For the entirety of my high school scholastic career, I felt like I was in purgatory. Some may consider that to be an over-reaction on my part, but it was pretty damn close.
Now, don’t get me wrong. I had a few brilliant teachers and a small group of supportive friends, but I always had this horrible feeling that something was missing. I also had this awful fear that I would be stuck in a classroom, sitting in one of those ridiculously uncomfortable desks forever.
Angel Beats!, which was created by Jun Maeda & Na-Ga and directed by Seiji Kishi, is a fascinating 13-episode series that brings to life the analogy of “school=purgatory” in a brilliant fashion. A group of students comprise an alliance that fights against ‘God’ (the creator of the school grounds they are stuck in) and a character known as ‘Angel’ (who just happens to be the Student Council President). Once our protagonist, Otanashi, joins the alliance, each episode begins with a briefing and planning session to take on the ‘threat’ that is Angel. Their weapons? Guns. Their diversions? An all-girls rock group.
Although I should be just watching this series from a purely literal standpoint, I can’t help but find myself in what I now call the “FLCL State of Mind”. I am looking at all of the situations from the perspective of how I felt at times (mostly at the start) during High School: rejected, less-than, and pissed off at the students in power. One can assume that the scenarios presented are idealized versions of what the students are actually doing. Their ‘deaths’ are the moments they fabricated that caused them to be how they are and how they got stuck in this version of hell.
What evidence do I have to look at the series in such a fashion? They reference the students they don’t associate with regularly as NPCs (non-player characters), and treat the battle against Angel as a game: Those who follow Angel simply disappear and eventually pass on; those who achieve their goals in this purgatory also pass on, but with the knowledge of success. I take ‘passing on’ to mean ‘graduation’. The students also cannot die from the gunfights or battles they engage in.
Although I could probably dive into and explore this fan-constructed theory as to what the show is truly about, I think I’ll just watch it again and enjoy myself just as much this time around. I recommend you do the same. Also, I’d love to hear your theories!
OH…and PS: I am fully convinced that Jeff Andonuts is in this series.