Death Billiards - Reviews

Risan07's avatar
Dec 26, 2014

Death Billiards is a rather unassuming title. It is a short that only has a ½ hour episode going for it with an interesting name but a lacking synopsis. What story could possibly be told in a half an hour that could engage you? Well this hidden gem not only told it well but left me wanting more.

Unlike my other reviews, this one won’t be as lengthy. This is because it is only one episode and thus does not need a lengthy review.

Imagine, you suddenly find yourself in an elevator that leads you to a strange bar. When you try to recollect just how you got there you suddenly can’t remember. Another person also comes into the bar, you shake hands for the first time and introduce yourselves. Then the bartender tells you that you two will play a game against each other, the prize is your life.

This is the story of death billiards. It appears simple enough; an old man is paired against a young man in a game of billiards to fight for their life (sounds a lot like the MAL summary, hm?). But as you progress further into the episode more of the story is revealed. it’s an enriching story about life and death that weaved very nicely with how human beings come to terms with both.

As expected of Madhouse the art and animation were absolutely stunning. The characters were simple in their design, made to look normal in their peculiar environment. This combined with the matte, purple color scheme of the show you, as the audience, know that you are in for a dark and unnatural ride.

How would you act knowing that you had to play a game for your life? Even though we only get one episode with these two players; their life, their character, and their desperation paints a perfect and rather grim picture on the human psychology. Their true nature is revealed during the game, which is just so raw and true to us that I couldn't help but relate and sympathize with them. We don’t get too much on their backgrounds, but it’s just enough to understand their lives and how they ended up playing pool together, which is more than enough for the show.

Overall I was very impressed. Like I have stated, the art and animation was beautiful, the characters felt so real, and the story is entirely enthralling and rather refreshing. If you have a spare half an hour just watch it. And if you DO end up loving the show, or if you’re reluctant to watch a short never fear! Madhouse will be producing the anime ‘Death Parade’, which will be the adaptation to Death Billiards. It’ll be coming out along with the other winter 2015 season anime, and if staying true to 'Death Billiards' should prove to be a very good show.

?/10 story
?/10 animation
?/10 sound
?/10 characters
10/10 overall
triplestrike's avatar
Aug 28, 2013

Death Billiards is only one episode long, but that one episode does a pretty good job of defining itself. Two individuals find themselves in an odd situtation with odd consequnces. Ladies and Gentleman, the game is billiards.

This show looks great at every moment. Sound and music work well and overall the presentation is great. The characters are a little bit bleak but it is to be expected when characters only have one episode be explored. I think this show would work better an a one episode experience over a whole show but that is because the premise is a bit hard to work with. Overall this is short, but really good! 

8.5/10 story
9/10 animation
9/10 sound
8.3/10 characters
8.5/10 overall
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SEGHE's avatar
Sep 17, 2023

"Death Billiards" - A Thought-Provoking Dive into the Afterlife

Story (9/10): "Death Billiards" is a captivating and thought-provoking short film that delves into the concept of the afterlife and the nature of human morality. The story centers around two men who find themselves in a mysterious bar, forced to participate in a high-stakes billiards game that may determine their ultimate fate. As the game unfolds, the anime raises profound questions about the choices people make in life and the consequences they face in death. It's a riveting exploration of human nature and ethics, leaving a lasting impact on the viewer.

Animation (8/10): Produced by MADHOUSE, "Death Billiards" boasts high-quality animation that effectively conveys the tension and drama of the billiards game. The character designs are detailed, and the bar's atmosphere is richly depicted. While the animation is not overly flashy, it excels in creating a moody and immersive setting for the story.

Sound (8/10): The sound design in "Death Billiards" plays a crucial role in enhancing the atmosphere. The background music complements the intense moments and the mystery surrounding the bar. Voice acting is skillfully executed, capturing the nuances of the characters' emotions and dilemmas.

Characters (7/10): Despite the short runtime, "Death Billiards" manages to develop its characters effectively. The two main characters, Decim and the elderly man, have intriguing backstories and depth. Their interactions throughout the billiards game reveal layers of their personalities and add depth to the narrative. While the focus is primarily on these two characters, the anime successfully explores their moral complexities.

