Death Parade

September 19, 2015

Do you believe that when you die, you will be sent to a place to be judged for what you have done in your life before being sent to either heaven or hell? What if that place is a mysterious bar where you get to have drinks all you want before you pass out pissed drunk before passing on? Hah! Just joking! That would be indeed the ultimate heaven before you pass over, right? Indeed Death Parade seems to have the setting of 2 people who die at the same time to turn up in a mysterious bar run by equally mysterious and creepy bartenders who also act as arbiters. But there is a catch in deciding who goes up and who goes down. You play a game. Not just any ordinary game. A game with some sort of twist that will certainly bring out the darkness in you. Because nobody wants to go to hell, right? Either you do what it takes or whatever is right. And that itself is already enough to seal your fate for eternity. So you play games to decide your fate, huh? Couldn’t they do this an easier way?

Episode 1
Takeshi and Machiko find themselves in a weird bar, Quindecim. They cannot remember anything much except they were on honeymoon before arriving at this place. The bartender, Decim explains several rules like he cannot tell them where they are and that they must play a game that would have them stake their lives on. They thought this is a sick joke and try to leave but there are no exits. They refuse to take part so they are warned they may end up like something behind his bar: Corpses! Takeshi tells Machiko to go with the flow now for who knows what else this dude might pull. The game they will play will be decided via roulette and it seems they will be playing darts. Each will have 7 darts and the one with the lowest score wins. But this isn’t just an ordinary darts game. The board is filled with pictures of their body parts or organs. If they hit that part, their partner will feel pain in that region. Takeshi doesn’t believe and goes first but Machiko starts writhing in pain over her shoulder. Could it just be her imagination? When she goes next, it hits his lungs and he definitely feels it. But there is no physical surgery whatsoever. He confronts Decim about this because as he is a doctor he knows better. Decim reminds him about the game rules and also hints he doesn’t need to hit the target. The duo purposely miss their targets when Takeshi suddenly remembers the corpses! At this rate he will lose. I’m not sure if it is on purpose because his hand slipped and hit a target. And I’m not sure if Machiko also did the same thing on purpose or accident because Takeshi’s eyes are now in pain. Very sorry about it, she tells him not to hit the stomach. It is their child. She never said anything about it because she wanted to surprise him on their honeymoon. So when he throws his dart, he remembers overhearing Machiko’s friends saying that she married him like it was just a game and she won. The dart hits the stomach.

Takeshi then becomes merciless in revealing about the affair he heard during their wedding day. She tells him he got it all wrong but he doesn’t believe her. Takeshi then confirms with Decim with the dart rules. Nothing was said about throwing your opponent’s darts, right? He takes Machiko’s final dart. Machiko explains he heard wrongly. It wasn’t her they were talking about but a friend of theirs whose name was almost similar to hers. She too married a doctor. They struggle for the last dart and Machiko gets it. As she throws, she remembers their happier times. They were driving on their honeymoon and had a car crash. The dart hits Takeshi’s heart. Bull’s eye. Machiko is the winner but Takeshi wants another go. Machiko believes it is useless because they are already dead. This is when Decim reveals this place is where people are judged to be sent to heaven or hell. They are already dead and pairs that die at the same time will be invited her. Takeshi remembers he suspected Machiko having an affair. Her handphone was ringing but she didn’t pick up. He struggled to get it and that’s when the crash happened. Takeshi cannot believes this is happening and accuses Machiko that the child is not his but another man’s. Seeing how broken he is, Machiko admits she only married him for his money and never loved him. Everything was a lie. Takeshi lunges at her but Decim’s threads stop him. In the end, they are escorted to individual elevators. Shortly, Nona and Kurokami No Onna (literally black hair woman) appear before Decim. They were watching the spectacle. Kurokami didn’t pretty much like it. She asks where their souls went. Takeshi was sent for reincarnation and Machiko the void.

Episode 2
This episode chronicles the background events of the previous episode. What Nona and Kurokami were doing while Decim hosts the darts game. When Kurokami first woke up, she remembered nothing and was brought by Nona to Quindecim. She was explained that the bartenders are arbiters who will decide the fate of the recently deceased humans in a game. The best way to learn it is to watch it. So Nona brings Kurokami to the back of the bar where there are lots of puppets and mannequins hanging and lying about. She says this is Decim’s hobby. So of course when Decim showed this to Takeshi and Machiko, from their view it looked like corpses in the dark. Although the players are dead, dying comes as a shock so people don’t realize it. So they will have to give them an idea that they are staking their lives and thus provoking them. Once they reveal the darkness of their souls as much as possible, only then an arbiter can make their judgment. Taking Kurokami to a higher balcony to watch the darts game, she continues explaining how the players think by losing the game, they will get killed. As they play the game, their memories will slowly return. Arbiters may not know what they remember but it is usually something to do with their deaths. Those memories always get lost amid the trauma. At the end of the game, the winner is sent for reincarnation (heaven) and the loser’s soul will fall into the void (hell). At the end of the game after Takeshi and Machiko are sent on their way, Kurokami still has her doubts. Because when she observed Machiko making her final revelation, it was as though she was lying to save Takeshi (since he was already broken from killing their child). The way she said it had forlorn look in her eyes. Despite Machiko really did have an affair, she put her feelings above everything else and still loved Takeshi. Decim wonders if he had made the wrong decision so Nona tells him about people’s feelings that can manifest through the most subtle of expression. Just because he is an arbiter, do not brush them off. Nona leaves Kurokami as Decim’s assistant and she should just continue what she is doing. Nona believes Takeshi was a man who couldn’t trust anyone and thus would never have found happiness. At first she thought Kurokami did a decent job but takes it back. She still has a long way to go.

