I just finished watching the anime Death Parade, and it’s definitely one of my favorites. When I first heard about it, I didn’t know much about it, but I read that it had an interesting OP, so I checked it out.
There’s also a pretty awesome English cover of the OP here, which I recently found.
At first, I didn’t like it at all. It seemed goofy and lame. But the OP really misrepresents the theme and tone of the show, and now that I know that, I can enjoy the good music and goofiness a bit more and just accept them on their own terms. (The rest of the show has pretty good music, too. Lots of smooth jazz.)
I didn’t learn this until after finishing the show, but Yuzuru Tachikawa, the director and creator, has also worked on two of my other recent favorites: Kill la Kill and Lupin the Third: Mine Fujiko to Iu Onna.
As for the show itself, it follows the adventures of an arbiter named Decim, who judges humans after death, and either sends their souls for reincarnation or into the void. When two people die at the same time, they’re sent to the arbiter together without any memory of their death. There, they’re persuaded (coerced might be a better term, considering it’s sometimes implied that they’ll be brutally murdered and dismembered if they don’t) to play a game against each other, with their lives at stake. During these games, the arbiter will induce some sort of stressful situation, with the intention of bringing out the darkness within people’s souls so that he can accurately judge them.
Most episodes deal with a pair of recently deceased humans, and we slowly learn their stories and how they died. Maybe I’m just a little bit morbid, but I really enjoy shows about the afterlife, and this one was a really interesting perspective. The overarching plotline was actually the least interesting part for me, to be honest. I would have been happy with just a continuous series exploring the games and various dead characters with character development from the arbiters.
I liked the setting a lot. It had a cool feeling that reminded me a bit of Cowboy Bebop, especially with its eyecatches. As I mentioned, it was a unique take on the afterlife. The characters were interesting, and there was a good amount of mystery left. I like when a story doesn’t feel the need to explain every little thing. It’s okay for some things to just be without explanation. I think the mystery aspect of it was my favorite: discovering everyone’s stories, seeing how they came to die, and the revelation of what kind of person they really are.
It could definitely be a bit heavy at times, as expected of a show about death and dead people, but there were a lot of fun and light-hearted sections at well, so it never got depressing. Then again, my tastes run towards the macabre, but it has a pretty good rating, so I can’t be the only one. Overall, though, it had good pacing and tone.
I greatly enjoyed it, and I’m definitely going to keep on eye on anything else Tachikawa works on in the future.