Angel Beats! turns 7 this year! The anime first premiered on April 3, 2010 and became a hit with fans with its unique comedy-drama approach. The core story follows a group of teens attending a high school in the afterlife. In order to pass on and have a chance at a second life, they must accept their past hardships and traumas.
It’s widely known that Angel Beats! had a unique production schedule due to being Key Visual’s first anime project. They company is known for creating visual novels, which have been adapted into anime, but they were never actively involved in production before.
While we know the series originally going to be 26 episodes, did you know other aspects of the anime’s production, like how vague the character descriptions were? Or that an official prequel light novel was created? Let’s look at some of the fun facts about the production of Angel Beats!
1Angel Beats! was Jun Maeda’s first solo script.
Hironori Toba, a producer for Aniplex, was a huge fan of Key Visual and approached Maeda about collaborating on a “Key-like” anime series. Maeda never worked on an anime before, but was willing to take up the challenge to write a screenplay.
In a Dengeki Online interview, Maeda commented that he had trouble writing a script for Angel Beats! since he just finished working on Little Busters! He felt Little Busters! was his best work and had trouble thinking of a scenario that could top it. To make matters worse, Maeda had to work on the script by himself – which was the first time in his career.
Eventually, he was inspired and thought about setting the story in the afterlife, with “life” being the core theme.
2P.A. Works was brought in because of True Tears.
Aniplex had contracted P.A. Works to do in-between animation and production assistance for Fullmetal Alchemist (2003) and Darker than Black. In 2008, True Tears became P.A. Works’ first series as a lead animation studio.
In an interview, Toba recalled being shocked at the high quality of True Tears after watching the first three episodes. He quickly visited P.A. Works’ studio and met with the production staff about a future project.
A week later, Toba had a production meeting with Maeda and was wondering if an animation studio has been chosen. Maeda mentioned watching True Tears and had an interest in P.A. Works, which would lead Toba to formally proposing to P.A. Works about working on Angel Beats!
3Na-Ga had vague conditions for character designs.
Na-Ga is a graphic designer and illustrator for Key Visual who was chosen to design the cast of Angel Beats! Initially, Na-Ga was worried that Angel Beats! would lead to Key Visual delaying future visual novels, but accepted the role because of his experience in character design.
Perhaps due to Na-Ga and Maeda’s past working relationship, Na-Ga said that he had very vague conditions for character designs. For example, Angel’s initial condition was “a silent and mysterious girl” and “an all-female band bass guitarist,” which would lead to Shiori Sekine.
Maeda left nearly every aspect of character design to Na-Ga, which would later be approved by the production committee. However, Maeda did make one request: Yuri Nakamura had to wear a black headband just like Yukiko Amagi from Persona 4, who was Maeda’s favorite character from the game.
4There is an official prequel light novel.
Angel Beats! Track Zero is a light novel that was written by Maeda and was serialized between November 2009 to May 2010.
The series takes place before the events of the anime and covers the first meeting between Hideki Hinata and Yuri Nakamura. She wants Hideki to join her mission in provoking God, which leads to the duo meeting new allies and creating the SSS.
5In fact, Angel Beats! was created as a multi-media product.
If you felt that the Angel Beats! story feels rushed and empty as an anime, it might be because you haven’t explored the other media productions.
In a November 2009 interview, Toba told anticipating fans that the anime wasn’t enough to tell the whole story of Angel Beats! and that supplementary works will be created to bring the full story.
Besides the aforementioned light novel, three manga and three drama CDs were produced to expand on the story. While the drama CDs and the two yonkoma manga have a comedy slant, they also provide valuable background information for the cast, which was neglected in the anime.
As of 2015, Key Visual has been working on a 6 volume visual novel for the series. One volume has been released so far.
6Seiji Kishi original thought Angel Beats! was going to be a school comedy.
Kishi was chosen to direct Angel Beats! because of his experience (he directed six anime prior) and leadership skills. However, Kishi accepting the director role because he thought he was working on a school comedy.
In an interview, Kishi commented being approached by a P.A. Works representative to work on a “school comedy written by a game scenario writer.” Kishi was initially overwhelmed with the different elements of the series but was motivated by Maeda’s script.
7Satoki Iida played a huge role in developing the soundtrack.
Many fans have commented about loving the anime’s soundtrack, which featured songs scored by Maeda. However, Iida played an even larger role in the finished product.
Iida was initially brought on to proofread Maeda’s script, but he would get involved with the production of the background music (BGM). Maeda and Anant-Garde Eyes want to experiment with minimalism for the BGM, which is not commonly used in anime. Iida was tasked with working with the artists to get the music and animation synchronized by employing trial and error.
During the production stage, Iida would seek out chief animator Katsuzō Hirata to lend a hand in production, and the duo would work on creating the unique audio-visuals.
Angel Beats! sure had a lot going on during production! What are your favorite moments from the series?