The Programmer is an unknown student from the anime Angel Beats. He is revealed to exist when Yuri, the leader of the SSS,

decides to get to the root of what is causing malevolent creatures known as Shadows to manifest in the World.

The Programmer is widely credited with having created:

  • the Angel Player program
  • The AI
  • The Shadows

It is likely that he created the Angel Player program, as it existed before Kanade Tachibana entered the Afterlife.

It's almost certain that the AI was made by the Programmer, when he states that he is "simply obeying the rules" when asked what he is doing with the computers from PC Room 1.

The AI telling Yuri that he "simply obeys the rules"

Once love began to take hold in the World, after

Yui disappeared,

The AI would have activated the Shadow program, also manufactured by the Programmer, to begin wiping out the SSS, Guild, and NPCs.

Now, the Programmer's background is one of mystery. It's a long story, so I'm going to take a leaf out of the Wikia's book here (with some minor edits).

The Programmer's real name is unknown. But like Otonashi, he was never supposed to have entered the Afterlife, but somehow ended up there anyway.

During his time in the Afterlife School, he fell in love with an unnamed girl who disappeared when her regret was fulfilled. Unwilling or unable to accept that, he decided to wait for her to return, which from the Afterlife School rules would require her to:

  • Die during her teenage years (13 to 17 or so for a 4 year gap)
  • Have a heavy regret

If the girl lived an average of 85 years and reincarnated each time, there would be a 4/85 (teenage years)*9.83/1000(Japan death rate )*1%(Ad hoc chance of heavy regret)=~0.0004% every reincarnation. Each failure to hit this chance would lead to 85 years of waiting. A 10% chance to see her again would require 2.125 million years.

The above calculations do not consider that the majority of the death rate is actually from the elderly rather than from teenagers.

As expected, the amount stunned Yuri, due to the massive time required to be spent waiting. The AI explained that The Programmer lost his grip on sanity after waiting so long, and decided to create a program to turn himself into an NPC.

As The Programmer felt that people who had resolved their sadness should not clutter the Afterlife School (much like patients should be discharged when they are cured rather than staying in the hospital), he created a program that kept track of the amount of love in the Afterlife School world. When the amount of love exceeded a certain amount, a "cleaning" program would be activated where NPCs would be changed into Shadows, which would in turn target humans and forcibly change them into NPCs, thus resetting the world into one where no humans existed.

(formatting mine)

So, who is the Programmer?

Theories are welcome if they're backed up with facts.

  • 2
    Related: anime.stackexchange.com/q/18785
    – senshin
    Commented Jun 8, 2016 at 1:20
  • But not necessarily a duplicate.
    – Munesawagi
    Commented Jun 8, 2016 at 10:57
  • I think that the programmer is a metaphor for a being that controls the circle of life death and regeneration. But that's mostly the perception I had from watching the anime. I'll post an answer if I find some credibility to back that up
    – Callat
    Commented Jun 9, 2016 at 23:49
  • @Hikari sounds good.
    – Munesawagi
    Commented Jun 9, 2016 at 23:51
  • 1
    I know I'm like 4000 years late, but remember how Yuri came back from the shadows almost going into npc state. What if otonashi woke up from npc state outside with the amnesia because he was there for so long. It would explain how it seemed like kanade ended up there before him. Is that a possibility?
    – Zasha
    Commented Oct 9, 2019 at 15:24

4 Answers 4


Here are a few possible candidates.

1. Yuzuru Otonashi


The Programmer's details match those of Yuzuru Otonashi's with striking similarities. Let's not forget that alongside the original ending of Angel Beats, Key issued another epilogue, aptly titled "Another Epilogue". In this, the main focus is another person that's arrived in the Afterlife, and he is surrounded by quiet, obedient NPCs. After challenging the reality of the Afterlife School, he is talked to by the Student Council President,

The Otonashi in an alternate timeline, who hasn't moved on yet,

and he is told that if he has any questions about the world that they both live in that he should come down to the Student Council room. However, as

Otonashi heads back to the Student Council room, a girl can be heard saying, "There's a rumor that he's waiting for someone."

