In Angel Beats, Kanade clearly entered the afterlife before even Yurippe did, yet Otonashi arrived later. Technically, Kanade must've died after Otonashi.

How is it possible that Kanade has Otonashi's heart?

  • 1
    Can't find any proof, but I would assume that Otonashi didn't appear at the afterlife right after his death, but it rather took him some time (maybe that's also why he's lost his memories? I can't remember if the reason for that was explained in the anime). Dec 12, 2012 at 14:07
  • 1
    I also can't find proof for this theory, but given that the world of Angel Beats is basically purgatory, I don't see any reason to believe it follows the same timeline as the real world. It could exist on a completely separate timeline.
    – Logan M
    Dec 12, 2012 at 19:18
  • It's called the magic of anime! Hahaha :)
    – Grace
    Dec 13, 2012 at 10:45

9 Answers 9


Unfortunately, Angel Beats! doesn't go into much detail about the mechanics of the afterlife environment it takes place in.

However, if we assume that the series follows the basic concept of eternity, then a partial explanation can be given.

I drew up this little image of the three different timelines that are present in the series:

Angel Beats! Timelines


  • The green line is the (main) world timeline where the characters in the series lived their lives before they died.

  • The red line is the afterlife timeline where the characters went when they died and where most of the series takes place.

  • The cyan line is the alternate world timeline where (I presume) the characters in the series went after they've resolved their issues and regrets in the afterlife and moved on.

  • The white circles/ovals represent the time Kanade Tachibana spent on a timeline.

  • The blue circles/ovals represent the time Yuzuru Otonashi spent on a timeline.

  • The white lines represent Kanade's transition from one timeline to another.

  • The blue lines represent Yuzuru's transition from one timeline to another.

  • The ranges of the circles/ovals are rough estimates.

The (Main) World Timeline

  1. Yuzuru is born.
  2. Kanade is born.
  3. Yuruzu gets in a train crash. Although he survives the initial crash, he eventually dies of thirst. Just before he dies, he signs an organ donor card. Because the rescuers arrived just barely too late, his organs could be harvested in time.
  4. Kanade is in need of a heart transplant. She receives a donor heart. It is Yuzuru's.
  5. Kanade dies. We don't know how long she lived after her heart transplant, but, it apparently saved her life, so I presume she lived a good while after it.

The Afterlife Timeline

  1. Kanade arrives in the afterlife. As per Yuri, Kanade was there before she arrived, but, we're never told for how long, so, the amount of time she spent there from her arrival to her departure is unknown.
  2. Events in the Angel Beats! Heaven's Door manga take place.
  3. Yuzuru arrives in the afterlife.
  4. Kanade and Yuzuru finally meet in person. She stabs him in the chest and notices that Yuzuru doesn't have a heart. She then realizes who Yuzuru is.
  5. Events in the Angel Beats! anime take place.
  6. Kanade moves on from the afterlife after thanking Yuzuru for the heart he gave her.
  7. As per Angel Beats!: Another Epilogue, Yuzuru remains in the afterlife for an undisclosed amount of time helping others move on.
  8. Events in the Angel Beats! anime sequel (if ever released) could take place here.
  9. Yuzuru finally moves on from the afterlife.

The Alternate World Timeline

  1. Yuzuru gets reincarnated/reborn in the same universe that contains the main world timeline, but on an alternate and better timeline.
  2. Kanade gets reincarnated/reborn in the same universe that contains the main world timeline, but on an alternate and better timeline.
  3. Yuzuru finally meets up with Kanade and they live happily ever after.

Like I said, the series never really explains the finer details of the afterlife and what exactly happens when someone moves on. This is the best explanation I can give you at the moment. Perhaps some more light will be shed on this matter in the future.

  • 1
    I seriously thought that 13 episodes was way too short for Angel Beats!, since it felt rushed at times, and they could've taken some episodes to explain some background stuff.
    – Xeo
    Dec 12, 2012 at 23:57
  • Really nice explanation (even the formatting is easy on the eyes), but I have one issue... "Events in the Angel Beats! anime sequel (if ever released) take place." How could you know what a potentially non existent sequel would cover? It's just as likely that it would cover the alternate world timeline or something completely different.
    – atlantiza
    Dec 13, 2012 at 0:17
  • 1
    @Xeo - I agree, the series would have benefited greatly from a full season release. However, I don't know the reason why the series was released as a half season (12-13 episodes) instead of a full season (24-26 episodes).
    – Lunar Guy
    Dec 13, 2012 at 0:28
  • 1
    @atlantiza - My assumption that an Angel Beats! sequel would cover the events that took place between the end of Angel Beats! and Yuzuru's departure from the afterlife was based on the setting of Angel Beats! Another Epilogue. But, you're right, we don't know what a sequel would have in store for us. Therefore, I made a small change to that part of my answer.
    – Lunar Guy
    Dec 13, 2012 at 0:29
  • 1
    Nice chart! What happens after the Afterlife is shortly explained though, as you see Otonasni grab Kanade at the end of episode 13, in the real world.
    – Tanno
    Dec 13, 2012 at 7:56

I just saw the anime, and it got me puzzling for a while, but I had made up a somewhat believable explanation:

My proposed timeline:

  • Otonashi dies.
  • Otonashi moves on, since he died without any regrets. He doesn't end up in the afterlife school thing.
  • Kanade dies and ends in the afterlife school thing.
  • Kanade wishes to thank Otonashi.
  • Kanade's wish "grabs" Otonashi from his peaceful slumber and throws him into the afterlife thing.
    • I suspect that this place is designed specifically so people can find happiness, and since Kanade's requisite was to thank Otonashi, the place took him back temporarily.
  • Otonashi, upon arrival, loses his memory since he was taken to this world in a not-conventional manner.
  • Events in the anime occur.

