It likely is because I enjoyed Life on Mars, but Angel Beats!, in spite of an initial shaky start, really did pull through into being a very enjoyable 13-episode anime series.
The series ramps up from an initially shaky premise of “A high school afterlife” (oh how wrong that could have gone) to a much more enjoyable questioning of regret and lives cut short for young people; that’s explained pretty early on, taking the opposite approach to Life on Mars which never makes a reveal on the nature of the world. The characters helpfully don’t do much in the dark; you get to see them propose theories and do just the right amount of internal monologue rather then having to guess it all.
It’s rather heartwarming too; if anything this has the largest amount of sympathetic characters in almost any series I’ve seen and an actually likeable smart protagonist. The short series helps this; any longer, and I’d have expected a bit more behind peoples personalities to be revealed. One or two of them was just a bit cross wired so I wonder what other ideas they’d have come up with here. In fact if they had cut some of the plots, it’d not have suffered at all; they make good use of taking over the credits at several points, making for more enjoyable lengthy episodes. The music numbers are pop/rock background tracks and don’t take over the series, which is a nice way of doing it.
There is comedy in the mix too, which I’ve not even mentioned yet; odd for a series which on the face of it appears to be a highschool action/comedy not to mention it first perhaps? The comedy is predictably based around silly comments and over the top stunts/action, sadly sometimes at the most inappropriate times (luckily they stave off doing it in the more important parts). Given two episodes are basically a massive collection of silly deaths, it is a relief how it gets can get serious while still being quite lighthearted – the past might be bad, put the present afterlife world is full of possibility after all. Humour wise though one stand out point for the English listener though is a character called TK, who just interjects in the strangest pronunciation English phrases out of the blue; this was something I did actually chuckle at 🙂
It also has some things that hang in your mind at the end poking you that it doesn’t quite make so much sense (not to list any one specific one but you do question the given world quite a bit and some of the plots are odd) but in any case; push these things aside since you can’t take it too seriously. A shame however it isn’t perhaps questioned more; frequently God, the purpose of the world and how it works, reincarnation and past people who were in the world are brought up or pointed to but never gone into much detail.
It is though fully of sentimentality and like I said, is very heartwarming! I’d watch this if you’d enjoy a rather interesting story with a nice set of characters (even if you don’t remember all their names), set against a rather barmy set of plots which luckily mainly serve to further the characters interacting – go with the flow and you’d be well rewarded overall with a satisfactory end to what amounts to a well told short story.