Category Archives: Death Parade

Death Parade [95/100]

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Perhaps I’m being too picky when it comes to Death Parade‘s finale.  I enjoyed it quite a bit and the conclusion to Onna’s journey was satisfying yet I wanted so much more. [sad that we won’t be hearing that groovy opening sequence again]  I really wanted this series to be episodic and channel its progress through the people that mysteriously end up at Queen Decim.  However, I do want to say that this series worked out extremely well as a week-to-week build-up narrative.  It’s incredibly awesome!  Realistically grim with its characters that adds in the supernatural elements with the various death games where we get to see how precious life is.

Rather than focusing just on its side-cast, Death Parade presents the dead as this sort of knot of human relationships that breaks just about every episode in order to build up the true intentions of this show:  what is that makes people human?  A question that Decim never would have thought of from an emotional standpoint if it were not for Onna.  Her past greatly enhances this question wonderfully and I believe where Oculus acts as the pendulum in establishing a power struggle within the staff is where we see this theme is explored from an Arbiter’s point of view more clearly.  Her desire to make Decim more human through Onna’s heartfelt experience as a side-kick arbiter gives us an emotional roller coaster ride with the help of some amazing animation by MADHOUSE!  The nod to Death Note‘s Light Yagami also represents how far this show gathers its dead people from.  Now lets see a second season of this with a Red Garden crossover!

Just a few days ago I re-watched this entire series.  There is a ton of foreshadow about the puppets being the humans that are brought to the bar and Nona’s plans.  I really like the part of this series in episode 11 where the puppets are clapping at the end of Onna’s skating performance–  a fitting send-off from QueenDecim and into another part of life after death!  Given that we see Episode 1’s Machiko in a later episode as a puppet I would venture to guess they were clapping as foreshadow that she would become a puppet herself.  Glad the ending left that portion of the story open.  It’s these final glimpses of a person’s life that Death Parade achieves near perfect in terms of character development–  Chisato’s real appearance as the elevator doors are closing, Yousuke crying over the fact he killed himself, Shimada’s obsession with avenging his sister by killing Tatsumi again, the desperation Maya has in being with Harada in her final moments and most importantly Onna crying over seeing Decim genuinely smile.  All these situations portray regret, compassion, anger, hatred, and so many other emotions wonderfully well throughout this series which is why these final moments in these characters leave such a huge impact each week!

I sure hope creator Yuzuru Tachikawa can make another one of these just as good as this one if not better!

OVERALL IMPRESSION: [95/100]

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Death Parade Episode 12 [END]

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This is good conclusion to the previous episode but I must admit it’s not a finale I was looking for in Death Parade.  It’s like I mentioned before this series is meant to be 2-cour.  I really hope this is the case because it would not only says a lot about original material but for the Anime Mirai project.  I’ve been impressed with the style of content the Mirai program produces and look forward to blogging about the 2015 lineup as well as the Animator Expo that’s currently airing.

Onna’s arrival at the bar due to suicide gives a lot of closure to her character and how mindful she’s been about the humans partaking in these death games.  What does in-fact take center stage is the relationship surround Decim and Onna.  Embracing human emotion is the core concept behind this series and we’ve seen that with the episodic characters  now this episode takes the two leads and creates really good chemistry by this finale.  This episode’s game is more a test rather than anything else. Onna’s empathy and understanding of her past with regards to her mother and the life she is leading now.  This is powerfully inviting–  a daughter yearning to see her mother holding on to some degree a regret about killing herself.  She has a choice.  Press the button in order to sacrifice someone’s life in the world giving her a second chance or cast herself into the void.

Never has this show posed this method of life and death before:  by choice so straightforward.  We did see foreshadow with Mayu and Harada’s outcome yet this episode focuses on how other people’s experiences changes over time.  What we see here is the illusion Decim has created using temptation, love and most importantly understanding.  The understanding of how important life is–  we saw that with Mayu’s decision in the previous episode and now it’s the central issue creating a well-defining moment in Decim’s emotional break.  The ending is subtle–  it leaves off any indication that Nona has confronted Oculus literally and illustrates this idea that puppets can change through experiences just as humans do.  It’s pivotal in handling so many deaths throughout the world.  Hopefully a second season will develop Oculus’ character even more.

