Death Parade, which aired from January to March 2015, was created, written, and directed by Tachikawa Yuzuru. It all started with his short film in 2013, Death Billiards. Both the film and the series were brought to us by Madhouse, known for making some really great and not-so-great anime. To get the lowdown on this anime, I thought, “Why not give it a review?” So, here goes!
Death Parade takes a spooky and intense approach to the afterlife and judgment day. What should you prepare yourself for? Awesome animation, intense suspense, and unexpected twists.
Now, Death Parade nails the horror anime game, and here’s why. First off, the premise is downright chilling. The show takes place in the afterlife, starring beings called arbiters. They’re basically emotionless judges, but instead of courtrooms, they use incredibly intense and challenging games to decide if a soul gets kicked into the void or a shot at reincarnation.
What gives Death Parade its edge?
Death Parade’s uniqueness
It’s no understatement that the premise alone is pure nightmare fuel. However, there are anime series where you read the description and think to yourself: “Oh my god, this is going to be so great,” yet the execution fails miserably. The plot of Death Parade is an interesting concept, but more importantly, the anime also manages to pull it off brilliantly.
Each episode hones in on pairs of characters stuck in this otherworldly limbo, hanging between getting tossed into the void or getting another shot at life. And when these games kick in, the writers crank up the intensity. On top of it, it’s very unpredictable, so each sequence is full of suspense and surprises. As a result, you will never be bored.
Would you be a good arbiter?
But it’s not just about the shock factor – Death Parade tackles themes that’ll give you the chills. A big chunk of the show zooms in on the arbiters’ methods, making you question the whole shebang.
Ever wondered about taking a philosophical journey? Regardless of your answer, the show itself can be viewed as one, with just a hint of spookiness Like me, you’ll probably end up pondering how effective these judgment methods truly are.
And it doesn’t stop there – it throws curveballs at your conscience, making you mull over what makes a soul morally good or bad in these crazy situations. It’s a horror that messes with your mind in the best way possible!
Throughout the anime, I found myself scratching my head at some arbiter decisions. It’s like, did they mess up there, or is their judgment system a bit wonky? I bet a bunch of viewers would be nodding along with those same thoughts. It’s one of those series that leaves you with a bunch of “wait, what?” moments, and you can’t help but question the whole soul-judging game.
We can all agree that humans are complex beings. This makes it especially frightening and interesting when you consider that arbiters could make wrong decisions.
Most of the side cast in this show comes and goes. However, there are two central characters: Decim and Onna. Needless to say, their interactions are thought-provoking and entertaining.
Decim serves as an arbiter in the afterlife who is responsible for judging the souls of the deceased. He oversees the games that reveal the true nature of a person’s soul.
While he appears emotionless, throughout the show, particularly through interactions with other characters, especially Onna, it becomes evident that there is more complexity to Decim’s emotional state than initially portrayed. Moreover, the show does an incredible job of exploring the nuances of his character.
Onna is a beautiful yet mysterious woman who can’t remember her past. She is so unique that she serves as a kind of living case study for Decim (this is because he finds it challenging to judge her). Thus, Onna becomes his assistant. She tries to see through people’s emotions and question Decim’s judgments directly.
Onna & Decim: Contrasting Duo
Not every anime can pull off real interactions between characters. But this is where Death Paradise shines. Not only do the interactions between our two main characters seem very real, but they are also fascinating to watch as we see Decim’s logic clash with Onna’s emotional studies.
The writers also do a great job using these conversations and debates between them to fuel ongoing debates and discussions about the criteria for deciding what makes a soul good or bad.
While I could write so much more about how much fun their interactions are, there is another interesting yet underappreciated aspect of the show: learning the truth about Onna’s mysterious past.
Lastly, the conclusion to the show was extremely effective and satisfying. It’s hard to analyze the ending without spoiling anything, so I will simply say that Onna’s arc concludes and the writers do a fantastic job balancing the arguments of the show to create an ending that is extremely satisfying but subtle enough where the viewer can derive their own meaning from it.
Fair warning: Death Parade is no walk in the park. The themes it dives into are dark, twisted, and not for the faint of heart. Even though it may seem like a bunch of standalone stories, if you’re into horror anime or just curious about something that’ll send shivers down your spine, this one’s a must-watch.