Unlike death, Death Parade is no ordinary show. It’s rather extraordinary with an emphasis on the concept of death and expanding it into a game style format. But it’s more than also just simply playing a game because we see the ins and outs of what the players/characters are like. To put it figuratively, it’s more like playing life and death itself. The way the show operates is different than the usual survival game. This is because the characters are already dead. So what does Death Parade offer in its own little world?
The show is produced by Madhouse that runs for 1-cour. But more
interestingly, the series is actually an expanded version of “Death Billiards”, a half hour short that was apparently successful enough to spawn this full television show. And to be honest, I am quite glad it did.
As the series is built on the very essence of death, there’s also an understanding the show brings in about it. Every episode revolves around something that our characters experienced in their past life that somehow led them there. For what’s worth, Death Parade unfolds as a series about lessons – to really let the characters know why they are there. The games (determined differently every episode) reveals the secrets of the participants and also decide their ultimate fate. It’s quite thought provoking since the series capitalizes on these ideas and really deliver its potentials. The games’ winner or loser isn’t really what’s important as it focuses down on the morality of the participants’ values. Decim, the bartender of Quindecim Bar, serves as an overseer of these games. With his trademark silver hair and a suit to match his style, each game literally becomes a thriller.
Because of the style of the show, the story is neither divided into arcs or a linear story. Rather, it builds on themes and expands them with the characters involved. Themes included in the show has a wide variety that includes revenge, jealousy, suicide, hatred, isolation, justice, and other mature content. Even murder becomes a topic that is focused in a very intense two-episode continuation. The fact that Death Parade operates with these themes shows how deadly the show can be. And when it does with those themes really brings out the best out of our main characters. As such, don’t expect many of the supporting characters (or rather players) to return in the show. Their fate are determined at the end of each game. Some will leave no doubtfully very strong impressions and perhaps even gives you a moment of “wow, that’s what I used to be like or want to be”. However, others may bring disgust by the actions they’ve committed during their time when they were breathing on Earth. The endgame here is that every player is different whether they are an ordinary businessman, a member of a popular band, a pair of stereotypical couples, or even an elderly woman.
Luckily enough, the show does have its own cast of prominent characters. I already mentioned Decim and he can be as humorous as he can be intimidating. The show makes a sort of statement that he is emotionless although his action sometimes contrasts this. Nonetheless, this individual will no doubt be a fascinating character for viewers to get to know better especially with the interactions he has with the players. Then, there’s Onna (she actually has a real name that is revealed later in the show), who serves as the assistant of Decim. Unlike some of the others, her personality seems normal. This is because she once used to be a normal girl before meeting her own fate. One specific episode actually concentrates on her including a revelation of Onna’s true name and backgrounds.
As a show that heavily focuses on characters, it’s unsurprising that she gets her own spotlight after being on the sidelines. The remainder of the cast also play roles although not as prominent as Decim. These include Nona (Decim’s superior), Ginti (another bartender), Clavis, Quin, Castra, and Oculus. All of these characters have certain roles with some getting less emphasis than others. I do express concern regarding some of their presence including Mayu who serves more as a comical relief if more than anything else. But that might also not be a bad thing. It creates a balance of the show. With such a dark and moody atmosphere almost every episode, she can bring in a lot of fun. Indeed, the show actually has its comedy to balance out the series. What’s good to know is that it never fully derides from the series’ premise. What I mean is that the show never really loses its weightless suspense even when comedy is added into some episodes. After all, a mixture of entertainment and engaging story is important. Thankfully, Death Parade accomplished just that. Furthermore, the show uses these characters to build on the mechanics of the series from behind the scenes. Ever wanted what those creepy dolls are for? Or how the judgement system really works? The lifestyles of the arbiters when they aren’t monitoring the games? The show takes breathers to accomplish that aspect too.
One other aspect of the show I find interesting is the relationships. I don’t just mean the main characters because there’s definitely chemistry between some of them. But rather, I’m referring to the players. The players’ chemistry during each game is phenomenal. Almost every one of them starts out as sort of normal. There’s a nerve wrecking mood as each game goes on that builds itself until its big climax. (with the whole organs and lives at stake) Sometimes, even Decim has to step in to stop situations that gets out of hand. This is because the games reveal the darkest secrets of the players as they open their eyes to the truth. And sometimes, that’s really heading into the mind-breaking territory. This is where Death Parade takes advantage of revelations to determine the fate of the players. It doesn’t always end perfect but it provides an enthralling experience for the audience. In essence, the show knows how to hook the audience into believing the story; regardless how ambiguous it may be at times. It’s something of a story that you have to watch and believe what you see to really get a tasteful experience out of it. Death Parade shares that experience with emotions, humor, and a thriller like a human drama.
Thank you Madhouse. I express gratitude for Death Parade’s artwork and visuals as it has a great way to convey the moody drama. Although bars are often used as a place of leisure, the series’ games are far from fun. Each game has a different style and although they mirror real life games (Twister, Darts, Pool, etc), the added twist of the organs and pain carves a terrifying experience. Now, not every game has the sort of intensity as you would expect but what’s important is how the art makes it feel so compelling as if it’s almost real. The players themselves knows this as they realize what they experience. The expressions they show is also well directed to show human emotions. It’s interesting really. Almost none of the other main characters are human (although they have some humanoid features when disregarding their supernatural eyes) at all but even they show these type of emotions. Decim, the emotionless guy, even has a fascinating sense of human-like behavior on some episodes. Nonetheless, the majority of the series takes place at Quindecim bar. It’s like another pocket dimension of sorts that looks ordinary but far from normal. It’s like one of those mythic purgatory things you see out of the book where you have to believe it to be there. The artwork clearly gives an impression of that thriller-like feeling.
Soundtrack is solid for the majority of the parts. The OST is thrilling to express the intensity of the games while solemn tones delivers the intention of its melancholic mood. But what’s most surprising is the OP song. When I first heard it, I thought to myself “is this really the opening song?” To my delight it is. It’s more like a false advertisement (compared to the previews anyways). Rather, the OP song brings a much lighthearted comedy aspect with the dancing, stylistic music, and cherry mood. Otherwise, we get the darkening and mood ED song to go along with each episode; although some has different footage depending on the players/games played. Finally, character voice mannerism matters a lot in this show. I give praise especially to Decim as someone who can make others believe he seems like an ordinary bartender but far from the Average Joe.
So why should you watch Death Parade? Well, it’s like a gift that delivers game scenarios in a different perspective. It gives back a feeling of emotional appeal, terror, and beauty all the same time with the style of the show. Whether you feel like the episodes are more like imaginations or real, they always sends a meaningful message with its revelations. Even the comedy that goes behind the scenes and on-screen is entertaining with the clever timings. One thing I do regret is that the show is a 1-cour with less emphasis on certain characters as compared to others. But still, Death Parade is a really a rare breed. It’s a humanly compelling blockbuster that lives up to hype.
YES... WE GET IT... THE OPENING IS NICE... Now let's talk about the show.
If there was ever an undeniable truth it will be that death is inevitable. And it shouldn't be a surprise that a great deal of shows, in one way or another, touch upon that subject. But very few anime titles take the route of having the entirety of their content centered around it. As few as those numbers may be it's still been done before, but what Death Parade does differently is not the subject of the afterlife itself, but rather the judgement of the people that enter it. It's a show
where the victims' morality is tested and pushed to extremes in order to achieve a verdict. With this final verdict being either reincarnation or being cast into the void (something like a permanent purgatory) . The setup itself is contradictory to the traditional sense of judging, since normally the one that gives the final verdict, in this case the arbitrator, remains impartial to the conflict. But with a setup that directly involves manipulating the emotional response of the afterlife victims, this is where the heart of the conflict takes rise.
Now as good as that sounds on paper, a good premise doesn't equate to a good show. It all comes down to how it's executed, explored and presented. Death Parade, a story about the human condition, morality... and sadly nothing at all. For everything Death Parade could have been, at the end of the day it was simply wasted potential.
Now let's make this clear, this show is entertaining. Because we're constantly seeing new people judged due to the semi episodic format, every episode becomes something of a spectacle. In any other show someone going off the rockers might be the climax but with DP it's a constant occurrence. We are constantly left guessing as to who will receive eternal damnation and who would be gifted with rebirth. With the form of judgment being a different game scenario, each episode feels fresh and fun to watch. These often play out in very unique situations as we are slowly given glimpses into the victims' past. This is an area in which it excels since each new person introduced is fleshed out and given believable enough characteristics before each 20 minute run time is up. But because heavy emphasis is placed on the games and judgement the recurring characters are placed on the back burner and this is where our 1st glaring problem arise.
I can go on for a lengthy period of time talking about the art, pristine animation , "DAT opening" and unique character designs but it's Madhouse we're dealing with here. It's a no brainer that they brought their A game. It's consistent, sonically well put together and all in all meets every standard on a production level. Instead I'll address the issues.
The cast, which consist of the arbitrators and an assistant, remained greatly underdeveloped. Drawing back to the episodic setup, all time is placed on fleshing out the new stand alone individuals and playing out the games than actually used to explore the permanent characters. Of course they try to mend that within the last few episodes but by then it was too late. Any given stand alone character had more characteristics than the people we see from beginning to end, which creates a huge disconnect towards them and the viewer. They feel like puppets and turn out to be just that as we learn more about them. This isn't a bad thing if they were delegated to a minor role but when you have a show that deals with the human condition, having characters that lack dimensions just takes away from the experience and impact. Again they try to explain this away when we discover what the arbiters are but even that is contradicted by the way it is presented. There is very little separating them from your typical 1 note archetypes. Chiyuki, the assistant, is the only character that was handled properly by being fleshed out and given a reason for being. And even then she was just fleshed out to basic standards and leaves no room for a character study since this all happened towards the final episodes.
Another inescapable issue was the subpar world building. The only setting that's ever explored is the bar in which the judgement occurs, everything else that we occasionally see remains shrouded in ambiguity. The world mechanics are only talked about on a surface level and it feels very underwhelming because of it. Even after getting a general idea as to how everything works it still feels hollow. It's still entertaining to look at but with nothing that feels plausible outside of the show's own made up techno-babble it becomes frustrating if you take a minute to try to comprehend or even explain it. It was flimsily handled and with so many aspects left unexplained it became pitiful when analyzed.
