Death Parade – 06

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This series certainly isn’t getting any easier to figure out.

It’s definitely a point in Death Parade’s favor that it continues to move in directions that surprise me, not just consistently but almost exclusively.  I had a broad suspicion of what sort of series it was going to be based on Death Billiards, and that was proved mostly wrong right out of the gate.  And it’s continued to stump me ever since, revealing layers and depths to the mythology that I wasn’t expecting to see.

The downside of a show that’s doing a lot of shapeshifting, of course, is that there may be times when certain incarnations don’t click quite as much as others – and I’d have to say this episode wasn’t one of the stronger ones for me.  I thought the humor was hit-and-miss and a bit mean-spirited, and the fanservice was pretty crass.  But even when Death Parade has gone in directions that didn’t work for me, it’s always turned out to be in the service of something bigger with the plot – that was the case with the second episode, and I believe it is here as well.

As expected we got an episode focused around Ginti’s bar this time, and it’s clear just from appearances that things are going to be very different. Rather than Quindecim’s ultra-chic modernity we have classic Japanese stylings here – tatami, bamboo, Buddhist scrolls, Kokeshi (wooden dolls from Tohoku).  And it’s clear from the way Ginti greets his visitors, annoying teen Mayu (Tanezaki Atsumi, who was so wonderful in Tonari no Kaibursu-kun) and fatuous idol Harada (Miyano Mamoru) that the tone of the arbitration is going to be very different, too.

Earlier I opined that if Quindecim’s was how the fate of eternal souls were judged, “the Universe is kind of an asshole”, but I have to take that back – compared to Ginti, that experience is positively nurturing and compassionate.  Ginti could give asshole lessons at a proctology clinic.  All through this episode I kept waiting for the other shoe to drop, but it never did – as far as anyone would be able to tell, Ginti is truly a cruel and sadistic SOB in a position to cast judgment on the eternal souls of the newly deceased.  And the situations confronting Harada and Mayu just kept getting more and more horrific.

The counterweight, though, is that the entire process was played as black comedy – very black – and because of that, it kind of worked.  Twister is a fitting venue for these twisted events to play out, and a particularly good fit for Ginti’s sadistic muse.  With a spinner voiced by Chafurin and a cat named Memine (Izumi Chiba) doing the spinning, this is the most surreal of the games we’ve seen so far.  As for the players, Mayu is a stereotypical high-school idol freak, obsessed with the group called “CHA” – whose center is none other than Harada, a notorious womanizer.  It seems almost too on the nose to cast Miyano-san in this role, but at the same time it’s almost impossible to imagine it being played by anyone else.  And he and Tanezaki do have a kind of wacky comic chemistry.  Mayu is too busy being thrilled at the chance to get up close and personal with Harada to worry much about the situation (at least at first), and Harada’s internal publicist never stops working all throughout the game.

Ginti tells his victims next to nothing about what’s going on, and his game uses extreme heat, cold, wind and a pit of spikes to terrorize them.  It’s only when the two are facing the end that he reveals the truth of their situation, and in yet another surprise both of them kind of pass the test with flying colors.  Mayu sacrifices herself (though she says it’s because she’d rather die than pee herself in front of Harada), and – though he does waver – Harada ends up trying to save Mayu from falling.  In the end both remember the truth of their rather pointless demises – she slipped on a bar of soap in the shower while singing a CHA tune (over 300 Americans a year die falling from falling in the shower or tub, you know).  And he got blowed up real good by the sister of one of his fans – a girl he’d slept with and dumped who later killed herself.

Certainly in terms of Karmic debt Harada seems to be in the lead (or behind, if you like), though I don’t think he’s truly responsible for what happened to his former fan – as far as we know Mayu’s only real sin is to be shallow and annoying.  But seemingly their actions in their final moments, weighed against their lives, ought to be enough for a ticket on the reincarnation train.  Thing is, though, that I have no idea if Ginti’s rules are the same as Quindecim’s.  We didn’t see Noh elevators specifically, and his language never directly suggested the same outcome.  And not only that, the ending completely excludes any mention of either Harada or Mayu’s fate – in fact, they show up for a musical number in the epilogue, as the entire regular cast looks on.

