I don't understand why people are so harsh to Angel Beats. I believe it is easily the best series I've watched all year. At only 13 episodes, it becomes something special, and leaves us before we grow sick of it. I understand I haven't yet seen The Melcholy of Haruhi-chan, but does having a similar title make a series any less special? That's just being obviously biased :[
Story: 9 out of 10
The story of Angel Beats is a collection of brilliant elements that lead to me loving the series. To start things off, let's begin where the anime did, as Otonashi woke up in a strange world with a girl with a gun telling him to accept everything he sees. What chaos! Step outside the storyline for a second, and imagine you were to wake up in a strange land with a strange person, holding a gun and telling you to accept everything you see as true. This sounds like the plot for a war movie. Things only get better to me from here on out.
Otonashi learns about the place he is, and joins a constantly name-changing battle front (which unfortunately, they didn't follow through with the constant name-changing as much as the first episode did, but I mean... That's not important at all, since it was only a comedic device). An amnesiac, he follows them until he regains his memories, and realizes what he has to do (no spoilers :])
Some of the best scenes in the entire series revolve around the previous lives of the battlefront members. Each one has a terribly depressing childhood, and that's why they were sent to this purgatory high school. To relive their youth as they should have, and then move on. These moments bring such excellent heartache and compassion from a viewer, I couldn't help but smile fondly to each of the characters like a long-lost friend. (It's a shame that they couldn't tell everyone’s back stories, but then again, it would have made the entire series episodic, and bland.)
The series, however, doesn't really rise to greatness until the last few episodes. Absolutely incredible ending. I don't believe I've ever seen such a beautiful, poetic ending in an anime in many years.
(Also, the series reminds me of the novel "Battle Royale" which got my blood pumping :D)
Animation: 10 out of 10
Plain and simple, Angel Beats is gorgeous. The world is dark, and isolated, yet the colors of the characters themselves appear strong in contrast to the gloomy world. To paraphrase the brilliant Carol Borges, "They were paper lanterns among the dark trees".
Sound: 8 out of 10
I haven't seen a series with a good sound department in a long time now. I feel as if most studios feel music will distract the viewer, so they tone it down and bit, and this just isn't true. Music moves us humans, and causes us to enter that rare artistic mood where we forget about the problems of our own lives, and focus on whatever it is we're doing. During moments such as Iwasawa's "My Song", I most definitely felt this. Nothing else matters as I smiled fondly at this young, tortured girl playing her heart and soul in front of all these people who weren't even real. They didn't have to be real, for her to know what she was doing was. It was gorgeous. Also, having a catchy OP and ED song, and good voice acting doesn't hurt the sound department either of course ;)
Characters: 8 out of 10
I hate giving characters such a low score, but I just can't place the pros over the cons in this. The series invested all of their time into Otonashi, Yuri, and Hinata's characters. They are really the only three with any progression. Angel (Kanade) shows growth, but quickly during episodes. She is an enemy, then a robot, then a human. Those are the feelings I get with her character. She just becomes these next stages of character, and because of her wonderful her character turns out in the end (my favorite), I wish I knew more about her.
It seems every other character shows no progression whatsoever. They are always simply who they are, and then are gone when the story ends. You learn to cheer them on, and laugh at their quirks, but that is it. Because they aren't main characters, it doesn't tarnish the series, just makes us viewers feel... cheated I guess. Otonashi and Yuri do save the series overall by being so damn fantastic. Everything they do is wonderful.
Overall: 9 out of 10
Overall, I recommend this series to anyone with an attention span. There is a lot of slice-of-lifey school drama to the series, but it only makes to push the characters into our heads and heart more. I hope you can look past your own judgments of "Melancholy of Haruhi-Chan rip-off" and "Slow, boring, highschool drama" to see the series for what a sweet and wonderful thing it is.