The Protagonist. He wakes up in the afterlife, not knowing where he is, or who he is. All he remembers is his last name.When he regains his memories, he learns that his first name is Yuzuru. He was a slacker who spent most of his life working menial jobs to provide for his ill little sister. After she died he realized that she had gotten more out of life than he had despite being bedridden, but in helping her he had found a way to give his life meaning. So he cut his hair and started studying hard, hoping to become a doctor someday. He was on his way to take the college entrance exam when the train he was riding crashed. Trapped inside a collapsed tunnel, he helped keep the other survivors alive for seven days before finally succumbing to his own internal injuries. His final act was to fill out the organ donor information on the back of his ID card, dying just as rescue arrived.
Decoy Protagonist: Hinata is the protagonist of the Manga, which pretty much depicts the beginnings of the SSS.
The Every Man: Subverted. Otonashi may initially be presented as an average guy onto whom we're meant to project, but he ultimately proves to be far more virtuous than your average person.
Foreshadowing: Since his body was probably the only one in good condition when the digging crews finally came for rescue right after his death, it was used for just that purpose. His heart was donated to a still-living Kanade.
Heroic Sacrifice: After he was fatally injured in the train crash and tries to help everyone who was still alive, Otonashi's final actions were not panicking or feeling sorry for himself, he signs his organs to be donated for medical use.
I Choose to Stay: After successfully sending away his friends to the other side, Otonashi chose to remain in the afterlife with Angel, thankfully it didn't work. "Another Epilogue" shows that he didn't leave for a while, becoming the Student Council President to help out newcomers to the afterlife, either to help them pass on or to replace him.
Ironic Hell: For someone who sacrificed everything for the happiness of his friends he himself is denied of his own happiness and is left all alone; however, it all depends on how you interpret the ending.
Right Man in the Wrong Place: Otonashi lived a fulfilling life and died content. The setting is specifically designed to help people experience the youth and happiness they never had in life. When he regains his memories, he helps everyone move on to the next plane.
Secret Stab Wound: The train crash left him with internal bleeding, though he hides the injury from the other survivors to avoid demoralizing them.
They Killed Kenny: Three times within the first six minutes—of the first episode, yet!
Averted after episode 1, not counting his death in the real world that is.
Trauma Conga Line: First his little sister dies from a terminal illness. Then he gets in a train accident. While trying to find an exit, he finds out that both sides of the tunnel are blocked, and the remaining survivors have very little supplies. Then he finds out he's got some serious internal injuries when blood soaks through his shirt. Finally, he dies just moments before a rescue crew is able to breach the rubble.
Leader of the SSS. She hates God and is willing to lead a rebellion against Him because she is not willing to quietly accept her fate and disapear. She is the one who nicknamed the student body president Angel, presuming her to be an angel of God because of her powers. Yuri was the eldest of four siblings. When she was little, robbers broke into her house when her parents weren't home. Unable to find anything worth stealing, they told Yuri that they would kill one of her siblings every ten minutes unless she found them something of value. But Yuri couldn't find anything; not in the first ten minutes, nor in the next. By the time the police arrived 30 minutes later she'd been pushed so far over the Despair Event Horizon that she doesn't recover until late in the series.
Shut Up, Hannibal!: "Humans don't have the patience to wait even ten minutes for something!" Cue destruction of computers and the halt to the shadow attack, as well as her redemption.
Team Mom: In episode 11, when she orders her entire militia to put some serious thought into passing on lest they get assimilated by the Shadows. If that didn't seal her Heel-Face Turn, her actions at the end of episode 12 certainly did.
Villain Protagonist: At least at first. Especially evident in the OVA. In the main series, though, this tends to blend with Pragmatic Hero, and she goes to pure Anti-Hero around episode 11, when she decides to have everyone in the SSS pass on before they can get assimilated by the Shadows, eventually going on to Adopt the Dog at the last second by blasting every computer into oblivion that was responsible for the Shadows and cementing her Heel-Face Turn in the process.
Angel is what the SSS are fighting against: the Student Council President. The kids in the Battlefront presume she is an angel assigned to oversee their purgatory because she seems to be making people disappear.In reality she just helps people achieve peace and move on. Otonashi surmises that she doesn't have any friends because all of them have disappeared and the remaining people don't want to. After Otonashi makes friends with her he quickly realizes that perhaps she isn't quite as different from the SSS members as they might think.
Defrosting Ice Queen: After Otonashi learns her name, she begins to warm up. This is partially due to the fact that she realizes that people who get close to her will move on. In the last episode, because almost everyone has moved on she drops the Ice Queen act entirely.
Meaningful Name: Angel's real name is Kanade Tachibana, and Kanade means "playing music".
Me's a Crowd: She uses "Harmonics" to copy herself. But the copy is evil, and can also use Harmonics...in short order, there are about a hundred evil Angels running around. They all eventually get re-absorbed into the original and erased.
Poor Communication Kills: The entire conflict could have been averted had she talked about her goals and the world's purpose properly. She's aware of it, too. She even admits to having horrible communication skills.
Sugar and Ice Personality: She could be a perfect example of an Emotionless Girl in the first few episodes but after Otonashi learns her name he begins noticing that she does subtly display humanity and feeling.
