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.
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:
- “I believe (God) does (exist). I’ve never seen him though.”
- “But Buddhist philosophy says you might not come back as a human when you’re reborn.”
- “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…