I bought this from Amazon.com; at the time (a few months back) it wasn't available in the UK (It is the US region version that I have - the one to be sold by Amazon UK will be a UK edition).
The first thing you notice about this series is the stunning picture and sound quality (even for blu-ray!). The animation is utterly superb; the opening sequence (of Kanade playing the piano) completely takes your breath away, and the end theme is also very poignant and beautifully done. The story is based on the unusual premise of a sort of 'afterlife' if you will (although not really in the Judeo-Christian sense; this one appears to be in a Japanese high school!) where the characters go after death, if they died feeling unfulfilled or badly-done-to. A side effect of being in this 'pergatory' is that the inhabitants cannot die; they can be 'killed' say by a gunshot or knife, but reawaken shortly after, fully restored. However; dying still hurts just as much as in the 'real' world, so they try not to be 'killed' too often! The characters can decide to 'pass over' to eternity, once they are convinced there is no further reason for them to stay. When that happens, the character simply disappears; usually the camera view will switch away from the character who is 'passing', and when it comes back, they are gone. No sound or visual clue accompanies their passing. The story follows the efforts of a group of the 'students', who have formed a band of rebel freedom fighters, to avoid 'passing on', as they feel aggrieved, and that it is God's fault that they died prematurely! I won't give any more detail, as it would spoil the story, but have your Kleenex ready; you will cry at various points in the story, especially at the end. But anime fans (and anybody else really), should see this series; it is beautiful, and VERY emotional; I cannot find a bad thing to say about it. Even the music score is awesome; I got the soundtrack album after watching the series - the full versions of the opening and closing themes (the latter being nearly 9 minutes long!) will also make you cry, especially if you read the translation of the lyrics; it is hauntingly beautiful. The English dub is excellent, with many of the well-known US voice actors appearing (Blake Shepherd as Otanashi, the male lead, Britney Karbowski as Yuri, Emily Neves as Kanade (also known as 'Angel'), Greg Ayres as Ayato Naio, and David Matranga (from 'Clannad') as Hideki), so many will be familiar with their voices.
I am only gutted that there doesn't appear to be a sequel in the offing; the ending of the series was kind of final, so it would be difficult to explain a sequel. A great pity.
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