Angel Beats! was the first anime I cried to. No, scratch that. It was the first anime that left me utterly emotionally devastated after finishing the final episode. There had been emotional anime before, plenty of them in fact, but none hit home as well as Angel Beats! did.
To me, it was such a strange and unexpected experience. This was the first time any sort of media had put me in such a miserable state. My tear ducts were overflowing and my face was covered in nothing but a liquid with a taste of salt. My body was warm – blazing hot, even – and I was all-around trembling as I did nothing but cry my heart out. As time slowly passed there was but a feeling of emptiness left inside.
This very sensation is what makes me remember Angel Beats!.
As a series, Angel Beats! is honestly all over the place. In only thirteen episodes we are greeted by a massive cast of characters – the majority remaining undeveloped – and drastic mood swings between comedy and drama.
Yet, this messy nature is precisely what I came to love.
There is no single part of Angel Beats! I actively dislike.
The setting speaks to me as a thinker, as when writing the concept of afterlife is fascinating. It was always an idea I tried creating a story out of myself, yet never managed to. And the comedy, while consisting mainly of slapstick, always made me laugh as it happened when you least expected it (who would’ve thought of rocket chairs?). Not to mention the plot, rebelling against God, which is hilarious in itself and the execution even more so.
All in all, Angel Beats! had all the key components to please me. Its chaotic structure felt like a ride into the magical afterlife where anything could – and would – happen.
This also happened to be my first encounter with Jun Maeda, known from the visual novel company Key. Thanks to this everything felt fresh to me, as many Key-related anime series otherwise follow similar patterns.
Sitting down and listening to its music evokes the feelings I felt during the finale. It makes me melancholic, yet glad to have experienced this story. Angel Beats! is the anime that has made me cry like no anime ever has before.