Death Parade isn't a bad show, just one that wasn't properly utilized to its full potential. It had the setup to be something thought provoking and entertaining at the same time but due to the humdrum cast and unexplored setting it only passes as a nice popcorn timepasser. also the opening since no one seem to shut up about it. Despite my qualms I fully recommend it to anyone since its entertaining to the very least.
"People do not live just so that they can someday die. It is because they are alive that they someday die." -Decim
"Welcome to Quindecim", an ominous and deep voice states as the hiss of hydraulics release pressure and allow the cold steel doors to open. Two people step out. "Please, come have a seat here." The people have no memory of why or how they've come to be at the Quindecim. "One, I cannot explain where you are, or how you came to be here. Two, we will now have you play a game. Three, we will have you select a game by roulette.
Four, you will stake your lives on this game. Five, until this game is over, you may not leave the bar."
The alternative to playing is explained as "not something they want to experience."
The tiles light up in sequence, backed by a crest. It flips and reveals what's a seemingly mundane bar game. The participants, totally unaware of their circumstances, begin the most important game of their life: their judgement.
Artwork and Animation: 9
Dark, ominous shades permeate the show. A whirl of blacks, purple, reds, and blues set the foreboding tone, and the dynamic of bright lights and shadow interplay beautifully. Madhouse has created a product of passion with Death Parade, and it shows through their impeccable attention to detail and care in creating this show.
Character design consistency is strong, key frames are fluid. 3D CGI is used very subtly here, under the excellent disguise of cel-shade- to great effect. It never looked fake, it never stuck out: just smooth. Character's anguish, regret, anger, and hope shine through on their faces. While animated, I really felt like the characters were experiencing real emotions. They ugly cry, they bleed, they contort in unbridled rage, and overall feel really human.
Smooth would be the best way to define the art here, everything is neat, crisp and fluid. Swirling lights, darks, and brilliant displays of energy color the typically dark palettes of the show. Much of it takes place in a darkened ballroom, and really allows the lighting and brightness of the conflict to be cast against the darkness and shadows.
Sound and Voice Acting: 10
Despite not being able to speak Japanese, I was able to empathize with the characters through the voice performance. The high quality voice acting was able to convey emotion, tone, and mood clearly, despite the language barrier, and be effective in that. Numerous times I was struck by tears from the pain and suffering, or from the inspiration and hope that were brought out by the voices.
The OP is a bit deceiving, as far as the content and tone of the show go. It's a very catchy, upbeat, danceable tune: "Flyers" by BRADIO. The ED is a more melancholy, emotional performance in "Last Theater" by NoisyCell, which is a new favorite of mine. Both are excellent. As far as background music goes; there's a lot of silence in Death Parade, which really allows the vocal performances to be more impactful and emotionally powerful. What BGM there is typically consisted of soft piano music, which played in wonderfully with the more subdued and introspective moments.
Upon entrance to the Quindecim, we're treated to the sight of a white haired, steely, dispassionate man known as Decim, purveyor and arbiter of souls. He's described as "all drinks and seriousness" by his boss, a seemingly young woman with cold eyes and demeanor to match, Nona. Decim's purpose is to ensure that the entrants to the establishment agree to, and carry out their contract to play a random game of chance, enforce the rules, and execute the results. Though he seems hard-hearted and unsympathetic, Decim is shown to have a more... humanistic side. His statement, "I have respect for those who have lived fulfilled lives" is very telling of his true heart, and is the principle which guide his judgements.
Kurokami no Onna, or "The Black Haired Woman" (Onna for short)
is our first entrant to Quindecim. Utterly devoid of any memory, even that of her own name; Onna is conscripted to be an assistant to Decim, and to facilitate the judgement process. Throughout the course of Death Parade, Onna provides a strong presence of morality and reason to the cold, calculating judgement that typically took place before her arrival. She is an idealist and optimist, wanting to believe that there's redemption to be had in even the darkest of souls. Through her input and occasional intervention, the outcomes of the judgement are not always what they at first appearance should have been.
Aside from her role in the assistance of Decim, she follows an arc of her own; one of discovery. As she learns about the process of judgement, she likewise learns what it meant to have truly lived. Like any other guest to the bar, she knows that there must be a time in which she too must be judged.
A minor complaint here would be that supporting characters such as Nona, Ginti (who each get an episode a piece to themselves) are underutilized, along with Clavis, Oculus, Quin, and Castra.
Death Parade takes a rather unique approach in how it unfolds the story and morality lessons within. It combines the best aspects of episodic, arc-based, and linear storytelling all into one, which sounds weird on paper, but works to great effect onscreen. Each episode typically contains two entrants to the bar, who then play a game designed to be maximally stressful, or to draw on their inner natures of suspicion, deceit, jealousy, anger, hatred, greed. The characters react in a variety of ways: their desire for revenge, enacting their sense of justice, playing off their own regrets, or their longing for redemption. They are then set to be judged based on their actions, as their memories alone (which are compiled and studied by the arbiters prior to the person's arrival to Quindecim) would not suffice.
Death Parade is a very character driven story. Given the limited amount of locales (excluding flashbacks and memory recalls) we're given a lot of screentime with the same characters, but it never felt rehashed or rushed. For a one cour show, the pacing is absolutely phenomenal. It would have been an easy setup for a completely episodic show with the one episode characters coming in to be judged, and being sent away at the end. Alternately, it would have been just as easy to use arcs, 2 or 3 episodes a piece for one judgement. Again, Death Parade takes these along with two subplots (with major implications) and assimilates them into one extremely cohesive, subtle story focusing on moral ambiguity and the nature of what it is to be human.
Memento mori: "Do not forget that you must surely die someday. As such, that is all the more reason to live now."
In this story, memento mori, a Latin phrase meaning "remember that you must die" takes a front seat on the rollercoaster of feeling and emotion that Death Parade evokes. It's been explained that the souls of the dead come to be judged at this mystical bar, however, what happens when a soul is never judged? This question is explored within the show, in two different formats and in two different ways. We slowly find that there's much more to these arbiters throughout the run of the plot, that all is not as it seems in their role as judge of the souls between the void and reincarnation.
Subtlety. The first plot point to address is that of Onna, and her quest to discover her identity, and with it, her reason for being at Quindecim. Afterall, only those who die at the same time as another person are 'invited' to come, yet she's alone. Every other episode or so, we're shown a small clip of Onna in her room at the Quindecim, and each time, she discovers a new object that was previously not there. I didn't catch this the first time I watched, but after going back, it was there. Each object that appears has bearing on her life before death, and serves as a mirror to the more episodic plot going on. As she slowly recovers her memories and identity, she must take part in observing and assisting the judgement of those who also recover their memory through triggered points in the games that they play. Towards the end, she receives an episode entirely of her own that brings with it many revelations of her time before, and how she looks to the future.
Balance. MADhouse really has a taste for the dramatic in this show, however, it's not all doom and gloom. Just at the point when it starts to feel like Death Parade is getting formulaic, it's turned on its head. Episodes 1 and 2 provide an interesting dynamic in that you're given the same thing to watch, yet from two entirely different perspectives. Death Parade takes themes and brings them to the forefront of each episode and sets them opposite each other, to reflect and deepen the meanings and duality within. Episode 4 and 8-9 are standouts here.
In 4, we see a subversion of what it means to love. A celebrity mother with a tragic past who cares nothing for anyone but herself, yet 'loves' her children, and a misunderstood young man who hated himself and resented his new step-mom for selfish reasons that made a tragic mistake. Their positions in the story are two sides of a coin… one parent, one child, both with familial issues, but stemming from very different reasons.
In two later episodes, Death Parade takes a darker turn, dealing with murder, malice, and revenge. When two people commit unspeakable crimes in the name of justice and revenge, despite being for noble reasons, does that make them justified? Again, the moral ambiguity- one for protection of loved ones, one for a twisted sense of justice; both killers.
I enjoyed every minute of Death Parade. I laughed, I cried, I was angry, I was reviled. Death Parade explores a huge range of emotions, thoughts, moods and feelings. The emotional impact of this show is not to be understated. "Feels" gets tossed around a lot when describing this show, but it goes much deeper than that. Death Parade is a cross section and examination of human nature. On trial for your life, presented with some of the most stressful and painful memories and experiences you've had, is it your actions that define you, or the intent behind them, or some third thing that makes you only human? Whose place is it to decide if what you've done is damning or worthy of life again?
I'm loath to give out a perfect score other than categorically, but Death Parade gets so many things right in such a complete package of a show. Emotional depth, empathy, charisma, mystery, intrigue... It's all here. Believable characters, and a sense of connection with the events going on while being spun a rather unique narrative on morality and examination of the human condition, Death Parade is a true gem. Refreshing in many ways, this show is one that should be considered a modern classic.
"Judgement must be performed hand in hand with both life and death. it is something that must be performed hand in hand with humans."
+ Great characters
+ Mysterious, gut wrenching plot
+ Beautiful dark art
+/- Some supporting characters need a little more time
"Life is something which is always met with unfairness; there are those who live fulfilled lives, and there are lives that pass away in no time at all."
Morality is, and always will be, a perpetual grey area; it is akin to something like a no man's land. It's a subject that brings about wonder, bewilderment, and also hostility. Are human beings innately morally good or are human beings naturally inclined to be morally evil? What is considered morally good and what is considered morally evil? What draws the line between the two, and how does this get decided? There is no real, correct answer. As a follow up to the very controversial Death Billiards, Death Parade arrives and elevates these inquiries. As a viewer, you will venture into Quindecim with many questions.
Unfortunately, you will likely leave with an unequal amount of answers.
Morality acts as the big hook which Death Billiards, and subsequently Death Parade, employs in order to draw in the initial interest of the viewer. However, this is somewhat of a bait-and-switch given that the series doesn't retain the concept of open-ended judgments, like done in Death Billiards. When I watched Death Billiards, and also the first episode of Death Parade, this was one of the biggest attractions that the series had. It felt engrossing and pushed me to ponder substantially more than your average show. Sadly, Death Parade does not choose to continue down this path. Instead, the show opts to offer explanations for things that could have been better if left to the imagination. To me, it felt a bit intellectually insulting to be given a breakdown and explanation of who received reincarnation, who received the void, and why.
