What it’s about: A nameless soul, about to leave the cycle of re-incarnation for a sin that they can’t even remember, is offered the chance to redeem themselves on an “internship”, living in the body of a young boy who just committed suicide.
Why you should watch it: Adapted from an award-winning novel, the anime adaptation of Colorful received great acclaim in its own right. The trope of swapping into a new life, finding problems, and fixing them is well-worn, but Colorful avoids a lot of the cliches. It doesn’t play down the issues that Mokoto was facing before his suicide, and the resolution of them is neither saccharine nor simple. Some things just can’t be fixed, and the mature solution is to learn to live with them regardless. The character of Purapura is a refreshingly different take on the “guardian angel”.
Caveats: The middle section drags a little, but it’s a necessary step in the protagonist’s character development
Themes: Forgiveness and acceptance, both of the sins of others and of yourself.
Similar works: The obvious comparison point is the classic American film It’s a Wonderful Life. Within anime, Harmonie and Haibane Renmei. Some of the same themes are picked up in Angel Beats!, but they’re otherwise very different works.