eventually succeeds in confronting the one responsible in the existence of the Shadows and with that, the SSS are freed of their duties. Later on, most of the members moved on from their regrets, leaving Otonashi, Hinata, Naoi, Yuri and Kanade to be the last members of SSS remaining.
A Bitter Hello
Otonashi and Kanade plan a graduation ceremony for the remaining members, since Kanade never got to graduate when she was alive. After everyone "graduates", Hinata, Naoi and Yuri bid farewell to everyone for one last time, then pass on. Otonashi takes the time to confess to Kanade about his feelings for her and begs her to remain with him. He hoped that they would be able to guide anyone who wandered into this world and let them leave with no regrets. It is then that Kanade reveals the reason for her appearance in the afterlife that the regret she had in life was never being able to thank the person who gave her a heart so that she could live. She then thanks him for a chance to have lived longer before disappearing in Otonashi's arms, leaving him the only remaining person in the afterlife, and in depression.
It is implied however that he did eventually pass on and met Kanade again, in his new life.
At first unskilled in any equipment and lacking experience when he first arrives in the Afterlife, he is utilized by Yuri Nakamura as backup, but he manages to pull through for the team when they are in danger. After some self-training, he manages to be experienced in handling a gun, and is able to defend himself well. He carries a Glock 17 which Yuri gives him on his first day as SSS's newest member. Later in the series in episode 5, it shows he is able to use a IMI Galil sniper rifle as well.
Otonashi is also revealed to be knowledgeable in academics, commenting that one physics exam he took was "easier than expected". Later, it was revealed that this was because Otonashi had been studying to become a doctor before his death.
On later events, he is showed to have improved with his shooting abilities to the point he is able to shoot an enemy from behind without looking while talking and has added leadership skills like analytic thinking to his assets.
Hatsune was Otonashi’s little sister. Despite his general aversion to people, Otonashi loved Hatsune dearly and constantly worried about her declining health. During her hospitalization, he worked several laborious jobs in order to support her and buy her gifts (specifically manga). Otonashi stated that Hatsune’s gratitude gave him purpose, although unfortunately, he did not realize this until she passed away.After Hatsune’s death, Otonashi fell into depression, blaming himself for not recognizing her importantance in his life sooner. However, after witnessing a child give words of thanks to hospital nurse, his sister’s death inspired Otonashi to become a doctor. Her memory gave him the motivation to pusue this career and ultimately helped him break his negative outlook on life. Later, it was because of his sister’s failure to receive an organ donation that Otonashi decided to donate his before death. Hatsune was in Otonashi’s last thoughts before he passed away.
Like other members of the SSS, Otonashi initially knew Kanade as Angel, God’s associate. He believed her to be an enemy when they first met, due to a misunderstanding that involved her stabbing him in the chest. This, coupled with his belief that she was an angel, led him to retaliate against her with the SSS.
Despite this, Otonashi develops an interest in Angel as he gradually becomes wary of the SSS’s behaviors. He is the second of their members to discover Kanade’s real name (after Yuri, who had forgotten), and begins to feel guilt over their harassment of her. After the SSS succeeds in demoting her from student council president, Otonashi actively makes attempts to befriend her. He recognizes Kanade’s loneliness, and as such, helps her make peace with the SSS in order to help her make friends. The two gradually become closer and begin adressing one another on a first name basis, with Otonashi stating that he thinks Kanade’s name is beautiful. He starts to develop deep feelings for her.
As he gets to know Kanade, Otonashi becomes increasingly protective of her, often defending her from the SSS’s doubtful remarks. He is shown by her bedside when she was injured during the cloning incident, and is concerned over her feud with the SSS members. Otonashi is constantly irked by her incompetence with communication, which he berates her for. Wishing for Kanade not to feel lonely, Otonashi makes her promise to be with him and the other SSS members, which she agrees to. Upon regaining his memories, Otonashi and Kanade form an alliance in order to obliterate the SSS members and help them find peace.
After this goal is accomplished and the two are left alone in the afterlife, Otonashi tells Kanade that he loves her and expresses a desire for the two of them to remain behind. However, he is instead shocked to learn that his donated heart had been given to Kanade, and that her past regret was being unable to thank him for her life. Although in despair at the thought of Kanade being obliterated, he gives in to her request and is left heartbroken once she leaves him.
In the real world, two people resembling Otonashi and Kanade encounter one another after the boy hears her humming to Masami Iwasawa’s song. It is heavily implied that they are Otonashi’s and Kanade’s reincarnations, and they were possibly able to retain (or regain) their memory of each other from the afterlife.
