The afterlife is the main setting of Angel Beats!. It is unknown how large the Afterlife world actually is or who created it, but has been around for a while before the start of the series. So far, the features in the world are (including human made) a large academy (presumably high school level) with sports fields, forests, mountains, a river, and an underground cavern.
It is, alongside human teenagers who have been brought there, inhabited by beings which have been dubbed NPCs (Non Player Characters) by Yuri, as they are not human but look it and act like it.
No one knows who created the world, how the 'rules' are exactly determined, and why, but it serves as a sort of second life for teenagers whose lives were filled with despair and pain. They are brought there after they have died and, alongside others, try to live there with fulfilled existences to make up for their pain. After, they disappear as their happiness has been granted. It is stated that anyone who has committed suicide cannot go there as no SSS member has killed themselves.
The time people arrive in the Afterlife don't seem to happen in chronological order as they die, such as when Otonashi arrived after Kanade or when Shiina, being one of SSS's first members, was actually from ancient Japan (era unknown).
There have been no explicit rules or laws in the Afterlife. However, it has been stated and shown many times a person cannot die there (it is unknown if NPCs also follow this rule). If they are killed, they wake up fully recovered as if they merely lost consciousness for a while, although they will experience the pain of it. There is also the fact that you can literally make things out of dirt while in the world that you could make in the real world, like how Guild creates weapons for the SSS (Thought it was never shown had they did it). It is said to be impossible to make things there you didn't know how to make, such as when Guild tried to make a linear cannon to use against Angel and it exploded when they used it.
In the Heaven's Door manga, Chaa, the future founder of Guild, explained how he managed to have brought a gun in the afterlife shortly after their first meeting with Yuri, Hinata and Ooyama. This is done by shaping clay from the walls of a man-made cave he discovered when he first arrived in the afterlife. The first to know of this method included Yuri, Hinata and Ooyama through Chaa prior to the formation of SSS. In time, as shown in the anime the Guild forsaken this old method and instead automated weapon production based from the originals they made by hand.
It appears that most of the rules of the real world also hold the Afterlife together, such as no one can fly.
There are unidentified powers or creations that don't seem quite possible though, such as the computer program Angel Player (which can give a person supernatural abilities and change a person entirely) and Naoi's hypnotism.
No one knows what happens after someone in the Afterlife who finally disappears but in the end at Episode 13, it shows the person who vanishes will be reincarnated with the same appearance they had before they died, given the ending is canon (an alternative ending also existed where Otonashi stayed behind and became Student Council president).
The majority of the series takes place within the academy. It is roughly around four stories tall. The academy is made up of classrooms, a computer lab, a cafeteria, a school garden, a gymnasium, a laundromat room, and dormitories. On the top floor is the school principal's office. Outside on school grounds is a sports field which is made up of a soccerfield, a track, a long-jump pit, and a baseball field. Directly underneath the building, a large underground cavern which resembles an old mining cave stretches across the area and leads to underground caves far below the surface. There is also a large underground garden used by Kanade Tachibana to grow radishes and other vegetables.
The school is surrounded by forests and mountains, which stretch onto the horizon. It hasn't been identified how far they go, or if anything goes beyond that. In one direction, a large river runs by, where SSS members sometimes fish to obtain food. A gigantic black fish dubbed River Monster used to roam the waters until Kanade's clone slashed it into pieces and was eaten by the SSS and NPCs.
The world is inhabited by NPCs, which are mostly that of highschool students. There have been adults shown as well, such as the Principal in the manga, the technician replacing computers in the computer lab, and the teachers. There have not been any appearances of younger children though.
Although they look human, Yuri has commented that they are not. She explains that NPCs act like humans however, and by example once tells Otonashi to go poke a girl in the butt and see what happens. Any weird things an NPC sees thinks that it is normal, or their reactions are programmed depending on the situation.
NPCs can be edited by the program "Angel Player", which is shown when the Shadows appear. The Shadows are large slightly humanoid clouds of dark colored matter, and they have reflexes that surpass humans. They can appear from the ground and leap long distances. When one catches onto a human, they can pull them into the ground, effectively turning them into an NPC as well the next time they are seen. They can be destroyed as shown when the SSS shoot them with bullets and Noda and Fujimaki cut them with a halberd and a shirasaya.
- The actual real name of this afterlife school is 天上学園 (Tenjō Gakuen, lit. Heavens Academy). This name can read on one of ever-changing paintings in the principal's office.
- It is unknown if any other teenagers, besides Japanese, can go there as the manga and anime did not list any SSS members or NPC students with American or European names.
- Since the Afterlife is based off a Japanese high school; such as sliding doors, language, and uniforms, it could be possible the Afterlife fans have see in both the Anime and Manga could be for Japanese students only (a.e the school roster seen in Episode 3 had all students with Japanese names). But since Angel Player is fully written in English, it could be false. But again, no confirmation actually exists.