Death is a fascinating subject, nearly every art form touches death and nearly every piece of art revolves around death. Death is a driving force of every story, death is also driving force of our creativity, achievement and our whole life, we live to die one day and that is the truth no matter how you look at it. So given the importance of death, it is no wonder that so many stories are written about what happens after death and Death Parade is one of such stories. However, unlike most other stories which describe what happens after death, Death Parade questions the morality of these stories and system which is explained in them, which is not a new concept but not an overused one either. As an anime fan, I enjoyed Death Parade but as a skeptic and as a critic, I have also found huge flaws. Flaws in Death Parade exists in three segments which are Philosophy, Emotional Impact, and Execution. Let us get our hands dirty then.
(Note, Philosophy portions is hard to understand or it is just me rambling about random stuff, so skip if you want to)
Death Parade is about death but truly don’t want to understand death or at least don’t want to give much thought about it. the show is basically about judging a dead person soul to determine whatever to send it to void or to reincarnate. Now at this point, everything is fine but the show doesn’t explain anything about reincarnation or anything about the soul. If you ask what is a soul in this universe? then the entire argument for judging falls apart, what are you judging? The person who lived or soul itself, Does soul have any memories, feelings, attitude also does soul take action while living or person does and if you said that person and soul are one and the same then does one remember their previous life when they reborn, if not then why does one need to send any soul in void?. Can this anime answer me any of this? Is person consider to be bad or do soul consider to be bad? If the soul is consider being bad then why don’t send every person to void? because everyone does some bad things, why make souls at all? See, this is why hate animes which don’t do world building enough and it is not like that the Death Parade didn’t have enough episodes, two to three episodes were boring and added nothing of value at all. You don’t need to base your definition of the soul based on real world either, just make up a definition which will fit the theme of your show. In western philosophy heaven is consider to be salvation and hell is consider as punishment but in eastern philosophy final goal of life is to be free from the cycle of birth and death, that is salvation. So for people who believe in western philosophy(aka Abrahamic religions) are better of for rebirth, but the person who is raised in eastern philosophy(aka Hinduism and Buddhism) both options sucks. There was no need to base the show’s judging system on the mixture of completely different and opposing philosophies, Death Parade could just make up things it wanted to tell a more cohesive story. What Death Parade wanted to show that no one has or should have the right to judge you except yourself, however, this is done poorly and with many logical fallacies.
Death Parade also want to present the theme of “celebrate life” but unable to give enough cause to do so, which can be seen in giving two choices to dead people eternal void(aka, hell) or reincarnation which doesn’t serve any purpose. You see many people become bad because of having a bad life or childhood, people change depending on their surroundings and when they die they will go to void, because they did bad things to survive, where nothing exists. Now, this literally means that people which had a life equal to hell will go to hell and people who had a normal life or good life will reborn in unknown circumstances which may be hell like. You see, those are the fallacies I am talking about, simply being good doesn’t mean you will get to live in japan, you can also be born in Africa where life may be as same as hell, for me this doesn’t make sense. And why would you want to be reborn for anyone anyway, people will not recognize you and you would not have the memory of previous life to recognize them. If you asked me whenever you like to go, I would definitely choose to be in the bar and do nothing forever.
Emotional Impact and Execution.
Death Parade suffers from what I called Over-expression syndrome, which is most prevalent in the first episode. In first episode characters just bursts out tons of unrealistic facial expressions which makes me hate them. Facial expressions are important and can make and break a good phycological anime but overusing them tends to produce bad results, because of this middle part of Re: zero become boring to watch, you just can’t take seriously. Fortunately shows only first episode suffered because of this blunder.
As I said in the philosophy section, because of logical fallacies you can’t take the show seriously. Death Parade also heavily lacks character development in both main and supporting characters. While most characters are the only guest for one episode that doesn’t justify their lack of development, all of these characters are stereotypical and Plain. There are no characters with complex emotions and I hated it when Death Parade made stereotypical murders which I think we all understand how their mind works, give me the phycology of serial killers, not just some murders who justify their murder. Watching Death Parade made me remember an anime which I only watched one episode of on Animax a lot of years ago, the name of that show is hell girl. The first episode of hell girl builds more character and emotions than entire Death Parade, for me at least.
We should ask ourselves that why do we watch phycological animes? and what does phycological animes does for us? If you ask me, I will say that a good phycological anime takes my expectations, prejudice about the real world and shatters them like a glass. It is a great experience to see your foolishness gently shattered in front of your eyes, it is a great experience to see your understanding of the world around you and yourself increased after finishing it, personally, I don’t think any medium but anime can execute this feat properly. It is the enjoyment of growth and reshuffling of believes make a phycological anime, a good phycological anime changes you a person in good and practical direction. I don’t get what I expected from Death Parade which I expect from every phycological anime. I don’t know why It is happening, Death Parade is pseudo phycological anime and a full-fledged drama anime and a good one at that. Same thing happened with yuri on ice which I don’t think it is a sports anime but an ok romance anime. “Phycological” tag in anime is one of the most respected and one of the hardest to understand, we all should treat it carefully.
Thanks, guys, let me know your thoughts below and it is ok to disagree. If you like my posts then please follow, share and like. See you next time.
Also just for you to know, Death Note also cannot be called phycological anime, I rather call Death Parade a phycological anime that Death Note.