Judging humans based on their pasts Nona understands this concept isnt the only piece in creating a sound decision on who goes to heaven and hell but the in-the-moment actions.  Michiko and Takashi from the very first episode represent this point really well.  This episode provides a satisfying token of appreciation in how Decim feels about Onna.  They’re all puppets getting a chance at experiencing some kind of life at the bar and Decim respects the people that come and go even Onna by making puppets out of them after they’ve been cast into the void or reincarnated.  After seeing this episode twice I finally understand the importance of these puppets:  they are the respected overseers of the arbiters’ judgments.

OVERALL IMPRESSION: 7/10

Death Parade Episode 11

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Never would have thought to see Light Yagami make an appearance in this series!  If there would be any MADHOUSE series to do it Death Parade would certainly be it.  Both series are handled by the same studio, centralizing its themes around death where it brushes up with the many supernatural ideas that this series offers.  It’s a written in nicely and is a fun touch to detail.  Nona mentions to Quin in an earlier episode how the deaths have risen.  Now I can see why–  its Light.  If any of you have seen Death Note you’ll understand where I’m going with this.  Don’t tread life so lightly–  Light thought it was some game by taking lives and Death Parade [leaving it up to the viewer] provides the aftermath of his actions in a large way.  A point that even Ginti is getting across–  does it even matter whether Mayu knows Light or not?  Who should she choose to send in the void?  Quite a powerful message–  judge people from what you see or judge them from their actions.  Every episode tackles this method of thinking in some pretty unique ways involving various death games.

Moving away from the cameo this is such an amazing episode that’s both beautifully animated and contains two stories that focus on the importance of life.  Onna isn’t sure how she died exactly but she does in-fact know that she did die when she arrives at QueenDecim for the first time.  This is a question I’ve been wondering about since the premiere.  This episode transitions so well from past to present without force-feeding it with dialogue–  a smooth follow up into the bigger picture.  Nona erased Onna’s memories and we are seeing repercussions of that.  Onna is the extreme conditions trigger for Decim.  The final episode should put this out in the open now–  Decim’s emotional breakdown and how Onna is reactive to it.  So she was a figure skater that had an accident ending her career.  The Onna we see in this show is very different from the Onna that had been alive and episode director Jun Shishido conveys that wonderfully where we see how immersed or rather more alive she becomes as she’s skating.  The Director’s build up every episode to this moment is a smart move that comes off amazingly strong!  Absolutely love that entire scene!

I really like how those flashbacks provide a sense of “coming home” where on Ginti’s side Mayu is “going home” in a different fashion.  With the man she idolized she’s finally receiving what she’s always wanted to be a part of him.  I can see how this adding in Ginti’s scenes would be a turn-off for some viewers–  it’s distracting and is different than the emotional ride we’ve been on with Onna and Decim’s relationship!  However, it’s a really smart move because its almost as if Mayu changed Ginti into a kinder arbiter something I’m sure that Decim will end up doing in the finale!

Awesome episode!

OVERALL IMPRESSION: 10/10

Death Parade Episode 10

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I wish that Noitamina could’ve have picked this series up because of their timeslot.  All things considered with how original the story has been it would have been interesting to see what ideas could have been matured on such a late night program with more freedom.  Aside from this–  Death Parade‘s episode here is a solid narrative that re-introduces Onna as the main revolving piece to QueenDecim’s evolution and Nona sees that.

Shinsaku Sasaki wrote a very pivotal episode for Death Parade that completely changes the tone of what this entire show captures with these supernatural death games.  A traditional card game Old Maid that focuses on pictures associated with each players’ pasts.  No crazy gimmicks, no brazened attempts at elevating the extreme conditions this episode felt more real than anything we’ve had previously and what I like about it is how slow-paced it is.  Sachiko Uemura leads to Onna’s breakthrough in discovering herself.  Very cool how she ties into the Anime Mirai episode Death Billiards as the grand-daughter.  It really sets the timeframe this show is in and questions the validity of reincarnation for Onna amazingly well. Has she shown up at the bar before [as a dummy] only to lose her memories again and work with Decim?  Hmmmm….this provides a really intriguing mystery this show ventures into.  Rather than episodic content the creators could very well jump into a new style of storytelling here–  episodic seasons that rewind characters within a new timeline.  Just a thought how about a musical season of Death Parade akin to the scenes of Red Garden.

In an earlier episode we get to see how Nona had created Decim by using human memories inside of a dummy this episode chooses a different route.  Using to its advantage is where get to see Nona rummaging through the archives in search of Onna’s memories–  it’s great to see a collapse in her character.  So cool-headed acting so intense this episode because there isn’t enough time left to change the Death rules that have been set into place for some time.