Episode 3
Decim wakes up Shigeru Miura who is sleeping on the couch. She joins a girl who couldn’t even remember her name at the bar. As they are being told the rules, as expected they don’t believe and try to leave. No exit. The girl thinks of playing the game in hopes she can remember something. The game is bowling. The one with the highest score wins and they will bowl a ball that contains the other’s heart! Don’t worry. They will feel no pain. Takeshi goes first and could feel the fast beating and warmth of her heart. No strike but a decent score. Then it is her turn. The more Shigeru looks at her, the more smitten he is but he tries not to get distracted. Shigeru makes a wager with her. If he wins, he will take her out on a date. When she bowls, she starts to remember bits of her memories. She worked in a bowling alley and Shigeru was there with his friends. Also, Shigeru was her childhood friend but she moved away. She remembers. They remember. She now remembers her name, Chisato Miyazaki. But Decim whispers to Kurokami something shocking that she is not allowed to scream. Decim believes they may not have a happy ending. Shigeru also remembers something similar at the bowling alley and he really likes her. His friends whisper something to him about Chisato. In the bus, he tried to talk to her but an accident happened. Now that they realized they are dead, Shigeru asks to date Chisato right now (since he also won the game). I don’t know Decim can joke with a poker face because he allows it for 5 minutes! Kurokami abuses him but he retracts that and says they can date to their hearts content. Not much to go and do here but they are happy. Ironically they’re glad to be dead because they wouldn’t have met this way. They depart happy. Flashback reveals Decim whispered to Kurokami that this is not the real Chisato and she might have mistaken her own identity. She is actually Mai Takada, his other childhood friend who had a crush on him but never being able to catch his eye. So she moved on by undergoing some plastic surgery. At the bowling alley, Shigeru’s friends tell him that cutie is Mai who underwent plastic surgery after school and they should know each other. Shigeru therefore knows she is Mai ever since he got his memories back because he remembered when Chisato moved away, Mai assured she will always stay by his side because she loved him.

Episode 4
Misaki Tachibana and Yousuke Tateishi are trying to get out of Quindecim. No luck. Then it hit Misaki. This may be a game show with hidden camera. You see, Misaki is a TV celebrity and thinks this is one of those reality TV thingy and wants him to play along and act naturally. They will be playing an arcade fighting game. The one who wins 2 rounds in this no-time-limit game will win. The only character they can pick is themselves and it mirrors their real life personality. After Yousuke wins the first round, Misaki starts remembering faintly. She got mixed up in bad company, married the wrong guy, got wife abused and the guy walked out of her life. Twice. Misaki tells Yousuke to lose the next round to make it more exciting. During the game, Decim uses some device to make Yousuke’s controller pop out! As Misaki wins the round, he remembers the loser otaku life he leads. His father divorced and remarried another woman. Misaki is shocked to learn there are no hidden cameras and because Decim cannot reveal much, she jumps to conclusion the loser will die. She becomes worried because Yousuke is clearly better than her. All Decim can say is return to the game. It is not over yet. Unfair, right? Life is never fair. As the third round continues, Decim uses his device to pop out Misaki’s controller. Kurokami has had enough of this and confiscates it. He says it is necessary to bring out the darkness in human’s soul to be judged. And it won’t take long for that because Misaki is hammering Yousuke’s head into the screen!!!!!!!!! Yousuke remembers his new mom tries to be kind to him but he ignored her. Misaki comes to her senses and wants an ambulance called but Decim tells her to continue the game. She returns to it and Yousuke wakes up after remembering more. Both sides fight till double KO. A draw. Yousuke remembers he killed himself by jumping out from the window after being bored with life. Misaki abused her manager for screwing up and in turn she strangled her. It hit them that they are dead. Misaki cannot accept this especially about this game which is supposed to be their judgment. All she felt was being deceived, which basically sums up her entire life. Before she knew it, she had 5 children and she needs to get back to them because she realized she was ready to be happy with them. Yousuke also regrets not doing much for his new mom. All Decim can do is hug them and said they have tried their best. Off to the elevators they go.

Episode 5
Jimmy is a happy kid. Then he spots a girl playing outside his house and instantly took a liking for her. Especially her smile. He called out to her and tried to go to her but fell through the snow. It was painful but her smile made the pain go away. Seems this is a strange dream that Kurokami always has. She notices Decim putting up a board with a character in her dream. When he receives memories of the next guests, he feels something is odd. A man and a boy walk into Quindecim as the man orders beer although he gets a feeling he might have seen him before or been here. Meanwhile Nona is playing billiards with an old guy named Oculus. The interesting about this game is how the balls are the planets of the Solar System! Despite Nona being manager for 82 years and they’ve been playing this game 170 times a year, Oculus can never beat her. Something about not letting her guard down and be bored. I’m not sure if she made a mistake to give him a chance. But he also screws up and Nona wins the game. How can he best her next time? Maybe he should ask God since he is considered close to Him. However he notes God has already left this place a long time ago. Back to Quindecim, the man suddenly remembers about dolls/corpses. He takes the boy hostage and threatens he won’t go through all that again. After Decim holds him back with his threads, the boy knocks out Kurokami. He manages to evade Decim’s threads for the first time but gets trapped the second time round.

