Yuzuro Otanashi is the newest member of the SSS, and a new member of Afterlife High School. He wakes up with no memory or idea who or where he is. He is the main protagonist of Angel Beats.
Otonashi is a young man in his late teens with red hair and burgundy colored eyes and a height of 5'9". On his first arrival in the afterworld, he sees himself wearing a typical man's black school uniform. Later, when he joins the SSS, he switches to a white long-sleeved polo shirt under a sandy brown coat and black slacks.
In his middle school days, Otonashi didn't care much for school or socialising with his classmates. He admitted to his sister that he would honestly rather be alone and play video games than study and make friends. His main focus in life was mostly working to pay for food and buying manga for his younger sister. His personality eventually changed when Hatsune died.
After Hatsune's death, he became a more responsible person. He worked and studied hard to become a doctor and to pay for medical school to help people like his sister. He became a very smart and kind person. When he got into the train accident, he helped the other survivors by taking care of their injuries and helped find enough food and water for everyone. At one point he even sacrificed his share of water. Before he died, he signed a donor card stating that he would donate all of his working organs.
During his time in the Afterlife, he had the same personality as before he died though he was very confused most of the time due to the battlefront's antics.
In the Visual Novel, the players could alter Otonashi's personality according on the decision made by player throughout the game.
His younger sister, Hatsune Otonashi was diagnosed with cancer and was bedridden for two years. During the period, Otonashi didn't know what he was living for and what was his purpose in life. He detached himself from his friends and soon lived a solitary life, funded by his part-time jobs. All he wanted was to work enough to eat and live. Even so, he kept on visiting his sister and would buy her manga magazines with the little money he had. He always got her whatever he saw first in the book shop, so he didn't even know if he gave her the same one or a different magazine. Hatsune would be happy with whatever Otonashi gave her and she would always say "Thank you so much brother" to Otonashi.
By Hatsune's request, Otonashi took Hatsune to see the decorations of the Christmas trees on the street. Hatsune passed away while clinging onto Otonashi's back and after that Otonashi finally realised his reason for living. He felt alive when Hatsune expressed her gratitude and that was all it took for him to continue living. Otonashi realizes that he was happy before and that he has lost that reason for living after the death of Hatsune.
Otonashi was left to live alone after Hatsune passed away and thought there was nothing in him anymore. While walking down the street he saw a little girl saying thanks to a nurse and there he thinks he might be able to find another purpose in life.
From that day onwards, Otonashi studied hard and was finally admitted to a university to study a medical course. On his way to the university for his entrance exams, the train he was on had an accident and crashed. When he woke up moments later, he found everything in a mess and everyone either injured or dead. There, he made friends with Igarashi, another youth who survived the train crash. Using his medical knowledge, he helped to treat all the survivors. Unfortunately, one of his patients died, leading him to question once again what he was living his life for.
While he was searching for a way out of the underground train tunnel, he found out that he had been critically injured as well, but kept it a secret from the survivors to avoid demoralizing them. Otonashi and Igarashi did their best to ration the remaining food and water among the rest of the survivors. Otonashi notes that they only had enough supplies to last three days.
Otonashi and the rest of the survivors remain trapped for a week. During his last moments, he took out his life insurance card and filled up the information needed for a consent with regards to voluntary organ transplant if ever he was to be brain-dead. He circled all of the choices and said that by doing this, it let him have a reason for living. Every other survivor saw this and followed as well. He died shortly by internal bleeding after having been thanked by Igarashi for giving them hope, just as the tunnel is being opened.
Waking Up in a Conflict
Yuzuru arrives in the middle of a battle without a single memory of his past. He stumbles upon a girl who is aiming a sniper rifle at a younger-looking girl with silver hair from a distance. This girl, who would later introduce herself as Yuri, also explains the comings and goings of this unfamiliar world called the afterlife, and that she wants Yuzuru to enlist to the Shinda Sekai Sensen (Afterlife War Front) or SSS, a renegade group aimed to confront God for the misfortunes of its members.
At that moment, Yuri was targeting the group's main enemy, only known under the codename "Angel". Yuzuru was confused at the situation he is in, especially with having someone with a sniper rifle aiming at a seemingly normal girl, so he refuses Yuri's invitation and ends up trying to converse to the girl called "Angel". Alas, after failing to understand what Angel meant when she points out that he is in a world where everyone is dead, Angel decides to show it to him instead by summoning a sword from thin air and stabbing his chest with it.
After that ordeal with the girl called "Angel", Yuzuru finds himself in the school's infirmary, only to be killed once again by a student wielding a halberd, who showed up to punish him for refusing to enter the Shinda Sekai Sensen. It was minutes after that Yuzuru fully recovers from his wounds discovers first-hand the "mechanics" of the afterlife.
