Death Parade Review

What aspect of our lives defines us? Is it the choices we make or the ones we don’t? Death Parade makes us question what really is right or wrong and amazingly flips it on its head.

Synopsis
There’s a space that exists between death and rebirth. A space where those that die in close timeframe are brought to be put in judgement by arbiters. As people enter in sets of two, they are greeted by an arbiter before being explained that they must play a game.

These humans don’t recall that they have died and don’t recall major key points in their lives. While most are confused by this existence, they are not allowed to leave until they have played their game.

Over time, while playing their chosen game, the pair begin to recall aspects of their lives that could tip their emotions for better or for worst. It’s this reaction that they show that will ultimately decide if they will be allowed to be reborn, or to be cast into the void, never to return.

Story
It’s rare that an anime comes along that can really cause you to think about decisions and actions. Writing that makes you pose question to what is happening e1deathparade09and then twist your conclusions to the point that you question yourself. Death Parade is one of those shows.

As each pair of humans enter the domain of the arbiters, preconceived notions begin to flow from my mind as I tried to unravel things before they could really be allowed to. Then as the turns begin to happen, I quickly tried to recalculate my decision.

Even still, when the dust settles on each judgement, the writing always managed to make me question what was really right. Beyond even that, there was also an early feeling of mistakes being made that cost people their souls. Establishing early on that things aren’t always rosy in this existence.

At times, these revelations, human outcries, and struggles were enough to provide a great deal of gut-wrenching tension and emotion. So much that I had a few points of tear shed for the characters and a moment of feeling quite shattered by what had transpired.  That’s not to say the show is depressing from beginning to end.  It still manages to have moments of breathers and some extremely feel-good moments with certain characters.

deathparade02While the show does take on many cases of judgements, there was also an overarching plot that involved the focus arbiter Decim, his human assistant, and the other beings that run the system and its many workers. A system of gathering the memories of the dead, piecing them together, transferring them to arbiters, passing judgements, and sending souls to their destination.

At first, the highlighting of this background story felt off-putting in that it drew time away from the genius storytelling in the individual judgements. However, over time, these elements came into play for a very satisfying conclusion in the final judgement.

Animation
Studio Madhouse has some very visually exceptional shows under its belt, and Death Parade is no exception. While most of the series does have long dialog exchanges, it never allows the eyes to get bored. Instead, some visually eery and interesting set pieces provided to set the mood and allow for a sense of wonder.

The mannequins populating the bar, the room full of wine glasses capturing blood deathparade04drops, the memory halls, the universe billiard set; everything is creatively crafted and immersive. Man, what I wouldn’t give to play billiards with planets.

Verdict
It can’t be overstated that Death Parade is a fantastic series with some amazing and thought-provoking scenarios that shouldn’t be missed. It’s a rare show that only comes along once every year or so and solidifies why I love anime. Unique and inventive writing that I want more of. Yuzuru Tachikawa, you have my attention sir.

Interested in watching Death Parade? As of this review, it is currently streaming on Funimation.com.

THUMBS UP!

REVIEW VERDICT:
Great!

Goods:

  • Amazing writing
  • Thought-provoking
  • Great visuals and music

Bads:

  • Some aspects lost in translation?
  • It ended..
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Co-Founder of OtakuSpirit.com and Co-Host of the OtakuSpirit Animecast. A huge fan of anime since the early 1990s, consuming over 800 shows. While he's late to the collecting scene, he's found a lot of joy in filling his DVD/Blu-ray collection as well as collecting figures. Once a week, he posts unboxing and feature videos on anime goods to YouTube.