Worth a look: Angel Beats

A short anime series.

Otonashi died. Now he has amnesia. He can't remember his previous life and the new one in his new world confuses him. It takes the form of a high school. This high school has its quirks. First up, he learns that here he can die often and spring back to life each time. Angel, a kind of school prefect, proves it with a stab wound. One of his new friends then proves it again by chopping him up with a long handled axe, and his new friends in general prove it again when he learns that the secret headquarters where they asked him to meet them is booby trapped.

What they meet to discuss is how to overcome Angel. They're the real dudes here in the high school, they tell Otonashi, the other students are all non-player characters. Angel is there to enforce the school rules, but people who conform get obliterated, therefore Angel is the enemy.

That's the state of things when Otonashi joins them.  Only, maybe his friends have yet to learn all they need to know about the world they're in.

When one of the gang disappears while on stage in front of a crowd, it becomes apparent that not only school conformists get obliterated. Something else is at play. We, as the audience, can see what was going through her mind at the time and have a better idea than Otanashi and his friends about what happened, but to them it adds to the mystery, and given that those who have recovered their memories have sad or bad ones, we begin to wonder what the stakes are.

At first I thought this series was going to be really boring, that the resurrection thing would just be an excuse for a lot of violence. I haven't seen all of it yet, but at the half way point - there are only two discs - the mystery deepens. Is it God they're fighting?

So far, Angel Beats is not as engrossing as Haibane Renmei, but it is better than I thought it would be when the kids first introduced me to it. It has humor of the kind of clutzy, physical kind with quirky characters - one always carries his axe, one appears to be blindfolded, and one spends an episode balancing a broom handle on one finger even while playing baseball - she wants to prove her concentration.

Angel Beats isn't up there with Haibane Renmei, but it's OK. It's not the dregs and when you're in the right mood it's a fun way to pass the time.