The boy turns out to be a fellow arbiter, Ginti. He is not happy Decim is keeping that woman who is completely human here instead of passing judgment. Decim reveals that when he first met her, she had her memories intact and couldn’t convince her to play any games. He ended up having her memories erased and extended her judgment term. Ginti doesn’t like this a bit and attacks him. Threads versus water balls… The match is stopped when Nona beats up Ginti for going too far. Seems all this is just a memory test. Nona has him reiterate the rules of the game and when receiving guests. He should have sent something amiss when he never got memories of the boy at all. Even if they forget due to the shock of dying, latent memories do not disappear. Therefore he should have cancelled the game. As for that man, he is just a dummy implanted with fake memories and not human to begin with. She leaves and goes to see Castra who overseas deaths across the world. With the death rate at 7,000 per hour, you think this place is enough to keep up? Yeah, humans dying like flies… Ginti still doesn’t approve of Decim to keep Kurokami here because he believes arbiters and humans cannot coexist. Clavis the elevator operator tells him to let Decim handle this his way and it is not their place to interfere how he passes judgment. Besides, he will have his own guests coming soon. Decim puts Kurokami to bed as she continues that dream. Jimmy and the girl had fun together although he didn’t know her name. When he tells his mom about this, she tells him her name is Chavvot. He promised to let her know his feelings. Nona is seen reading that storybook.

Episode 6
This time we see how Ginti handles his guests. When spunky Mayu Arita arrives in this traditional Japanese setting, Ginti is such a grumpy guy. He doesn’t bother to explain things because she is late but she is super happy to learn she is going to play a game with Harada. He is from a popular idol unit, CHA. They’ll be playing Twister and it is seventh heaven for Mayu as she gets to be this close to him (she’s so happy she could die – which is a big irony) while Harada shows off his flexibility. All that idol training must have paid off, huh? However Harada hopes to end this because he doesn’t view Mayu as his type and wants to get back with Lisa, the girl he is currently having an affair with. When the duo are tired and request for a break, this is when Ginti changes the game play. Things are going to get more interesting now. Depending on their luck and where they step, if they’re unlucky, they’ll die. Because each colour spot now correspond an extreme element whether it is heat, wind or ice. Don’t take too long or you’ll be burnt or frozen. Suddenly the board disappears and all that is left are the spots their hands and feet are on. Below are sharp spikes. Ginti says they will stay this way till one of them falls off. They both panic as Harada starts having thoughts of pushing her off. Suddenly Mayu starts thanking him as he is the reason for coming this far. She doesn’t care if he is a womanizer but he always takes care of his fans. This makes him remember he had an affair with another fan, Kana. She was very sad that he nonchalantly broke up with her. She committed suicide the next day and it was all over the news. Mayu then jumps off but Harada grabs her hand. He doesn’t want her to play hero and instead is fans like her who made him go this far. He cannot hold on much longer as she slips down. Mayu remembers she was happily going to take a bath when she slipped on a soap and knocked her head. Yup, she died. When she reaches the bottom, the spikes turn out to be inflatable spikes. Harada is regretting he couldn’t save another. He remembers the morning after his affair with Lisa, she casually left him. He heard some ticking sound and when he looked, oh sh*t! A bomb! BOOM! Revenge for her sister, Kana! Ginti is surprised that Mayu jumped herself. After Mayu changes into a yukata and does away with all that artificial makeup, look at how beautiful she is! Now Harada feels this is his type of girl? He gives her a solo concert. Decim, Kurokami and Clavis are invited to join in. Ginti is the only unhappy one… Relax, brother.

Episode 7
Oculus narrates the few rules for arbiters: 1) They cannot give up passing judgment; 2) They cannot experience death for it will link them closely with humans; 3) They cannot have emotions as they are only puppets. When Kurokami finds that Chavvot book in the shelf, she asks Decim whose it is. He doesn’t know and thinks Quin left it here. Who? The previous arbiter. Flashback shows Nona led Decim and Ginti as new arbiters to Quindecim. As Decim is to replace Quin, the latter cannot be happier to get out from this job and move on to the Information Bureau. As they watch Quin’s final arbitration, Nona gave them a tool each to create extreme situations. However, Decim never used it and Nona questions him later after it all ends. He forgot to! He was distracted watching the game and trying to figure out their thoughts. Ginti thinks humans are foolish but Decim objects otherwise as he respects those who have led fulfilled lives. Although everyone is surprised with his answer, Nona tells him about the tool to create such situations to bring out the darkness in humans because it is better to have more than one way to judge. Whether it is foolish or respectable, it is up to him to decide. Kurokami wonders if there is anything Decim treasures so he shows her his mannequins. Isn’t this his hobby? Decim explains how arbiters’ minds are filled with the guests’ memories and because excess memories can interfere with their judgment, they are eliminated. Therefore at the end of each judgment, the guests turn into mannequins. They are supposed to be destroyed but Decim claims them instead. He makes them so as not to forget his guests. Kurokami wants to hear some of his guests’ stories but he can’t because they are already forgotten. Eh? Meanwhile Quin visits Nona at her place and looks like she is regretting being in the Information Bureau as she is busier than ever. She never knew condensing memories of the dead is hard work. I can see why, with so many people dying each second. Nona talks about the judging of the dead but the irony is that they are all just puppets who never lived or died. Therefore it is strange for them to judge the dead when they have not experienced death. She would like to see an arbiter with emotions handles judgment. I am not sure why Mayu is still hanging around at Ginti’s place but he doesn’t seem very happy. New assistant? Nona is surprised Oculus visits her. Feeling lonely? Why doesn’t she want him here? Trying to hide something? He spots that Chavvot book but doesn’t think much about it. He tells her to come visit him as she owes him a rematch. She thinks she has slipped up. Nona then goes to see Castra to request a special favour. She relents and wonders if Nona ins under pressure. No. There was never much time to begin with.

