This is probably a year overdue but oh well.
I first started watching Angel Beats and I was completely blown away. The animation is beautiful in every aspect, from background images to character design. Music is outstanding, with some excellent and touching insert songs. Characters are mostly interesting (except Yui, who is just fucking annoying), each with potentially deep backgrounds to explore. There is a great mix of comedy and seriousness, that is well done and delivered. They have some amazing concert scenes (similar to the ones popularized by Melancholy of Suzumiya Haruhi). I really thought it would be one of the best animes I have ever seen.
So here’s the plot. Main guy wakes up and discovers he is dead and is living in an afterlife for young people. There is a group that is trying to revolt against the apparent god of this afterworld in attempt to not disappear forever. However, the main guy discovers the point of the afterlife is to allow the dead to fulfill some regret or dream they had while alive but were unable to accomplish. The main guy takes it upon himself to try and help everyone out and put them to rest.
Bam! That sets up so nicely into a 26 episode series. You spend the first 10 or so establishing plot and introducing the group of characters. Then you spend an episode or two exploring the background of said characters, such as how they died, what they need to still do, etc. Once that’s been discovered, they make peace with themselves and disappear. Move on to the next one. The main characters are last with more in depth stories. Meanwhile, you develop the 3 main protagonists over the course of all these adventures and a romance starts up too. I literally just spit out a top 10 anime of all time.
I waited anxiously every week as a new episode came out and for the first 10 episodes, everything followed the exact plan I mentioned above. They developed the main character and discovered the secret of the afterlife. In episode ten, they focus on him helping one character to pass on. Wait…this anime is only 13 episodes? HOLY CRAP.
Let’s randomly introduce some sudden bad guy that tries to destroy the world and defeat him in 1 episode. Let’s just tell everyone in this group of 15 people the purpose of the world and they all disappear on their own with no additional provoking. I really think that the studio must have missed the memo saying their series would only be a half season. It’s absolutely terrible how they ended the series and completely destroys all the great buildup of the first 10 episodes.
So that’s all I have to say about this series. The first 10 episodes are some of the best achievements in anime production history. Then they crap on themselves and try to wrap up the story in 3 episodes. Angel Beats is the perfect example of wasted potential.