Angel Beats! What more can be said about such an amazing anime? You start watching and you get the feeling it’s just going to be a supernatural school romance with your typical character archetypes and gunplay; but the story of Angel Beats! takes an amazing turn halfway through and has a wonderful payoff if you stick in there until the end.
The story of Angel Beats! is driven as much by the characters as the plot. The cast is a large one including more than twenty named characters. We all have our favorites for as many reasons as the personalities and diversity in the cast itself. We aren’t saying that every character is written well or that every character has amazing depth. The ones that do stand out, are worth remembering and are compiled in this Top 10 Characters in Angel Beats!
(Caution: Many descriptions will involve spoilers)
The SSS or the Afterlife Battle Front could never have continued its war against the Angel and the status quo if Chaa and the members of the Guild hadn’t been there to furnish them with guns and ammo. Chaa is the leader of the Guild and, if we can judge by his beard, may be the oldest non NPC at the school. He and the other members of the Guild can fashion weapons out of dirt in a large subterranean lair. He’s also one of the founding members of the SSS and an indispensable member of the organization.
Chaa makes this list because of his important role in the SSS as their military quartermaster. The involvement and creation of the Guild in the plot is important and gives us an explanation for how Uzis and rocket launchers appear in this purgatory. He also gives an entire group of boys a purpose in creating weapons for the battles in the afterlife, a group of boys whose lives before purgatory could have been hard. We know this because they can’t fashion anything they weren’t familiar with while alive.
TK is a member of the Afterlife Battle Front and in a collection of odd kids he is pretty strange. He’s a tall, thin, blond, English-speaking teenager. The weird part is that everything he says seems to be a catch phrase, sheer nonsense, or music lyrics. He even quoted Bob Dylan at one point. TK is a mystery. We don’t get a chance to hear any of his back story, but we can assume he loved to dance while he was alive. TK is seen dancing in almost every scene; he even dances while he fights, combining break dancing and gun play.
TK makes the list for his ability to enjoy his afterlife. He doesn’t seem to waste one moment sitting still. He is also dedicated to the SSS and fights by them every step of the way. TK, despite his odd demeanor, fits in with the rather odd collection of rebels.
Takeyama, username Christ, though he is the only one who ever calls himself that, is one of the few members of the After Life Battle Front who has some technical expertise. He is the classic arrogant computer nerd, thinking he is smarter than the rest of the other members of Battle Front. We don’t see him in combat, but he does provide technical support to the other members. He has the ability, which may or not really exist but is as impressive as hell, to recite Pi to an almost infinite number of decimal places. He even overwhelms a rival through his recitation.
Takeyama is on the list for what his technical expertise brings to the team. Yes, the team would have been able to carry on their battles without his computer knowledge, but the battle plans they preview at headquarters wouldn’t look as snazzy. The team also would never have learned that computers, like the dirt the Guild uses, can construct anything as long as you have the foreknowledge.
The halberd wielding, purple-haired, hothead Noda is one of the most reliable members of Battle Front. We are led to believe that his loyalty is inspired by his unrequited love for Yuri, the leader of Afterlife Battle Front. He never questions Yuri, yet would question anyone else about their motives for anything. He also has an unjustified sense of superiority as we witness many of his failures. He did, however, really know how to use the halberd, making him an extremely effective close-quarter combat specialist.
Noda makes the list 50% for his combat ability and 50% for his comic relief. The ways and number of times he dies, and then is resurrected (since no one can actually die in this world) can leave you laughing out loud. For example he manages to be killed – twice -- by a trap he designed and set himself. He can be a moron, but a loyal moron, and loyalty can count for a lot in a battle in the afterlife.
6. Ayato Naoi
Naoi is the vice president, and at one point the temporary president, of the student council in the school in this purgatory. He is always seen wearing the traditional school uniform: black pants, white shirt, gakuran and a Mao hat. He can be sadistic, angry, and a classic power-hungry villain, especially since he wields the power of hypnotism. Naoi strives for perfection he calls himself God. He goes mad with power when he assumes the role of president and is determined to take down the SSS. We eventually hear his back story and he is turned to support the Battle Front.
Why is Naoi on this list? For being one of the few characters with a deep and meaningful back story. Naoi has a personal history that motivates him and drives him toward what he might consider perfection and the obedience he believes that is needed to achieve that. His story also explains why he latches on to the main protagonist of the story after he uncovers, sympathizes and accepts and forgives Naoi for what he did to the members of the SSS.
5. Iwasawa Masami
Iwasawa is the lead singer and song writer of the girl rock band Girls Dead Monster. The band is a part of the Afterlife Battle Front and functions as the “Distraction Unit”. The band holds guerilla concerts attracting the attention of the student body, NPCs included, and faculty allowing the SSS to conduct their operations, like stealing lunch tickets and finding other ways to disrupt school life. She doesn’t speak much and often lets her music emote for her. Her mortal life was spent in a home filled with anger and violence. She found a refuge in music and dedicated her life to a craft that could take her away from her small, miserable home.