Yuzuru initially thought of letting himself "disappear" like what Yuri was warning him about and heads to the Principal's Office for some answers. Unfortunately, the room has long been the headquarters for the SSS, and has traps installed to deter intruders. After being caught in one, Yuzuru wakes up in the middle of a meeting between members of the SSS trying to argue about the official name of the group, which was currently the "Like-Hell-I'm-Dead Battlefront". The members soon enter an argument with Yuzuru about his decision to disappear from the afterlife, and Yuzuru was eventually persuaded into rethinking his decision when the members of the SSS explain the possibilities of reincarnating as a nonhuman living thing based on Buddhist reincarnation principles. Yuzuru also ends up joining the SSS afterwards, and was given the SSS uniform to wear. At this point, Yuzuru only introduces himself as "Otonashi".
That afternoon, Yuri explains more about the afterlife, revealing the presence of "other entities" Yuri calls NPC and the role of "Angel" as the one who maintains the peace and order in the school complex. She also reminds Yuzuru to avoid acting like a model student to avoid disappearing and to avoid provoking Angel to avoid getting killed.
Although he was warmly welcomed by the Battlefront, Yuzuru still does not consider himself a member of SSS. At that moment, he wanted a refuge until he regains his memories, though he is not sure what he will do when he does regain them.
The Afterlife Battlefront
To Yuzuru's surprise, he was immediately assigned to join one of the basic activities of the SSS: Operation Tornado, which is basically SSS's plan to steal meal tickets from students. In the operation, as the diversionary division of the SSS, the all-girls band Girls Dead Monster, plays inside the Academy Main Dining Hall, Yuzuru and the others try to slow down Angel's approach. Yuzuru ends up confronting Angel before the others, but the rest of the SSS was able to cover for him as Yuri initiates the main part of the operation — turning on the massive fans located throughout the Main Dining Hall, sending the meal tickets of the other students into the air. The SSS quickly retreat soon after, but not until getting enough meal tickets for the entire battlefront. The operation left Yuzuru still confused about the workings of the Afterlife and the conflict between Angel and the SSS, but he decides to put aside his questions for the meantime.
In his stay as member of the SSS, he slowly learns of the stories behind the members' discovery of the afterlife, Yuri's past being the first. In Episode 3, Otonashi was told about Iwasawa's, leader of Girls Dead Monster, past before she disappears after her performance, leaving the rest of SSS to learn a lesson that they themselves could disappear without Angel interfering. Other people's past which are made known to Otonashi includes Hinata, Yui, Naoi, and very little about Angel at the end.
A Backfired Plan
Upon Yuri's discovery of the true nature of Angel as more human than they first thought, she involved Otonashi in a plan to humiliate her as their plan to weaken their supposed enemy. The plan worked perfectly, but even though the plan succeeded, Otonashi has deep doubts about what they did.
He later finds himself interacting with Angel, who seems like a normal human being, and after learning about Yuri's fight against Naoi (who replaced Angel as Student Council President), he rushes to the aid of the SSS, foiling Naoi's plans for the SSS to forcefully move on. Also, because of his inspiring remarks, Naoi joins the SSS and becomes attached to Otonashi like a little brother would be attached to his older sibling.
His True Purpose
After Naoi joins SSS, he agrees to let Naoi use his hypnosis ability to help Otonashi to regain his memories. After that experience of reuniting with his past, he becomes a changed person.
Otonashi soon doubts that the conflict he is involved with is as straightforward as it seems; he starts to act on his own, befriending the very enemy which is supposed to be SSS's true target. At first, the members of the SSS are skeptic of Angel's "lack of hostility" towards them; but soon, after the events in Operation Monster Stream, they realize that their enemy is really a nice person.
This outlook changed when Yuri was attacked at the same day when Angel (that time known as Kanade Tachibana) joined Operation Monster Stream. In fact, the culprit is one of Kanade's Harmonics Clones which turned rogue, and after a bloody confrontation between the original and the clone, the battlefront begin their descent to the destroyed Guild Headquarters to save her. The descent needed most of the team to do their "sacrifices", but they managed to save Kanade.
Otonashi and Kanade become closer to each other, and he decides to help her in her mission, which in reality is to help the people in the afterlife to move on to the next world. After he helped in fulfilling Yui's regrets in life, they are suddenly faced with another problem: the Shadows.
Facing the Shadows
Otonashi's team-up with Kanade was put on hold when mysterious creatures appear to attack and consume the students in the Afterlife; Hinata and Naoi soon join his side to help out as well and they attempt to continue with their plan while keeping it hidden to Yuri. Unfortunately, thanks to Yusa's surveillance, Yuri discovered their plans. But instead of apprehending them for doing the opposite of their mission, she gives them credit, as she realizes that disappearing would be the only way for the others to be saved.
With Kanade on his side, he leads the members of the SSS to defend Yuri as she tries to find out more about the world. Yuri eventually succeeds in confronting the one responsible in the existence of the Shadows and with that, the SSS are freed of their duties. Later on, most of the members moved on from their regrets, leaving Otonashi, Hinata, Naoi, Yuri and Kanade to be the last members of SSS remaining.
A Bitter Hello
Otonashi and Kanade plan a graduation ceremony for the remaining members, since Kanade never got to graduate when she was alive. After everyone "graduates", Hinata, Naoi and Yuri bid farewell for one last time. Otonashi takes the time to confess to Kanade about his feelings for her and begs her to remain with him in the Afterlife forever. He hoped that they would be able to guide anyone who wandered into this world and let them leave with no regrets. It is then that Kanade reveals the real reason for her appearance in the Afterlife; that the regret she had in life was never being able to thank the person who gave her a heart so that she could live. She then thanks him for a chance to have lived longer and disappears in Otonashi's arms, leaving him in tears.
