Airing date: January 9 to March 27, 2015
Number of Episodes: 12
When two people die at the same time, they are judged as to who will be reincarnated and who will be banished to the void (the equivalent of hell). The souls are taken to a place called Quindecim (a mysterious bar run by bartenders called arbiters) without any memory of their death, and they are prompted to play a game “with their lives on the line.” These games are pre-determined based on the guests’ personalities, ranging from air hockey, to videogames, to bowling, and so on. Of course the dead cannot die again; the game is deceitfully designed to put pressure on the players to reveal the darkness in their hearts. In short, the judgment is not based on who wins or loses the game. The players’ desperate actions during the life-and-death game, as well as how they generally lived their lives–these are what the arbiters use to judge the souls.
The interesting thing about Death Parade is that it’s not the typical title that started as a manga and eventually got its anime adaptation. The series spawned from a short film called Death Billiards, which was the winner of the Young Animator Training Project’s Anime Mirai 2013. [watch video below]
For an anime with only 12 episodes, Death Parade surprisingly has a great range of memorable characters. From the regular guy who suspected his fiance of cheating, leading to their deaths; to a hopeless mom who feels like she is a failure as a parent because her child committed suicide–it’s difficult for the viewers not to find themselves empathizing with the characters.
The musical score for the whole series helped give off the psychological thriller vibe and gave justice to the pure beauty of the series’ premise. I incredibly liked the opening song Flyers by Bradio–I can listen to it over and over again! The upbeat OP is a stark contrast to the series’ dark theme, which isn’t a bad thing. The ending theme on the other hand, Last Theater by Noisy Cell, fits the mood.
Death Parade is the kind of anime that I’ve been looking for all these time. “What is the meaning of life?” “What happens after death?” “How will we be judged when we die?” These are deep topics I’ve been struggling to decipher, and the writer of Death Parade tried answering these questions in his own way.
In Death Billiards, the game is between an old man and a middle-aged guy in his 30s. In their flashbacks, the old man was a part of a gang in his younger years, and was always up to no good. However, when he got married to a kind woman, he was able to change his ways and started leading a peaceful life. The younger man on the other hand, was still in that phase where he would do anything to succeed.
By the end of the short movie, the younger man predicted that he would be sent to the void. He said that he was at an unfair disadvantage because the old man was apparently better at playing billiards than him, so he needed to turn things around, leading him to commiting violence. The arbiter then said that they were equally matched from the start. The young man simply disagreed and gave a memorable speech: “We were on equal footing when we came?…Country of birth, time period, parents, location…various factors make people’s lives unequal from the very beginning! That’s how we live! We interact with others and the society, and being here is the upshot of all that interaction! How can anyone possibly say that we are all equal when we enter this room?”
It definitely gives the audience a moment to decide as to whether the judgement process is moral and fair; is it enough to simply judge a person based on how he acts during desperate times? Surely, a single method cannot be absolute; a lot of things need to be taken into consideration.
9.5 out of 10 dolls. This anime is pure genius. The only thing I didn’t like is the vagueness of the endings, especially that of Death Billiards. The series tries its best to be deep and thought-provoking, but almost to the point of irritating the audience.