Story-wise, Death Parade is a very character-driven series that heavily utilizes games and their participants as major plot-devices, almost to a fault. Because of the reliance on these two as plot-devices, Death Parade seems to suffer from the perspective of a solid, linear narrative. The heavy emphasis on the games, and the minor characters who partake in them, leave many aspects about the show, which potentially may have yielded something interesting, only lightly touched upon. Due to the necessity of Decim and Onna needing to grow as characters, more emphasis was put on the games and Decim's resulting gradual enlightenment. Because of this, conflicts and characters on the side are left unexplored. As a result, Death Parade, to some, will seem inconclusive upon completion. Whether or not one finds this to be a good thing, or a complete deal-breaker, is up to the viewer's discretion.
While the games themselves aren’t all too imaginative, ranging from throwing darts, bowling, air hockey, an arcade fighter, and even twister, they certainly act as a fascinating, exceptional medium to force conflict. People tend to act differently under competitive, pressured circumstances, and that is an essence portrayed well in this series. In fact, I would say that Death Parade captures the essence and nature of people pretty damn well. People tend to be stupid, egotistical, and selfish far more often than genuinely good. The ratio of the two in this series reflects this. Despite the game shenanigans providing a new, refreshing form of entertainment, I couldn't imagine Death Parade being longer than a single-cour series while still being very successful; the games, people's reactions, and judgments would become a stagnant, tedious routine, losing its compelling nature.
Although Death Parade is exceedingly character-driven, many of the recurring characters, who should be important, aren't very important. In my opinion, this is one if the biggest problems that Death Parade has. Why introduce an intriguing set of characters who essentially add nothing to the series except for a vague sense of mystery? One could easily remove characters such as Clavis, Oculus, Quin and not much would change. The same could be said about Nona and Ginti, who desperately could have used more fleshing out. Many of the game participants were far more interesting than the arbiter crew and company, and I'd say that leans more on the negative side than the positive. The only two exceptions to this are Decim and Onna, who are focal points of the series.
Although I’ve outlined some of the biggest flaws I found in Death Parade, all things considered, it was still a very enjoyable show. A large part of this is due to the wonderful production values and execution this series has. Madhouse did a fantastic job with this series visually, which certainly did the series justice. Sound-wise, Death Parade knew when to be both proper and ludicrous, adding that little extra 'oomph!' to the show's overall enjoyment. If Flyers, by BRADIO, doesn't put a smile on your face, then I don't know what will.
In conclusion, I still can't say that there is a clear, absolute answer to the ambiguous nature of morality. I don't believe the arbiters quite know themselves either. Maybe arbiters and humans are closer than perceived; we're both left without a definitive answer in regards to what is truly good and what is truly evil, and yet still make attempts at self-serving rationalizations. Regardless of this, I am still left contemplating the idea. Perhaps man is naturally good, created in the image of God, the creator of all things, who is wise, just, and benevolent. Perhaps man is naturally evil, influenced by their inner devil, and are inclined to be selfish, jealous, and greedy beings who are full of malice and misconstrued perceptions. Perhaps man is only inclined to deem acts good or evil based upon learned social acceptability. Perhaps I, amongst many others, am not meant to know the answer.
"One: Arbiters cannot quit making judgments, for that is the reason they exist.
Two: Arbiters cannot experience death, for that would bring them being too close to human.
Three: Arbiters cannot feel emotions, for they are mere dummies."
Death Parade is a very special and a unique showpiece. It's synopsis itself is very catchy and fascinating and the show as well does not disappoint the viewer. Each and every episode is well-written and has its own charm. Most of the episodes have a separate storyline which gives a sense of completeness when you finish it and after watching it you feel as if you won't have to wait
another week for the scenario to finish. But even after that you find yourself impatient for the next episode to begin, which is a strong point of Death Parade.
The story is about a bartender named "Decim", who is apparently an arbiter, in a strange place called "Quindecim". His duty is to carry judgment of the people who have recently died, by making them play a certain game in which they have to place their lives in. He is sent the memories of the ones who have died and by manipulating them during the game, a judgment is passed.
As expected from a great studio like Madhouse, the animation is very fine and the backgrounds fluid.
The opening theme, "Flyers", done by BRADIO sets up a joyful atmosphere which is not something you'd normally expect for an anime which portrays the factor of death, but that is what makes this anime unique. It sets off the mind of the audience to being light-hearted even though there's a psychological theme which is about to unfold ahead. The ending theme is "Last Theater" by NoisyCell which is alluring and quite surprisingly it's in English. I don't think many anime's have either an OP/ED in English and this was my first time hearing it as well. To be honest it feels like you've heard it somewhere. It's like your familiar alternative pop track but in a shorter version.
Death Parade is mostly focused around the bartender of Quindecim, the arbiter who passes the judgment on the passed away people, Decim. Another main protagonist in this show is Kurokami no Onna (Would like to avoid the name being given away as it would be a spoiler) who is a human and an assistant to Decim. Apparently she is the only human as mentioned in the series who remembers her being dead, after being sent to Quindecim. Nona is the barkeeper of the bar, "Nona Ginta" located on the 90th floor. She is also the boss of Decim. Ginti is an another arbiter like Decim, though the two are vastly dissimilar.
Death Parade was a totally exciting and a delightful anime. For an anime to be great its the ending that's one of the main points and Death Parade executed its ending truly well. For a psychological anime it also has a lot of things that we could learn in life, as to remember that you have to die at some point, so enjoy your life to the fullest while you're still alive.
Death Parade was a short yet phenomenal ride and I would readily recommend this anime to my fellow otakus.
From the moment that OP first began playing, the anime world fell in love with Death Parade. Based on the OVA Death Billiards, another Madhouse production made for the animator training project “Anime Mirai 2013”, Death Parade sticks out as a very unique concept in a medium that frequently recycles ideas. People desperately wanted this show to be good simply because there was so much to like about it, but unfortunately, the favorable reviews this anime has been receiving are the result of people tricking themselves into believing that this show worked when it really, honestly did not at all. It
does a terrible job fleshing out and balancing its recurring characters, the world building is awful, and the premise itself is left virtually unexplored. All enjoyment gotten out of this show can be chalked up as mindless, because the sad reality is that this show fails to execute anything noteworthy.
Synopsis: After people die, they are brought before beings known as “arbiters”, who are tasked with “bringing out the darkness” in their souls to determine if they are to be reincarnated or sent into the void. This is the story of those arbiters.
It’s pretty hard to argue that Death Parade isn’t entertaining because, well, it simply is. Drama is in a surplus here as we are frequently given intriguing and unique scenarios about people who lived, died, and now face judgment. The games are almost always entertaining and rarely will you want to take your eyes off of the screen. However, this is a double-edged blade. Because the show spends so much time on these stand-alone scenarios that don’t connect to anything and don’t do anything to flesh out the recurring characters, we are left with a show that is obviously only suited to be episodic trying to have an overarching plot complete with a large cast of characters, which it completely fails at doing. Don’t even get me started on their “commentary” about judging other people’s lives, because the more serious this show tries to be, the worse it gets.
The biggest reason that trying to have an overarching plot was a mistake lies in the fact that the world building is laughable. I was planning on writing out a list of questions that never get answered in this show, but then I realized that there are SO many of them that to write even a short list of them would be silly; that’s like showing someone a single beach and using it to quantify how many grains of sand are in the entire world. It simply won’t do the concept justice. See, the world design in Death Billiards didn’t really have to make sense because they don’t even address it; they leave it up the viewer’s interpretation. Death Parade, on the other hand, makes an attempt to explain how the whole setting and the arbiter system works to the viewers, and the moment they do that, it turns the intrigue and mystery of the OVA into frustration and confusion. You aren’t supposed to know what’s going on in Death Billiards because that’s part of the fun, but in Death Parade, you are, which makes it very off-putting when there are a million holes in their explanations. To put it short and sweet, Death Parade’s plot is fun, but it makes no sense what so ever.
The characters in Death Parade are handled pretty poorly thought out and clumsily utilized overall, but they have their moments. The episodic characters so a solid job serving their purpose; they come, entertain, then go. The main cast, however, leaves a lot to be desired. First and foremost, the description of what they are supposed to be makes no sense. Arbiters are supposed to have “no emotion”, when it is clear that all of them do. Even Decim, whose trademark is being emotionless, clearly has emotions if you pay attention to his reactions to the environment. Considering that the relationship between arbiters and emotions is the intended destination of the show, this is a massive oversight. Even if you can overlook all that, it’s impossible to deny that all of them are just simply shallow.
Other than Chiyuki, not a single character is fleshed out sufficiently enough for you to feel like you know who they are. They don’t have motivations, they don’t have backstories, and any attempt at development they are given is piss-poor. Even with the one character where these things are handled reasonably well, Chiyuki, it doesn’t actually happen until it’s just too little too late. You don’t really feel like you know her until the very end of the show, which is the opposite order of how you are supposed to introduce characters. Everyone else’s development is just nonsensical. Nona would be a good example of a character whose progression makes no sense whatsoever; it just happens for no discernible reason. Much like the plot, the only thing this cast is good for is mindless entertainment in the form of character quirks, which we all know are shallow.
In conclusion, Death Parade is not the greatest thing in the entire world, despite what its OP would have you believe. It struggles by trying to take a formula that isn’t suited to be an entire TV series and forcing it to become one at the expense of basic story structure. This anime is not good, but it’s not bad either; it will entertain you at the very least. I won’t go out of my way to recommend it, nor would I make any effort to recommend against it.
Edit: This review contains many more negative comments than positive ones, but the scores are intended with comprehensive consideration.
Death Parade. A show that makes death feel boring.
Keep in mind this review does not concern YOUR personal enjoyment. Constructive Criticism is welcomed and highly appreciated via PM and comments.
What makes a good episodic show? It takes a few central characters to be in EVERY episodes in order to carry the stories out as an continuous series. The episodic characters need to attach to the main ones as well. It also needs a big variety of story to make every episode interesting.
So how does
Death Parade do in terms of these aspects? They did the exact opposite.