Overall (8/10): "Death Billiards" is a remarkable short film that packs a punch in terms of storytelling and philosophical exploration. Its concise yet impactful narrative, combined with solid animation and sound, makes it a must-watch for fans of psychological and thought-provoking anime. It leaves you contemplating the choices we make in life and the potential consequences that await in the afterlife.

Regarding a manga adaptation, "Death Billiards" is primarily known as an animated short film and does not have an associated manga. Therefore, if you want to experience this compelling story, the anime is the way to go.

9/10 story
8/10 animation
8/10 sound
7/10 characters
8/10 overall
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YariMari's avatar
Oct 12, 2015

I never thought I would write a review on a 25 min movie... but oh well. Death Billiards exceeded all my expectations. It had me on the edge of my seat (bed) from beginning to end. As we speak I am watching Death Parade which was spawned from this masterpiece. It's fast paced, well written and leaves you with a wow-feeling. I don't know how I can tell you how well done this is without spoiling anything, so I'm just going to tell you one thing: watch it. (the reason I didn't give it 10/10 is because it had kind of an abrupt ending and I wanted more of a closure)

?/10 story
?/10 animation
?/10 sound
?/10 characters
8/10 overall
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ChineseWick's avatar
Feb 10, 2024

"Death Billiards" is a thought-provoking anime short film that serves as the precursor to the acclaimed series "Death Parade." Produced by Madhouse for the Young Animator Training Project's Anime Mirai 2013, this one-off episode introduces viewers to a unique and unsettling premise: two individuals who find themselves in a mysterious bar, Quindecim, with no memory of how they arrived. They are then compelled to play a game of billiards with their lives seemingly on the line, under the watchful eye of the enigmatic bartender, Decim. The film explores themes of human nature, morality, and the afterlife, wrapped in a suspenseful and beautifully animated package.

Cues to Success

  • Engaging Concept and Execution: "Death Billiards" excels in its original and engaging concept, drawing viewers into its mysterious world with a compelling narrative that skillfully intertwines suspense and psychological depth. The premise of using games as a means to judge souls in the afterlife is both innovative and intriguing, providing a fresh take on the themes of judgment and morality.
  • Stellar Animation and Atmosphere: Madhouse's reputation for high-quality animation is on full display here, with "Death Billiards" featuring detailed character designs, fluid motion, and atmospheric settings that perfectly complement the story's tone. The use of lighting and color enhances the eerie and otherworldly ambiance of Quindecim.

Areas for Refinement

  • Character Depth and Backstory: Given its short format, "Death Billiards" has limited time to develop its characters fully. While it effectively conveys the essence of its main protagonists within the narrative's constraints, viewers may be left wanting more background information and character development.
  • Exploration of Themes: While "Death Billiards" intriguingly sets up themes related to life, death, and moral judgment, the short film format naturally restricts a deeper exploration of these concepts. Some viewers might find the treatment of these themes a bit surface-level, leaving room for further examination and discussion.

Unveiling the Mysteries

  • Moral and Ethical Questions: The film's strength lies in its ability to pose complex moral and ethical questions through the lens of the billiards game, challenging both the characters and viewers to reflect on the value of life, the nature of human behavior, and the concept of justice in the afterlife.
  • Precursor to "Death Parade": "Death Billiards" serves as an effective introduction to the world that is further expanded in "Death Parade." For those intrigued by the short film's premise and execution, the subsequent series offers a more detailed exploration of the themes and setting introduced here.

Conclusion "Death Billiards" is a compelling and visually striking short film that introduces a fascinating world where life-and-death decisions are made across a billiards table. While it faces the inherent limitations of its format in terms of character development and theme exploration, it succeeds in capturing the imagination and paving the way for the deeper narrative dive provided by "Death Parade." As a standalone piece, it offers a tantalizing glimpse into an ethereal space between life and death, inviting viewers to ponder the weight of their actions and the nature of their existence.

7/10 story
8/10 animation
8/10 sound
7/10 characters
7/10 overall
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