Oigakkosan’s Winter 2015 Bracket – Semifinalist Poll

Some of you have expressed a desire for the semi-finalists to get more chances to prove their worth and, now that I’ve cut my review list down to 6 shows, I’m not against this.

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Death Parade – 01 (First Impressions)

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If you can’t guess exactly what is going on in Death Parade in under two minutes, I won’t spoil it for you. However, it’s pretty straight forward and, if you’ve ever watched an episode of The Outer Limits or Twilight Zone, not at all surprising.

In fact, my immediate concern for Death Parade is how quickly it’s formula will run out of gas. It is, after all, a narrative show and even if the core cast’s plot spices things up from week to week, it lacks the new twist potential of one-off shows likeThe Outer Limits.

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As spoiler free as I can make it: the story opens with a couple getting off individual elevators at a lounge called Quindecim. Neither partner has a clear memory of how they got there, or really much else. Notably, neither notices the devil and… not devil mask hanging over each elevator…

An unnamed guy with white hair and blue cross-pupil eyes runs the bar and informs them that they must play a game where their lives are on the line. They agree, partially because he shows them tortured shriveled corpses hanging in the shadows and partially because they have no idea what is going on.

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The game is darts, the player with the lowest score wins, and each time a player ‘hits’ a target, his or her partner feels pain relative to the value of the score. Things go off the rails quickly, as fear and memories take over and then, with a winner finally chosen, the game ends.

The couple is put back on the elevators – one person per elevator — and the credits roll. Then some more characters, obviously staff at Quindecim, exposition a little for god knows who because the plot and outcome are brutally obvious but hey, better safe than confusing to 1% of the population. At least it’s after the credits.

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You’ll like Death Parade if the plot around the central concept improves over the next few episodes. You could also like it if you just want nicely drawn, gothy characters executing so tragic it hurts stories for your entertainment.

Even if it doesn’t improve, or the season-spanning plots turn out to be laughably silly (which is possible based on the style of the opening credits) Death Parade stands out visually from everything else I’ve seen this season. Honestly, I wish Tokyo Ghoul looked more like this or this was written more like that…

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You may not find Death Parade all that interesting if grim is not the constant mood you want to set. You may also find it predictable, if this week’s plot is any indication of a formula.

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Its like Danganronpa and Gad Guard had a baby, in structure, tone and aesthetic. If you haven’t seen those shows, it’s dark but richly colored, with slightly odd human figure and facial proportions. “Stylish” is a safe description. Also bleak.

Unfortunately, my first impression is mixed. It has potential and it was very well crafted. Truly, there was nothing wrong with it but, like Absolute Duo, nothing was original, interesting, or surprising either. That’s a hard sell but this season is full of hard sells so maybe Death Games at the Bar has a chance.

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Note: I almost gave it an 8 due to the crisp visuals, solid voice work, and error free script but it’s just so gosh-darn unimaginative a setting and concept for a show!