Death Parade may face a unique challenge, by anime standards. I really can’t think of another show that is this well styled (excellent design, decent action but not much of it) creative, and technically well executed… that is also this ho-hum to watch?
I suspect that the double micro-mystery-per-episode, which first poses the question ‘who are these people’ and then ‘what will their fate be’ limits its potential. Honestly, since we know DP is asking us to solve these two questions each week (or every other week) we’re too tuned in. Too aware for it to surprise us with its legitimately well constructed twists.
This week, Miura Shigeru wake up near the bar with the normal haze of partial memory. However, “the girl” at the bar has no memories at all. Not even her name and, even though Shigeru’s flash backs paint her as a childhood friend, something obviously went down that brought them here together and that something was probably tragic.
And this week that something will be revealed via bowling.
So they bowel with each other’s hearts. This causes no pain, though they can sense each other’s heart rate, which eludes to mood and hidden feelings.
Shadow is also there, more actively helping Dequim. She doesn’t really know what’s going on and isn’t especially active in the episode but she and Dequim both are surprised when Shigeru turns out to be an awesome guy upon realizing he is dead — and still asking his partner out on one last date.
See, (!!Spoilers!!) his partner really was a childhood friend. Just not the one he thought. Rather, this was ‘plain-jane’ Takada Mai, who he had fun playing with but never had feelings for, who’s always wanted his attention.
Understanding this all with clarity, they finally come together, have a good time, and are both reincarnated if the masks above their respective elevators are to be believed. (!!end Spoilers!!)
It’s not fair to say ‘happy endings’ would always work better in Death Parade but this story just felt more enjoyable than the ‘drool and tears’ story we started with. These people were both good and still are after death and the game was just an interesting way of revealing secrets to them. Not just a torturous way to punish their last moment.
Obviously the juxtaposition between happy ending and grim death game-playing-bar is a solid idea but I fully understand doing this each week would be equally predictable.
Verdict: I almost gave Death Parade an 8 again but shied away at the last minute for the same reasons as I did in episode 1. It’s generally a very good looking show, has a strong control over its mood and tone, but it’s just so one note.
Sorry guys — I really don’t hate this show. I’m just really not that enthusiastic either?