The Protagonist of the Manga adaptation of the SSS, who quickly becomes friends with Otonashi. In his past life, he was a baseball player who let his team down at a major tournament and has yet to really forgive himself, and was given drugs to make himself feel better. He died in a truck accident.
The original vocalist and leader of Girls Dead Monster.When she was alive, she had a troubled home life, with her parents fighting constantly. As a teenager, she discovered music as an escape and inspiration. Later, she found an abandoned guitar and taught herelf to play, busking on street corners and dreaming of gaining independence from her parents by supporting herself with her music. However, during one of her parent's arguments, her father accidentally hit Iwasawa in the head with a bottle, causing a cerebral contusion which eventually led to a stroke. She woke up in the hospital, unable to speak due to aphasia caused by the stroke, and died in the hospital some time later. In episode 3, she disappears after deciding to inspire others with her music in her next life (see the quote above).
The new vocalist of Girls Dead Monster. As a kid, she was hit by a car, leaving her totally paralyzed. She spent her whole life watching TV and admired lots of things on it. She wanted to do a German Suplex, hit a homerun, and dribble by 5 people and score in soccer, and marriage. Hinata ends up "marrying" her. She passes on in Episode 10.
Lady Swears A Lot: Cuddly and cute as a button though she may be, Yui has an extremely foul mouth by Japanese standards and is prone to using very masculine slang and vocabulary when addressing her seniors.
Laser-Guided Karma: In one episode, she indirectly kills Hinata by kicking him into the business end of Angel's knife. In the next scene, she accidentally kills herself by slamming into a steel support beam.
Voiced by: Chie Matsuura (JP), Elizabeth Bunch (EN)
The lead guitarist of Girls Dead Monster. When she was alive, the main vocalist of her band committed suicide. She blamed herself on her death and gave up music ever since.
Informed Ability: According to Hinata, she's very athletic. Zig zagged, as while we never got to see her play in the baseball episode (she was on Takamatsu's team, apparently), in episode 6, she leapt out of the window very quickly when Naoi showed up.
Mahjong: She's really good at it — unless you believe Sekine's account in the Gi De Mo short story, in which case she's an incredibly audacious cheater. (In Sekine's account, Hisako palms three tiles and then claims victory with only three melds instead of four.)
Name's the Same: Shiori Sekine is the Base Ball Bear's bassist/back-vocalist.
Screwy Squirrel: She enjoys playing tricks on others to see their reaction.
Unreliable Narrator: The Gi De Mo short stories that accompanied the light novel are supposed to be her journal entries. Each one ends with her band-mates discovering the journal and objecting to how they're being portrayed — among other things, Iwasawa is depicted as a crazy perfectionist with an Irish accent, Hisako is shown cheating at Mahjong, and Irie plays tricks on the NPCs.
Dance Battler: Not necessarily battling using his dancing skills. He just dances well and can fight.
Episode 12, he takes out Shadows using his dancing techniques.
Dead Star Walking: Some sources say TK was intended to be a rapper and possibly black, i.e. TwopacK. If this was the joke the author intended to make, then this dead star had been walking around outside heaven for more than a decade!
The supposed rival of Otonashi, Noda wields a massive halberd compared to the guns favoured by the rest of the SSS. However, this is mostly played for laughs rather than taken seriously, as Otonashi doesn't take their 'rivalry' even remotely seriously.
Was Student Council Vice-President. He then became President when Angel was kicked out for her "bad" grades. He believes that he is God. When alive, his brother was his father's apprentice in pottery, while he remained in his room, ignored by the world. Then his brother died and he had to take his place, but wasn't nearly as good at the craft as his brother. Having no choice but to live his life as someone else he began to think that his entire life was a charade. It gets worse: just as he was getting the hang of the pottery thing and became determined to be the best, his father became bedridden, unable to teach him further. Without the strict training regimen, Naoi never gets better at the craft and his life, which he perceives wasn't his to begin with, is now pointless.
He never pulls off anything personally impressive. His threat came from turning NPCs into a personal armed army that the SSS refused to harm due to a code of honor. Untrained NPCs would have given minimal aid against the rogue Tenshis and the nature of the Shadows would have made said ability useless entirely.
Start of Darkness: Anyone going through what he went through would wind up with an overly inflated ego if they're insecure enough about themselves. And damn, was that poor blighter insecure about himself several times over.
They were murdered when robbers invaded Yuri's home. They depended on her to find something valuable so that the robbers wouldn't have to kill them. Every 10 minutes that pass, they kill a child. Yuri couldn't find anything and the police came 30 minutes later.
Anyone Can Die: Yuri found out the hard way when they were felled by burglars.
Otonashi's younger sister. The only reason why he lived is to see her and buy her random manga. She dies, and because of her death, Otonashi sees that his sister had more life than he did despite being bedridden.
Colour Coded Characters: Their uniforms contrast strongly with those worn by members of the SSS. They also almost never have hair colours different from a very dark brown or black (but not hazel or grey).
The Stoic: Takamatsu. Other NPCs do display emotion, especially during a Girls Dead Monster performance.
The NPC controlling the computers behind the Shadows in episode 12 plays this straight, even admitting that he's incapable of emotions.