Death Parade is a Gothic prediction of what happens when we die and an unabashed exploration of the human psyche.
By Mumbua Nzula Nzyoka.
“Death parade” is exactly what it claims to be – a continuous parade of dead people. It does not try to hide its intentions behind philosophical musings like “Ajin”, nor does its drama descend to violent extremes like “Baccano”. However, the most refreshing thing about it is that it doesn’t make a production of death or romanticize it like “Death Note”, even though death is a major theme. “Death Parade” just is. Nothing more, nothing less.
The anime’s episodes are formulaic. All the episodes begin similarly with people walking into a bar. At the bar they meet a bartender who welcomes them and asks them whether they can remember anything that happened prior to coming there. The bartender, Decim, then tells them that they are not allowed to leave until they finish playing a game. Decim, will of course, listen patiently to their cries of disbelief before he gives them the rules of the game. He never once tells them that they are dead or what the game is for until the very end.
In the first episode newly weds walk into the bar. They have just died in a car accident but are unaware of that fact until the last few minutes of the episode. At first their love seems to be pure and unshakable until they start playing the game. As the game progresses the idyllic illusion of new love is shattered into a million pieces as the husband looks more and more guilty with each round he plays. It is at the very end that it becomes clear that it is the innocent looking wife who’s been the wolf in sheep’s clothing all this time.
“Death Parade” uses its different characters to portray how the human psyche works. With each scene, the layers of the human soul are laid bare until all that is left is the undeniable truth of the fallibility of the human condition.
It is never clear who is at fault when the newly dead arrive at the bar, but it is a lot of fun guessing. Nine times out of ten you’ll probably be wrong.