Death, the thought always lingers in the back of the mind and it is often a concept lost on some. When we are finally confronted with this powerful and unbeatable force, we try desperately to cling to the life that we have. We greatly fear the unstoppable and unknown and we will often walk into a denial or shock. While we may not ever know what happens to us in death, there are the vague ideas such as reincarnation or being cast into the void. We may even be judged by a simple being, in a quaint bar on the fringes between life and death. Between salvation and damnation. Enter, Quindecim. A bar where those who die together or at the same time will meet, with no memory of what just happened, only to be greeted by a bartender with a simple and calm demeanor. It is Decim’s job to force those who come here to play a game with their lives at stake, unfortunately for those who participate only learn mid game that their lives have already been lost. It is through the game they play that Decim, their arbiter and judge, will attempt to see the blackness that lives in their soul in order to pass a judgement, while the method may raise questions, it does give these arbiters all they need to pass judgement. However, one black-haired woman will force Decim to rethink, everything he has been created to believe or think. It is with this that Death Parade asks us straining questions and allows us to look at life and death very differently. Decim is forced to learn that this blackness may be caused by his actions as a judge and that the basic, human, is actually more complex than he could ever have imagined.
Death Parade is bleak, first and foremost. Watching this anime and just knowing that theses, guests, are already dead and can only learn the sad truth through the playing of games. These games are designed to draw forth these lost memories and to also put these individuals in situation that may bring out the darkness within their hearts. While the method is flawed, which is pointed out later in the anime, it perfectly paints a picture of what we all may be put through in order to determine whether or not our soul is to be reincarnated or forever damned to the void. This anime is excellent in how it approaches this debated topic and also grants us views into our own mindsets too. The games put us into a situation where the overriding emotion of fear takes hold. This emotion often pushes us to do things we may never do under normal situations. Some of us, even when presented with fear may still act rationally but we may cover it all up. We may even sacrifice ourselves to save someone else. A lesson we see from the first episode of the anime. This is also why our black-haired female starts to show Decim how flawed their system of judgement may be. They may damn an innocent soul to the void while never knowing that they simply put on a face to sacrifice themselves for the better of someone else.
The story of, Death Parade, is a powerful one, it is enough to get you to feel somber and rather emotional. We are very complex beings and while we can never cheat death, we can try to be given a chance to do better in another life hopefully. We may yet live if given the chance of reincarnation or we could just simply end up lost in a void, forever falling into oblivion. Even the struggle with watching the arbiters going on about their fixed lives as beings who can neither live nor die, simply because they are dummies, is something engrossing to watch evolve and to play out. It just adds another human layer to the story and shows that without human emotion we could not have proper judgement or maybe, we could have biased judgements. The stories behind every guest is interesting to watch and some are just down right joyful while others take a spiral in a downward path. In the end a judgement is judgement and I found myself utterly enthralled with each episode. The story is just so intoxicating that I couldn’t help but binge on this anime until I had watched every, last bit of it all. I have not been this sucked into an anime since, Toradora!
The art of this anime is enchanting and just down right gorgeous. Every single anime from 2015 has gotten better looking and more fluid than it ever has been. While others have opinions about the over use of the tear and saliva effects, I found the art-style to be refreshing. It all feels so dark and bleak to help match the setting of this anime but yet, there is color, there is vibrancy here. Even when we are faced with the notion of death, there can still be a vibrant color to cling to. Every character feels polished and designed very well, with Decim reminding me a bit of Ginko from Mushi-shi. With what 3D that is in the anime, it does nothing to detract from the overall quality of the anime. It is used in places that make sense and often in places where we cannot exactly see what is going on. The animation is fluid and detailed, all to the point that I would argue this being one of the more gorgeous looking anime of 2015. The voice acting, for the original Japanese dub that I watched, was on par with what I expected from this anime and it sounded so crisp and clean. There are so many notable voice actors and actresses in this anime that it is a shame we only got a 12 episode run.
The music is my favorite bit about this anime, especially the opening! The stark contrasts between the two is almost scary. The opening is fun playful and encouraging. I mean if you look at the English lyrics for the song, it gives you a feeling of being able to spread your wings and escape from the doom that follows you. The opening song is called Flyers by BRADIO and is available on the US iTunes store for purchase. I cannot express how fond of this opening I am and while some hated the anime they all agreed on one thing, this opening is a opening that you will be very hard-pressed to skip. However do not let the joyous nature of the opening fool you. Smiles are a tough commodity to come by in this anime and as such It just feels odd watching an anime opening that is a polar opposite from the feel of the anime that follows it. . If you don’t find the music as intoxicating then you should find yourself pleasantly engrossed in a story that is dynamic and very touching. It hits home, as we all have that lingering fear and dread in our hearts of the unknown when it comes to the powerful force that is death. No matter the situation that we are thrown in, we will cling sheepishly to what little life we have left, in hopes of finding a light in the darkness. However, if we end up in a place that looks like a bar, with a stoic man behind the counter and a choice of a game and drink then I’ll be ready to face what judgement awaits me.
Over all, this anime was a delight to watch. The story was just strong enough to keep in locked in for a binge session and the music was just as engaging. The art is a definite strong point of this anime and it just has no other that can compare or compete with it. It is a grand concept of an anime and I would very much enjoy and love a second season of this anime, provided they had enough input and or funding to dictate a possible second season of this amazing anime. If you want to get a taste of what this anime has to offer you, then please use the link provided below and head on over to the Funimation Website! I am sure you all will enjoy this anime if you give it a chance! If you loved it as much as I did, you may be able to fun it out within one sitting or if you want to savor it then you can stretch it out over a course of a couple days. If you have seen this anime, what are your thoughts on it? Love it or hate it? Feel free to comment below!
Funimation Link: http://www.funimation.com/shows/death-parade/home
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