So, these two people walk into a bar, right? The bar is Quindecim, and they’re greeted by Decim, the bartender. The two don’t remember how they got there, but they deal with it for a bit. Then the bartender tells them the two are going to have to play a game with their lives on the line, and they can’t leave until they finish the game. The two guests are obviously confused and try to leave. Decim’s words ring true, though, so the guests play. Slowly but surely, they realize they’re not really playing for their lives. They’re playing for their afterlives. Decim is but one of many arbiters, and it’s his job to judge the dead and send them either to be reincarnated or to the void where their souls vanish forever. Play nice.
Death Parade is an odd bit of animation. I don’t really know what genres you’d apply to it. Mystery/supernatural/game/thriller? It really is a fascinating combination I didn’t really expect to find anywhere. Also, you’d think the people trying to win their games would be the main characters, but nope. Sure, the episodes they’re in tend to focus on them, but the main characters are the arbiters themselves–specifically Decim and his new black-haired assistant. See, arbiters don’t fully understand humans, so the head arbiter Nona decides to give Decim an assistant to help him out. I don’t want to give away the assistant’s name since it’s something that’s not revealed until later, but she is awesome. In fact, I love all the characters.
For as deep and dark as this show gets, it has some great, fun characters. Nona is usually laid-back and mischievous, but she won’t hesitate to discipline the arbiters under her supervision. She expects better from them and seems to be aiming for a goal no one else knows about. Ginti is a great hotheaded character, but he makes some decisions that’ll make you step back and go, “Whoa now, son.” Quin is fun whenever she shows up, Oculus is one of the more affable yet overpoweringly menacing characters I’ve seen in a while, and it’s always a treat to see Clavis. Nothing beats the chemistry between the two leads, though. Which is why this is my favorite part of the OP:
Speaking of that OP, it’s magnificent. “Flyers” is a great song, the imagery used in the OP is often deep and always beautiful, and it’s just great to watch. Easily one of the best OPs I’ve seen in a while. Granted, it is a jarring intro to have for this anime. It’s fairly happy and upbeat, but this is a series that’s all about revealing the darkness of one’s soul to determine whether or not someone gets another chance or becomes nothingness. You kinda get whiplash in a few episodes. Especially the two-parter. Oof. It’s a doozy.
As far as the look of the show goes…it’s gorgeous. I mean, it’s from Madhouse. What else would you expect? Special mention goes to an ice skating scene later in the show. I couldn’t look away. Almost brought me tears. Which the series is good at anyway.
If I had something against it, it’s that this is partially an anthology series. I don’t really dislike anthology series; I just prefer series with a central cast whose story we follow. Yes, this does have a central cast, but they’re used as framing devices for a large part of the show. Again, this all becomes relevant. It just felt like I was sitting through side-stories to get to the main one later on. I liked those side-stories, but I preferred the actual cast.
It kinda concerns me that I wrote less about this than I did Chivalry of a Failed Knight and New Cutie Honey, but I did want to make these shorter. I’ll call that a win. If you, too, want to win, I’d suggest watching Death Parade. It looks great, it makes you feel the feels, it has a wonderful cast, and that OP is brilliant. I haven’t watched the short film Death Billiards, but I can only assume it’s more of the same. I’m giving this one either an 8.5 or 9.
Everybody, put your hands up.