Episode 8
Decim feels weird over the next guests arriving. One of them is a murderer. He calls Nona to confirm and she tells him to carry on with the judgment despite he has no experience in dealing this since there are none others available. Don’t worry. Humans will be humans. They are no different. Tatsumi and Shimada like many others don’t believe the game they have to play and try to search for an exit. Shimada opens his bag to find a bloodied cleaver! He starts cowering in fear. Since there is no way out, Tatsumi who is a detective suggests going along with this game. In his line of work he can tell Decim is not lying and is also not a killer. They will play air hockey. The pucks have organ pictures on it and the first to reach 6 points wins. As they start, Shimada remembers his sister, Sae crying incessantly after their parents died. He promised to protect her. As they take a break, Tatsumi talks to him about the hardest part being a detective was dealing with the grief and pain suffered by the victim’s next of kin. Confronting those feelings takes a lot out from you. Tatsumi wants to continue the game in hopes of finding a clue to everything. Including Decim. This time, Tatsumi remembers he came home from work only to find his wife murdered! He goes to lie down for a while as Decim notes the pace is slower than usual. As he cannot influence the memories they recall, Kurokami suggests of wanting to take a peek into those memories too. Decim will put in a request for that later. Tatsumi further remembers his wife even remembers his birthday for him and the shoes he is wearing now was her present. Then there’s something about a criminal he put behind bars and when he is out on parole, Tatsumi becomes ‘obsessed’ in tracing him. He returns to the game more aggressive this time. Now it is Shimada’s turn to remember. He comes home one day to find Sae beaten up. Her face was really messed up. He is mad. There is something he needs to do even if it costs him his life. Since the time limit is up, Decim announces the change in rules. Each time they score a goal, they will suffer pain of that organ depicted on the puck. Tatsumi asks about Shimada’s predicament and he explains Sae has been stalked for a while. He went to the police but they couldn’t act on it. He won’t let him get away. Funnily, Tatsumi also feels the same. Since his wife is murdered, after he gets out from this place, he is going to kill somebody. Kurokami’s request is approved as she receives both their memories. Reeling from shock, she realizes both are murderers.

Episode 9
Once both guys realized they have killed, Tatsumi believes Shimada is not wrong from his personal opinion. They continue the game and when Shimada feels the pain, he remembers more. He went to the attacker’s house and they stab each other to death. However he remembers Sae told him there was one more who was watching and she wants them all dead. His revenge isn’t over yet. Now it’s Tatsumi’s turn to feel the pain and remember. He killed his wife’s murderer with cold blood and heard his wife’s voice thanking him. Shimada wants to forfeit his turn and give Tatsumi a chance to get his revenge seeing he is in a near broken state. But Tatsumi gets up and wants to continue with the game. He tries to convince Shimada to go get his revenge because if he lets that guy go, he is going to do the same thing again. Both become aggressive in their air hockey game. Shimada scores the winning goal. The pain has Tatsumi remember everything. He was on Sae’s case and visited the attacker’s apartment. He was shortly stabbed from behind. It was Shimada who stabbed him. After he killed that guy, he went to the toilet to vomit but heard somebody coming in. Thinking he is the accomplice, Shimada stabbed him from behind. When Decim explains his arbiter job he is doing, Tatsumi feels it is very similar to his. He also marks people and judges them. That attacker was on his mark and was just monitoring him. When Sae was being assaulted, she saw Tatsumi just standing there watching from behind the trees doing nothing. Shimada is mad that he didn’t do anything to stop his sister’s assault. But Tatsumi says had he done so, he couldn’t have killed him. Because for there to be judgment, there must be a victim. Shimada loses his cool and tries to attack him, blaming him he could have saved his sister. Tatsumi replies that even had he saved Sae, another woman would be targeted because the attacker was targeting several other women. He should be thankful Sae is still alive and he got his revenge so don’t bring him down any further.

