Alternative Names Death Parade, デス・パレード
Directed By Yuzuru Tachikawa
Producer Madhouse, FUNimation Entertainment
Original Run January 10, 2015 – March 28, 2015 (12 episodes, finished)
Genre Drama, Mystery, Psychological, Psychological Thriller
Humans are either sent to void or reincarnated after death. They arrive at Quindecim at the instance of their death, and are challenged to Death Game that further reveals their real nature. The one who loses will be sent to reincarnate and the one who wins will be sent to void. Meanwhile, the mysterious girl named Chiyuki reveals to be an exception to the rule wherein she helps Quindecim do his job as an arbitrer with the sole purpose to retrieve her long lost memories (prior to death) and know her destination based on her nature.
So many positive “hands-down” points found in this excellent mind-twisting psychological thriller and drama anime. Words cannot merely express how this anime did an outstanding job in providing so much “feels” in emotional roller coaster scenes and in adding so much “horror” satisfying most the obscure anime aficionados while playing around the audience’s psyche as much as the character’s lives have been played – making the characters fight with one another and hungry for winning without realizing that their souls would be at stake once sent into void. Death Parade is also more story-based than character-based, which is a rarity among the anime of today. The plot is so originally created and developed to the point that it cannot be easily followed by any other anime and is additionally paired with the arbiter’s and the dead character’s life stories which makes the anime worth the sympathy.
The most captivating part is how it teaches the audience the meaning of life. It may appear anti-religion in a sense that the heaven (reincarnation), hell (void) and the judgment day (the game) are portrayed differently from the Bible’s description of them but further instructs that life has its purpose, is more meaningful than one thinks and that each individual must be reminded to make the most of his/her life before death slays him/her. Also, it underlines the importance of leaving a good legacy to others prior death, meaning to say showing good deeds to oneself, to others and to the environment one lives in. All these are shown through the flashbacks where each dead character finally recalls his/her own life. Chiyuki, for instance, even wishes to relive one’s life and do things one would have done prior to death.
Another add-on to this anime is its plot twist – wherein the direction of the plot turns differently from the audience’s expectations (that the winner will be sent to heaven, while the loser to hell). It turns out that the good souls lose the game and are given a chance to live another life (ie. to be reincarnated), while the bad are sent to void and have their souls turned to puppets. The compare and contrast notion between “Memento Mori” title (episode 11) and the actual episode happenings (wherein Chiyuki’s life story is further revealed in focus) is also what makes the anime enticing, with the title’s literal meaning (“Remember that you must die”) indicating that Chiyuki would have made the most of her precious life prior to death, or can mean the opposite where the dead Chiyuki recalls her life (“Remember that you once lived”).
However, the anime has its drawbacks. Inconsistency is at its finest when the arbiters abruptly show their human emotions after Chiyuki told Quindecim that human souls are not meant to be played, while there should just be earlier scenes indicating where the arbiters are slowly revealing their human sides to show that they are only hiding their emotions as part of the rules (it is what this anime wants to prove isn’t it?) Another shortcoming in Death Parade lies in how it is too cyclical/formulaic to the point that every episode is constructed in exact same way (two dead people encounter one another in front of Quindecim, are asked to play the game, then are either sent to reincarnate or to void). This makes the anime more tedious to tune into that the audience would even lost his/her patience to watch a certain episode and desperately want to move to the next. Yet, the monotony was broken thankfully enough, when Chiyuki’s life memories were featured in Episode 11.
Despite its negatives, Death Parade still remains a recommendation. Each person (although I am sure that otakus, especially the ones who are into dark anime, are most likely to devor it) must be given a chance to tune into this mind-twisting, dark, yet emotional roller coaster anime as it will keep them gruesomely entertained.
Overall Rating 4.5/5 stars (9/10)