Saturday, January 17, 2015

First Impressions: Death Parade

EPISODE 1: Seven Darts

A young newlywed couple, Takashi and Machiko, step out of an elevator with no memory of what happened to them before arriving there. All they remember is that they are supposed to be on their honeymoon. They find a mysterious white-haired bartender who welcomes them to "Queen Decim" and introduces himself as Decim. Without explaining anything to the couple, Decim proceeds to tell them that they are going to play a game with their lives on the line and until they finish the game, they cannot leave.

So what do our intrepid duo first do? They try to find a way out. Not surprisingly, they fail and then Decim reveals to them a horrible sight hidden behind the bar: dead bodies of people hanged upside down. This forces Takashi and Machiko to play along with Decim, thinking him to be a mad man. When they play the roulette, they end up choosing the game of darts, called Seven Darts. Decim explains that the player with the lowest score will win, but added that the targets are connected to their nerve-endings so that they would feel the pain of each hit.

As they play, Takashi and Machiko's memories gradually return and they both realize that they are not as happy as they thought they were and that they were both dead, having earlier died from a vehicular accident on their honeymoon. Takashi also remembers on their wedding day overhearing Machiko's friends talking about Matchy having an affair, which leads Takashi to believe that the child Machiko is carrying is not his. All through their wedding, Takashi pretends to be happy but deep down he harbors resentment towards Machiko. When Takashi confronts her about this during the game, Machiko reveals that Matchy is actually Machida Yuki, an old friend of hers, but later admits that she was indeed having an affair with another man.

In the end, Takashi loses the game and attempts to attack Machiko but is stopped by Decim, who reveals that he is the arbitrator who decides through the death game who goes to heaven and who goes to hell. He then puts the two back in the elevator. Afterwards, Decim talks to two companions of his and it is revealed that Takashi's soul is going to be reincarnated while Machiko's is going to the void.

The story is a pretty lackluster one for a series opener. Or have I become jaded? I wasn't shocked or moved by the story of Takashi and Machiko. The whole point of the death game is to reveal a person's true nature when tested to the limit. So they both turn out to be horrible people. But who do you think is more horrible? Takashi, who got cheated believing his wife to be true only to learn on his wedding day that she had an affair with another man? Or Machiko who believed she finally found the right man in Takashi only to learn later that he had not been true for he hated her for her past? And who got the worst of the lot? Takashi gets reincarnated. He will have to go through the pain of life all over again. Machiko goes to the void. She will become nothing. 
 Actually, I'm less interested about the players and more interested about Decim and his companions. What's their story? Are they spirits as well? 
The art is good. Not anything to write home about but fairly decent. The style is pleasing enough but doesn't really stand out from the rest out there. 
I'm not particularly impressed by the music, OP or ED. The OP seemed a bit too bouncy and kind of forced. I guess that's the point? Hmm.