Story 4/10 (Premise 2/2, Execution 2/8)
Holy crap. This show is so cool. Just what can be cooler than watching some sort of gods judging people after deaths using fancy looking games and Oh-My-God level accessory? The first episode truly hooked me up for an amazing journey with its fancy visuals and mysterious settings.
Sadly, the feeling of awesomeness didn't last. The stories does not progress to the slightest. Decim and his bar does not change, we are just simply given couples after couples who plays different games that are only cool for... 2 mins maximum.
One critical element that the show fails to present the variety of the episodic stories. Sure, every time they have a different situation for different people, but as the show drags along, none of them are specifically memorable because the game contestants are just so normal and average with almost the same psychological functionalists. (No, there is nothing special about a reality TV star or an typical band member)
Another weak point, or a strong point as many can argue, is the all-the-way bluntly fleshed-out memories. You KNOW the memories are going to come back during the games, you are told in your face what the characters has done and what kind of past they have. The presentation is too straight forward and predictable that from the first flashback scene one can easily know what happens to these characters. If those back stories are so generic and predictable, what's the point of looking at those games?
At the end of the show, we finally received some degree of change. But it doesn't deny the fact the the majority of the episodes have no connection to the "main" plot to the slightest.
Individually, the episodes are alright. But put them together, I can hard call it a series, more like a bunch of independent OVAs.
Making up 20-min flesh-out stories is very easy. So why shall we bother watching 12 episodes? The first 2 and the ending is more than enough to entertain you. That said, the individual stories still give you some lessons about humanity, which you should have already learned from your elementary school teachers.
Characters 3/10 (Design 1/2, Development 2/8)
Do we remember a single episodic character's name? Alright so lets leave those side characters here.
The following is a spoiler of the first episode.
A and B are married, A thought B cheated on him and B did cheat but she feels bad about it. B is pregnant and A suspect the child is not A's. However B is almost certain that the child is A's, but instead of telling A, she chooses to let him believe the child is not his knowing A might have hurt the child during the judgement game. And the woman went to hell. Oops that was a mistake, Decim shouldn't have done it.
If the first two episodes are presented to you in this manner, do you still consider these two characters "well written"? No, they are generic characters that are presented to you in a cool way, but it gets less and less cool as the time goes by.
Now we talk about the mains. Decim is a one-dimensional, robotic character who is horrible at his job. He lacks the ability of judging despite being the judge for a very long time. If this is actually what happens when I die, I bet the supernatural realm is screwed. The newbie, Blackhair woman shows a slightly more human treat, but still falls under generic teenage fan-girl category.
There is no development for the mains, they are not even fleshed out for god's sake. The fact that the main characters are unchanging makes me wonder, why am I watching these episodes? I couldn't care less about those Fleshed-out-in-you-face characters and the only ones that are mysterious stays mysterious.
And mystery only stay interesting for a very short amount of time if it is not revealed.
Animation 8/10 (Art 4/5, Animation 4/5)
If you like fancy visuals, this is not a bad show. The unique art style truly adds spice to the atmosphere and the color selections makes it feel intense and cool. Sorry but I can't stop using the word "cool" since that's all this show is about. The use of lighting is very well done as it makes everything more realistic and "3D" looking.
Animation is top tier. The only problem is that, most animated scenes are extremely similar in style, giving you a slightly repetitive impression. The use of CGI is fitting as it blands almost perfectly to the 3D art style.
This show has very good visual and would be great if you are looking for some very detailed action scenes once in a while.
Sound 9/10 (OP 2/2, ED 2/2, OST 2/3 Voice 3/3)
That OP. Amazingly trolling, but in a good way. It is almost funny to see them doing those things. Does it fit the series? No is it good? Hell yea.
The Ending imo is a superior song as is demonstrates the dynamic presentation of the show by using tenor voice. Screaming with recognizable tones. Excellently done, very fitting for the series.
OST is on the weaker side. No outstanding track to be found, they are mostly background music that follows the mood of the story. Cannot be listen alone as they lack substance and compositions.
The dub is one of the best I've heard from Funimation. The choice of voice actors are just right. The Japanese audio is still more solid as always. I don't speak the language, but they sound quite nice.
Memorable music, appealing listening experience.
It is definitely not a bad show. But I always question myself, why the hell am I even watching this? Those characters are gonna be gone in 20 mins and I know exactly what will happen most of the time. sign. Why are you even reading this, it's personal, none of your business. :P
I hate to say this but, this show is one of the best in the season. It does something right, but as a whole fails to be a respectable series. This is especially sad because it could have such potential to be a interesting thriller with amazingly cool characters. But, it is just an episodic fleshing-out show. Mediocre.
This anime saved my life from suicide.
My life is so depressing that I just want it to end but then I found this anime. Every episodes of Death Parade really made me want to value my life even more especially the last few episodes, I'm crying like a bitch because it really define my life condition. Now I swear I will live my life to the fullest and valuing every second of it, even with the pain.
The music really perfect.. The ending song depressingly beautiful, very suitable for the series.
So if you want to die, watch this first and cry till you want to live.
(This has been adapted from my blog/reddit thread. Spoilers ahead!)
What does it mean to live? It’s a peculiar question because we all seemingly know the answer. For me, it’s hanging out with my family, writing anime reviews, and going to work. When it’s deconstructed into its base parts, my life really does sound “simple.” But in actuality, it’s complex, filled with events and happenings that shaped the very course I took. And it’s not just my life or anyone else’s, but the people within it that are complex, too. We’re an amalgamation of various emotions, ideals, and feelings that cannot be explained so easily. Death
Parade demonstrates this very concept, providing the audience with a marginally successful outing.
Death Parade begins with Decim, known as an “arbiter,” who seemingly tests people to determine their soul’s worth. His assistant, a girl with no name, helps him during the process, and together the duo sees their many games unfold.
One of Parade’s (the shortening of choice) strongest aspects is the theme it tackles. Said theme was just previously introduced: humanity’s complexity and emotional depth. For while the anime is called “Death Parade,” it is not an anime about death. Instead, it utilizes death as the literal playground in which to explore the idea its set forth. In order to do this eloquently, the anime essentially takes two people who hold either a direct or indirect relation and pits them against one another in a game. As these games play out and the series progresses, what we see is how deplorable we can be. Jealousy and betrayal caused through physical cheating, revenge against those who were wronged, mistreatment caused by misunderstanding; people are painted in a bad light on many occasions, making it hard to deny that we are quite vile when we want to be. But at the same time, the games showcase our goodness: coming to terms with a long lost relationship, being content with the life one has lived, and sacrificing ourselves to save another prove that people can, in fact, do what is right. This is what Parade nails down pat, the notion that both life and people are not extremely dichotomous, but instead a mix of the two sides. Trying to define someone for a single, arbitrary event sometimes works and sometimes doesn’t. The difficulty lies in the fact that everyoneexperiences highs and lows. So it comes down to how you truly feel, deep down, that matters. For some of us, it might be too late before we realize this message. But even then, and with a little luck, we all get one more chance to convey our very selves.
While Parade’s thematic presence is strong, the rest is sadly not. Part of the problem, oddly enough, comes from itspremise. The people being tested are required to play a singular game that varies per coupling – bowling, arcade machines, air hockey, cards, etc. – in order to bring out everyone’s inner workings. The games themselves, in comparison to the rather mature nature of the anime itself, are silly and don’t quite “fit” within the confines of the show. In an attempt to alleviate this issue, the anime incorporates each game with a sense of “urgency,” usually affecting their bodies in some way. For instance, Twister uses the elements to mess with the contestants whereas bowling lets one person “feel” the heart of the other. Unfortunately, such an inclusion only serves in hindering the show itself by forcing the games to become repetitive. The games usually go through the exact same process: people show up confused, they start playing, memories are relived, and the conclusion is reached. Every episode is structured in this way, except the final two involving the no-name girl. Her trial was the only shining example because it wasn’t a game, and instead utilized the atmosphere, world, and purpose it was trying to get across.
And on that note, Parade continues to fall short in two further areas: it’s world-building and in the drama it injects. Much of the setting, besides Decim’s bar and the games, is given zero context. The show goes out of its way to give the audience quite a few different areas of the afterlife to look at – the void and reincarnation, Nona’s abode, the memory factory, the worldview of death, etc. – but none of what’s presented is given any sort of explanation besides a single line or a passing frame. Meaning much of the anime’s rules and setting is muddied in obscurity. Now, this may be the point; that we, as “the living,” aren’t technically supposed to learn how it all works. But even if that’s the case, having improper world-building, especially in an anime that relies on its atmosphere, is more a detriment than a boon.
The worst offender of all, though, is a product of the episodic format and the lack of environmental investment: the people being tested aren’t relatable. This isn’t in the sense that they’re dead and therefore we, being alive, can’t comprehend such a situation, which may be the case. It’s more so that, moving from one couple to the next gives us no time with which to care or connect with the people on-screen. This applies almost as equally for Decim and the no-name girl. Their near constant involvement throughout the anime gives them a small leg up, but since they’re only focused on near the end, there isn’t enough material to make their story anymore worthwhile than the other people who came through the bar.
Parade visits reincarnation when it comes around to its art and animation, hitting it out of the park and then some.
A lot of the anime takes place at Decim’s bar, as has already been discussed. But even his “home” alone is a marvel to look at. As are most of the other spots: Nona’s house is eerily calm given its barrenness and lighting, Oculus’s billiard table is galactic, and the no-name girl’s room is refined yet mysterious. The detail that Madhouse puts into each of its backgrounds is heavy, with nothing being left untouched. Furthermore, instead of the premise hurting the show, it uses it to its advantage; by investigating the minds of the people, the show is able to concoct any number of areas with which to look at. A mountainside road, a familiar home, a dark forest; the show is able to carve its style into reality as well as in their pseudo-life location.
The character designs see the same, impressive treatment. The arbiters unanimously have cross-shaped eyes, but each is still rather unique in their presentation. Decim’s plain white hair mirrors his emotionless status; Nona’s suspenders, weaved hair, and small stature are “fun” but contrast her stalwart convictions; and no-name girl’s sharp face is accentuated by her streaking black hair containing a strip of white that symbolizes the last bit of herself she needs to be “complete.” They’re all exceptionally well done.