Shimada is in full rage and wants to kill him. Decim allows him to do that since the judgment has not finished. Although the dead cannot die, he can inflict excruciating pain. Kurokami has had it with everything and wants all this to stop. She chides Decim about this passing judgment thing he is doing because all she is seeing is that he is doing the same thing as Tatsumi did. All he did was bring up people’s darkness and how could he understand the many emotions of others when he has never lived himself. This causes Decim to be in a great dilemma. Tatsumi adds fuel to the fire that after killing his wife’s murderer, it was like his calling to become the saviour to others because it led him to kill other filthy bastards. If you want to accomplish something, sacrifices must be made. Shimada is going to stab him but Kurokami begs for him to stop as she reveals about this reincarnation and void thingy. She tells him he can be reincarnated in another form to see his sister again but if he gets thrown into the void, he loses that chance. Doesn’t he care about his sister? Just when he calms down, Tatsumi opens his big mouth about their naivety of this cruel world. If you can’t protect someone, all you can do is kill the other. If you can’t change the world, then change yourself. Shimada loses it and stabs him. In the aftermath, Decim is still in shock mode and Kurokami still upset telling him that humans aren’t as complex as he thinks they are. They’re just simple beings who get sad or angry over simple things.

Episode 10
When Decim first woke up here, he had no memories of anything. Nona told him that he is an arbiter and laid down the rules of being one. Now Decim goes to see her as he feels he cannot carry on being one now because the way they judge isn’t right. It is not that they’re bringing out the darkness in humans but rather creating them. As he respects those who lived a fulfilled live, he cannot further judge. In that case, would it be time for Kurokami to be judge? Can he judge her? Or does he want her to do it? Anyway she is sending him a special guest. Because Kurokami’s term is coming to an end. That means, part of her skin is now peeling off! If she exceeds that time period, she’ll be turned into a mannequin. Grandma Sachiko Uemura is the guest who will be playing old maid with them. Due to the nature of this card game, Decim will also take part. The cards have odd designs on them. Actually, pictures that are related to their life. Like Sachiko who is a manga artist, she sees lots of her creations here. Sachiko is having fun remembering all the good memories while Decim remembers he went to talk to Ginti about his dilemma and as usual got ticked off about humans all will die one day which is the same reason why they judge: There’s no point thinking about it! Meanwhile Nona bugs Quin to go search for Kurokami’s memories and you know she is not too thrilled as she is already busy like hell. But nothing like a bit of liquor gift for motivation.

Sachiko wins the game and realizes she is in the aftermath. She knows so because she saw a manga character she has not created yet appearing on the card. That can only mean she’s dead, right? But she’s calm about it since she doesn’t know how she died. Yeah, old people can’t remember. But she wouldn’t like to know it either. When Kurokami picks up the Chavvot design card, Sachiko recognizes it because she read it somewhere. She further explains about the story of Jimmy wanting to tell Chavvot he loved her. But there’s a catch: Chavvot is deaf! So how do you do so? With a smile. This is when Kurokami remembers she loves this book a lot and has mom read it to her many times. She likes Chavvot’s smile. Yeah, trying to imitate that big smile of hers too. This is when Kurokami remembers her real name: Chiyuki. She gets the joker and loses the game. Sachiko leaves happy and thanks them. Chiyuki wonders how she died so Decim realizes they can’t do it by this way anymore. Meanwhile Oculus calls Clavis not because he needs a billiards partner but to peek into his memories of those regarding Nona. He finds her thoughts about arbiters and human emotions to be pointless. Decim believes people do not live to die but they die simply because they are alive. This goes the same for judgment as it must be performed with both life and death. So human emotions are necessary? He wants Chiyuki to tell him everyone? Eh, what? Did she remember?

Episode 11
Mayu is more than happy to see Harada but he is not moving. Ginti says his soul has not come back yet. You also need a soul to be casted into the void in its place. What happen if the soul doesn’t come back? You become a mannequin. Mayu is willing to take his place to be casted into the void but was told off she doesn’t know what kind of scary place it is. It is dark and empty where you fall forever while embracing your negative emotions like regret and despair. He shows her a picture of another guy. Either he or Harada gets thrown into the void. She must decide which. She seems reluctant and indecisive but from her reaction, Ginti knows she already has decided. Chiyuki returns to her room to retrieve a pair of skates. She returns to Quindecim now turned into a skating rink. Seems she is a figure skater in life. Decim remembers when she first came here, she already knew she is already dead but didn’t know how she died. Consulting with Nona, she thinks the Information Bureau messed up and will restart everything for her judgment again. Decim wanted to judge her although he doesn’t know why. But Nona wants to leave her with him for a little while as his assistant. So for a good 4 minutes, we see Chiyuki skate around the rink as she remembers her happy life from young and her achievements as a figure skater. Then in a competition, she had an accident and broke her knee. Similarly, now her knee gives way so she sits and talks to Decim what happened next. The doctor diagnosed she would never skate again. Although everyone cried and supported for her, the shock left Chiyuki emotionless. She never realized what was hard and important until it was too late. Everything that used to be important became so hollow. She felt like nothing. Then she started hating herself before taking her life. She feels cruel to realize that she is already dead. Decim is interested to know more about her. Although he has never lived or die, he is glad to have met her. Decim gives her a last drink. Memento mori signifies a reminder that one day you will die. After she takes a sip, she falls unconscious. Mayu takes Harada to the elevator as Ginti says it will be going to the place where his soul is. He asks what Harada is to her. He is her life. So what is she without him? She asks him back what about him and because he just does his job as an arbiter with no reason, she feels pity for him because unlike her who has chose to live her life in a certain way. As the elevator descends, their skin starts to peel off. Mayu is glad to see Harada come to life for that brief moment before they turn into mannequins and their soul casted down the void. Decim calls Quin to have some memories sent over. As Nona leaves her place, Oculus is before her and knows she has been doing something behind his back.

