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Death Parade – 1

January 10, 2015
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deathparade

Peeps die. They play some game. Stuff happens. One goes to Heaven, one goes to Hell. Something like that. The first episode of this thing is pretty much a rehash of the stuff we already saw in that Death Billiards OVA from a couple of years back. We just get a different bar game with this episode: darts.

I don’t even need to say that the games in this thing are obviously not the gist of it. It’s just a neat plot device to give the show its gimmick. If this was just “after death counseling sessions” I don’t think most of us would be too keen on checking it out. We come for the game and stay for the melodrama or whatever.

Thing is, and this may go without saying as well, the game itself doesn’t really seem to be of importance in the actual story. The peeps in question play a game and someone wins. Is that really what’s happening? In this first episode, the guy loses the game of darts, yet he’s the one who goes to heaven/gets reincarnated. That’s assuming getting reincarnated is a thing you’re supposed to be cool with, but I think we’re supposed to make that assumption here given those handy angel/devil masks above the elevators. So yeah, the wife wins but she’s the one who goes to hell/gets cast into the void.

Looks to me like things have already been decided. Looks to me like the game is just a means to get the individuals in question to come to some sort of epiphany about their lives before they meet their fate. This isn’t god judging you. This isn’t self-determination. This is your heart being weighed, Egyptian Book of the Dead-style, and if it ain’t right it gets eaten by Ammit. These individuals have already determined their fates. Nothing’s going to change the weigh-in. It’s all about coming to terms with the inevitable.

But that gets me thinking. The way things played out, I wasn’t sure who was the guilty party here. The dude harbored some serious jealousy and anger shit that finally came to the surface during the game. The wife may have had an affair. I’m not really sure about her. On the one hand she could have done a good job concealing her infidelity, and she let the guy know as one last “gotcha” before meeting her fate. Or, when she saw the way he fell apart just with the mere thought of her being unfaithful, she decided to play along with his delusions to give him some semblance of righteousness. Maybe she took the fall there in order to relieve some of his guilt over his actions? That look she has when she finally decides to turn around and tell him is pretty damn ambiguous.

But then there’s that initial assumption. Is going to Hell a bad thing? Is that the right word to use here? The guy is sent back to be reincarnated, but isn’t breaking that cycle the final destination in many ideologies that buy into that concept? Maybe the wife has learned the lessons she needs and this was her final karmic trip? Maybe the void is freedom from the cycle?

I don’t know. It’s as ambiguous as her look. And I dig it for that.

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