I recently re watched the first few episodes of Angel Beats once I finally manned up and spent the 30 dollars on the bluray, and came to some more conclusions as to why I think it is such a great series. Surprisingly, I had forgotten one of the main tenants of the series was that many of the character’s pasts were eventually revealed. For those of you who have seen the entire series, you know that everyone, for lack of a better description, starts living a happy school life. With this in mind, I came up with some ideas that show just how well thought out the symbolism within this series just may have been from the first two episodes alone.
First, with the benefit of hindsight, it seems that the character’s ability to reanimate after every untimely death is more than just comedic effect. If we act under the assumption that the final disappearance for each character is the culmination and perfection of their (school) lives, then every other “death” and disappearance was a type of punishment free practice for living. With this idea established, combining it with the character’s pasts and, surprisingly, the appearance of the Guild provides a deeper level of context.
As you may remember, the Guild was a type of weapons and ammunition center for the SSS, that was buried deep, deep under ground. In the second episode the characters went on a quest to reach the guild for some half assed reason, with each of them dying one by one on the way there. Though these deaths were only a subset of all the comedic deaths in the series, they all serve the same basic purpose. Regardless, the Guild was ultimately destroyed at the end of the episode and the characters went back to an older Guild area with no ammunition.
Combining the destruction of the Guild followed by the movement to the older, less equipped Guild with the character deaths, in these scenes specifically, we can see linkages take shape. Perhaps, the seemingly random character deaths were actually symbolic actions taken by the characters to try to interact with others and live life as a way of recuperating without recourse from all (presumably) of their tragic deaths. The destruction of the Guild at the end of the second episode then represents the character’s advancement, as they no longer need to be as self involved (buried underground) and guarded (with ammunition) as before. Looking at subsequent events in the series suggest that the characters do in fact open up over the course of the series, and that these early episodes to in fact indicate that the series may have been very well thought out.