Death Parade Review

Death Parade Review

"Why did I die?"
Imagine you are supposed to judge a person's life after they have died and this is the first thing they ask you. What would you answer them? Sure you can give them a logical explanation of how every action they took since the day they were born lead to their death. That may be easy to understand, but that wouldn't be a satisfying answer now would it? After all there must be a lot of things they wanted to do, people they loved, things they wanted to say to someone, what happens to that? How is that fair?

Well, the simplest answer to this question is the most painful and difficult to understand... "Because, that's the way it is."

Death Parade is an anime that revolves around death and life and tries to answer the question : "How would you judge a person's life?"

What happens when you die? Do we just dissolve into the all encompassing consciousness? Or our souls leave our bodies and are sent to be reincarnated?

No matter where you live or who you are, I'm sure all of us have asked ourselves this question. And several religions give us their own theories. The most common of it is that after you die, you either go to heaven or to hell. Death Parade takes a similar approach towards this question.

So, the setup of the anime is something like this. There exists a place called Quindecim, where souls are judged by the arbiters who decide if a particular soul will be sent for reincarnation or to the void (or Hell?). Moreover, the place looks like a bar and the process of judging the soul is quite interesting. This bar, named Quindecim, is attended by an arbiter cum bartender named Decim. The person/couple who arrive at the bar find that they have this temporary amnesia i.e., they don't remember anything from the moments of their death. Also, the memories of the person to be judged are sent to the arbiter beforehand and based on that he challenges the person to a game. These games can range from throwing darts to bowling to twister and so on. But the rules of these games are quite interesting and can 'literally' involve the player. This makes for the most interesting part in the anime. So, as the game reaches to its conclusion, the arbiter uses some 'tricks' to bring out the person's true nature by throwing them in a life or death situation and then makes his decision.

Now, that seems like one heck of a plot but it raises another question, "Can you really judge a person's whole life based on just one game?" The main character Decim often says that he tries to bring out the darkness of the soul, takes it in, and then passes judgement. But the question still remains, "Is that one moment enough?" After all, we humans tend to believe that life is this giant complicated puzzle that we build piece by piece with our actions and by the way we live. But is it really that complicated? Or is it that simple that it can be judged in that one moment? That is where our female lead comes in. You see, the anime establishes from the start that the Arbiters are not human. Because a human cannot judge a human. But the girl is not an arbiter. And the anime uses her to show us the contrast between how a human with emotions would judge a person's life and how an emotionless doll would.

In order to do that, the anime first establishes a baseline, and shows us how the whole setup works. I think that this part could have been a little shorter considering it lasts till episode 8. So, until episode 8, the anime is highly episodic with one couple getting judged every episode. During this time, none of the main characters get any significant development. Another "issue" that I have here is that even after those 8 episodes I felt like I was only given a glimpse into this grand scenery, that I was only shown a little component of this giant machine which handles all the souls. Of course, that would take a tremendous amount of effort to construct the whole thing so I don't take away any points for that.
After establishing that baseline the anime uses the girl to question the whole system. And this is where the zest of the anime is.

Speaking of the system mentioned in the anime, the interesting thing here is that the anime completely takes God away from the picture. So, if you have any qualms with religion shoved down your throat, don't worry. The anime takes a very neutral stand regarding this. It only mentions God once, and says he created the system and left. Also, the anime doesn't follow the concept of Heaven and Hell, instead it mentions Reincarnation and the Void. There is symbolism thrown around regarding the judgements and the anime makes some interesting remarks on what life is.

Death Parade Gif 1

Done by Madhouse, I don't think I have to say anything about the animation except that it's good. It's not so outstanding as Madhouse has done better, but I really like the character designs. They aren't glorified i.e., every single character isn't good looking with amazing facial features. They look more normal. Though still, we have rainbow hair colours and matching eye colour as well. A guy with a flower for hair which can do some creepy stuff. But the bar looks amazing with the retro look and the way the games are designed is imaginative.
About the soundtrack, I will say one thing, that it is filled with "sorrow." And that goes well with the whole theme of the anime, i.e., Death. There are some pieces worth listening to on their own, like the one named Moonlit Night. I really liked it.
The opening is pretty energetic and quite good to listen to on its own.

As I said before, the main characters get little to no development till episode 8 which makes the show a little boring after you've got the hang of how the whole thing works. And since, the whole setup remains so mysterious till the end, I couldn't quite put a finger on what the characters are like. Considering the fact that almost all of them are Arbiters, i.e., not human and you don't know what they really are, you can't have a clear picture. Still the development of Decim is quite interesting to watch. How he develops from an emotionless doll to experiencing sorrow, and starts to question his own judgements. That change is the highlight of the show.
Of course I wouldn't ignore our female lead who doesn't remember anything about her past. She brings us that contrast between the current system of judging people via the emotionless arbiters and what would it be like if the arbiters had emotions. She questions the current system and that results in Decim starting to doubt his own judgement. 
And then we have our last main character, the small bossy lady named Nora (or Nona idk). She has been in this system for quite a while and has now started to question it. We aren't given much insight into her head except that she is planning something. And don't get me started on the flower head old man. He is straight up creepy.

Death Parade Gif 2
"Remember that you must die someday."

Overall, this was a fun anime to watch. Quite interesting with a very different stoyline. It catches your attention from episode one. Does not have unnecessary drama or forced comedy or fanservice. Despite it's episodic nature, it succeeded in making a little impact. Though you might have some issues with the pacing because the anime takes 8 episodes to really get going. But still, a fun watch.

Death Parade Rating

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