Death Parade ends its long march with an emotional, twisty, judgement of Chiyuki. It is far from a wartless affair, as the Oculus vs Nona subplot remains weightless and basically unexplained, but it was a solid outing.
To summarize: Oculus and Nona… don’t actually fight. Instead, Oculus info dumps us that Arbiters are built using the discarded dummies (and souls?) of the judged who are thrown into the void and that this means…
well its really not clear what this means but Nona is dead set on getting souls (or soul-like contents) into the Arbitors to shake things up.
Meanwhile, Decim puts Chiyuki through a similar ruse to what Ginti did last week. Here, he pretends they have returned to the living world and shows Chiyuki her grieving mother, an empty house, and offers her a button to press that will return her to life…
at the cost of someone else’s life! While Chiyuki doesn’t realize this is a trap, she still ultimately makes the moral decision, based in no small part on her experiences with other souls and Decim is brought to tears. Then he reincarnates her, learns to smile, and leaves her dummy-body on a chair next to the bar.
What worked: While I thought Decim’s trap was obvious, it was a nice mirror of Ginti’s all the same.
And trap aside, seeing Chiyuki’s mom and her anguish was emotionally resonant. This was a major feels episode and, for once, it didn’t feel contrived and cheap in the delivery.
What didn’t work: any second spent without Chiyuki and Decim on screen. Oculus’ objection to Nona, the lack of coherent reasoning for Nona’s agenda, and the complete lack of a conflict between them just zap the subplot’s strength.
It never got meaningful development and, like the ‘people are dying too quickly’ the fuzziness of it all felt more annoying than apetite-wetting for more. Really, beyond Decim learning to smile and possibly becoming a better ‘person’ nothing feels consequential at all.
So I have mixed feelings about this series. If not obvious from all of my reviews, I greatly respect Death Parade’s sense of style and that it is, to some degree, a show that took risks. When it tried, it was good at making me feel for its characters too.
That said, I found it highly predictable and muddled. The secondary conflict, which should explain what and why Decim is, never manifests and Chiyuki is not very interesting after you strip away her sex appeal.
Certainly not one for the heritage list by any event but a nice, mostly pleasant show. Probably worth a binge if you didn’t catch it and have time at some future point.