First Impressions – Death Parade


Bartender, give me a Death in the Afternoon.

I loved Death Billiards so when I first heard about this getting an actual series, I was beside myself in glee. The concept of a death game is nothing new but the presentation is all that matters and the characters in the OVA had me invested enough to look forward to this. Not to mention, isn’t the opening one of the best of season?
Ah, yes, another show with a game where people put their lives on the line. Excellent. And if every OP from now on contained the characters dancing fabulously (whether it fits in with the series premise or not), I would be totally okay with that.

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// Marriage Counselling 101 Well, isn’t this a cheery show. Since the point of Queen Decim seems to be judging how people acted during life, it seems that the anime will be showing a constant stream of awful people and then watch them reveal just how awful they were. There’s potential in here for not so awful people in here too probably, but that doesn’t quite make for an exciting “game” like the one shown this time. What they did well this episode was emphasize just how equally terrible the couple was. Takeshi looked pretty bad for most of the episode, but they evened it out in the end with Machiko’s outburst. Maybe this version of the anime will be different, but something that was emphasized in the OVA was the fact that when the people playing the game got off the elevator, they both had an equal chance at either door. The reason for the couple’s death in the first place was Takashi’s jealousy getting out of hand. If Machiko hadn’t revealed her true bitch levels right before the game ended, maybe she could have been reincarnated instead.

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Though between this episode and the OVA, the point of the games doesn’t seem to be that the winner of the game is the winner overall. Instead, it seems to be to drive the competitors into a corner and then have them reveal the worst about themselves. How this is judged seems to be a little vague right now, but maybe they’ll explain it later through Onna. Or maybe they’ll leave the way each person’s life is judged vague, since they did that with the final decision of which player went where in the OVA ambiguous. This was fine since the OVA was a one off, but it might get tedious quickly in the anime series if the only answer after every game was just “decide for yourself who went where”. Maybe it could be more artsy and say something deeper about how we judge people’s sins in society if they just left out the answer, but the show might also turn off some viewers if things aren’t direct. So this is fine.

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// Life is a Gamble – You’ve heard of this phrase haven’t you? And this anime plays right into this concept and takes it to death’s doors in the form of Queen Decim: a bar with amazing depth and space. The condition of course is the time of death being same and between two people to make the death match interesting. A very interesting format, which would fall on its face if the characters weren’t engaging enough. But they are, sometimes perversely so for now.

Though, we don’t know much about the permanent cast yet, but one can easily label Decim as a stone-faced, emotionless guy. Why is he so serious? Well, because his job is and I can assume, being the moderator of many death matches really does take a toll on a person, even if they are the supernatural kind. I’m really interested in finding out about Decim and his crew showcased in the opening. I have a feeling that Queen Decim is not the only bar in the business but there are others as well to manage the volume of dead people traffic, if you will. At least Onna seems to be the new girl, trying to understand her duties. Most probably we will be getting most of the information dump in lieu of her, which I’ll look forward to.

I was wondering how they would handle the topic of the characters (the ones playing the game) being dead, since that was a rather large twist in the OVA and anyone coming from the OVA would know about their state, thus spoiling the surprise. They played it pretty much the same as the OVA in terms of importance, and knowing it beforehand didn’t really ruin anything either, since there was enough other drama going on to keep things interesting instead of relying on the twist to carry the episode. So yeah, I really enjoyed this! The art style is kind of different and of course, the subject matter of the show also really appeals to me. It seems like the next episode goes into how Queen Decim works, now that the anime’s plot has been explained. Hopefully though they manage to keep the games interesting as the anime progresses.

Winter hasn’t been much exciting except for the few favourites returning in their full glory. However, Death Parade is one of the promising titles that at least held its own mettle against the big returning franchises. The first episode was not perfect and there were some execution issues but overall still, some very interesting messages were given. Not to mention, the animation was fluid and character designs, very distinct.

To err is human after all and even when people are happy, no one knows the underlying feeling except for the actual person and brain is sure full of contradictions. However jarring the emotional roller coaster was, I liked this a lot and I’ll be following this closely. For people who are interested more from the anime, definitely do keep an eye out on their official twitter, which is full of goodies.

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Episode 2 review coming very soon!


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23 Responses to “First Impressions – Death Parade”

  1. skylion says:

    Well, there’s always the alternate take on the OP…it’s much more manly…

    I really dug the crapstorm after this episode aired. Sooooo many opinions!

    About the only thing I can offer is a bit I’ve heard about reincarnation. Aren’t you supposed to get off that cycle? I don’t know if the void means you’re free of it or not. I guess Nona will explain things to us?

    …or does she seem the helpful sort?

    • JapanInspired says:

      I think the void means, that your soul gets no right to be reborn, and you either die forever of maybe you just live in a space where there is nothing.

      And getting off the cycle, are you talking about how your soul is supposed to get rid of all the greedy emotions, after what you go to heaven? or some sort.
      I don’t really know much about this.

      • skylion says:

        Well, life is suffering, and you keep on suffering cause you get reborn all the time. So stop being reborn and you’ll stop suffering. Or so that is what I’m lead to believe about reincarnation.

        • JPNIgor says:

          Well, I guess that’s one of the point of views about reincarnation. I guess it’s in the Buddhism or Hinduism that this point of view is very common. This show clearly has an opposite viewpoint. After all, if your soul is sent to the void, where there’s nothing but the void, you don’t stop suffering. And it’s clearly referenced as hell. And certain people would prefer to go back to life than being in the nothingness that the void must be.

