A lot of times we sit down and expect an anime to be almost mind numbing: girl gets guy, good guys beat bad guys, lots of swords swinging through the air.

Death Parade is a brutal wake up from the mediocrity of recent anime. The lighthearted and funny opening deceived me and it will deceive you.

So lets start with a rundown of what the show is about.

Death Parade is an episodic anime series aired last anime season. Death Billiards, a short one-shot, spawned the show.

The show takes place in a bar of the afterlife, Quindecim. Upon entering Quindecim, the players are stripped of their memories and believe they are still alive.

Doll-like beings, called arbiters, act as the bartenders and draw out the darkness of dead souls. When two humans die at the same time, their souls arrive at Quindecim and are pitted against each other in a game chosen by roulette.

It’s unclear whether the players are putting their lives and their partners on the line.

Depending on the arbiter’s judgment, the members of the party will either be reincarnated or sent to the void where their soul will remain for eternity.

It’s also unclear about who goes where until the end when the players enter two separate elevators and a mask above each elevator door displays their fate. It is sometimes ambiguous whether or not the players deserve the fate they receive.

The show has unveiled one thing: fear is the most primal emotion.

Imagine playing Twister.

Each time someone places his or her hand on red, the white space between the circles turns into hot magma.

Each time someone places his or her hand on blue it turns to ice. Now imagine the floor drops away from beneath you, revealing a spike pit. You have a choice to either keep playing the game until someone’s body gives out, or to push the other player’s body into the pit.

What would you do to save yourself?

These games occur while an arbiter watches on with cold eyes.

Arbiters were made to make judgements – they cannot experience death or feel emotion. They hold the memories from those who don’t know they’ve died and slowly deliver them back during the course of the game.

They do not remember the judged and view humans as less than them.

Is it right for an arbiter to be able to judge a human if they do not have human emotions and understanding?

The arbiter Decim becomes the experimental player to test this question.

Nona, the barkeeper, and boss of Decim and Ginti, decides to experiment. She sends Decim a human named Chiyuki who cannot be judged because, while she has amnesia, she already knows she is dead.

As the story progresses, Chiyuki aids Decim in his judgements and slowly teaches him what it means to be human.

A large array of individuals pass through Quindecim, which I found to be the most interesting aspect of the show.

As an omniscient viewer, you get to see a condensed version of the memories of all who pass through. You experience the world through the eyes of murderers, abusers and deceivers. Through the eyes of the slain, the abused and the betrayed.

Those you normally could never understand suddenly become closer to you. You question your previous perceptions. Are these people actually as bad as we think they are?

The show addresses suicide, revenge murder and distrust by presenting jarring scenes where the viewers see how far someone will go for revenge, even after death. It humanizes individuals and you cry with them when they have to come to terms with what they’ve done and lost forever.

The art, the music, the story and lessons are exemplary.

While it is a lot to take in, there is something in the show for all of us to learn from.

Editor’s Note: Co-managing editor Savannah Tanbusch contributed to this article.

writersblocheadshots17Kaitlyn Peltzer is a junior English and criminology major and can be reached at kpeltzer@terpmail.umd.edu.

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