Things are about to get deep. Thankfully, i’m not talking about that time I dug a hole in my backyard. Death Parade is all about the afterlife, and while I like to think of it as a magical place filled with rich dark chocolate and rainbows, this anime suggests otherwise.
Like pineapple and pizza, what waits for us when we pass away is a question everyone has a strong opinion about. And a central theme among theories is that being a 10/10 great person on earth means you get to party it up post life (kinda).
Death Parade captures this and focuses on the judgement phase. But like Eurovision is no ordinary song contest, this is no ordinary judgement. Here memory deprived individuals take part in traditional games – think darts and bowling. Only there’s a twist. Specific conditions are added to ‘up the stakes’ and test their morality in order to reach a verdict. Will they be reincarnated or cast into the void? – also known as a big dark scary place.
It sounds great! And while every individuals journey is undoubtedly gripping – there are a few areas where this anime falls short. Like a revolving door, each episode brings in and omits new characters, fresh faced and ready to be judged like their first day of high school. And for 20 minutes, you get a good insight into their inner thoughts, motives and life as a whole.
However, the characters who carry out this judgement, known as arbiters, exist throughout the series. At first this group intrigued me. But like a bad movie sequel I quickly lost interest. They lacked character development – and while I wanted to know more, there just wasn’t much more to uncover.
Similarly, the world in which Death Parade predominantly takes place, while unique and alluring, feels incomplete. The main bar (Quindecim) is showcased in full. However every other location is poorly fleshed out. More frustrating is that any information regarding how this world works overall is vague and explained like an art teacher taking on a science class for fun, often leaving more questions than answers.
On the flipside, the art and animation is spectacular – as you would generally expect from Madhouse. It sets a fittingly dark, mysterious mood, and you’ll be mesmerised by every arbiter’s eyes. Plus, as a bonus the opening is one of the best out there and is a free minute of bliss leading into every episode.
If Death Parade was a multi-level tower, then its structure (or the cohesiveness of this anime as a whole) is a little flimsy. Despite this, upon walking onto each individual floor (episode) you’ll be mesmerised, and you’ll feel incredibly satisfied for having entered. If you’re interested in the human mind and don’t mind if things get a little intense then this psychological thriller is for you.
Thank you for reading my review!