Oculus is viewed as the antagonist of the series–  we see him extracting memories from Clavis in a really creepy way that I hope is foreshadow for his showdown with Nona before this series ends!

I’ve been re-watching earlier episodes of this series for my anime screening group that I host once-a-week and Death Parade showcases two great things for me because of this.  One–  being able to re-watch episodes you learn different things with future knowledge about what’s ahead.  The book Chavvot has been all along the tool to create the extreme condition for the larger Death Game that has been playing across all these episodes.  Now I can see why creator Yuzuru Tachikawa made this series more linear rather than episodic.  Decim and Onna are the two travelers at the bar–  both with different experiences  and personalities.  Onna is the catalyst for the break in Decim’s character which has been Nona’s long pursued endeavor.  His dummy-esque behavior has been fantastic to see but I must admit a more human side to him will be the straw that breaks the camels back for Oculus.  Episode 7 focused on his hobby of building mannequins and I like how we see them presented greatly in this episode.  Heck even since the first episode utilized this feature greatly by capturing these dummies in clothing!

These people have lost everything since they’ve died, they come to play a game to accept their fate through the void or reincarnation.  It’s this motif that these dummies act as Decim’s unabledness for human compassion that’s on the brink of introducing itself here: comprehending exactly why he’s starting to feel something for those that have died and realizing Onna’s been right all along about judging people’s fates is wrong.

As for this episode we learn Onna’s name which I won’t reveal here but its nice to see how she learns this–  through the book Chavvot.  A book that illustrates her own past is played off wonderfully well in indicating this by using the card game against Sachiko Uemura as a nod to the book.

Can’t wait to see the rest of this as this episode is well-packed with enough content to provide a satisfying conclusion for the final two episodes!

OVERALL IMPRESSION: 10/10

Death Parade Episode 9

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Wow.  This is really good if not better than the previous episode!  It’s this side story between Tatsumi and Shimada’s reveal that they are murderers that pulls this thread between arbiters and humans extremely well.  What’s more is that they are who they are for the same reason: revenge that acts as a trigger for Onna to make Decim more aware about these judgments he’s been passed on to do.

The most pivotal aspect of Death Parade is made known on a wider scale especially now:  human emotion.  So what this episode does and without even showing much of Nona to clarify this is how much of an impact humans have on these games.  We see that Shimada killed Tatsumi out of love for his sister;  I really like how this episode in particular shapes this idea of relationships between family repeatedly by showing us how his sister was traumatized, what she wants after feeling defeated by the assualt but most importantly how Shimada rectifies this.  Innocence that is pre-established within him is gradually transitioning into as the series calls it “the darkest parts of a human soul”.  This line is what makes this series exemplary of psychological horror so well.  Rally up two people with different backgrounds, raise the stakes in this case their lives and put a game in between them to give them salvation.  Tatsumi is a wonderful counter-balance to Shimada because he already represents what Decim actually is [an arbiter] and what he is trying to achieve–  darkness and the truth of one’s self.  The creators definitely didn’t shy away from this fact one bit as we get to see he’s all bent out of shape after his wife’s murder and the results are  him being out-of-touch with the world.  He doesn’t hold emotions in such high regard.  One again this is another wonderful tactic to use:  bring the distinction between humans and the arbiters together by flushing out a human character that has a lack of compassion.  Such a powerfully engaging seen where its revealed that Shimada had been the one to kill Tatsumi!  I just love their chemistry together!

I would like to point out how incredibly talented key animator Shosuke Ishibashi is–  just about every scene is drawn with such a high-quality here!  That transition into the intermission title is fantastic work!  Not to mention how neatly drawn the designs are on Shimada and Tatsumi as they are starting to play aggressively against each other in the hockey game!  This artist worked on some very pivotal fast moving sequences of the past decade–  Star Driver‘s opening, Chihayafuru and the popular MADHOUSE series Death Note.

OVERALL IMPRESSION: 10/10

Death Parade Episode 8

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Death Parade sure has come a long way after we’ve learned so much about how these different games how they are handled and who runs them.  After many episodes about the main cast we finally return to a story that focuses on the humans that arrive at Queen Decim.  If there is one thing I’d change with this though is how it has been placed in this series placement.  Why have such a fantastic two-parter so late in the series?  This is one of the best episodes of Death Parade as it features a timid young man Shimada playing air hockey against Tatsumi the detective where the narrative here can stand alone by itself without any help from other episodes previously!

