Death Parade – 05

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This week was all about backstories and, while it wasn’t flawless, it succeeded in laying out several of the show’s plot arcs, introducing the full cast and defining most of their relationships.

Unfortunately, episode 5 just comes out and tells the details and Nona’s introduction of Oculus and Carta felt… dialogy? Very “Hello person by this name who does this thing in the afterlife that I have this relationship with, how are you doing?”

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Castra notes human’s are dying too quickly… again…

For example, tells US Shadow’s backstory, including all his feelings about her, through dialog with another Arbiter. Even though Dequim doesn’t say it to Shadow, the fact that we know all the details so frankly, sucks the mystery and drama right out.

I mean, it isn’t surprising that Shadow is human, that she’s there because Dequim couldn’t figure out how to judge her and that episode 2 started up with her memory being intentionally removed by Nona in order to delay the mandatory verdict.

Learning that she arrived via elevator with her memories intact explains her circumstances but Dequim is so direct, so uninterested, that we don’t get allusions to a deeper meaning, reason, or mystery.

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I guess what I’m trying to say here is: Shadow’s plot isn’t especially interesting because, regardless of how it plays out from here (does she know Dequim from another life?) the end point is still simply Dequim choosing Void or Reincarnation or refusing to choose either, which would be equally conventional.

Without the mood and the gloss, this isn’t a very interesting narrative to follow.

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Nona and Oculus tell us Nona has been a manager for 82 years, amongst other details about the tower because two characters telling us about things is easier than figuring out how to introduce information naturally…

Speaking of gloss, DAMN! Death Parade’s fight sequence was spectacular this week. It was laughably short, but that double bartender super natural fight with water spheres and spider string was on-par with anything Fate/Stay threw out last season.

Likewise, the Manager’s pool with planets scene was delightfully rendered. Beautiful, really. More importantly, both sequences introduced a new character and a greater understanding of the after-death tower and the people who work there. Even if they do it in the most forced, talky way possible.

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SO it was a good week, albeit a little clunky. The first half being a red herring didn’t really add much and the lack of consequences for Dequim not following procedure made it feel arbitrary.

Certainly, its stated that the Arbiters get bored and… something happens…  and this could all be about making sure that Dequim isn’t slipping and Ginti, who he replaced 5 years ago, gets to blow off steam but… it felt like an excuse to give us a pretty fight scene.

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Should I complain? No. Not really.

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As to Shadow’s water-color dream sequence, which is narrated and clearly known to Nona (she instructs Dequim to hang an image from it at the Bar after all), I don’t have much to say?

The aesthetic break was warranted. From it’s on-white setting and muddled colors, it’s nearly a complete opposite from the on-black, clean gradient world of the bar. But is it drawing comparisons between Shadows life before and her relationships now? Probably but who knows.

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“Who Knows?” pretty much sums up how I feel about Death Parade in general. It seems less a mystery and more ‘it hasn’t told us 100% of the details yet’ as a story. Likewise, it’s awkward to have so many tight lipped, emotionally detached cast members around — it makes everyone feel like a puppet, spouting lines where the plot tells them to and not actual characters on their own.

I just hope the Tower’s staffing issues, ongoing dangerously high pace of human death, and godless side plots are given room to grow. That’s where the neat stuff is happening – and I say that completely fallen for Shadow’s tasty good looks!

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5 thoughts on “Death Parade – 05”

  1. addendum: As academically incompetent as it is, Death Parade 5 was fun to watch, expanded the cast to a reasonable number, explained some unknowns and added new ones. In this, i think it rates a 9, but I could accept some arguments to kick it down to an 8

    1. I think it’s a good 9. I am interested for next week, however. The preview seems to indicate that next week we’ll see a judgement in Ginti’s bar. One wonders what his style of arbitration is, and what the circumstances of the people sent there are.

      1. true! I had not considered that each bar could have different reasons for people going to it!

        additional addendum: I didn’t get into it in my review, but the fact that Arbiters (and managers) haven’t been around that long raises a few questions. What happens when they stop? Where do their replacements come from?

        As before, I presume Shadow will become an Arbiter by the end and no one has heard about a human showing up with memories of her own death because they too were like that once and/or haven’t been ‘around’ long enough. (wherever they come from or go)

        my ultimately ‘dream resolve’ for this show is Shadow having to judge where Dequim goes and then assumes his post.

  2. I thought two things while watching this episode.

    The first was that the exposition in this installment might not be as bothersome had it not been for the second episode. The exposition in that episode sort of saturated the narrative going forward. Even good exposition is now going to be in crowded company.

    The second was that this show has an odd cast structure that forces the use of “As you know,” exposition. Shadow is the logical viewpoint character, but we don’t see things through her eyes. Instead, we follow Decim. Since he knows almost everything and isn’t willing or able to discuss things with Shadow, the exposition has to come out some other way.

    On the upside, we get to feel his growth in instances like the previous episode. Moreover, it looks like there’s now a greater conspiracy going on. Decim will hopefully fare better as a viewpoint character as he encounters things he doesn’t know about.

    1. ++Claps++ JRM wins over 9000 academic reviewer points! Great read on the way we get our info (from who, and how that affects the structure)

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