The reason Otonashi didn't end up in the afterlife school upon death, is because he didn't really die with regrets. His own theory was that he simply "forgot" and thus ended up in the school, but that doesn't make much sense. Instead, he moved on, rested peacefully for a while, and then Kanade's wish brought him to the school.

  • 2
    I'm pretty sure you've got the right explanation. But that's why I didn't really enjoy the fact that we see Otonashi back to the "real world" at the end of episode 13, because (as you said) he doesn't have any regrets... so how did he do to come back to the "real world" oO? Even if it's sad for him, it would make much more sense if he stayed to the "afterlife world" to keep helping everyone forever (just as "Another Epilogue" shows). Instead of the current ep13's end, I would rather see just a baseball breaking a window ;) But still, it's my favorite anime.
    – Oliboy50
    Feb 10, 2014 at 11:45

In addition to Lunar Guy's explanation, my theory would be that, even though Yuzuru died first, the rate of their transition is different, it probably took Yuzuru a long time to transition between two timelines than what it took Kanade. That's why Kanade arrived first, rather than Yuzuru.

To support this, Kanade's regret was that she could not thank the person who gave her his heart, so I'd assume that some form of higher system craftily planned for Kanade to arrive first rather than Yuzuru, so that she could fulfill her regret and move on. Otherwise if Yuzuru arrived first, there would be a risk that he would move on first, making Kanade's regret unfulfilled, leaving her stuck in the Afterlife.

  • 1
    hmmm I kinda agree to your theory. Its like Otonashi was put into a deep slumber before going to the afterlife to wait for kanade. then otonashi 'slept' for too long that's why he lost his memories. I wish there was a movie or something like an OVA like Mirai Nikki's Redial to explain all this.
    – Kym NT
    Jun 15, 2016 at 9:03
  • 3
    Maybe he couldn't wake up in the after life school until all his body parts that he donated died, including his heart.
    – Aequitas
    Jul 24, 2016 at 15:44

I have a different theory:

  1. Otonashi died (signing first his organ card).
  2. His organs are donated to different people (for instance, his heart went to Kanade, while his other organs went to a John Doe).
  3. Kanade lived for a while (long or short), but regretted the fact that she couldn't thank Otonashi. Eventually she dies.
  4. Kanade appears in the afterlife and starts acting like the "angel" after learning the purpose of this world.
  5. John Doe dies and so Otonashi now is completely dead.
  6. Otonashi appears in the afterlife with amnesia (this really isn't that weird considering Yurippe said it's normal, or you could also say that he was dead for so long that he forgot most of his life).



  • Do you have any evidence for this theory? Speculative answers are sometimes allowed but we prefer answers which have some canon evidence backing them up.
    – Logan M
    Oct 11, 2013 at 5:17

I imagine the time it takes to transition into the after life = the number of regrets. The simpler the regret, the faster it takes to get to the after life. Kanade's regret was just to thank the person who gave her the heart, while otonashi'a regret is more complicated because he had no regrets, but he didn't know. Hideki came into the after life before Yui because his regret was just to catch a ball, while Yui was multiple things she saw on TV. Time of death does play a role, but I think second to the kind of regret. Yui could have died before Hideki.


This is the fitting interpretation for me:

  1. Otonashi died. Bug caused him to land in the 'school'. It's a place to fulfil regrets, in real live of afterlife (this is a bug by itself actually).
  2. Felt in love with someone and realized it shouldn't be sustaining. Created Angel Player program to turn himself to NPC and thus erased his afterlife memory.
  3. Kanade got the heart in real life. Died and due to fate got hold of the Angel Player.
  4. Angel Player has the ability to turn NPC back; with certain conditions I presume (this is assumption). Otonashi got back his soul.
  5. Otonashi fell in love again. The cycle should continue until he finds another love.

I propose a different solution.

What if time in the afterlife traveled in reverse, compared to the "real" word? Then all the characters would be able to die and immediately travel to the afterlife.

Note: When I re-watch the series, I will look for supporting facts. At the moment, this is only a theory.


This answer may be wrong, but possibly Kanade was in a coma awaiting a heart transplant. Yuzuru died a bit later and donated his heart to Kanade. It'd make sense because Kanade has Yuzuru's heart in her. The surgery must've failed and she ended up dying, so that's why she remains in purgatory.

That's how I understand it anyway.


Remember when Otonashi signed that organ donor card before he died? Angel was given his heart because she needed it and came to the afterlife to thank Otonashi for his heart.

  • 2
    Welcome to Anime&Manga.SE! Consider expanding your answer, rather than leaving a one-liner. Happy answering! :)
    – JNat
    Jun 16, 2013 at 17:37

You must log in to answer this question.

Not the answer you're looking for? Browse other questions tagged .