Upon entering the afterlife, Otonashi is constantly approached by Hinata, who helps him adjust to life with the SSS. The two are roommates in the student dorms, and quickly become best friends. Otonashi frequently sticks with Hinata during operations, during which he is usually aided by the latter.
Otonashi and Hinata’s friendship is, at times, a comical one, with Hinata’s seemingly flirtatious remarks leading Otonashi to believe he is homosexual. Similarly to Yuri, Otonashi typically regards Hinata as moronic due to his careless behavior on missions, and is usually seen with him in his free time. They have developed a handshake and occasionally play baseball together.
The two are shown to care and look out for one another, especially when on the field. Otomashi acknowledges that he is often protected by Hinata, and relies on him for assistance. He is initially fearful at the thought of Hinata being obliterated, even willing to jeopardize Yuri’s operation in order to prevent this. However, Otonashi is later joined by Hinata in helping the other SSS members attain satisfaction, forming their own agenda in the SSS alongside Kanade and Naoi. Before Hinata departs from the afterlife, Otonashi expresses gratitude towards him for taking care of him during their time together.
In the Angel Beats 1st Beat Visual Novel game, the player will take command of Otonashi and dictate his actions from a first-person perspective. Depending upon the choices made by the player, he could become an idiot, a jerk, homosexual, lesbian addict, or retain his anime personality. Since this mechanism affects the overall story-line, other characters will react or behave differently to Otonashi depending on the chosen personality. Whilst there are many options to explore three main character routes exist in the first game (Yui, Matsushita and Masami Iwasawa) each with their own unique traits and endings.
- The name Yuzuru means "tie, bind" (結) (yu) and "string" (弦) (zuru).
- No one (except Kanade Tachibana) has called Otonashi by his given name (Yuzuru) because he didn't tell the SSS his given name after recovering his memories.
- However, he did say his name at graduation.
- No one (except Kanade Tachibana) has called Otonashi by his given name (Yuzuru) because he didn't tell the SSS his given name after recovering his memories.
- Yuzuru's surname Otonashi means "sound" (音) (oto) and "nothing" (無) (nashi).
- Otonashi can be inferred as one of the oldest members of the battlefront. Since he was about to take his university entrance exams this would make him around/just over eighteen years old when he died. The only other known person around a similar age was Masami Iwasawa who was revealed to be a third-year student in the Angel Beats Heavens Door Manga series.
- Otonashi doesn't have any regrets, the reason why he appeared in afterlife was because of Kanade Tachibana as it was explained in the last episode that Kanade's regret was that she couldn't thank the one who donated the heart for her. In order to leave afterlife, she have to meet him and be able to thank him.
- Otonashi is the only male character from SSS to appear during the epilogue scene, where he tried to tap Kanade's shoulder after recognizing the "My Song" tune she hummed.
- There is a parallel comparing Otonashi to the human developer of Angel Player in Another Epilogue. Both of them were left in the Afterlife alone after their loved ones disappeared. However, Otonashi did not fall into despair and become an NPC like the other person (at least, not explicitly).
- Otonashi was killed 3 times in the first 7 minutes of the first episode. The first time was when Tachibana stabs him in the chest with her Hand Sonic, the second was when Noda hits him 100 times with his halberd, and the third was when he fell for the trap that was at the principal's office. This is, considering that the 100 fatal hits Noda gave him count as one death.
- Although a new member to the SSS, he seems to have a close relationship with Hideki Hinata and Yuri Nakamura.
- In the OVA, Stairway to Heaven, Otonashi doesn't participate in High Tension Syndrome, but reaches a Tension Level of 92 when suggesting a "Sports Festival."
- Also in the OVA, he had said this in English: Nande no reaction? (Why are there no reaction?).
- It seems that Otonashi knows the full names of Yuri and Hinata, but the two didn't give their full names to him (Hinata being his roommate and Yurippe being the leader may explain it).
- Despite being one of the newest members of the SSS, Otonashi seems quite popular among them. Yuri and Iwasawa opened up to him about their pasts even after knowing him only for a short time, and Hinata befriended him quickly. In the second Drama CD, when Yuri announced that he was going to be participating in their activity, the others applauded.
- Other than Yuri, Otonashi is the only other person who had seen Shiina's true character over cute things. (Although Angel was later made known to this as well in the OVA, along with Ooyama, Fujimaki, and Yusa.)
- The name Angel Beats! most likely came from the fact that the heart of an Angel (Kanade) used to Beat inside of Otonashi.
- It can also be inferred that Otonashi is fond of canned coffee, as that is the only beverage Otonashi is seen drinking, often more than once in each episode. Yuri also seems to know this, as she usually has a can of coffee with her while waiting for Otonashi.