          My question is, who are the arbiters and why are they there. How did they get to that position?

        • JapanInspired says:

          Wow, Skylion, what a pessimistic way of thinking, bad day?
          I respect your opinion. But isn’t it better to live a life, rather that living forever in nowhere…just a blank space with nothing?

          Cant say that I dont understand you, though. Being a person, that has actually though about ending my life at some point. Not getting into the details, lets just say…it’s because of exremely fragile health. Still you find some things that can make you happy. Even if shit keeps hitting the fan year after year.

          • skylion says:

            No. I did say “lead to believe about…” not subscribe to…

            But as a reply @JP. I’m not sure at this point if it is a distinction in the translation or not, but I don’t think they go to either heaven or hell…and if they do it’s a syncretic Buddhist/Shinto version, not the Abrahamic one…

            • JPNIgor says:

              Yeah, as I said it a “heaven” or “hell”, it’s not exactly that. It will be explained in the second episode, so I’m not going any further here.

  2. Irenesharda says:

    I tried this show, and it was okay, but a little too dark and depressing though for my tastes. I hear it’s really popular though with fans but it just didn’t click with me. I’m not one to watch the dark side of humanity getting brought to the light every episode.

    However, I really loved the OP though, so that was a plus! 😀

    • BlackBriar says:

      watch the dark side of humanity getting brought to the light

      “I’ll show you. When the chips are down, these… uh, these “civilized” people… They’ll eat each other”

      • Irenesharda says:

        I guess that may be why I don’t really care for The Dark Knight either. *avoids a barrage of rotten tomatoes*

        I’m sorry, I just don’t! 🙂

  3. Highway says:

    I’ll wait until you get a 2nd episode post to really talk too much about the particulars of the match between Machiko and Takashi. I think the show introduces some really interesting concepts, and if it stays away from trying to one-up itself every week, it will probably be a good show throughout. It really doesn’t need to have increasingly awful people.

    • skylion says:

      …I kinda want an increase in awful, if only to see if they can be both creative and pertinent with that sort of quality.

    • BlackBriar says:

      With human nature involved, we don’t know what we’ll get. Maybe people who did bad things for a justifiable reason. Something that may have been unavoidable.

  4. akagami says:

    Not my genre so I haven’t gone anywhere near this. But I did watch the OP, since I like watching dancing. Liked the nicely animated ballroom dancing ^_^

    • Irenesharda says:

      That OP is awesome, I’ve already watched it several times. Though I don’t know if “ballroom” dancing is what I would call it. LOL

      They actually felt as if they had stepped out of Saturday Night Fever. 😛

  5. JapanInspired says:

    Moral of the story, Kids.
    “To know a thing well, know its limits. Only when pushed beyond its tolerances will true nature be seen.” – The Amtal Rule (Chapter House: Dune).

  6. JapanInspired says:

    Love their music choice for the OP….for a psychological anime.

    Darn that song is catchy.

  7. belatkuro says:

    After Ginko lived a long life as a Mushishi, he became a bartender in the afterlife 😛

    I had the OVA downloaded at one point but I just sort of forgot to watch it until it disappeared from my hard disk.
    But so far so good. It could get tedious if it’s going to be a judgement one episode, introspection next episode. Unless it’s the sort of like Mushishi that can be self-contained and not have an overarching plot. Though having people baring their awful selves every episode can be tiring on its own. We’ll see.

    • BlackBriar says:

      After Ginko lived a long life as a Mushishi, he became a bartender in the afterlife 😛

      Hahaha!! That can actually work out. Both are emotionally reserved, not very sociable, don’t beat around the bush and have snowy white hair covering one of the eyes.

  8. JPNIgor says:

    The OP was so awesome hahaha I love it when they put these stone-faced character to make ridiculous dance moves. And Nona dancing was pretty good too.

    Well, the first episode was a repeat of what the OVA was. They put people to play a gruesome game and midway, they reveal their true nature. If it’s going to have some formulaic take, this will be the basic structure of the episodes.

    The point really isn’t to win, but the players unfortunately doesn’t know. It’s a fact, because you can see Takeshi, who was the “bad guy” for the majority of the episode being sent to “heaven” even though he lost.

    Second episode will be weaker, but it will give quite a lot of exposition to the world they live in, which is important too.

  9. BlackBriar says:

    So this doesn’t include coverage on the second episode. I watched that a few hours ago. Guess that will have to wait.

    Anyway, quite dark and unsettling. You’re really attracted to these morbid settings, aren’t you? From this opening episode alone, the series is blatantly saying “everyone is hiding behind a mask”. It’s a dicey, brutal way of judging a person’s character, determining what they’ll do when their back is against the wall. Often times, it shows the person has a profound ugliness in them. Kind of sad such things are reality and can’t be helped because they’ll always be around. At the same time, seeing these situations prompts a self-evaluation and in my opinion, should be considered necessary. Sometimes, people can lose sight of everything that makes them who they are.

    I’m wondering how this whole arbitrary creation is indispensable in passing judgment on where the soul is meant to go when a person dies. In essence, the arbiters are playing grim reapers. Their character designs are creepy but their eyes make it more-so. Idealistically, all that should’ve been accounted for in how a human has lived their life from beginning to end. This gives the impression for the judged to have a chance at a “get out of jail free” card.

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