Actual animation is no different from the rest; it’s constantly above average no matter what the show is doing. Everything from the characters’ facial expressions to their overall movements while playing the separate games is, like the art, always given high attention.
There are essentially two characters of Parade: Decim and, named much later, Chiyuki. The remaining, “known” cast is barely given any focus, making their inclusions pretty pointless.
Decim is known as an “arbiter,” or someone who brings about judgments to the people who make their way to the afterlife in order to determine if their soul should suffer or see serendipity. He’s unique among the other arbiters not just for his propensity to craft human-like dolls after the people who visit him but also due to the human emotions that he has. Arbiters aren’t given such emotions since it supposedly incurs unfair bias. But this is what allows Decim to learn the same theme that the audience learns as well. And that’s humanity’s unending complexity. Early on, we see him make mistakes or go about judgments in a “by the books” manner. As the series progresses, and guided by the half-arbiter Chiyuki, he starts to realize how people aren’t necessarily evil from just memories and word of mouth. He actively seeks to understand what makes people who they are, instead of staying ignorant like his counterpart Ginti. His fascination with humanity eventually leads him to perform a judgment unlike any other, and thereby causing him to experience what all death brings: suffering. His creation is initially kept secret, later on questioned, but ultimately made known and accepted. All because Decim proved that humans are more than just dolls; they’re people.
The other star is Chiyuki and, similar to Decim, is unique in the status she holds. It’s revealed later on that her memories were “reset” and that her time with Decim was simply there to get her primed for her own judgment. But with this tiny tidbit, it becomes apparent that Chiyuki reflects Decim’s person. That is, besides him gaining (emotions) and her losing (memories), and besides him being an “arbiter” and her being a “doll,” the two hold opposing viewpoints. Decim wants to understand other humans whereas Chiyuki feels we cannot understand each other in the first place due to our inherent complexity. While it occurs more or less at the conclusion of the series, Decim has Chiyuki come to the realization that it’s precisely because of such complexity that people can understand one another. In other words, since we all experience the same emotions and feelings, we all deep down “get” one another. And through her own self-actualization and subsequently saving, Decim is saved, too. Thus Chiyuki departs, remaining behind as a doll beside Decim and as a good memory in his heart.
Arguably Parade’s strongest facet is the opening theme. It contrasts heavily with the rest of the anime’s tone, being extremely lighthearted and fun. The catchy English lyrics, vocal range singing, and disco beat make it a musical score that anyone, alive or dead, will always remember. The ending theme, however, ditches not only the happiness but also the impact. It’s an alright piece that is filled with a mashing of instruments and drowned out singing, whose only real highlight is the dreary feeling that it gives off.
The rest of the soundtrack usually involves laidback pieces during “downtime” or more grating tracks during the tenser moments of the anime. One arrangement in particular involves a sort of back-and-forth beat with accompanying violins that feels like the very games that are being played. There are sad tracks and more uplifting ones, too, that fit the mood, but nothing entirely engaging or worthwhile for later listening.
Voice-acting sees rather nice performances from most of the cast, including the episodic characters that appear. Special shout-outs are in order for Rumi Okubo as Nona for her peppy yet stern way of speaking and Tomoaki Maeno as Decim for his uncharacteristically deep voice.
The show’s format doesn’t lend itself well, at all, to making someone like me invested in the characters being targeted. As such, I was never really moved by any of the situations that these people found themselves in. There’s a lot of crying, a lot of screaming, and a lot emotions being thrown around, but none of it ever stuck because I wasn’t able to truly establish a relationship with any of the characters on-screen.
Regardless, the actual concept is still pretty interesting even if it doesn’t execute everything as well as it could. Learning to understand one another is something that I value, for it not only makes the relationships I hold with others stronger but also influences others into holding the same kind of thinking. So while the show didn’t strike any chords in terms of comedy or drama, I most certainly appreciated the direction it took.
While life after death is unknown to us all, Death Parade tries its best to provide us with the answer. Its narrative is bogged down by multiple issues, and its cast is rather average, but the nice themes, the superb quality of the animation, and mood-fitting music work in its favor. If anything, this one demonstrates that death, like life, is quite the complex entity.
Story: Bad, strong theme but mired in repetitive and silly games, sub-par world-building, and unrelatable characters
Animation: Great, very well done art style, unique character designs, above average actual animation
Characters: Fine, Decim and Chiyuki reflect one another but the side cast is pointless
Sound: Good, great OP, okay ED, average soundtrack, nice VA work
Enjoyment: Fine, not too emotional but contains themes that I myself value
Death Parade lived up to it's hype and I am so glad it did. It is without a doubt the shining star of the winter season! My spoiler free review:
Death Parade was incredibly original and it was a breath of fresh air because of it. The storyline was well paced, perfectly unfolded and well written. It was very entertaining and VERY emotional and it left me with so much to think about - and those are the types of stories I love. They stick with you because they had something to say and they said it well and that is very true of Death
Parade. I would go into detail about the story but it isn't worth spoiling any aspect of it so you'll have to trust me and give it a try! ;)
The art style and character designs were well made and rather unique and ultimately, very appealing. It wasn't the type of art that leaves you breathless - like Nagi no Asukara or Guilty Crown - but the art was well done, detailed, colourful and very well suited to the theme of the series. Where it shone was in it's character design especially - the designs were wonderful!
Death Parade had a lovely soundtrack that was well made to fully deliver the tone of the series and it's many "moods". The opening was unique, catchy and brilliant - a true standout this season but it was it's emotional, darker ending theme that left me speechless. I would crank up the volume after every episode to fully appreciate it's dark and twisty brilliance. I always appreciate when opening and ending themes are not only good - but very well suited to the series and helpful in conveying the series messages and that is very true here. The two themes were a sharp contrast to each other and that conveyed the two sides of the story Death Parade delivered very well.
Death Parade had excellent characters. Each and every secondary character that came through the doors to Quendecim was well handled, beautifully developed and well designed. The main characters, Chiyuki and Decim, were beautifully developed and both unfolded before your eyes with perfect pacing. The other mains were very well done too - a few could have been focused on a tiny bit more but it was a 12 episode series and in that 12 episodes it delivered incredible characters and development so I'm not going to pick it apart for not taking a few more background characters a little further. Death Parade reminded me you CAN develop good characters in a shorter time frame - and more series need to work harder in doing so, or if they can't , select the appropriate amount of episodes for their series.
I immensely enjoyed every single episode of Death Parade and it took me through every emotion possible. It was entertaining, moving, enthralling and left me in "think mode" after each episode, as the events I just watched couldn't leave my head. It has been quite awhile since I cried as a series came to a conclusion, feeling like I had been on a "journey" with a show, but that was my experience with Death Parade. It was a 10/10 for enjoyment - and is a series I will be rewatching many times in the future.
Death Parade is a fabulous and original series that was really well developed. Be prepared to be entertained and in 12 short episodes, be put through a lot of emotions and left with a lot to think about. It IS sad so do prepare the tissue boxes well in advance! IMO, it is the shining star of the Winter Season!
No one likes death. Death is well, dark. This show discover that idea, how death is well shit. There's probably things you regret or not, some life choices may affect your death. It shows how far human emotions can go.
The story revolves around two people who die at the same time, they both appear in a mysterious bar and are guided by an arbiter named Decim who has a co-partner by the name of Kurokami and fight to the death in a game. Based on what the contestants do, one could go to hell (The Void) or heaven (Reincarnation) and sometimes both could be reincarnated.
The show revolves around what two contestants we take or the mysteries of Decim and Kurokami. Its a good mix of story and is used really damn well. Even though 2 episodes in this show were quite boring and really fufilled nothing in the plot (Episode 7 & 10), these episodes may proceed some story but personally I found them to be useless and reccomend skipping them. This affects the story and feels like a waste to how well written the story is.
The Art can be described as dark while the atmosphere is mysterious. In each game, you really want to know how and why these people died, it supports this idea and is really a main highlight to the animation and art-style this show provides.
The music is an interesting choice. The opening provides a pop tune that is probably and easily some of my favorite OPs, it is questionable to use in the dark themes of this show but without it is just unskippable and really damn memorable. The ending is well done and dark and really gives you the feels after some situation in some episodes. The background music fits the show so damn well and really gives a true psychological theme to the show.
The characters are always performed well and each game's contestants can have shock factor of what they do to each other. Decim at first seems emotionless but slowly develops throughout the series and becomes something else. Kurokami, like Decim, seems meh at first but turns out to be a really feel for character and by the end, her developement scenes downright made me cry, with manly tears. The other characters are a little pointless and are there to either provide some light themes for the show or more of support of progressing in the plot.
Other than episode 7 and 10, the show is pretty enjoyable and will put you at the edge of your seat at times. It is one of those shows that likes to mix with your emotions so take this as a feel warning. I found myself easily anxious while waiting a week for each episode.
Death Parade is a show worth your time and deserves the praise it gets. This show could easily be one of my favorite shows this year and it clearly shows signs of that. If you have enjoyed this show and want more like it I reccomend Black Butler, yes that show that gets way too much yaoi fanart. It has the same mysterious feeling and developed characters like Death Parade does and even though the last couple of episodes are filler, its suprisingly good filler. And or the last time, watch episode 7 & 10 at your own risk, like i said, I PERSONALLY found them boring and useless, you might find them fun and well done. Its my opinion dammit.
Death Parade is an inventive and experimental anime that deserves praise for creativity alone, but its inability to function as an effective psychological thriller and minimalistic world building and flow prevent it from being much more than a passable series. This review may contain minor spoilers.