- He is one of the characters with a revealed death, the others being Iwasawa and Hinata.
- It is implied in Episode 3 that Otonashi received an indirect kiss from Iwasawa. Following a brief conversation with her, the lead vocalist gave Otonashi her bottle of water, which if he drank from would have resulted in an indirect kiss. Unfortunately, for any fans of the couple, he was not seen drinking from it.
- In the Alternative Epilogue when Otonashi walks back to the Student Council Room, if you look carefully to the left of the screen, you could see pictures of the main members of the SSS. It is unknown on how he got those images.
- It may be possible that in the Alternative Epilogue that the photos of the SSS are made from dust much as how the Guild makes weapons out of Dust
- The game also shows Yurippe to have a portrait of herself in her SSS uniform hanging in the Anti-Angel HQ, so this isn't too surprising.
- Otonashi resembles Kyousuke Natsume from Little Busters! The two have different voice actors in Japanese, but share the same English voice actor.
- Otonashi and Meiko "Menma" Honma (the protagonist in Anohana) have many similarities:
- In the visual novel, Yuri says that Otonashi has secret fans amongst the student body. This is confirmed by Yusa.
Otonashi's death does not fit in the timeline as he appears in the world of the Afterlife after Kanade Tachibana has. It implies that Yuri Nakamura and Hideki Hinata has been there for a long time (the game now confirms this, stating that they have indeed been there for several decades), having gained enough experience and knowledge to know what Kanade's abilities are, and what the NPCs can/cannot do, and also having established the Guild that supplies them with their weaponry. Also, with a flashback scene showing that Kanade has had friends in the past, but always being Obliterated, it implies that she was there even longer than Yuri. (Note he comes in later due to his soul being "lost" and it takes him much longer to reach the afterlife. Expand accordingly.)
Otonashi could also have been a way out of the world of the Afterlife for Kanade and the reason why he appeared there in the first place. Since he died before her and prolonged her life with his heart, her regret, not thanking him for his heart, made him wander in between worlds waiting for her to arrive in the Afterlife. Once she got there, he could and had to appear, since she couldn't stay there forever and had to have a chance to fulfill her regret and move on due to nature of that world. Maybe Otonashi lost his memory during this long period of wandering or maybe he needed to lose his memory in order to come close to Kanade, who held the key of the rest of his memories, which even Naoi couldn't unlock with his hypnosis. That way he needed to become close with Kanade and give her a chance for her passage to a new life, which she in the end succeeded to do. Consequently, he became a chance for others from SSS to move on, thanks to his undying will to help others, which he developed during the last period of his life, and Kanade's selflessness, since she postponed her fulfillment and helped others pass over to a new life, before she passed over too. It is also possible that he was sent for others too, not just for Kanade, which is something that happened before with the creator of Angel Player program, as it is said to Yuri by the NPC in the computer room in Episode 12. He said that on a rare occasion, someone who lived a fulfilled life would wander in due to amnesia for the sake of others, which is exactly what happened to Otonashi.
In Angel Beats - Heaven's Door in the first chapter it appears that Otonashi was talking to Hinata which implies he was in the world a while back but Hinata never knew of his existence. Although, another explanation that is mentioned in the anime, though unspecified, is that maybe Otonashi's soul may have wandered around between worlds for an unknown amount of time before finding his way into the Afterlife. In another theory that was supported by Shiina appearance in Track Zero (Shiina was born in Ancient Japan, long before any other member of SSS were born) is that the timeline in Purgatory is mix and the person can come conscious whenever, regardless of their time of death.
There is another possibility why it took Otonashi so long to come in the Afterlife. If Otonashi died without regret, there is a possibility he was immediately reincarnated into another person, therefore led a whole new life, lets call it "Life B", with "Life A" being Otonashi's life. Kanade received his heart and survived, but developed her regret that some time later led her into the Afterlife. Since Otonashi is already living "Life B", Kanade has to wait for his "Life B" to end in order to thank him and move on into another life. In the meantime, Yuri, Hinata and others appear and start their fight against Kanade. Otonashi's "Life B" finally ends, after unknown amount of time, and he is sent into the Afterlife in order to help Kanade and others to move on, but the memory of his "Life A" is literally a lifetime away and he can't remember anything about his life, until Naoi and Kanade help him. He also cannot remember his "Life B", because it is not important for Afterlife and because he is needed as Otonashi, from his "Life A". At that point, Yuri and Kanade are fighting in the Afterlife for a very long time, maybe even decades, but Otonashi just got there and, as the series progress, starts to help everyone.