In Angel Beats Episode 11 we see shadows everywhere. These are creatures which drain the soul of the people they come in contact with transforming them into “NPCs” where they no longer have free will. After defeating a group of them, Yurippe points out that things like this happen in video games. You play for too long, the game tries to make you quit. She suggests that maybe, they’ve been playing too long in this world.
In their world they are now given a choice as the “game” she thinks they are playing appears to be crumbling and ending soon. Yurippe calls the Battlefront together to inform them that she will no longer lead them. Instead, they each have a choice to make. What is the choice? Surrender to the shadows and become an NPC. Fight back with the knowledge that you will eventually fail and become an NPC. Or a third option – let go of this world and your past, allowing yourself to die in that world and move on.
It feels so bleak when put into that perspective, but in the end death is a gift for them. They get to leave this station of purgatory they find themselves in and move on. They are not sure where they move onto (although reincarnation is heavily implied). But, in the end, there is a choice. It is not complete destruction of the soul, but a new beginning elsewhere. In the end there really is only one of two choices: hold on and die here, or move on and see what’s next.
It’s a hard decision, choosing to let yourself die – but as Solomon points out in Ecclesiastes, there is absolutely a time to die. In Ecclesiastes 3:1-9, Solomon points out that there is a time in our lives for all manner of things. There is a time for festivities, and a time to be still. There is a time to mourn, and a time to rejoice. We have all heard this before, but I want to go back to the first items mentioned – a time to live and a time to die. There is a time when we need to be ready to die.
No, I’m not talking about those who suffer from depression and have suicidal tendencies. This is not your time to die, but a time to seek help. I am instead talking about accepting that at some point this life we live is over. At a certain point, we will die. We will cease to be a part of this world and move onto the next one. We cannot fight and live forever through sheer force of will. Eventually, we need to accept that it’s time and our life on this Earth is going to end. But, what happens next?
For the characters in Angel Beats, they’re not sure. What lies beyond is scary and they’ve been fighting for as long as they can remember to prevent themselves from moving on. They are unsure if there is a God in the universe and for so long thought Kanade was an Angel of the Lord trying to slay them. They know those who have moved and are still not entirely sure what lied beyond for them. So, they stand there with fear. Except for Otonashi. He seems clear in his understanding that what is next is better. What lies ahead is safe. What lies ahead is better than the false security they have made for themselves.
For us, however, the Bible gives us a real glimpse into the beyond. For those apart from Christ, there is eternal suffering. For those with Him, eternal life. For those with Christ there is no fear of the end of this life for afterwards we begin our next one with our Lord. We go to death readily as we know we are returning home to our Lord. It is sad for those left behind, but for us – we get to be in the presence of the Almighty, so it’s worth it.
There are 2 episodes left in my journey through Angel Beats, but I have an idea where this is going. As we watch the remaining characters determine how and if they want to move on, I will join Yurippe, Kanade, and Otonashi in telling them that yes, there is a time to die. That time for each of them has come once more.