The story of Death Parade takes place in a bar called the “Quindecim”, in which an intimidating white-haired man named Decim and his associate, the mysterious “dark haired woman”, determine the fates of the deceased, in groups of two, who arrive at the bar simultaneously. The series alternates between focussing on a progressive overlaying plot involving those who work at
Quindecim, and a semi-episodic plot devoted to the development of Decim and the dark haired woman in their dealings with the souls assigned to them. Sadly, these plots are not woven together with sufficient cohesion to allow them to flow naturally into each other, instead feeling jarring when they are switched between. On top of that, though the overarching plot presents several thought-provoking elements, they are not portrayed in a clear or tangible way, leaving the strange world of Quindecim feeling just as alien towards the end as it was at the beginning. This plot line feels as though its start is not that related to the appearance of the series catalyst, the dark haired woman, and ends without leaving the audience with much of a sense of progress. Some may even go so far as to say that this story line was simply added to alleviate the tension of the more heavy episodes and pad out the series length. Conversely, the semi-episodic story line is much more engaging, rife with conflict and visually exciting sequences that are much more inventive than anything to come from the overreaching plot. Over this story line, the dark haired woman serves relatively effectively as both a lens through which the audience can see the world and an interesting character in her own right. Decim is also a rather memorable character who sees satisfying, though not entirely convincing, change over the course of these events. However, the drama with the individual pairs often feels either over-baked or underplayed, often making what should be emotionally gripping moments feel unintentionally hilarious or low brow. This is extremely problematic, as this series seems to aim to be psychological, and if the humans in question do not feel or act like genuine people, then the psychological aspect becomes convoluted and unbelievable. On top of that, the series alternates between being very light-hearted and brutally nihilistic in a way that is likely to give the audience tonal whiplash. On the whole, the story for Death Parade, despite a promising setting, is disappointingly mediocre and unbalanced.
The characters in Death Parade are also a bit of a mixed bag. Thankfully, the strongest are the main characters, Decim and the dark haired woman, who have the most screen time. Both of them get relatively satisfying development by the end of the series, though it does feel a little rushed given that most of it occurs in the final third of the anime. However, given how heart-breaking the revelations regarding them become, the unusual pacing of the development can almost be forgiven. What is a little hard to forgive, however, is the time spent on other characters that unfortunately feels more like a waste of time than cast expansion or world building. After his dynamic introduction, Ginti quickly becomes a monotonous and one-note character whose presence generally means boring exposition and tasteless cruelty. Nona is better, but she doesn’t have much personality, alternating between humorous and thoughtful in a way that doesn’t make her seem multifaceted, but instead inconsistent. Arita and Harada, Ginti’s two free-loaders, are both relatively funny and their interactions made for the most hilarious and energetic episode of the series. However, the rest of the cast drag Death Parade down considerably. Oculus is the worst recurring character, with everything from his awkward character design and demeanour to his tendency to sprout what the arbiters already know making him a perpetually dry and dull character whose absence would have changed little in the series. The humans in the stand-alone episodes, however, are perhaps the series ultimate downfall. Though it could be argued that, due to their circumstances, it makes sense for them to act in an over-the-top manner, but for nearly every character to be either too relaxed or ultraviolent leaves the viewer feeling odd that there is no middle ground. Even though these characters get two episodes at most, they are supposed to be the ones leaving a lasting impression, and for them to come across as exaggerations of real people detracts from the psychological nature of the series, making it instead feel like an entertaining game-show at its best, and torture port at its worst. The characters being judged rarely display much subtlety, normally either screaming or whispering, making faces of unquenchable despair or bubbling anger, and outright stating their emotions. This is particularly evident in the first and ninth episode, in which nihilistic overtones are prevalent and mean-spirited, leaving the viewer with little sense of knowing these characters, much less understanding their situation.
The judgements themselves are also rather problematically lacking in detail or reasoning. First of all, the relationship between the people selected isn’t made particularly clear at any point. Normally, there is at least some theme relating the two of them, be it the importance of family or the desire to murder, but in some cases the character relationships feel considerably less strong, with Ginti’s pair being the most obvious exception. Additionally, for a viewership standpoint, the games themselves lack intelligence, with the audience not being given the opportunity to guess the outcome due to a lack of information. Instead, the audience are left watching unconvincing character conflict between exaggerations of real people in a world with very loosely defined rules and arbiters without much personality to them. Finally, though it would be fine for some judgements to feel slightly unusual of difficult to understand, many of them are outright unjustifiable. Given the nature of the arbiters’ abilities, they should be able to determine the person’s nature before they even walk in. Instead, they are left watching “people” play games and get hurt even though they are already likely aware of what their fates will be. On the whole, this system is creative, but flawed on so many levels that the inventively of it almost doesn’t matter. If you are prepared to turn your brain off and enjoy melodramatic games, then this should serve as entertainment for you, but the lack of strong world building of logic prevents this system from being memorable or emotionally compelling.
The animation for Death Parade is very high quality, as is expected from studio Madhouse. The games themselves are well designed, coloured and shot, giving them a foreign and ambient vibe that fits perfectly within the framework of the series. The most outstanding works of animation occur in the transitions to the game platforms and when Decim uses his peculiar ability. The action sequences, though few and far between, are a sight to behold, making use of dynamic cinematography as well as fluid movements and dynamic colours. Though the animation is strong and consistent throughout, peaking in certain parts when required, the art style is more hit-and-miss. Decim and the dark-haired woman have memorable designs that contrast each other perfectly, be it their eyes, build, hair or gender. The eyes of the arbiters are memorable, giving them a more synthetic vibe that separates them effectively from the humans they are judging. However, the designs for the rest of the cast are otherwise rather bland. For the most part, they have bland and standard facial structures and can only be told apart by their hair colour and style. The more gothic designs of the backgrounds gives the bar a sense of history and class while not overplaying it, making Quindecim a stand out set piece, but the green, foggy outside area doesn’t have nearly the same amount of effort or ingenuity applied to it. On top of that, Nona and Oculus’s designs don’t quite feel at home with the backgrounds and other characters. Oculus in particular feels, both narratively and in a design sense, like a character from another show, with his strange power feeling both cheap and lazy. The character designs for the humans are reminiscent of both “Persona 4: The Animation” and “Parasyte: The Maxim”, which is to say that they are quite boring and seem like they are trying too hard to feel normal. On the aesthetic front, Death Parade is an overall pleasant visual experience that fails to reach its potential due to unusual artistic decisions and a lack of consistent design.
Musically, the opening of Death Parade is catchy and memorable, but serves as a tragic reminder of the series identity problem. The ending is a little more true to form, but is lyrically too simple and monotonous to be enjoyable. The OST for Death Parade, as a whole, is suitably atmospheric, pulling at the viewers’ heart-strings when required, but it doesn’t quite do much in the quieter, subdued scenes. Also, it’s rather lacking in memorability, and there are many missed opportunities with it. Perhaps giving each game or character their own soundtrack would have made the music stand out more, but as it is the music has rather standard application, though it isn’t a bad soundtrack by any means. In terms of voice-acting, the dark haired woman is the most well measured, acting emotional when appropriate without overplaying the situation or coming off as cold. Decim, one or two scenes aside, is by design an aurally dull character, and this extends to most of the other arbiters as well. The voice acting for the human characters is much more bombastic, but too often strays into unconvincing melodrama that ultimately breaks the viewer’s immersion more that it contributes to it. Sadly, the sound for Death Parade is rather mediocre, with moments that stand out.
In conclusion, Death Parade is a series with strong animation and an inventive setting that manages to serve as an entertaining, but ultimately unmemorable watch due to its inability to choose what it wants to be, asking questions it displays no real deep thought towards in with an equally muddles art style. Though not bad, Death Parade is not a series I would go out of my way to recommend to people, in spite of its occasionally genuine and powerful dramatic moments.
When I first heard of Death Parade, I thought it was one of those fancy, dark anime about some guys who are dead and want to live again.
I was right, but instead of fancy and dark I would now say amazing and thought-provoking. Those guys who are dead and want to live again are the "tools" used to let our REAL main characters grow and develop.
Our two main characters, Decim and "mysterious brunette girl" are (TO ME) two of the best of the season. Both are well written, loveable, and their relationship feels natural. They both help each other, grow together, and their scenes, especially
one in the last episode, are the best of the show.
The animation is good, with very good details in the backgrounds and in the games presented. The soundtrack is smooth and nice. It matches with the scenary and the tones of the story, but nothing amazing.
What was indeed amazing was the opening sequence and song. GOD, I LOVE "FLYERS" AND THE BRADIO GUYS. This OP presents each of our characters having a really good time in Quindecim, the "bar" were almost everything takes place. They are dancing, singing, drinking some nice cocktails and "living" their lives in the best way possible. It's certainly an OP for another type of show.
Unfortunately, the show doesn't solve all the questions that need to be answered. And creating a new season just for that wouldn't work for me. It would be good if the creators write and draw a prequel manga, so that everything can be clarified. I'd definitely pay for something like that.
So, what are you waiting for? Go watch the series and its OP right now.
Death Parade aired from January to March of this year. It was created, written and directed by Tachikawa Yuzuru and based off of his short 2013 film, Death Billiards. Both the film and series were brought to us by Madhouse, which makes it difficult to predict anything on the quality since they've made some of the worst and best anime I've seen plus everything in between. I can't judge it based on him being the director either. He directed Arata Naru Sekai: World's Start/ Load/ End, which I haven't seen and some assorted episodes of various series, usually an episode or two here and there.
We'll just have to take a look.
The narrative of Death Parade largely takes place in a bar where freshly dead souls are observed and judged by an arbiter who coerces them into playing a game meant to bring out the darkness of their souls which gives the arbiter insight to determine whether they're worth reincarnating or their soul should be hurled down into the void. We follow a young woman who can't even recall her own name who's brought to the fifteenth floor to work as an assistant for its arbiter, Decim, as he goes about his duties. The series is largely episodic, with most of the episodes focusing on the games and Decim's judgments. There's also an underlying story about who his mysterious assistant is and why she's there.
The story is really well done. The episodes are nicely varied and have a lot of interesting content. This is also one of those series that varies its tone, with some episodes being light-hearted (some even comedically so), some more serious, with some even being downright depressing. This is also one of those rare series that handles all the disparate tones very well. The comedic scenes lean towards the macabre but they are really funny and the serious episodes are skillfully written. It handles its dark content, including sexual assault, really well. The whole series, both light-hearted and serious episodes, has a good deal of substance to it. I do really like the ending too. It's a bittersweet ending that's perfect for the series.
With a series like this that deals with different characters every episode, it would be easy to focus on the main cast and let the one-shot characters just remain as tropes but Death Parade does a really good job of fleshing out those side characters and their unique situations so that they come across as actual people. The arbiters are compelling as well. There's a point where it looks like the series has an inconsistency with how they're supposed to work and how they're actually written, but they reveal some information right near the end that actually results in it making perfect sense. I will give credit to Tachikawa for really thinking things through.
