Re-Viewed: Angel Beats! Episode 01 and My So Called Examined Life

When I started this blog, I brainstormed a number of series (and ideas about those series) that I wanted to blog on.  Angel Beats! was right at the top.  But until today, I’ve never blogged on the series, because I was a bit overwhelmed with the amount of spiritual themes in the show and having to remember it all when I’d forgotten much of the series (aka middle portion).  But that all changed when I received the Angel Beats! complete collection in the mail.  And so I thought, “Hey, why not re-view/review the entire series?”  Along the way, I’ll include some of my favorite fanart pieces of the characters as I comment on Christian themes and ideas in the series.

Noda and Yurippe
1. Noda, whose character I don't like enough to display a solo picture of (Art by だいき)

The episode begins with a bang.  Within minutes, we see a Haruhi-type with a fancy-looking rifle aimed at young, petite girl, who ends up going T-1000 on our protagonist.  I remember watching the opening scenes with jaw nearly agape – I expected to see Clannad/Kanon/Air, and this definitely was not that.  The episode then shifts focus on Yuri, who I think is as representative of the young generation (maybe aged 12-15) as any anime character I can recall seeing.  Three things she says in the episode remind me of so many dozens of young people I’ve interacted with online and in the classroom:

  1. “I believe (God) does (exist).  I’ve never seen him though.”
  2. “But Buddhist philosophy says you might not come back as a human when you’re reborn.”
  3. “Our goal is to erase Angel and then take over this world.”

A lot of young people who have yet to graduate high school fall in line with Yuri’s thinking.  Most, I think, still believe in God or at least a higher power, though doubts creep in – after all, things often aren’t real for us unless we can experience them ourselves (point 1).  We all grow up thinking along the lines of the community we’re raised in, so a lot of students, who haven’t experienced a bigger community, fall in line with their upbringing.  Yuri, for instance, points toward Buddhism, though she seems to not completely understand it and the world they live in, at this point, seems to me to be more like Catholic purgatory (point 2).  In the end, though, despite any religious convictions, Yuri wants to rule her own world (point 3).  This reminds of me of super religious young people who don’t act at all like the Christ they claim to worship (more on this in a later post, I’m sure).

At that age, young people (except for the most thoughtful) still don’t know that they don’t know.  So many are like Yuri, so very smart, yet unwilling (or unable) to do a thoughtful self-examination.  Unfortunately, age 16 can become age 26 very quickly, and often those years go by without one carefully thinking about what I feel is the most important question in life – does God exist?

Wherever we are in life, it’s important to examine what we believe to be true.  Don’t take it from me – take it from Socrates:

The unexamined life is not worth living…

6 thoughts on “Re-Viewed: Angel Beats! Episode 01 and My So Called Examined Life

  1. On the other hand, I recall a modern Christian philosopher saying that the question of whether God exists or not is being given ‘too much’ attention. ‘Existing’ and ‘not existing’, he argues, are just two states made up by humans to help us categorize the world. Arguing whether God exists or not would then be similar to arguing whether God is pink or magenta. God should, by definition, be above being constricted by such categories. He could exist and not exist at the same time, or take a third option…

    Angel Beats is a rare anime where they address religious matters both directly AND seriously (not like, let’s say, Index does). While it seems to favour Buddhist ideas, the questions it raises require answers in any religion one may follow.

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    1. That’s a great observation. I think what I’m saying is much more elementary – ironically enough, I think we need to “constrain God” through using categories (though of course, this is only in our own minds) before we realize that God is uncontainable.

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  2. I must admit that I am quite excited to read your take on Angel Beats! I really enjoyed the anime, but I find myself still trying to wrap my head around it. I found myself relating to the story in a really different way, than I have with any other anime.
    I really liked this post.
    Great job analyzing, I could never see things like this hidden in the show.

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    1. Thanks!

      Yeah, there really is a lot to absorb from the show. I really couldn’t even write a single post about it without going back and reviewing the series.

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