Episode 12
Oculus tries to read Nona’s memories but she evades. He is suspicious of her motives. She argues that they are not puppets like he perceives all of them to be (including himself) because arbiters can acquire human emotions and change. However he says arbiters will still be arbiters and whatever she is trying to pull won’t change anything. Decim takes Chiyuki down to the lowest level. When she wakes up, she finds herself in her own room. Decim says this is reality where 3 months have passed since her death. He sees the Jimmy and Chavvot dolls and she tells him it was made by her parents. She treasures them. As she walks around the house, she remembers the nostalgic memories. However she can only observe and cannot interact or touch the living, vice versa. So she can’t speak to her mom who is praying at Chiyuki’s altar. Decim gives her the device. Press it and she will come back to life but with her memories of Decim erased. Also, everyone who knows about her death will have their memories of it rewritten. The catch is that she will exchange her soul with another. Whose soul would that be? Well, 7 billion humans on this planet, what are the chances it will be the person she loves or knows. The more she sees her mother breaking down and lamenting, the more tempting Chiyuki becomes to press it. But when she is about to do it, she remembers all the other guests that she has co-judged. She can’t do it. Despite she has nothing to do with them, they have their own loved ones. She cannot live with the fact that she will be sacrificing one of them. This decision shocks Decim. His heart starts to hurt. Chiyuki is also emotionally breaking down. She wants to see and talk to her mom badly. Desperate, she tells Decim to press the button! When Decim starts crying and screaming, the world shatters. They are in the bottom floor where all mannequins are tossed. He apologizes for deceiving her. I’m not sure if it’s to judge her but he wants to know her better. There was no other way he could do it. Now he knows the pain of sorrow. It hurts. Chiyuki hugs him.

Nona and Oculus are watching this. He wonders what she has done to him. All she did was made an arbiter judge with a human by his side. But that means the arbiter would become more human and difficult in passing judgments. Nona argues humans cannot judge humans but even if the fact that judging humans may give rise to difficulties, it doesn’t mean they have the right to pass on any judgment on them. Therefore this world is theoretically unjust. As to why she made arbiters feel and suffer, what is the point of judgment that isn’t accompanied by suffering? That is what life is. Oculus reminds her that death is for those who are alive. If you are not alive, you cannot die. Even if the arbiters become human, they are still puppets. Nona disagrees. They live in the present. Decim sees off Chiyuki. She is happy that she has lived. Decim vows to have every guest who comes here to leave with that answer. She suggests doing something about his face. How about smiling? I don’t know if it is funny or creepy but his frown definitely suits him best. But remembering those times with her, he ekes out a pretty decent smile! Chiyuki gives him a big one. That’s how it’s done. Castra and Quin seem to be having more time relaxing with Nona because looks like more arbiters have been made. Nona isn’t going to do anything drastic for now because Oculus is having her eyes on her. As Nona narrates the rules for arbiters, Oculus adds a fourth one: Arbiters will not work hand in hand with life for it will ruin them. When Decim greets his next guests, at least he is smiling! A mannequin of Kurokami sits nearby.

Game Of Death
It is with mixed emotions for me after watching finish this series. On one hand it is interesting because you get to see different people with different characters and how they act in ‘dire’ situations. But that is so much about it. It gets repetitive for a while but the different characters and stories are still interesting on its own despite the overall concept is still the same. There is an air of mystery to Quindecim and this afterlife place even after they explain the workings of going to heaven or hell. It feels like a shady underground place because you have trains, elevators and bars, it doesn’t look like your typical place of judgment. Expecting the Pearly Gates, no?

For a dozen episodes, the episodes are mostly standalones and although you can watch them not in chronological order, it is advisable not so because there are bits and pieces of hints on Chiyuki whether it is something indicating about her life or she getting to know more about this grim judging game and thus affecting her stance on everything. Well, personally I feel her story isn’t a big deal either. Because just like every other guest character, they have a story and drama to tell. So her character was like to add a little mystery and an emotional way to end the series instead of another random story. Which doesn’t precisely amount to anything much either. Eventually she is just another guest who needs to be judged and move on. At least she made an impact on Decim before she goes. Also, I personally feel the Chavvot story did not really play much of an impact overall. It was just Chiyuki’s favourite story as a kid, that’s it. Maybe just a subtle reminder about to keep smiling always at all occasions. Because Chiyuki went off with a smile despite tears streaming down her eyes, right?

Although the concept of having people being judged by playing games is interesting, but I feel that there are so many questions and loopholes that would make you start questioning about everything. For instance this arbitrating job. Who are these arbiters actually? Even if they don’t have any origins, the thought of them judging others when they themselves have no emotions or have not experienced life and/or death is mind boggling. I mean, it is good that somebody neutral judges you so that you don’t have all that emotions to cloud your judgment. But then again, a person who has never experienced those, is he/she qualified to judge you? And even so, are those judgments correct? Besides, for many of the judgments, you’ll never know who gets sent for reincarnation or the void. Left to your decision? Maybe it is because what is important is the story behind their life and how they handle/accept the fact that they are already dead. Even Chiyuki’s fate in the end is not mentioned but we can accurately guess Decim’s decision after all that they have gone through together, right?