The artwork and animation in this are stunning. There's a lot of attention to detail in the designs for the various games that their guests play. Whether it's the cosmic pool table, the dartboard images or even the bowling balls. The characters themselves are really well drawn and I love what they do with the arbiter's eyes. It's really awesome effect and gives them a slightly disconcerting appearance.
The actors in this do a really good job. Both the ones for the major characters and the ones for the side characters. Maeno Tomoaki, Seto Asami, Ookubo Rumi and Sakurai Takahiro are just some of the great actors featured in the series. The music is pretty atmospheric. It helps forge the otherworldly impact of Quindecim and the other bars.
There's really not any ho-yay in the series.
Death Parade is a skillfully written series with compelling characters, a strong premise, intriguing stories (both the over-arcing one and the episodic ones), awesome artwork, and great acting. You should absolutely give it a try. My final rating is a 9/10. Next week, I'll look at Mahou Shoujo Lyrical Nanoha A's.
Well, I've never seen an anime like this before. From my rating, it may seem I don't know what I'm talking about but I can assure you, I thought long and hard about what to rate this anime and I can't find anything other than a 10/10 for it. That's my biased opinion, I'll get to a fair review so you can judge for yourself what to expect from Death Parade.
When a person dies, their soul either goes to hell or heaven. When two people die at the same time, they come to a place where Arbiters (judges) judge their souls and send them
to heaven or hell.
A good idea, a really nice one. The main storyline of the anime is about the human girl (name will be a spoiler) who works with an aribiter, Decim and assists him in his judgements. The series shows quite a few pairs who come and get judged. But the main storyline is about the human girl and what happens to her in the end.
At the start of the series, they show a couple of pairs, each playing a game, letting the darkness of their hearts come out, and getting judged. In order to help with the judgement, the arbiters request the pairs to play a game. Certain situations arise in the games which cause the players to lose control and act out (just like you would if someone cheated in a game).
The mechanics of the anime are explained briefly keeping more focus on the judgements. They do show that the whole system is quite complex but don't go into it's details and it isn't needed since it doesn't matter to the real objective of the anime which are the judgements. The storyline about the human girl progresses in the anime slowly but the last 2-3 episodes are devoted to her alone.
You can expect a psychological and serious atmosphere from this anime. The stories of the people that come in are heartbreaking and you can't help but feel sorry for those who have led unfair lives.
The artwork is amazing. Truly amazing. The background, sceneries, game animations are superb. The character designs fit the anime perfectly. The arbiters have quite the strange getup but the humans are as they always are.
There is nothing to point out as bad in the art department. It truly is a nice piece of work that relays the serious atmosphere perfectly.
The opening "Flyers" is really nice. Even though it's a bit serious atmosphere, I must say that the song manages to catches the atmosphere perfectly.
The ending "Last Theater" is an english one. It might be the only english anime song that I've heard and liked.
The characters are either humans or arbiters. The arbiters are supposed to be emotionless but then the anime would have little taste. They do show some expressions and emotions when confronting other arbiters. But when dealing with the judgements, they are supposed to be emotionless.
As for the humans, they are the main cast in the games. The emotions, backstories all pile up to create an amazing character story. As the game progresses and stories are revealed, you will find yourself feeling sorry for those who live unfair lives. Each human shows almost every emotion from happy, surprised to hatred and sorrow.
Our main male character, Decim, an arbiter is the most stunning character I have seen. At first, he looks like a cold, robotic personality who will do his job by the book. But as the anime progresses, he also changes. And in certain situations, his expressions and character changes. He starts to feel the human emotions like being amazed, sad etcetera. His character development is really nice. From a cold personality to a close-to-human character.
Other characters include some other arbiters, some head arbiters (bosses) and some arbiters from other departments. We don't get to know much about the other side characters even though they might be important to the system but to the anime, they aren't. And some characters are in there for entertainment and comedy purposes too so don't think this anime is full of a serious, cold hearted lot.
Boy did I enjoy the series. I watched its one shot, Death Billiards, when it aired. This series is like nothing I've seen before. It's a new idea, has got good characters, nice songs, and a nice ending. I can easily recall crying sometimes due to the injustice shown the some characters and their sad pasts. Sure, there is some comedy to lighten the mood a bit but the major focus of the anime is on the human emotions.
Overall, it's epic. Rating is as 10 is justifiable and you will think so too once you watch it. As far as my biased opinion is concerned, this anime deserves to be in the Best Anime of 2015.
That is true. Death Parade is produced by Madhouse. The same studio behind Kiseijuu & No Game No Life.
The concept follows humans where there are sent to the void or reincarnated. After they died, they are thrown into Quindecim where they bump into Decim, a mysterious white-haired guy, who challenged them to the Death Game. The Death Game is used to reveal their true nature. Decim, is the one who decides who will be sent to the void or be reincarnated.
The concept reminded me of Liar Game with Jigoku Shoujo. Jigoku Shoujo is about judgement where
Liar Game is a game that reveals someone's true identity. I thought it was interesting. However, the story didn't keep me on the edge of my seat and it was quite predictable at times. Most of the time, I just feel bored. Although the concept was interesting, it didn't keep my attention for long.
The animation was ok. They use dark images to make the atmosphere look darker and scarier. However, this didn't make me scared one bit.
The sound actually works for most atmosphere. However, the most annoying part is when they cut to a flashback, they did a jumpscare like in episode 2, which is annoying and not frightening. I actually wasn't frightened by the noise.
The opening and ending theme are ok. "Flyers" by BRADIO did not resonate to me that much. This song was used in both the opening and the ending.
The characters are one of the most underdeveloped cast I have seen. None of the characters are interesting. Especially, the two main characters Decim & the Black Haired Woman, I feel like they are the reincarnation of the Twilight duo. I am serious.
Decim is like an Edward Cullen, however I know that was the point of his character to not show any emotions, however, he has not much material for me to get invested into.
Especially, the Black Haired Woman, she is like Bella Swan, with no defining personality but just rely on Decim.
Nona was an interesting character, however she didn't have much material to work with. If the rest of the characters have more material to work with, then I would be invested into their characters.
I'm so sorry. I didn't like this anime. However, what I did appreciate is how they handle the concept by exploring how people react when they play Death Games. Just like Jigoku Shoujo, they also explore about people's struggle in life and how to overcome anger, sadness and hatred.
I also learned that "In order to gain something, you must lose something" which is a quote that I got. However, the characters are the weakest part of the show. So sadly, I have to give this anime a 5 out of 10.
If you are into psychological, you might find some things you might enjoy.
Death Parade, based on the animated short "Death Billiards", is a show set in purgatory. Not the usual type of purgatory though. Instead this show is set in a bar called the QuinDecim, where the dead come in pairs to be judged by the bartender/arbiter, Decim, who decides whether they go to the void or are reincarnated. But there is a twist; the participants have no memories of their death and they are pushed into a game which will place them in extreme circumstances.
Initially this sets up a thriller with each episode as it becomes a guessing game as to which participant is lying, who
is telling the truth, what their life stories are and who will be going to the void or being reincarnated. However, after a couple of episodes the show begins branching off into a few directions. The first being focused on Ginti and Mayu, the second focused on Nona and the third focused on Decim and Kurokami. The overarching theme of the series then becomes the idea that the current judgement process is wrong. Here is where the series dips in quality a little.
During the episodes where the games are the focus, the show is at its best. The games are intense, the stories are told well and the consequences carry weight. However, after Death Parade tries to build its plot to be more than games of judgement, the show loses its direction. The actions of Ginti, Mayu and Nona all become completely inconsequential. The story of Ginti and Mayu exists to emphasize the idea that judgements can be incredibly harsh based on the current system, but to most people watching the show this is already obvious. Nona's story shows her trying to fix the system, but her actions don't develop into anything.
However, Kurokami and Decim's arc is fairly exceptional. Decim struggles to figure out how he should judge Kurokami while Kurokami struggles to deal with her regrets she still has from her previous life. This leads to both characters being pushed to their emotional limits which makes for fantastic viewing. Through this plotline, the show manages to say a lot about the importance of life and the struggles that death leaves behind. If Death Parade chose to only follow this arc during the second half of the show, it would have been much better than diluting the series with the other inconsequential storylines. Nevertheless, it feels somewhat unsatisfying to see that Nona's actions don't lead to any kind of extra conflict.
The cinematography and lighting in Death Parade are impressive. The different camera angles and mostly dark colour tones emphasize the creepiness of QuinDecim and also keeps the audience in tune with the emotions of the characters as they react to the events around them. The music used in the show accompanies these emotions well; calm at the beginning of episodes and building up as the episodes climax. Of course, the entertaining OP is worth a mention due to how catchy the song is.
One thing I also want to mention is that the show (at least for the subtitles I watched) kept stating that the arbiters can't have human emotions. The arbiters clearly show human emotions, especially Ginti who is always grumpy. This makes me think that perhaps they meant to say that arbiters weren't allowed to empathise with humans since Ginti does not empathise with Mayu at all while Decim does empathise with his visitors.
Death Parade is definitely worth a watch. The characters are entertaining, the games are intense and full of suspense and the message the show portrays through Decim and Kurokami's arcs is beautiful and touching. However, don't expect the side characters to provide a major influence on the story.
There are times when surprises happen to you when you are not prepared for them. The reality is that they do not happen frequently, at least when it comes to anime shows that have no hype behind them but somehow have a huge following when word of mouth spreads around. Often than not, these surprises turn out to be positive outcomes when finished from beginning to end. Death Parade is one particular surprise from 2015 that will surely reign among the greats in this particular year.
Death Parade starts off as an episodic anime that shows the life of a purgatory that hosts a game that
will determine two people’s fates that are intertwined from their former lives. Each episode hallmarks a unique story that develops the characters very nicely even with only one episode. What also works is how they layer these stories with a mystery to them that adds some suspense to the actions that these characters do. It does seem like an attempt by the writers to make it exciting to watch rather than a slow burn for most people, but it is still a warm welcome to make the narrative more engaging. They add great emotional depth to the characters that builds a melancholic, humorous, and heartwarming flavor to each of them. It is always great to see a show like Death Parade to tackle these three elements at the same time to have a unique identity to its story and do it successfully.