There’s one other weird twist here.  If you, like me, thought you recognized Mayu, you were right – that is her in the OP (several times, in fact).  What that means I have no idea, especially given that Harada is nowhere to be seen – maybe he’s sent out (I would hope upstairs) but she, like Onna, stays on?  It wouldn’t be out of character for Nona to assign Mayu to be Ginti’s assistant just because it would so exquisitely piss him off.  It’s still another mystery as Death Parade reaches its halfway point accompanied by far more questions than answers, but as interesting as those questions are, that’s a good thing.

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ED2 Sequence:

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  1. J

    Did anyone noticed that Meruem (Koki Uchiyama) , Hak (Tomoaki Maeno) , Chihaya (Asami Seto) , Arata (Yoshimasa Hosoya) and Taichi (Mamoru Miyano) appear in this episode?

    Madhouse, you rock!!

  2. Taichi – and Chrollo.

  3. K

    Love it. It's both funny and emotional! This is like watching the making of a classic!

  4. A

    She's not coming back. They just wanted a highschool girl for the OP song. Though to be honest, at first I thought she was going to be another judge that just happened to like wearing highschool uniforms.

    I'm sorry, but this was my favorite episode. It may stand against a lot of the themes this show represents, but so do I. I also understand it can only be done once, much like how the OP song is great precisely because it contrasts the actual tone of the show so much.

    Like I said, I don't expect Mayu to come back, but god I hope she does. Ginti is so much fun to tease.

  5. G

    I had the opposite experience, I hated the episode. Ginti was torturing these people and enjoying it. I thought you get tortured in hell? Then we don't even find out what happened to them. Very frustrating.

  6. e

    In terms of emotional shifts it was quite an interesting ride tis week. And I must say Mayu's facial expressions were hilarious. I especially lost it when she sniffed Mr. Idol like a truffle mushroom dog. I know the feeling there, Sis :,D .
    Plus the girl's attitude should be a nice counterpoint to (Vi)ginti if she'll end working as bar asistant as the OP had been suggesting these past weeks.
    Now… the imagery. The bar itself is pretty lovely.
    Among the decorations and tool we could pinpoint: just outside the elevator on either sides on the wall there are the two world/realms mandala of Esoteric Buddhism. The camera lingers on the panel on the right (from our POV) that is on the Kongokai Mandala – compare+info here: . Apparently the top row left one panel -.
    And those Kokeshi dolls by tradition are related to onsens… hence water, tying into Ginti's water attack/powers seen last week.
    Mayu does love his bear motifs too. I had to smile at her pillow and giant teddy on the bed.
    In any case, we are presented more dolls and toys imagery this week.
    And that giant hand sculpture should be one of Kannon's 1000 open palm (remember Netero)… filtered through some Gaudì-meetFuseli-meet-Michelangelo lenses? On top of featuring at the four corners of the Twister board and behind Mayu's OP solo dance of course.
    In any case… the cat is love. Ginti seems to have very little love or respect for humans but who knows kuroneko and now the girl who managed to baffle him both at the end of the game and afterwards might be his saving grace :p. I could imagine Nona letting Mayu work there to both annoy and enlighten his subordinate on the surface… and possibly as a way (experiment? ), at a deper level, to exert some influence on the system at a deeper level. At worst it's a change in their work's routine I guess :p.
    While Mayu should be part of the afterlife team cast I'm not sure about the guy. She's in the OP but I couldn't spot him anywhere in the OP. Unless he's in the back of the group elevator shot or of the jellyfish chandelier one – there are some characters' faces that are nondescript or hidden in both group shots after all – . Still, similar to episode #3 the two good souls were given some extra time in the bar together before going to their next afterlife stage so maybe that's his bonus. One last little show. Yet the presence of Decim Clavis and Onna makes me think he is gonna stick around as a helper, even if maybe an off-screen one. What a fortunate timing and slacking off in the light of what we were revealed last week of the world death rate otherwise, no? :p.

    Last but not least… if we put together Onna's skating in the OP with the Chavvot dreambook and the different dress in her wardrobe we are likely to find out she's a figure ice skater sooner or later.

  7. e

    P.S.: is it 'Mayu' as in 'cocoon'? *Butterflies and rebirth imagery goggles on*

  8. e

    P.P.S.: I have a hunch we are seeing Eyepatch Girl's face – the lower half. Haircut matches – in the preview. And hey she's the one doing bottle acrobatics during the OP… next episode title seems fitting in a way :,D.