So therefore, it's entirely possible that

Otonashi is waiting for Kanade, and that this timestream somehow loops. Otonashi goes crazy waiting for Kanade, who has a infinitesimally small chance of reappearing in the Afterlife, but still, better than zero.

He turns himself into an NPC to be able to withstand the long wait, and creates the AI, or the "AI" to be able to maintain the requirements of the Afterlife, not allowing love to manifest, possibly therefore saving future arrivals from the pain that he has been exposed to. This may be why he creates Angelplayer, because he knows that if Kanade reappears, then she'll know how to use it, any maybe program it to move him back from his NPC state. The members of the SSS arrive after this, then, at the time of Episode 1, the timestream loops, causing

Otonashi to revert back from an NPC.

Forgetting everything that's happened to him, the events continue their course the same way they did before –

causing the timeline to repeat over and over and over.

2. Tachibana Kanade


Tachibana Kanade was one of the first people to appear in the Afterlife World, and also the only person who is able to use Angelplayer without help. Because she has this ability, she may be the one who programmed it. However, she has never expressed any recollection in creating the program.

3. Takeyama


Takeyama is great with computers. His behavior throughout the anime is somewhat mysterious, as he constantly refers to himself as "Christ", suggesting that he has some great power in the Afterlife World. He is the most logical choice because of his skill with computers, and his ability to interface with Angelplayer. However, he does require English translators to use the program.

4. ???

"You wouldn't know, even if I told you."

The AI tells Yuri that the Programmer existed before the SSS appeared, and turned himself into an NPC. The AI also tells Yuri that she wouldn't know the Programmer even if the AI were to say it. This, logically, means that the Programmer cannot be a member of the SSS, Guild, or Kanade, as Yuri knows all of these people. Or, the AI could just have been made to respond that way to protect the Programmer. Perhaps we may never know...


5. The AI The AI

I don't think enough attention is paid to the AI as being the programmer, however there are some fairly strong factors which suggest it might be him.

Firstly it's important to ask, is the AI an NPC? Well there are differences, clearly the AI can think, understand the fundamentals of the world etc however, it's also in a human body, it has similar traits to NPCs.

  1. We know the programmer went mad and eventually turned into an NPC as confirmed by the AI. If you consider the AI an NPC then it could be him.

  2. The AI knows the programmer's name but said "you won't know him", ruling out pretty much everyone she knows. Whilst you might argue he didn't say it's "Me" the AI confirmed he "Didn't know anything" meaning if he said his own name as the programmer he wouldn't recognise it to be himself since he's an AI since the Programmer has already wiped his memory be becoming an AI.

  3. The programmer was mad, he made some rules before turning into an NPC which the AI follows, who better than to appoint himself of this role and erase his memory so he can forget his love.

Some people might ask why the AI would be so open to letting someone else take over the world, well regardless of whoever the Programmer is, he clearly didn't specify a command not to allow this.


The problem lies with the unanswered facts that would they ever age after a period of time, could adults join them if they were teachers or worked in a school when they were alive and the fact that we don't have confirmation that time is aligned and runs at the same pace in both worlds.

But if I had to hedge my bets it would first be Otonashi due to the similar background of the programmer.

Or the A.I. itself since it states the programmer never left. With a regret of creating Angel Player after waiting so long but unwilling to get rid of it that could be why he erased his memories with commands left behind, and creates his own existence as the A.I., and why he disappears when the computers are destroyed rather than his body laying on the ground.


What if this guy is the programmer.

He's got some tech skills obviously; he was programming the computer so that it's functioning when Yuri got in the room. He doesn't realize he is the programmer because he's an NPC now. So, aside from him being an entirely separate entity which we don't know.

  • 1
    Welcome to Anime & Manga Stack Exchange. While this might be the answer, could you add some sources/references, like from which episode he is?
    – Aki Tanaka
    Commented Jul 25, 2019 at 15:21
  • 1
    Please include relevant sources/references to support your answer.
    – W. Are
    Commented Jul 26, 2019 at 7:21

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