For the characters themselves, I’ll start with the ones that are put into purgatory to delve into the games that our main protagonist, named Decim, puts them into. Like I’ve mentioned before, the characters that Decim looks after are developed accordingly with respect to the amount of screen-time they are able to muster. That means they aren’t treated as just throwaway characters that we know aren’t going to be seen again, but are written with deep intentions from how they are seen as either good people or rotten from the inside. There is one instance where one duo, named Haruda and Mayu, do have more than one episode to help develop them and they’re the strongest arc because of it. Their arc has the humorous and melancholic moments that are paced together at the right time where they don’t feel awkward in one episode; even at the most instantaneously hilarious ones involving one of them falling down on a pit of big spikes.
The characters that aren’t the ones participating are a mixed bag. On the one hand you have characters that are so beautifully developed and emotionally tragic in how they are portrayed. On the other, it seemed as though they were put there as just plot devices and don’t feel like actual characters you can really feel any emotion towards. An example of the latter is Ginki, where it seemed as though the writers wanted to put in an arrogant-type character into the mix to balance out the cast a little more. Same can be said about Nona who has a bigger impact on the story than Ginki does, yet does not even come close to the greatness of the minor characters I mentioned. It’s not terrible by any means, but they just never felt fully realized for me to have any sort of connection to them.
The characters that are all around great are our two main leads: Decim and Chiyuki. Their slow development adds not only to their individual character arcs that we get to see later on in Death Parade, but also to the relationship that they’ve managed to make from their first meeting. It helps how different Decim and Chiyuki personalities are, whereas Decim is the stoic one and Chiyuki is more emotional, and yet they still play off each others chemistry exceptionally well. Individually, there is more to Decim then when we see him for the first time as this unemotional character. Obviously without giving anything away, let us just say that he has the most compelling character growth that I’ve experienced in recent times all the way to the end of the show. Chiyuki definitely has the same amount of growth when we get to know her past a bit more that is both tragic but uplifting at the end of it. They’re both phenomenal characters that make Death Parade a worthy sit just for those two alone.
Another big positive to note about is Death Parade’s direction from the artistic and general side of things. Its art direction is quite a sight to see, though nothing too spectacular as it doesn’t really break too many boundaries. Despite that, it still has really detailed character designs that give all of them a unique visual trait that makes them distinguishable. Now for the general direction, it is incredible how much care was put into producing some of the most intense moments that will have you at the edge of your screen to see what is going to happen next. This goes right down to how perfect the music plays off the scenes of whatever mood is set to encompass a stylistic tone, whether it be in a life or death situation or just lounging around at the bar. The way scenes are shot with the constant close-ups, although effecting, can become tedious at times, but thankfully they don’t go overboard with it over the course of the show
One thing to mention that makes Death Parade an engrossing show to watch is how it does not treat the mystery aspect to the show lightly as an afterthought. There are some things that are left uncertain to the viewer that were done purposefully by the writers to make the audience think more about what they saw. A lot of other shows of the mystery genre involve too much explanation on various aspects of the story. For Death Parade, especially the one involving the first episode, it leaves many things unnoticed for the viewer to contemplate about after watching it. Then the next episode puts a different perspective on the last episode and puts a whole new light to the scenario that the audience may or may not have noticed. That is but one of the many smart moves that the writers implemented into the show.
Death Parade was a definite surprise for me to see from how I didn’t have much expectation going into it. Normally episodic anime try to be too formulaic in its structure, but Death Parade flips it on its ears and makes an interesting way to compose a narrative. With a show like this to come out in the Winter season of all things, you know that this year will be an interesting one. At least one could hope it will be.
When you doing something you gotta put your heart in it. You gotta give your soul and your body to it, specially when you want to be "original" or when you want to do something else than just picking a profit. This is particularly true in anime. If you, as an "anime maker" want to just make money or make something that sells because you do need money to live that's fine, and you pick the easy way by doing a shonentard, moeshit or simple pandering. But once in a while I think that every "anime maker" thinks "I want
to do something original by myself goddamit!". You go bro! We need more people like you taking a chance with original stuff! If you are going to do this you must go as deep as you can. "Go big or go home". Death Parade...died somewhere in the middle of that road.
DP's premise is interesting and got me hyped. The idea of a bar between Heaven and Hell were the souls hang out for a while until they are judged and sent somewhere. It could have been a psychological thriller or a great slice of life. Combined with great animation and a very good soundrack (specially that magnificent opening) this anime stood a legitimate chance of being great.
Let's start with the positive side of things. With such a good premise the story was obviously going to be good on some degree. Many situations and episodes managed to either move me or scare me, with that combination of psychological horror and dramatic stories. At the same time the cast was very interesting and they held a lot of potential for character development, which was exploited...kinda...The moral battle and the existensialism questioning were used in a good way to give the show a degree of deepness that the production lifted to make entertaining.
But there is something that keeps buging me. I feel that DP didn't go as far as it shoulded in terms of character development, dramatic mood and psychological struggle. It wasn't dramatic enough, it wasn't thrilling enough, and the characters weren't developed enough. It tried to be everything all at the same time and failed to deliver strong feelings. The characters trauma was forced and didn't seem realistic, with obvious twists, poorly handled pacing, way too many flashbacks and a mood that changed from a light-hearted slice of life to an "edgy" thriller too often.
For me DP's biggest flaw is that it didn't know what it wanted to be. It intended to be a psychological thriller, but it wasn't brave enough to "go big or go home" fearing failure, so it changed to a more light-hearted slice of life tone, while also failing to leave an impact unlike other slice of life(things like Mushishi or The Tatami Galaxy). The massive amount of plot-holes and the lackluster character development (it seemed rushed and unclear, as we are not fully sure what were the characters' intentions nor motivations or beliefs) can be easily ignored when paying attention to the bigger problems in story-telling the series have.
Overall though, it is good, and it is quite enjoyable, and it does have its charm. Above everything else however, what I find most important is that is something new and fresh. I firmly believe that we need more original shows like this one, even if they are not the next Lain or Gurren Lagann, we should encourage these kind of anime. If we do, we eventually will get a lotmore of good stuff, and Death Parade was a right step in that direction.
When people pass away on Earth, they are immediately transported to a place called Quindecim, a fancy 90-floor hotel that serves as a waiting place between Heaven and Hell. At Quindecim, to determine where their destination is, the people have to play a game, ranging from Twister to bowling and even Old Maid, and throughout the game, they receive memories of they died and crucial moments from their lives. Overseeing the games are human-like beings known as ‘arbiters’ and Decim, the main character of Death Parade, is one of them. A pale, white-haired bartender, Decim is cordial, courteous, and considerate, but to describe him as
warm-hearted would be a huge mistake. The other main character is a woman with black hair and red eyes who doesn’t remember her real name (It’s revealed later in the series) so is called “Onna”. Onna serves as Decim’s assistant, providing new insight in tough situations while pointing out the flaws in the arbiter’s system. Throughout the series, Onna helps Decim to realize there’s a different way, a better method, of judging the deceased and, more importantly, to express his emotions, something entirely unprecedented for our super-serious young bartender. It’s not obvious early on but, later in the series, Onna’s acting dominates Death Parade, especially in episodes 9 and 12, and, in the end, she solidifies herself as this anime’s most memorable character.
Misaki, an actress that arrived at Quindecim in episode 4, once said, “Holy crap, this show must have a serious budget.” Death Parade’s amazing animation, something expected from a 2015 anime, inspires a reaction like Misaki’s every time, and the soundtrack is easily one of the best I’ve ever heard. The series showcases the same couple of songs but its blend of soothing jazz and classical music always pleases me (Death Parade’s greatest exhibition of musical excellence is in the unforgettable sequence in episode 11, where an ice skater and an extremely emotional piano piece glide across a vast ice rink in perfect harmony). One of my favorite things about Death Parade is its theme song, a fast-paced, synthesized-pop number containing lyrics that alternate between English and Japanese. For some shows, the opening is the highlight of the series, but for Death Parade, it’s one more great aspect in an anime full of them.
Quindecim is not only the home of our two main characters, Decim and Onna; it is the residence of tons of other characters as well. Nona is Decim’s boss as well as the owner of the establishment, a demanding young woman requiring perfection from her subordinates, and a petite but powerful arbiter that induces fear and respect from the other characters. Quin is the brains behind the arbiter system, a likable information processing worker with an eye-patch and an unbridled love for alcohol. Clavis is my personal favorite, a relatively minor character with green hair, an easygoing demeanor, and a job as elevator operator. Ginti is the red-haired hothead with a sadistic side to his personality who serves as an intriguing counterpart to Decim’s cool, calm, and collected appearance. Death Parade’s supporting cast, while some don’t receive as much detail as they should (*cough* Clavis *cough*), is overall a fairly fleshed-out crew of characters.
I think every great series needs an equally great villain, but Death Parade is lacking in that department. In Paranoia Agent, Lil Slugger was a villain symbolic of society’s struggles whose very existence was a mystery. In Black Cat, you loathed Creed Diskenth but his charm, his passion, and his uniqueness made him an interesting character to say the least. Death Parade’s main antagonist (or the closest thing the series has to one) is an elderly arbiter named Oculus, the creator of the arbiter system with a strongly-held belief that arbiters don’t have emotions (to him, they’re but disposable dummies) and that humans are ultimately worthless. When Nona, who Oculus is technically superior to, rebels against his system and alters the rules of the arbiter, Oculus’ answer to being undermined by his subordinate is not to kill Nona and anyone associated with her ideals, as any legitimate villain would’ve done, but to engage in a philosophical debate with Nona and to “keep an eye on her.” This is an unfair comparison to make, but do you think Johan Liebert would’ve done the same thing if he were in Oculus’ shoes? The Oculus issue, a run-of-the-mill first episode, and the fact that some of the stories of the deceased folks entering Quindecim didn’t contain as much detail as I expected, are the reasons why I can’t include Death Parade on any all-time-greats list. For what it’s worth, I enjoyed watching this series (I especially loved the way Death Parade concluded the series) and, while it’s not the best anime I’ve ever seen, Death Parade is a favorite and I’d say this is the greatest anime of the year.