Another question burning in my head is that if there are so many people dying at that rate (whether or not Earth’s population is dwindling is another story), how come they do not have more arbiters to take on the judging job? At least initially when the rate of people dying seems to be increasing at a worrying rate. Besides, we don’t see the arbiters (at least in Decim’s case) to be in a rush. I know that there is no good when you rush a judgment so it seems like he is in no hurry and taking his time for the game to end before making his decision. If that is the case and with the lack of arbiters, isn’t the waiting line to be judged a long one? I wonder where those souls are waiting if that is the case. I wonder if they keep a record of those who are reincarnated. Is there anyone holding the record for being on a reincarnation streak? Which brings me to this question: If human souls are reincarnated, are new ones created too? Assuming human population is booming or remaining the same, there need to be souls replacing those thrown into the void. Thus, to be on a reincarnation streak you must be one damn lucky son of a gun, no? Your luck ends when you go down the void.

Also there is this rule that one soul will be reincarnated and the other being casted into the void. This is what I understood when it was being explained. Couldn’t there be a case of sending both to the void or reincarnation? I mean, what happens when you get 2 very nice people and they’re so freaking damn pleasant that they deserve a chance for reincarnation. Sending one of them to the void seems unfair, right? Or when you have 2 people who are the worst in humankind, fighting and playing dirty just to be tops, is it right to send the winner to heaven? So why does it have to be one goes up and the other goes down? Maybe I do not understand something here but I suppose that is the reason why they hold these games in the first place. To determine who goes where. Even so, in the case of a tie, why not just send them both to the same direction? I am not sure if there is some sort of quota they need to fill but as said with so many people dying at this rate, would it really matter?

Then there is this issue of all the mannequins that are lying down in that bottom basement. Every soul that has been judged, the mannequin that they temporarily borrowed will be tossed down here. I mean, isn’t that such a big waste? Shouldn’t they recycle the mannequins and reuse them for the next guests? Sure, they are broken and rundown after each use but then again, how in the first place are the mannequins made? Who makes them? Also, it is said that arbiters are also made from the same stuffs so couldn’t they just use the mannequins to create more arbiters or elevator operators or information processing staffs and the likes? I didn’t know judging can be such a tedious and complicated process. Why don’t just everybody go on strike and let the recently departed join them in their bar party? Those drinks flow forever, right? Don’t tell me somebody supplies them…

Although it is said that 2 people who die at the same time are being brought to the mysterious bar, isn’t the rate of people dying very overwhelming? You can see the overworked staffs in the other department. Yeah, dying is one stressful job. Although there are other bars (it would have been interesting to see them), I was wondering if more than 2 people can be judged to save time. You know, play a group game or like that reality TV, Survivor. So what happens when a bus load of people plunges down the ravine and nobody survives? You’re not telling me that all of them will be equally divided into pairs and sent to different bars for judgment, aren’t you? So what if there is an odd number and nobody else in the world died at that very same time? Maybe you go straight to the VIP room! Haha!

Perhaps this is something trivial but I thought some of the games they play are pretty mild. Because after the first one that is darts, I thought it would set the tone for the rest of the other games to follow this similar pattern. I mean, when you have bowling, an arcade game and even a card game without the experience of pain for the loser (they leave it quite late for the air hockey game), where is the motivation in that to drive the players to end the game or in the arbiter’s case, bring out their darkness to win it? Like for the bowling, they should have organs printed on it so not only you could feel them but when you strike or go down the gutter, you feel that organ’s pain. Or that fighting game on the video arcade. I thought it would be better if every hit you land on your opponent’s body, he/she should feel the pain on that hit part. So it just feels mild that you see them playing the game so nicely without penalty that it just defeats the fear factor that I was hoping for. But then again, maybe the games are just distractions (or rather, excuse) for the characters to reveal and unfold their memories and story at a reasonable rate. But I also suppose that you don’t need elaborated and sophisticated games to bring out the darkness in humans. After all, the dark side of human nature naturally would want to win even if it is just a simple children’s game.

With that said, it already feels odd that they use ordinary games with some having a little twist to make their judgment. What I am saying is that, shouldn’t there be a more effective way to judge a character? Using these games is like saying you are going to judge a person’s soul solely on the outcome of the game being played. Because I was thinking there should be a review of your entire life and what you did to determine your status. After all, the arbiter already receives the memories of the dead. Therefore theoretically if a bad person wins a game against a good person, does it mean baddie will go the heaven? But naturally this is all up to the arbiter in the end. It is like rendering what you did your entire life when you are alive as null. Of course this is just for the sake of discussion as you need to remember the theme and setting of this anime in the first place. Also bear in mind that despite the eccentricity of using simple games to judge, it is not the game itself that we should be focused on but what people do, the emotions they put in and the memories they remember while going about playing it.

