Hi everyone! It is that time again, where I write my monthly OWLS post. If you aren’t aware, OWLS is a group of anime bloggers whose mission is to spread respect, self-awareness, and other positive themes using anime and pop culture as a medium. We promote acceptance of all individuals regardless of race, gender, sexual orientation, religion and disability. We emphasize the importance of respect, kindness, and tolerance to every human being!
Our theme for October is “Dreamers.” Here is the prompt:
“What happens to a dream deferred?
Does it dry up
Like a raisin in the sun?
Or fester like a sore–
And then run?
Does it stink like rotten meat?
Or crust and sugar over–
like a syrupy sweet?
Maybe it just sags
like a heavy load.
Or does it explode?”
Due to recent events that happened in September, this month’s OWLS topic will be on “Dreamers.” Every individual has a goal or ambition that they devote their whole life to with passion and courage—whether it’s landing your dream job, traveling, or finding the love of your life. However, there are those who spent their whole life working towards a dream but it was cut short due to an unexpected occurrence. Those people are left only to dream and wonder about the possibility.
This month’s topic will be dedicated to these characters in pop culture entertainment. We are not going to focus on the individuals that achieved their aspirations but instead, we will focus on characters that weren’t able to. We will explore what happens to characters who had their wings forcefully cut off as well as those who gave up before they even started their journey. We will also discuss what it means for “a dream to be deferred.”
For this post, I decided to write about one of my all-time favorite anime series. Ever. Angel Beats. *(Warning: This post will contain major spoilers!)*
The story of Angel Beats revolves around a group of high schoolers who attend a school… but… they are all dead. Every “student” there is a teenager or young person who has passed away in real life. The school is acting as a type of afterlife or purgatory. The students don’t really understand why they are there, including the main character Otonashi. They are aware that they are dead, though.
Many of them have different reactions to being in the afterlife. Some are confused. Some are complacent. Some are angry, like Yurippe, who decides she is going to fight against God because she believes that he is cruel and unjust. However, all of the students have one thing in common.
They had a tragic life. They all died while they were still young, all with unfulfilled dreams and wishes. As the story goes on, the purpose of the afterlife school becomes obvious: it’s to help the characters gain closure. For them to relive a small portion of their lost dream, even if it isn’t quite what they imagined. They realize that if they move on from this place, they will be able to try to achieve their dream again in a different time and form, in a different, new life.
I am going to highlight and discuss some of the characters’ dream, focusing on some of the minor characters (because they are my favorite and they deserve some love!). I am going to skip over Otonashi and Angel (the other main character) because their backstories are not revealed until the very end of the series. If you haven’t watched it, I don’t want to spoil the beautiful, heart-wrenching ending.
Iwasawa: Hope Through Music
Iwasawa is an aloof rocker girl that doesn’t care much about anything but her music. We find out that in real life, her home environment was unstable. Her father was constantly drinking and getting into fights with her mother, to the point where it was abusive. Lost and confused, Iwasawa eventually found an escape through music. It was the only thing that gave her hope. She came to love music so much that she decided to make it her career. She planned on becoming a successful singer, so she could make enough money to move out of her dysfunctional home.
But her dream ended too early, cut off by the very thing that inspired it in the beginning. In a drunken rage, Iwasawa’s father hits her with a glass bottle, causing brain damage. She died shortly after in the hospital.
Iwasawa took her love of music into the afterlife. She started a band and continued to play rock music. (The band is called Girls Dead Monster, and you can actually listen to her their music.) At one point, she and the band are able to play on the school stage in front of an audience. Although it isn’t some grandiose rock show in an arena, Iwasawa still enjoyed herself. In that moment, she was able to bring the joy of music to others. For just a small period of time, even if it was just a couple seconds, she was able to fulfill her dream.
From there, Iwasawa “moves on.” In other words, she disappears from the afterlife and goes back to the world of the living, reborn to experience her dream once again.
Yui: Experiencing Life For The First Time
I really love Iwasawa, but Yui is my favorite. That is, one of my favorite characters ever. This is because she is extremely energetic and hyperactive, with a love of music. Not to mention, she has pink hair and an adorable design.
Despite her exuberance in purgatory, Yui wasn’t so active in real life. In fact, she wasn’t active at all.
At a yong age, she was almost completely paralyzed. To the point where she had to stay in bed all day. I imagine that most people in that situation… whatever dream they had beforehand… would probably evaporate. What dream can be fulfilled if you can barely move? Maybe if it is something intellectual… but unless there is some kind of miracle, if your dream was, for example, to be a basketball player that dream would most likely not come true.
In Yui’s case, she was paralyzed at a young age. She didn’t have a concrete dream back then, so it wasn’t like her lifelong dreams were suddenly shattered. But sitting in her bed, unable to do anything except for watching TV, Yui began to have dreams. She wanted to do all of the things she saw on on television, things she was unable to do in her everyday life.
Perhaps the reason that Yui is so hyper is because she was finally able to move freely once she entered the afterlife. No longer confined, she is able to use all of her energy (and dang, does she have a lot). Even with this, however, Yui still wants to do the amazing things she saw on television. Otonashi decides to help her, and they go on a crazy adventure, doing random things. One of the funniest and most memorable moments is when Yui wants to practice doing a wrestling move. Otonashi helps her with all of this, but there is still one last dream she has, one that Otonashi isn’t sure she will be able to fulfill. Yui wants to be a bride. When he hears this, Hinata (my favorite male character) steps in and says he will marry her. Of course, they can’t really get married. But just the thought makes Yui so happy that she is able to move on, all her pent up wishes finally realized.
It is incredibly beautiful, and my eyes want to tear up just remembering it.
A Lesson For Everyone (Even If You Aren’t Dead)
Angel Beats is truly a meaningful anime. It is about moving on and accepting your fate. It’s about fulfilling your dream, even if it doesn’t happen the exact way you expect it to. There are times when your life may seem over figuratively (or literally, at least in this anime), but there will always be a chance to follow youe dream, in some way, or in some capacity. It’s recently happened to me, and has happened to many others as well. The lesson is to not give up hope and continue striving for what you want, even if it isn’t in front of you.
The examples I gave are only two experiences out of the many that happen in Angel Beats. Every character has a tragic past, but finds a way to find fulfillment. It is a wonderful and uplifting series. It is also extremely funny, and manages to balance the comedy and tragedy seamlessly. If you haven’t seen it, I highly recommend watching it, especially with all of the despair going on in the world right now.
HELP SPREAD MORE AWARENESS!
If you liked this post and want to spread awareness about mental illness or other social issues, please follow the other work of OWLS. Here is the official OWLS blog.
For the full schedule of OWLS’ October blog tour, click here.
The next post in the blog tour is from Hazelyn! Be sure to check it out once it is up.
You can also check out my last OWLS post here and see all of the previous OWLS blog tours here:
January Blog Tour: Disruptors // February Blog Tour: Flight // March Blog Tour: Sanctuary // April Blog Tour: Colors // May Blog Tour: Strength // June Blog Tour: Team // July Blog Tour: Mirrors // August Blog Tour: Bloodlines // September Blog Tour: Treasures