Along with episode six, episode seven was the point in this series where Angel Beats! went from being a show that I thought might end up becoming my very favorite to sort of losing its way. Strange, too, because the first half of episode seven is very good, as we find out about Otonashi’s earthly life (though not yet the complete circumstances surrounding his death).
When the show was airing, I remember seeing a lot of love given toward Otonashi. I liked him as a character, but I didn’t see anything particularly special about him – to me, he was no Yuichi (from another Key-related series). But this second time through, I’m seeing that he is a special character, primarily because of the immense love he has to give.
Otonashi’s backstory really emphasizes the importance of love in his life – and in others’. To remind those who had forgotten it, like myself, Otonashi has a sick younger sister whom he frequently visits in the hospital. Besides her, he finds no meaning to his life, forsaking school and relationships. When his sister passes, Otonashi picks himself up and works to become a doctor (?) to help others.
The story highlights what I feel is the very meaning of life: love.
You can live a life of love in at least three ways:
Love others: Otonashi shows love to his sister, but much of it is sorta passive. Later, after her death, he seeks to make her proud in a way by becoming one who loves others by caring for their physical concerns.
Be loved: Otonashi may have been suicidal as a teenager if not for the one thing he counted on – his sister’s love. Despite her frailty, she continually showed him love, proving that, in fact, he needed her more than she needed him.
Loving yourself: Otonashi lacks self-love. And though he could use some more of this, perhaps it’s not terrible that he doesn’t have the highest esteem for himself. In this world today, I think selfishness is the biggest reason for the failures of so many ideas, plans, and relationships – we love ourselves more than we love others.
The trick is to find ourselves more in the first two categories than in the last. Loving yourself as the meaning of life is ultimately shallow and hollow. Establishing relationships based on sacrifice, caring, support, and kindness is substantial and significant. It’s all worthwhile, even if you’re like Otonashi (and frankly, like me) and don’t have the strength or will to love others. Do it…and live with purpose.
Man’s chief end is to glorify God, and to enjoy him forever.
– Westminster Shorter Catechism (1,2)
Love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your mind. This is the first and greatest commandment. And the second is like it: “Love your neighbor as yourself.” All the Law and the Prophets hang on these two commandments.
– Jesus (Matthew 22:37-40)