After everyone had left the Afterlife, Otonashi remains and takes up the role of the Student Council President.
Gradually, more youths who had regrets in their lives enter the Afterlife, bringing it back to how it was when the story began, with the school full of students. Otonashi motivates the students around him to gain a courage to live on. Rumors from the NPCs tell that he is waiting for someone, though in actual fact he had already met his 'someone', who had already left for her next life.
It is possible Otonashi moves on as well. This is implied in the credits of Episode 13 when, after Kanade disappears, he remains there for a short while before disappearing as well.
At the very end of the episode (after the credits) there is a short clip. It shows two characters that resemble Otonashi and Kanade. Kanade is humming "My Song" by the Girls Dead Monster and Otonashi happened to be passing by and recognizes either the tune or her (possibly subconsciously) and runs after her. The scene fades to white just before he taps her on the shoulder. This suggests that after people reincarnate into the real world, they may retain some form of their memories from the Afterlife.
At first unskilled in any equipment and lacking experience when he first arrives in the Afterlife, he is utilized by Yuri as backup, but he manages to pull through for the team when they are in danger. After some self-training, he manages to be experienced in handling a gun, and is able to defend himself well. He carries a Glock 17 which Yuri gives him on his first day as SSS's newest member. Later in the series in episode 5, it shows he is able to use a IMI Galil sniper rifle as well.
Otonashi is also revealed to be knowledgeable in academics, commenting that one physics exam he took was "easier than expected". Later, it was revealed that this was because Otonashi had been studying to become a doctor before his death.
On later events, he is showed to have improved with his shooting abilities to the point he is able to shoot an enemy from behind without looking while talking and has added leadership skills like analytic thinking to his assets.
- The kanji in Otonashi's last name means "no sound". His first name, on the other hand, means "to bind strings".
- Otonashi is the only male character from SSS to appear during the epilogue scene, where he tried to tap Kanade's shoulder after recognizing the "My Song" tune she hummed.
- There is a parallel comparing Otonashi to the human developer of Angel Player in Another Epilogue. Both of them were left in the Afterlife alone after their loved ones disappeared. However, Otonashi did not fall into despair and become an NPC like the other person (at least, not explicitly).
- He was killed 3 times in the first 7 minutes of the first episode. The first time was when Tachibana stabs him in the chest with her Hand Sonic, the second was when Noda hits him 100 times with his halberd, and the third was when he fell for the trap that was at the principal's office. This is, considering that the 100 fatal hits Noda gave him count as one death.
- No one (except Kanade) has called him by his given name, because he didn't tell the SSS his given name after recovering his memories. He did, however, say his name at graduation.
- Although a new member to the SSS, he seems to have a close relationship with Yuri.
- In the OVA, Stairway to Heaven, Otonashi doesn't participate in High Tension Syndrome, but reaches a Tension Level of 92 when suggesting a "Sports Festival."
- Also in the OVA, he had said this in English: Nande no reaction? (Why are there no reaction?).
- It seems that he knows the full names of Yuri and Hinata, but the two didn't give their full names to him (Hinata being his roommate and Yurippe being the leader may explain it).
- Despite being one of the newest members of the SSS, Otonashi seems quite popular among them. Yuri and Iwasawa opened up to him about their pasts even after knowing him only for a short time, and Hinata befriended him quickly. In the second Drama CD, when Yuri announced that he was going to be participating in their activity, the others applauded.
- Other than Yuri, Otonashi is the only other person who had seen Shiina's true character over cute things. (Although Angel was later made known to this as well in the OVA, along with Ooyama, Fujimaki, and Yusa.)
- The name Angel Beats! most likely came from the fact that the heart of an Angel (Kanade Tachibana) used to Beat inside of him.
- It can also be inferred that he is fond of canned coffee, as that is the only beverage Otonashi is seen drinking, often more than once in each episode. Yuri also seems to know this, as she usually has a can of coffee with her while waiting for Otonashi.
- He is one of the characters with a revealed death, the others being Iwasawa and Hinata.
- In the Alternative Epilogue when Otonashi walks back to the Student Council Room, if you look carefully to the left of the screen, you could see pictures of the main members of the SSS. It is unknown on how he got those images.
- It may be possible that in the Alternative Epilogue that the photos of the SSS are made from dust much as how the Guild makes weapons out of Dust
- The game also shows Yurippe to have a portrait of herself in her SSS uniform hanging in the Anti-Angel HQ, so this isn't too surprising.
- He and Hinata Hideki are a popular yaoi couple, comparable in popularity to his coupling with both Kanade Tachibana and Yuri Nakamura.
- Otonashi resembles Kyousuke Natsume from Little Busters! The two have different voice actors in Japanese, but share the same English voice actor.
- In Iwasawa's route of the Angel Beats game he marries Iwasawa and gets her pregnant.