I dub thee, Gindecim!
Death Parade’s one of those shows that, I am very tempted to write “you guys all know the premise”, because it feels so very familiar. And yet, off the top of my head, I’m having a difficult time pinning down a specific series or movie that adheres to this plot. Like little phantom memories that elude me from childhood. So feel free to add your own parallel at the bottom.
This is the QuinDecim. It’s the gateway between the living world and the “afterlife”, for lack of the appropriate term. Naturally, it’s a night club. I’m sure I don’t have to explain the religious symbolism to you.
Our bartender, Decim…well…someone saw Mushishi and said “That’s it! Ginko is St. Peter!”. That’s his job here.
Takashi and Machiko are a wed couple, in fact, on their honeymoon, when they find themselves in the QuinDecim.
Decim tells them quite calmly that they cannot escape, and must play a game where they stake their lives. The game is darts, because…shuttup. Presuming the guy to be a serial killer of some kind, Takashi and Machiko capitulate for now.
Ah, but the twist! The dartboard is drawn with various organs and body parts. When a dart strikes the board, the opposing player will feel pain in that region. But a helpful hint from Ginko…I mean Decim (this is so confusing with a different Ginko in this season) tells them they’re free to totally miss the board. Which they do happily. Until the final two darts, and you see the betrayal coming from 30 seconds into the episode. It comes in the form of overhearing a conversation on their wedding day regarding “Matchi”, who’s clearly having an affair because all women do in bathrooms is high five each other about who they’re cheating on their husbands with.
So Takashi “slips”, and Machiko (probably legitimately) hits the very edge of the board. Machiko tells Takashi that she’s carrying his baby, so please be super not careful to hit her in the uterus.
So Takashi hits Machiko in the uterus. Not that this matters, as Machiko has finally realized the truth: They’re already dead, this is so much pomp and circumstance. Decim agrees, this is arbitration to decide who gets sent to Heaven, and who gets sent to Hell.
Takashi is overwhelmed by grief that he’s already killed his unborn baby. He’s in fact so desperate he falls back on the suspicions that Machiko is cheating on him. Which are probably untrue. Machiko says her friend Matchida was the one being referenced. And in what seems to be a bitter strike back at him, says “Sure, who could love you, asshole?” But from the framing it looks like empty words. Takashi freaks out and grabs two darts from the board, trying to stab her, and practically begs Decim to “hit the bitch”.
…Sure is a lot of Death Note in here.
So Episode 1 ends with Machiko going to ‘hell’ and Takashi going to ‘heaven’.
But episode 2 begins with an exceptionally cute girl waking up. She’s…actually she has no name yet. But she’s being woken by a little girl named Norna. She brings her to the QuinDecim and shares the purpose of the place that we were told last episode. She tells the black haired girl she’s now their assistant. Which I feel should be pronounced “intern”.
But, a twist! We’re watching the last episode from behind the one-way glass, so to speak. She’s narrating basically the events of what happened last time. Norna and Decim are arbiters, see. Heaven and hell is a loose approximation, but the truth is more traditional: Reincarnation, or the void.
The point of the game is to be high stress. See, while the arbiters have access to every participant’s memories, they fail to absorb the experience of the moment (and, apparently, are incapable of just “downloading” the memories of the game ITSELF. Kind of a massive plot hole there). Thus, depending on a person’s temperament, the same exact memory of, say, a parent dying, might drive one person to perform charity for cancer, and the other to turn to drinking and wife beating. The game is a way to filter out WHO these people are, as much as the arbiters have access to WHAT they are.
And the way to do that, is to subject them to pain and mental stress in the form of these “death games”. Push them to their breaking point, when all the social graces fall away, and what is left? That’s the question.
It’s admittedly an intriguing premise. But the memories thing is a big head scratcher. I’d have much preferred it to be literal judges, only judging based on what they can see. I suppose, being super generous here, they can’t download the memories after death because those memories don’t “exist”, I guess, in the physical forms like the ones from life do. But, really, that is applying a strict filter to the metaphysics we have NO reason to suspect exists here.
They proceed to fast forward through the episode, and they tell the intern of their ultimate fate: Takashi will be reincarnated, Machiko will be dispersed into the void.
All on the justification that “Well, Machiko said she was having an affair, that must have been honest!”
First…why is that necessarily a bad thing? I mean from these gods’ perspectives (they must be some kind of kami). An affair is bad…why? And Takashi’s utter loathing of his newly-wed bride is justified because…why? Because he “was” betrayed? Why do these kami give a rat’s ass about this? We’re judging someone’s moral fabric here. The fact he was willing to sell out his wife is okay? The fact he was begging and pleading for life is okay? That isn’t shameful in any way? “His trust was betrayed”, yeah, he still went through with the wedding vows and was totally ready to turn on her here.
“I mean, sure, he had ZERO integrity, BUT SHE HAD SOME OTHER MAN’S PENIS BEFORE THEY WERE MARRIED!”
This is just…so weird. And I’m sorry to keep stuck on this but it’s a huge issue for me. It’s another way these memory downloads are fucking with my immersion. They should be able to see all this crap, but they see nothing. Why even bring that up at all?
Well the intern schools the arbiters on how human emotions work. Naturally, being practiced observers of the human condition for god knows how many centuries, both Decim and Norna are completely blown away by her logic. She is of course referring to the fact Machiko was bitter when she said those things and likely didn’t mean them, possibly even said to protect him from the harm of knowing he’d killed his own child with his jealousy.
…Something that memory downloads should have shown you DID ACTUALLY HAPPEN, but…ah fuck it.
So we’re off to a pretty good start. I must compliment the atmosphere of this series.
The hammy Shatner-esque acting from the Humans? Not so much.