Yes, this is the famously wonderful/sad/impactful/dramatic Angel Beats episode. Love it or hate it, it doesn’t matter. I love it. And I'm going to tell you why Angel Beats Episode 10: Goodbye Days is one hell of an episode and an important thematic anchor for the series as a whole.
There’s a lot to break down in this one, but, as you probably expected, I’m going to focus on the end. In case you haven’t seen it in a while (Angel Beats celebrates its tenth birthday next year), let me set the scene (you can also watch it here). Our hero Otonashi spends the day with second-generation Girls Dead Monster vocalist Yui accomplishing all the things she wished she could’ve done in her short life as a paraplegic. They mostly play sports— baseball, soccer, wrestling— anything to get Yui off her feet and feeling the wind in her hair, something she never had in her previous life. As the sun sets on their day of athletics, Otonashi asks if she’s satisfied. Yui replies:
“One more thing. Marriage. The ultimate happiness for a girl. But I couldn't do chores or laundry. I couldn't do anything on my own. I was just some annoying baggage in the way. Who would want to marry me?”
Enter Hinata. He will. No matter her situation or ailment. He’ll find her, fall in love, and marry her. And —with Ichiban no Takaramono, one of the series’ most impactful tracks, playing in the background— Yui is finally laid to rest with the hopes of a new life.
Yeah, it’s beautiful and sad…and raises a lot of questions. Does Hinata actually love her? All they really did is fight on screen. Did he lie to her just so she could pass on? Maybe if the romance was hinted at a little more, it would seem less out of the blue? All valid complaints and questions. But right now I’m not worried about those. I think this is one of the most emotionally impactful anime episodes of all time. Here are some reasons why that you may not have thought about.
Yes, this is so romantic and my eyes are stinging with tears already, but love isn’t the most prominent thread in this scene. Think about Yui. She doesn't disappear when Hinata agrees to marry her. She disappears when she hears there will be someone to lift her mother's burden. That's the moment she vanishes, and I think that may truly be her life's biggest regret. Knowing Hinata will be there to help her mother brings her comfort. Now, she can pass on peacefully believing that she will be happy but— more importantly— that her mother will be at ease as well.
I think the most touching aspect of this episode is Yui and Hinata’s belief in the future— believing that something good will happen, believing that they will see each other again. After the painful lives they had, being able to take that hopeful stance on the unknown is the biggest leap any character in this show can take. It is beautiful that they are able to do that together. And it is important to see that humans who have faced such hardship can take this step. With the right support, with the right people in your life, your perspective on anything can change. I love how the entire series of Angel Beats illustrates this is so beautifully.
Maybe Hinata doesn’t love Yui (or at least not yet). And that doesn’t matter. The belief that he can love Yui, that someone can love her, is what eases her pain. There is no guarantee that they will meet in the next life— there is no guarantee for any of these children that their lives will be better the next time around— but they have to believe it will be better in order to move on. The power of belief in Angel Beats is underrated but strong; it pulls the whole show together. Life can be challenging and cruel, but believing in a better future is the only way to get through it. That belief is their Most Precious Treasure.