Death Parade… threw me this week. Not because anything was wrong with it. We learned plenty of world-building details, met 1.5 new characters, and came to understand Decim just a sliver more.
More over, all of it was interesting in a way that ‘stuff just happened’ never is. However, I don’t know what to make of it, beyond the surface level of the show’s mystery.
The bullet points: Oculus and Nona confirm that Arbiters are just dolls (albeit complicated ones) but that Decim is different. Decim has human emotions. Maybe.
Meanwhile, Shadow finds a physical copy of her creepy children and suffers snippets of memory. None of it makes sense to us yet, but that’s not really important because the episode is mostly about Decim!
And Decim is all about Flash Back Time! Specifically, about his final test as an Arbiter, where he watched Dequim’s previous Arbiter (Quin) judge a couple over pool with Ginti but, unlike the vindictive Ginti, never pressed the ‘screw you’ button on his magic wand.
He was too interested in what the humans were thinking to bother, although he doesn’t actually know what they were thinking due to his lack of experience. In the end, he resolves to keep the ‘Dolls’ left behind by the people he finds interesting. Yes! the guests all inhabit dolls, which are typically disposed of after they are judged!
Arita Mayu is still around and Ginti can’t judge her. He doesn’t really explain why, but we can assume all my notes about how inept his strategy was last week had something to do with it!
I wouldn’t say his scenes distract from anything. If anything, they show that Decim isn’t alone in his inability to judge everyone. Still… Ginti’s scenes don’t go anywhere and only the viewer gains anything from them. Little at that.
There’s some rock’n bass-ey electronica going on during Decim’s flash back and, oddly, the lyrics are in english. This is not ballsy per say, anime does english all the time, but I note it for the fact that it isn’t awful and wins Death Parade plenty of points for its effort.
And, as always, it was pretty to look at. Some of the reflection angles were especially well composed. I’m a sucker for pool-with-planets too.
Again, I didn’t see any deeper meaning here. No icons or symbolism. Mystery and well delivered world building but… no deeper message?
I’m not sure how I feel about that, to be honest. Death Parade isn’t the most complex mystery to begin with and, while I’ve come to like the characters more than I did in the beginning, the shallower it dives, the less it has going for it. The whole ‘why are humans dying so quickly’ plot, Decim being special, and wtf is Shadow, can’t float the show on their own.
So here’s hoping it has a little more going on under those mysteries next week. Otherwise it’ll slip back to being a beautiful but 6/7 worthy show all too quickly.