  9. C

    I hate that you can't edit…

    Anyway, what a hilarious episode! The best one in my opinion. Fun was allowed. I mean yeah the previous episode was about worldbuilding but it was kinda boring…

    I really hope Harada stays… He really made a fanboy out of me.

  10. E

    I beg to differ. It's a very good episode. I, too, thought that the universe is an asshole, the God is an asshole, for tormenting dead people once more time before they really died.

    But this episode denied that. God is actually very merciful, instead.
    He gives these dead people once more time to repent their mistake.
    Harada, instead of pushing the fan girl to her doom, like what he has done in his life, chose to do a very risky maneuver to save her, instead. A maneuver which could easily cost him his own life too. I bet he was sent to reincarnation. All is well~
    And because it will be ridiculous to cast the fangirl into the void, she is allowed to stay with Ginti, lol. We can only speculate.

  11. D

    I wasn't a fan of a number of the early Death Parade episodes, but this was fun, well animated _and_ unpredictable. If they keep playing with the format, I may be on board at last…

  12. w

    I think the pair in this episode make an interesting contrast with the two in 4. Harada could have so easily been doomed to the void for similar reasons as the lady from 4, and she may have been saved from her own crueler instincts. There's an element of some of the old Greek gods to Ginti, I think. That sort of callousness, viewing humans as animalistic playthings. Makes one wonder if Decim is seen as something of an anomaly, in having respect for his guests.

    I'll admit a lot of the humour missed for me, too (though some of the hits hit hard) but it's still left us with plenty to wonder about. One of the things that bothered me was that if the void is a 'Bad End' as it seems suggested to be, where's the good? It'd be a cycle of reincarnation until you finally mess it up enough to get voided. Mayu becoming a regular character might hint at another option somewhere, so I'd like to see where this goes.

  13. Well, the idea is that reincarnation is supposed to be an opportunity to do better the next time until, eventually, you get it right and reach Nirvana. Or, if you're an E7 fan, Nirvash.

  14. E

    The guys who are good enough to reach Nirvana probably go there directly.
    There will be no need to judged further by these guys.

  15. g

    @Enzo and Eternia
    Im not sure but if it works the way you guys pointed then it seems to me that the void is what loses its point.

    If theres some goal place you should reach and the possibility of reincarnation, why then not simply let everyone reincarnate as many times as needed to get there?

    To me it only makes sense if theres a point when its determined that the person is beyond any possible salvation.

  16. That doesn't contradict what I said about reincarnation. Reincarnation is a chance to try and do better until you get it right, and the void exists for those who've exhausted their opportunities or simply proved themselves incapable of enlightenment.

  17. g

    Thats true, I was just pointing out the apparent logical contradiction within the process of reincarnation itself, save for the case that assumes the existence of people beyond salvation. Or god being an asshole, for the record.

    Now it frustates me how we cant really do anything aside from speculating about the actual process of judgement since we dont really know anything.

    Im just hoping theres more to it than the arbiters arbitrarily (lol) judging whether you are beyond salvation based on a few vague memories and your behavior during an extreme situation.

  18. J

    I think probably the parts of this episode that worked he least for me was the lack of emotional tension. Ginti is torturing them, but we know its the after-life and its not going to have any long-term effects.

    Instead the emotional tension is missing, precisely because their manner's of death weren't related, and the timing was fairly arbitrary. Remembering things didn't unveil much of anything about their relationship, so there was no real progression either.

    it was just an introduction episode to ginti's tactics, but I would have liked to see it play out on a similar drama of the earlier episodes, instead of the fan serivce (admittedly they do offer up fan service for more than one preference, so they got that going for them).

    Hopefully this will be as close as we get to a swimsuit episode, if another show I like arbitrarily throws it in I think I'll scream.

  19. m

    This is a pretty funny episode, Ginti is a sadistic and sort of mean-spirited bastard but this episode turned out to be almost light hearted – almost. Haha. In contrast, Decim's episodes were always morally coloured and so much darker, despite his supposing lack of emotions. I love how the moods and characters bring out a sort of clash, it makes this show more fun and intriguing to watch.
    I'm not sure whether I want mayu to stay as assistant. She will be a variety to the cast, but I'm worried that she will become annoying if allowed to dominate the show.
    It is also interesting how there doesn't seem to be any sort of judgement made, and no clear indication by Ginti as well. I wonder if this will be addressed.

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