Two very different people and the catch is that one of them is a murderer. What this episode does is shift the focus away from the human spirit [a side of this series that has been at least one main theme since the beginning]  in a rather deceptive way.  Shimada recollects his life with his sister while Tatsumi recalls his wife had been murdered.  I really like how we’ve got innocence illustrated on one side and a harsh unfortunate reality on the other.

Air hockey is a fantastic setup for this background because at first we see the two of them carry a mutual respect for each other–  they both want to leave the bar to finish what they have started.  In other words they carry grudges with them.  At first the puck is slowly passed off to each other playing the idea that life can be tiresome–  we see this a lot with Tatsumi’s conversation during their break.  The straw that breaks the camels back here is that both of them in fact share the same secret.  It’s this connection that really allows for their confrontation into the next episode a powerful one.

In fact I think what makes this episode stand out above all the other ones is how calm it presents itself throughout the entire episode.  Somewhat similar to episode 3 with how these minor characters are handled towards us–  a gentle perspective of life in two entirely different ways!  The music reflects this too because its not forced like some of the other episodes have been.  Composer Kotaro Tanaka chooses an etherial experimental collection of sounds that carry the effects (especially in those flashbacks) to even greater heights!  Decim’s sudden change of rules within the game ends up being one of the more stronger scenes where this style is utilized.

Can’t wait to see what happens after that heck of a cliffhanger!

OVERALL IMPRESSION: 10/10

Death Parade Episode 7

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This episode emphasizes just exactly what this series intends to do–  tell a story about the staff behind the death games.  Are the creators thinking of doing another season of this?  If they are then all this focus on Onna’s background of how she got there, Quinn’s arbiter life, and more importantly Decim’s puppet hobby makes a ton of sense.  Considering the big reveal is Decim is just an experiment created by Nona.  An arbiter dummy with human emotions.  Now Onna’s interactions with him are going to be ten-fold now that we’ve been given this information.

Running on only 1-cour is risky but it can work when you’ve got powerful characters with interestingly deep pasts.  Episodes 1, 3, 4 and 6 are perfect examples of this.  This episode really jumps around between the cast for good reason–  perspective.  Decim collects dummies and dresses them up.  Creepy but this definitely makes good material when its these very dummies that are the humans arriving at QuinDecim to be judged.  This is where the creators use Quinn’s backstory and a game of pool to good use.  Oculus will be a good antagonist for this show:  he’s already on to Nona and it looks as though he is trying to maintain order within QuinDecim.  Hopefully we will see more of him in future episodes.

Ginti and Mayu show back up and its great how the dynamic completely changes from serious to comedic right when the scene changes to his bar.  Mayu’s carefree personality represents the emotional aspect these Arbiters lack and seeing Ginti fighting that is fantastic here.

A big question remains is how will Onna draw out any sort of emotion from Decim?  From what I’ve seen I figure this is Nona’s objective and this episode throws at us this idea wonderfully.

The book Nona reads, Chavvot is similar to the device used to enhance the death games at their peak.  I find it purposefully planned that Onna’s dream sequences correlating to Chavvot might be some indication that we will be seeing her past and what her judgment will be later on. A good way to wrap up her story and bring out Nona’s objective through Decim:  quickly closing up the series.

This episode got me really thinking about inventive horror considering how good it mixes this genre with comedy.  I never talk about live-action films on here but I just recently watched the American film “The Voices” starring Ryan Reynolds–  it’s an oddball film about a man persuaded by his talking cat to kill people not to mention his dog’s reluctance to the overall situation that’s been placed on him.  Amazing performance by Reynolds and it plays off at times as this well-written romance using a lovable guy stuck with unfortunate circumstances.  There’s a musical scene at one point.  It’s nice to see two different cultures handle similar styles by crossing genres and has me wondering if this director could handle a live-action work even better than an animated one.  How about a series where these two mediums cross similar to “Roger Rabbit with a bit of Paranoia Agent and Death Note in the mix?  Studio Duame [Shiki] could pull this off wonderfully.

OVERALL IMPRESSION: 8/10

Death Parade Episode 6

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This was fantastic!  Shifting the focus away from Decim and Onna we finally get to see how Ginti handles these Death Games.  His introduction is a bit lackluster in the previous episode this would have been even more amazing if the creators decided to jump a comedic death game without any understanding of his character at all.  Nonetheless this is a wild episode that focuses on love and the admiration a fan has for her idol and what she’s willing to give up: staying true to herself.