Character wise, the main characters aren’t anything too deep. Decim is like a big irony as an arbiter because despite never having lived or die himself, he respects those who led fulfilled lives. Overall, he is just a confused arbiter so I am guessing the reason Nona brought Chiyuki to stay with him as his assistant is to help make him learn more about human emotions and the likes. So when he bursts into despair for the first time, it is like finding a four leaf clover. It exists but rare. Same case for Chiyuki. She is pretty much subdued and will only voice her opposition when she thinks Decim is doing something wrong. It is a good thing and a blessing Nona made her Decim’s assistant since Chiyuki has taught him a lot about human emotions. Simple yet complicated. Otherwise she’s just as confused about herself and her identity with everything else. Ginti brings more fiery passion and since he just hates everything about stupid humans (he seems to get mad or seething in anger by just about anything), he doesn’t hesitate to not mince his words and tell you straight in the face of what he thinks. Maybe I am missing something here because I am not sure how Mayu ended up temporarily in Ginti’s place before moving on. Unless they are not showing events in real time at Ginti’s place, it is a mystery after Harada puts on his solo performance for the gang, shouldn’t the duo move on after that? So what is she hanging around like a bimbo in his place? Let me guess. Ginti is trying to become something like Decim trying out to have an assistant but is too egoistic to admit?

I am not sure of Nona’s goals and visions in trying to bring change to this place or the way they do things. I mean, so what if she proves that arbiters can have feelings. Would they make better judgments? Perhaps. But will it change the bottom line and everything else? Maybe. You wouldn’t know if you don’t try. At least she is trying out something different. Therefore she isn’t just like any other dummies (pun not intended) who just do their boring job like a robot. Well, like I’ve said about the irony about those who have not lived judging those who have lived after death. Even more curious is Oculus because as he said God already left the place a long time ago and he is the one closest to being God. So I don’t know. Maybe he should just give his post to Nona seeing she has an idea that might change Quindecim for the better. But I doubt that old guy would like things to change. In the end, the same process continues. Here’s hoping that Decim does a better job from now on.

The art and drawing does bring out and gloomy atmosphere since for many of the scenes are quite dark and dull. Wait. Don’t bars have this sort of atmosphere too? Well, just without all that liveliness and music. So like in Quindecim, you get a reasonably spacious bar only occupied by mannequins but it feels just creepy enough to just sit down and enjoy your drinks. On the aspect of character designs, I thought the human beings look a bit surreal. Although the arbiters look okay, staring too long at their eyes that are designed with cross motives would give you the creeps. At least not as creepy as Oculus’ hair and beard! This old geezer looks like an eerie sex offender already and he has a flower bud on his head and chin? Creepy. The planets as billiard balls over the starry galaxy table are so far the most interesting visual concept of this series. Not Oculus’ flower hair and beard, mind you.

Voice acting sounds okay with not many scenes that requires lots of emotional outburst since the heavy drama is mostly subdued. Tomoaki Maeno plays Decim and he fits the character that is devoid of all emotion but yet curious enough to want to know more. This is a departure from the other livelier characters he voiced like Naotsugu in Log Horizon, Fujimoto in Kobato, Junichi in Amagami SS and Takeru in Maken-Ki. Asami Seto as Chiyuki/Kurokami (Chihaya in Chihayafuru, Shouko in Valvrave The Liberator), her character also lacks emotions unless when she feels something wrong is going on and stands up to voice back her disagreement. Therefore the character that has the most ‘emotions’ goes to Ginti who is played by Yoshimasa Hosoya (Wave in Akame Ga Kill, Shichika in Katanagatari) although that guy is just mostly filled with penned up angst. The rest of the ‘regular’ casts include Rumi Ookubo as Nona (Hibachi in Mushibugyou), Tesshou Genda as Oculus (Umibozu in City Hunter), Kouki Uchiyama as Clavis (Ichika in Infinite Stratos), Ryoko Shiraishi as Quin (Hayate in Hayate No Gotoku) and Ryoka Yuzuki as Castra (Ino in Naruto).

There are many other guest seiyuus making their cameo appearance thanks to the nature of this series such as Ayako Kawasumi as Machiko, Kazuya Nakai as Takashi, Mamoru Miyano as Harada, Keiji Fujiwara as Tatsumi, Takahiro Sakurai as Shimada and Masakazu Morita as Yousuke (that Ichigo guy in Bleach, remember?). Therefore the cameo cast list is quite extensive so I’m not going to list all since I couldn’t many of them recognize. The opening theme, Flyers by Bradio feels odd because this jazzy rock piece feels like it doesn’t fit into the gloomy and mainly depressing drama atmosphere of this series. Even funny is how we see the main casts doing some sort of group pose in addition to seeing them having fun (juggling, singing, dancing, riding swings?!). It just feels too weird. It is a complete opposite for the ending theme. Last Theatre by NoisyCell is a slow rock piece and sung totally in English. There is a feel of sadness and hopelessness while hearing it and it really has a little effect on you especially after watching the episode.

This series feels like there is something missing for me to consider it as epic but nevertheless overall it is still interesting especially with the topic of people’s dealing with death when they realized it and some that would do anything to extend just a second of their life. But that is just natural instincts for us humans. Some of their stories feel real enough that you can connect and to and sometimes it is hard to hold back your feelings (tears especially) when those heart wrenching and sad moments. Otherwise, a handful of mini stories bundled together into a series but without any sort of a conclusive or epic ending makes this series falling short of being totally amazing. But I can’t complain because if there is one other thing I have learnt from watching this, it is never to have regrets. And I assure you won’t if you watch this one.

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