Death Parade {2015-}

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Death Parade centers on what happens to the human race after death. Set in the Quindecim- aka purgatory dressed like a jazz bar- two people will play a game chosen at random under the watchful eye of Decim, the white haired bartender. During the game they fight high stakes against each other. What they are unaware of though is that they are being judged and  the game they play will reveal their true nature. The outcome will determine their fate in the afterlife; go to heaven or the void.

New from the studio that brought us Death Note it is clear that this studio has some success with the dark and morbid themes shown. They do not disappoint. There is a certain human way in which the themes are presented and the audience is left making and questioning the decisions on who is truly the villain. Each scenario leaves a catch-22 situation in which you are left contemplating the show even after the credits roll.

The animation boasts a kaleidoscope of hued colour in what reminds me personally of stained glass. The studio has developed their use of transitions and animation technique to make grand gestures in a simple way; like when the games are revealed. The backgrounds are particularly attractive in a way that reminds me of older anime (Red Garden in particular) and newer techniques.

There are moments that the series seems to be indecisive as to whether it wants to be an episodic, where we follow singular stories, or one with an extended story arc. Either way it would have worked but the writers seem muddled in their narrative because they do not seem sure which of these series layouts they are following. The twelve episodes commissioned were not really enough to do both. They seem to be unable to decide a specific genre as well. One episode may be emotive and dark but then the following week the comedy of a slice of life romance is thrown in there. It gives a bit of whiplash and it does mean that the series is only scratching the surface of character development and story depth.

If you are a fan of Psycho Pass then you will most likely enjoy the dark aesthetics and alternate world feel of Death Parade. Even if you do not particularly enjoy dark themes I would say give it a try because the mystery and concept alone could be something you unexpectedly connect with. 

Though the story needs development and the characters are still an enigma Death Parade has set a foundation that has the potential to be a great anime. Truly one of my favourite anime of the year so far. Really hope that the foundation of the first season will be explored in a second one should Madhouse renew it.


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