I feel like this is a meta-anime, as you’ll assume watching this is some kind of after death punishment.
Story - 4/10
When humans die, instead of being sent to heaven or hell, they’re sent to a bar to play a game, and through their reactions and revelations, their future is determined, either reincarnation or a dark abyss for all eternity. The people making these determinations are known as Arbiters, and they are essentially soulless beings who have no reference on how they judge humans, only using what the game tells them. But what happens if someone who has lived a life of a human, enters their orbit and starts to influence their decision making process?
Unfortunately that question is only really asked towards the very end of the series, and instead we’re just stuck with a writer’s odd, and unoriginal, mashup of Saw and The Twilight Zone. The big message we end up getting is “everyone has secrets,” which isn’t really a secret unless you too are a soulless being who’s never lived a real life.
There was a good show to be had here, but every story they came to tell just felt so pointless, especially when often two people with similar stories and decisions end up getting judged differently. They also go on to waste far too much time looking at the pasts of our main characters, but in a way that doesn’t add anything.
Often shows like this are hampered by having their season cut short, or expecting a second one, but Death Parade appeared to be created as just a single season show, and yet still had such awful timing and story editing, that you’d assume the production company was told to quit half way through.
Animation - 6/10
I really hated the animation for this series. Watching it would have you believe the animators have never actually seen a human, or how faces move, or what emotions are. Each reaction from a character looks like a strained twisting of their face and limbs, that you’d either see in a horror series or a a hallucination scene.
For what they were going for, they did well, it just was a very odd choice.
Characters themselves were very original or interesting, which tracks with the series.
Sound - 8/10
The audio section for the show is very well done. All the English VO Artist for our main characters were great matches for their looks, and had the acting to pull off the parts. Likewise they brought in a nice group of actors for all the episode guests, and just like the main characters they were great.
The opening for the show was, well an odd choice. They try to give it a matching intro animation, but there really no way an off key disco song matches this show. The ending was much more in sync with the series, an alt-metal song with some very good music and vocals.
The one that stood out most to me though was the music played during the previews at the end of each episode. It sounds so much like music used in another anime series (I almost want to say a RPG type series, or something by Yuki Jajiura, as I thought maybe it was from .hack//Sign) but I just can’t pin point it.
Characters - 3/10
The characters appear to have the least thought put in to them of any aspect of the show.
Decim is our main arbiter, and he’s every “robot who learns to love” character in the history of entertainment. As an arbiter his only reason for being is to judge those who died based on the secrets they reveal, so he should be a bit cold and stickler for the rules, but he’s made to be even more of just a dull nothing, than any of the others who do the same work.
Working along side him is a nameless woman who is learning the ropes of what it means to be an arbiter. We know she’s a human who was judged, but not sent away, as they try to see what would happen if an arbiter had emotions. At first she’s used as the voice of the viewer, asking any questions we may have, but towards the end she become’s Decim’s conscious, trying to show him that human’s are more than just an outburst of emotions.
The other’s in the land of the arbiters are rather boring, not because they’re dull, but just because they are typical anime characters you’d see in any other series. The only one who actually is of any intrigue is Nona, and they surprisingly make sure to give her the best twist of all, and one that does wrap everything up.
None of the characters who are forced to play the games are really that interesting. Almost all are people who are first posed as one thing, but then have a sudden twist once the game is nearing its end. Their stories are, like much in the series, something you’ve most likely watched in another show, or read in a book; and you’ll easily see where the story is going from the start.
The writers seem to be trying to make a very bad version of The Twilight Zone where every episode has a cruel twist that renders most of what you just watched useless. Even then it wouldn’t be so bad if there was a bit of variety to the way they did things, but almost every episode, that revolved around a death game, played out exactly the same, down to Decim catching the rampaging character in his spidey webs.
I did appreciate them wrapping the story up, and giving a good reasoning for most decisions, but I just wish that task of completing stories followed each episode, as pretty much all just had an abrupt ending where you really don’t get a decent reasoning behind the judgement.
In the end the show offered very little in entertainment or originality. Even it’s overall message, about how people shouldn’t be judged because of their worst moments, has been expressed in more intelligent and entertaining ways, in many other forms of media.
Positive Reasons for Score:
* And interesting concept, failed by a complete lack of story.
* They did a good job of casting the English version of the show.
* At least the very end had a meaningful conclusion.
Negative Reasons for Score:
* A majority of the episodes play out exactly the same way.
* Almost none of the characters will draw your interest.
* Plot holes, within plot holes, within plot holes.
Ways to make the show better:
* Fix the many moments of truly awful animation.
* Add a little variety to the episode arcs, as all games play out exactly the same.
* Weave the over arching story, into all the episodes, instead of just one here and there.