Greetings! Welcome to our next review! First a quick apology for it being out a day late. The weekend was very busy for all of us writers here, so the review was delayed for today. We hope you can forgive us. Nonetheless, we are happy to bring you a review of the anime Death Parade! As always, beware of minor SPOILERS.
Now without further ado, let us begin the review!
Summary: After death, humans go to either the eternal void or are reincarnated. However, where there’s doubt as to were to place some occasional souls, these instead arrive at bar Quindecim, with no memories of having died. Decim, the bartender, challenges them to the Death Game, wherein they wager their “lives” and reveal their true natures. Decim himself is actually an arbiter in charge of deciding the fate of those that arrive at Quindecim – by pulling the darkness from deepest within them, he judges their ultimate fate. -Anime News Network
Death Parade is without a doubt a very interesting premise. The summary above does not give the full details that there is an actual plot involving a human assisting Decim in his judgments. As for why she is helping him, and who she is, no one knows. This plot line is very much in the background during the earlier episodes, which can make the series drag a little bit. There are other smaller stories involving the other characters that slow down the momentum of the series. It can also feel somewhat repetitive with the playing games and dramatic characterizations. These things aside, the series does do a excellent job with atmosphere, keeping it tense and somber most of the way through, with some slight comic relief here and there. The plot is very character driven, and does well to play to the advantages of this.
As with any character driven plot, the characters must be strong and have a wide appeal. Death Parade does this for the most part, building up Decim and his assistant quite well. While they appear a little bland initially, this fades quickly. One surprising thing was how well they developed a lot of the human characters just within one episode. That being said, the other arbiters are passed over as characters frequently. We get a little back story, but they are implied to be more important than they turn out being. It is not always clear what their relationships to one another are (the arbiters), which makes them feel like movie extras that just distract from the humans and Decim.
The animation with this series is excellent! The detail and colors all go really well together, and without a doubt is the strongest selling point of the anime. The setting also maintains the tense atmosphere even when the games seem a bit silly.
When the anime focuses so heavily on atmosphere, the soundtrack for Death Parade is not the best at it. It is really solid for the most part, and is definitely not bad, but several instances can seem to break the atmosphere. The opening, while definitely fun, is completely misleading from the tone of the show.
As with most anime that deal with death and the afterlife, Death Parade tackles a lot of themes regarding it. It really questions the nature of judgement and ethics, and really forces one to think. The major theme present is what is known as memento mori, a Latin saying that means “remember to die.” As the phrase suggests, it deals heavily with mortality and how one views this from many perspectives. This is obviously seen between the interactions of immortal Decim and his many patrons. I would almost argue that Death Parade could work as an allegory, in which the characters act as a symbol something else, whether that be virtues or actual people. Further more, Death Parade tackles the one the great challenges of ethics: the nature of suffering. It is not afraid to ask the question, but never really answers it either. The primary response is just the mantra that life is unfair. Nonetheless, Death Parade provides plenty of complex themes that stimulate thought plenty well.
Final Score: 8.8/10
Final Grade: B
Death Parade is a really good anime. It is very much so a character driven anime, and for me this is a big selling point. The characters are amazing even the characters who are only there for one episode are so deep and have so much personality. The idea behind the series is really cool too and will keep you entertained throughout the whole run time. There are also many themes throughout the show if you are into that. It plays with what it means to be a good person and how people are able to hide their true personalities. The animation is also really good with amazing character designs. Out of 10 I would give this anime an 8.5. Defiantly check this anime out if you have not. – B-Ro
Death Parade is a show with a lot of really solid strengths, but some things that I have mixed feelings about. The start had me confused… It started out with this really mysterious atmosphere, complete with smooth jazz. And then it cut right into the extremely upbeat opening, killing all of the atmosphere with a barrage of trumpets and characters posing… I was a little skeptical at first of the show. But once more was explained in episode 2, I was more intrigued. The three main things I liked about the show were the theme of death, psychology, and the atmosphere. They look at death in very interesting ways. I found a lot of it very unfair and sad, but perhaps that was the point. Trying to read the characters psychologically was interesting as well. A lot of the characters (human or not) have good depth, with the assistant being my favorite. I found the character developments much more fascinating than emotional, save for some pretty heavy emotional stuff at the end. The soundtrack was a little hit and miss, but the dark smooth jazz and electronica made a really cool and stylish atmosphere at times. Despite initial issues, the opening is good and fun, and the lyrics are symbolic to the show. It actually makes me wish the show itself was a little more light hearted with the characters having more fun. Maybe give the show more of the dark humor that was somewhat present as well. The closer is darker and serves its purpose well. The ending did leave loose ends and questions, which I imagine was intended. I do wish they would’ve expanded upon things more though. It felt like there were a lot of really interesting pieces, but it ended up still missing a few, which is somewhat keeping me from recognizing this anime as truly brilliant. Still, I liked what they went for here, and I was pretty inspired by it. The themes presented really made me think, especially the theme of mortality. So well played, Death Parade. Not one of my favorites, but a fascinating show.
Final Comments: Death Parade offers a complexity of characters and themes within its ever well maintained somber atmosphere. However, the series can seem to drag with slow plot development and excess characters.
Thank you for reading! Have you seen this anime? What are your thoughts either on Death Parade or our review of it? We would love to hear your thoughts in the comments! Be sure to check out the other anime we have reviewed in the Anime Review Archive and give us a follow! We will be back next week with a Clannad review, so look forward to that!