Iwasawa makes the list because of her contributions to the operations of battle front. Her music is also the soundtrack for the series and at times it is really rocking. The second reason she makes the list, and spoiler ahead, is the way she finally found peace. She was cornered by the faculty at an unsanctioned concert and plays her heart out. She plays a ballad that encompasses all the pain and hope for a better life. The soul she poured into her music honestly set her free.
We know this might be a bit controversial since the hyperactive girl wearing demon wings and a tail my not seem too pivotal to the plot, but she doesn’t have to be to be a well developed character. We are first led to believe that she is nothing more than a groupie for Girls Dead Monster, citing Iwasawa as her idol. Her outlandish and childish behavior seems to reinforce that fact. She is constantly bubbling over with energy trying to do everything and help everyone. We find out that she can play the guitar and is an adequate fill-in front woman after Iwasawa moves on.
Yui is on this list because of her back story. We find out her childhood was spent in bed with nothing but TV and her mother for company. She believes herself to have been a burden on her mother and was happy when she died knowing that her mother would be free of taking care of her. She viewed the afterlife as a place to do all those things she never got to do in life including finding love. The what-if story recited by Hinata, the boy she loved, about what their life together would have been like and how he felt they would have been happy even in her condition is extremely moving.
3. Kanade Tachibana
Kanade is a small, quiet girl who is the student council president of the purgatory high school. She has dedicated her afterlife to promoting order to ensure a happy school life for all the souls who find themselves there. Her efforts to help others move on have often left her isolated. The SSS misinterprets this as her “obliterating” students and sending them literally God-knows-where. The rebels simply refer to her as an angel, believing that she actually is a messenger from the God that gave them all such a raw deal in life.
We find little about the back-story of Kanade. Her time in purgatory is spent helping others and defending herself from the attacks and mischief of Battle Front. Kanade is on the list for her willingness to let bygones be bygones and throw her lot in with the SSS when they work out their issues with each other. You also have to respect her single-mindedness in protecting the peace at the sacrifice of her own happiness to ensure other students move on.
2. Yuzuru Otonashi
We are introduced to the world of the Angel Beats! through Otonashi when he wakes up on the sidewalk, is confronted by a girl with a gun and is moments later stabbed through the heart. He suffers from amnesia in the first half of the series and doesn’t know how he died or much about his life other than he felt like he didn’t accomplish anything with it. We also find him functioning as the straight man in many of the comedic situations. He seems to have a bit more common sense than the other members of the Afterlife Battle Front. We quickly learn he is kind, willing to listen and tries to understand even those who seem to be his enemy, namely Kanade.
Otonashi makes the second spot on this list not because of what he accomplished in death, but what he accomplished in life. We eventually learn, as does Otonashi, that he was about to enter medical school to become a doctor – inspired by the death of his sister. The train he was on derailed in a tunnel and was stranded for days. He took it upon himself to take care of the injured, despite being injured himself. In the final moments of his life he inspires others to become organ donors and feels fulfilled knowing his life could save others. We, (I), would like to thank the writers for making this an important plot point.
1. Yuri “Yurippe” Nakamura
Yuri is the leader of Afterlife Battle Front and is the first person Otonashi meets in purgatory. She is considered not only the leader but also the chief strategist of the resistance movement. She is charismatic, hard-working and determined. She does take part in operations, in many cases when it is hopeless and everyone will end up “dead,” but often sits back and watches from their headquarters through binoculars. We find out that when she was a child she was forced to watch her younger siblings die one by one during a home invasion. Her life sucked; it was unfulfilled and she was sent to this purgatory for a second chance at peace.
Yuri is number one because she picked a fight with God. The rage and bravado to be willing to go to war with God is worth a number one ranking. She felt any god that let her younger siblings die in such a horrible way didn’t deserve her respect. She figured if the purgatory school was part of the divine’s plan she would wreck it out of spite. Again, Yuri is number one on this list because of the brass pair she must be hiding under her skirt. She is one tough girl.
We hope you understand why each of these characters was chosen even if you don’t agree, feel some one was left out, or think some were just obvious. The obvious ones like the main characters just have to be on the list, they’re naturally the most well developed. We did however try to include some characters that didn’t get as much screen time but their own trials had a significant impact on the story.
The story in Angel Beats! leaves us with many questions and competing philosophies about death and dreams unfulfilled. We also are left with a feeling of hope in the final scenes, a feeling that never would have meant so much if it hadn’t been for the well-developed characters we met during our time in limbo.