When I heard that Death Billards would be getting a full 12 episode series called Death Parade I was quite excited. The one episode short looked to be an excellent concept for a episodic series. A bar which people are sent to when they die which decides whether they go to heaven or hell depending on a game? That idea alone has barrels of potential. However the writer of Death Parade had other plans and went instead with a ongoing plot. The end result is a series torn between great episodic death game episodes(with the exception of one) and a mediocre ongoing narrative with a lacking foundation. In truth the writing focused on keeping the audience in the dark in order to promote mystery and intrigue but kept us too alienated to become emotionally involved. When time comes to reveal the answers are lackluster and the ongoing plot ends on a flat note.
The art and animation is what you can expect from Madhouse. Solid and consistent animation throughout the show and background art can be quite stunning. I can say that Quindecim is a truly beautiful bar and I have a certain fondness for the command center full of red wine glasses. The opening is incredibly catchy and brightens your day every time you see it. Though it is unsuited to the very nature of the show. The main character, Decim, is very endearing despite his unemotional demeanour and the show really didn’t give him the development or arc that he deserved.
Death parade is a case of mistaken direction where the story can’t decide whether it wants to make us laugh, cry, curious or melancholic. The result is a melting pot of genre and a confused tone. A search for a core concept when in truth there was a great core to work with already. Also despite so much focus being put on the ongoing story, one episode characters are oddly more developed than the main cast. I am being harsh however as Death Parade does have moments of greatness. There is potential in this writer. He just needs someone to tell him to stop and look at what he has. If you are able to overlook the flaws of death parades plot and embrace it’s highs then I recommend this show to you. I can say with certainty that it is half great. Your enjoyment will depend on whether you can overlook the other half.