Available to the US through Funimation and Viewster in the UK.
Death Parade is based on the 2013 Anime Mirai animation project Death Billiards , now a full fledge series of its own written and directed by Yuzuru Tachikawa. Being originally blown away by the great visuals, atmosphere and storytelling of Death Billiards back in 2013 it’s great to see it receive a full series. With Yuzuru Tachikawa back in the director’s chair all of the elements that made the short/pilot so great are all in place yet again so expectations going in are high.
This very dark story revolves around what happens after death, set in the bar known as Quindecim, where the recently deceased arrive in pairs via an elevator with no prior knowledge of how they got there. Decim is the resident bartender at Quindecim and the ultimate arbitrator, following Decim’s lead the unfortunate pair are then forced to play a random game to decided who lives and dies. Unbeknownst to the increasingly unfortunate pair it would seem they are already dead and this is actually a game to decide whose worthy of being sent to heaven and who to hell, while the terms heaven and hell are used they ultimately represent reincarnation and the void. The game is not the only means of deciding who is worthy as Decim has been given access to the pairs memories to enable a more informed decision.
The first episode follows the newlywed couple of Takashi and Machiko enjoying their honeymoon when the unfortunate happens, playing out very much like the Death Billiards short the pair play until a winner is decided, although you have no idea which until the final moment. The show is very good at keeping you guessing at who is good and who is bad, only giving you small bits of new information every so often that make your entire view on the pair continuously switch between the two. After the end of the first episode a question entered my mind on whether they will continue a pattern of a new pair each episode or try something new. With episode two my question was answered and they have gone for the later route and introduced to us some new characters and expanded the world that Decim inhabits. We are also treated to a nice behind the scenes type of episode where we recount the scenes from the previous episode but from the view point of the new characters, one of each becomes Decim’s new assistant.
Madhouse’s visuals as with Death Billiards are stunning, setting up the right kind of look to match the atmosphere of the story. The opening video and song are rather upbeat and catchy which is quite jarring when you compare them to the style of series that Death Parade is.
With the first two episodes out now the expectations that I set for this series before it started are easily being smashed out of the park. I am eagerly anticipating each new episode, wondering what new games will appear and how each new pair react to their current situation. With the introduction of a more human assistant to counter Decim’s rather robotic personality, it will be interesting to watch this unique relationship unfold and how it will affect the rest of the series.