Once again MADHOUSE hasn’t let go of the production values of this series–  we’ve got some frighteningly disgusting drawings of Mayu as she plays this game of twister with singer Harada.  Her super fandom for his band C.H.A. is hilarious!  Cross Heart Attack a great acronym for what this episode explores about crossing paths in life, literally speaking crossing body parts and the experiences they feel through the different colors with how they both died.

Womanizer Harada dies in an explosion set up by the sister of a fan of his she dated and broke her heart.  Harada experienced fame in his life and ultimately its luck that took his life and everything he cherished away from him.  It’s great to see their pasts are what reflects who falls in the pit when the twister game ends.  Once again Death Parade dives into interpersonal relationship territory:  where life and death are the trigger devices in opening up a person’s true nature.

As for Mayu, her death is simple–  falling on a bar of soaping in the shower.  Her tenacious and naive behavior enhances those flashbacks incredibly well.  The amped-up jazz score and fan service moments with Mayu quickly dissolves any indication this is the same show about people playing games over the decision of their afterlife one bit.  Fantastic work!  The ending is quite comical and I’m sure we will see more of Mayu again since she’s prevalent in the opening sequence.

OVERALL IMPRESSION: 8/10

Death Parade Episode 5

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The montage of Johnny being smitten with the girl in the picture-book story during Onna’s dream just shows how much this series is NOT going to be episodic.  We’ve seen a small bit of the dreams that Onna’s been having and how it strongly correlates to Nona’s book.  Onna is not what she seems to be and this episode indicates from her wardrobe that she must have been a figure skater at some point in her life probably resulting in her death or if at all possible another person.  That would be a interesting twist. Serving judgment to the very person she killed if in fact this is what has happened.

The two guests being a test for Decim is smart in establishing the hierarchy of arbiters and the management system that has been set in place beyond the bar.  Nona’s pool game with Oculus might be a good break away from the environment we’ve been used to but I have to say that this episode is much weaker than the other ones because its focusing on one narrative rather than separate individual stories.

It doesn’t help that the kid turns out to be bartender Ginti–  a reckless and heartless Arbiter that doesn’t value emotions like Onna does.  Somehow I feel that the relationship between Decim and Onna will capitalize on everything that happened in this episode greatly by the end of this series’ run.  Quin’s introduction is very cool–  she handles the transportation of various memories of the dead through a colored brick system.  The highlight of this episode–  heightening the world that sets these death games apart is what will make or break this series.

The fight scene between Decim and Ginti is beautifully animated.

OVERALL IMPRESSION: 4/10

Death Parade Episode 4

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This is more like it!  As much as I enjoyed the previous episode–  a romance between two dead people playing a game to determine their fates this episode focuses on strangers holding on with so much grief.  I hope this series uses more episodes as strong as this one is–  tackling human emotions between what it means to live and what people may have missed out on only to realize it after they are dead.

This uses classic arcade gaming to bring together two complete strangers that both suffered in very different ways! Otaku and video gamer Yousuke is unsettled by how has woken up in a mysterious bar while television entertainer and actress Misaki plays this off as a dark game show.  I like how she constantly wants Yousuke to play along for the sake of making their well-hidden outcomes surrounding their deaths more entertaining to the audience.  She yearns for attention because she’s been left three times–  cheated on, abused and neglected leaving behind her and five kids.  She puts up a front towards her kids but takes it out on her manger which ultimately ends her life by getting strangled by her.  Yousuke’s parents file for divorce and a new woman shows up in his teenage years that he can’t seem to call her as mother.

Powerfully engaging here how we’ve got two people born from two different families attached by two central themes:  introverts and extroverts.  Yousuke couldn’t figure out how to handle this separation of his family so he kills himself because he’s been so attached to video games and anime that there is a disconnect of reality and how to cope with it.  Misaki suffers so much that she eventually takes her bad luck of men and vents it out by bashing Yousuke’s head against the arcade machine.  It’s really cool to see how the device to trigger extreme conditions is introduced here casually–  a click of a button allows for Yousuke’s control button to pop off thus triggering his memories leading up to his death.

Considering Onna’s reaction towards what happens between Yousuke, Misaki and Decim’s involvement one thing is clear.  Onna will be the piece to this entire series that will dismantle these death games in some form and I’m intrigued by how Nona will handle this or even if the other levels staff in the building that we have yet to see will be disrupted by Onna’s persuasive stance on the morality of extreme conditions.

OVERALL IMPRESSION: 10/10