Death Parade Ep. 2: In case you were confused…

Death Parade - 0218

…then allow us to clarify a few things for you. Yeah, that’s how this episode basically works. If you were lost at any point in last week’s episode, then allow Nona to give you a simpler, more straightforward take on the show’s premise. We even get down to brass tacks and debate whether or not Decim had sent the husband and wife pair from last week’s episode to the right places. Oh yeah, the void is pretty much just the deep darkness. Well, there’s no ambiguity there, then. If you lose, you get sent to the void. In other words, the wife failed in Decim’s eyes. The new assistant — we don’t know her name yet — doesn’t quite agree, though. She, too, noticed something odd about how Machiko had acted near the end of the whole ordeal. As I have discussed, perhaps the wife was lying in order to spare Takeshi the anguish of thinking he had killed his own kid. I’m not convinced, though.

Everyone seems to acknowledged that Machiko did cheat, but the assistant kind of suggests that Takeshi’s jealousy had driven his poor wife to commit something she would forever regret. And hey, we all make mistakes, right? Well, the assistant is quite empathetic on that front: “I’m sure it could have been just a one-time thing, couldn’t it?” What does that mean, though? Everyone reacts to adultery differently, and you can’t just brush it off as a one-time thing. One man might find it in his heart to forgive his wife for cheating once, and another man might not. Neither of them are wrong to feel the way that they do. Personally, I would never forgive cheating of any sort. Takeshi’s problem is that he could never maturely discuss his insecurities with his wife. Of course, we can also acknowledge that Takeshi’s jealousy had poisoned their marriage, but then again, the mature adult would simply walk away, i.e. not cheat on her husband.

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Plus, I’m still bothered by the fact that when they realized that they were playing a game with their lives at stake, Machiko never told Takeshi about the baby. He had to start hurting her — inadvertently or otherwise, we’ll never really know — in order for the wife to reveal the truth about the baby inside her or, more accurately, was inside her. Sure, they lost all their memories when they died only to get said memories back slowly over the course of the game. Still, I don’t think knowing whether or not you’re pregnant is one of those memories. Otherwise, the story would have made a big deal out of Machiko realizing that she is (or was) pregnant. The story makes a huge point whenever one of them recovered a significant memory, so why would it be subtle and coy about Machiko’s pregnancy? As such, I suspect she knew from the start that she was pregnant, and was hoping to secure a future for herself and her husband. So then why would the wife lie at the end in order to spare the husband’s feelings?

Well, Machiko didn’t initially remember whether or not she had cheated. She also didn’t remember how much she truly loved Takeshi. Whether or not cheating is forgivable in your book, she still cared for the guy. She still truly regretted what she had done. So in order to make amends, she allows Takeshi to believe that she is the bad guy. The baby’s fate doesn’t matter anymore, since she realized she was dead. But don’t me wrong; I still think she is the bad guy. The sad thing is, so is Takeshi. Ultimately, they’re both flawed individuals, and they both had serious issues that should have prevented them from every marrying in the first place. Takeshi was unable to actually communicate with his wife. Instead, he emotionally abused her by constantly accusing her of cheating. Meanwhile, who actually cheats just because your husband suspects you of cheating? Like what?

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At the end of the day, we’re right back where we started, which is a good thing. A lot of this week’s episode is rather disappointing, as it serves only to dispel much of the confusion anyone in the audience might have had after watching last week’s episode. But as I have argued in the past, I don’t think that sort of thing is necessary. It’s not like Death Parade‘s premise is even all that bizarre or convoluted, so we should just let people figure things out on their own. Come to their own conclusions, if you will. And as you can see, with the episode trying to spell everything out, there was the danger that the assistant might have just given us the true solution to last week’s dilemma. But in the end, she merely shows us that these arbiters are hardly perfect. They can mistakes; they’re still human in one way or another. That is, however, troubling in some respects. How can you have imperfect individuals ultimately decide other people’s fates?

In the end, perhaps the arbiters and their assistants are in some sort of purgatory, and their imperfections are thus purposeful. Like Nona says, they can only guess at what the participants are thinking. As such, Decim better has a good understand of human nature in order to condemn someone to the void on nothing more than a hunch. But again, I don’t think the assistant gave us the true solution. Rather, her job is to convince Decim that there’s still a lot that he doesn’t know about humanity and their feelings. He’s quite robotic in his ways, and perhaps this is why he needs to have front row seats to the dramatic play that is human nature. Maybe this is why he’s obsessed with mannequins. Maybe he’s trying to fashion a replica of a man, but he ends up creating nothing but creepy simulacra because he’s missing that certain something that defines the human experience. As a result, he and others will stand here and judge the lives of others until they can learn what it means to be alive.

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But isn’t this unfair to the participants? Why should they be guinea pigs just so some emotionless guy can learn the human experience? Meh, they’re already dead. And they did not exactly live good lives before they died. And to be honest, with the world in its current state, i.e. careening towards irreversible climate change, I’m not sure reincarnation is so much better than the comfortable finality of nothingness that comes with the void. I mean, would you rather suffer in a dying world or just blink out of existence? C’mon, who honestly wants to suffer? Anyway, I’m a bit disappointed with this episode, but hopefully, the weeks to come won’t feel the need to hold our hands. The preview for the next episode would suggest that we will quickly return to our regularly scheduled judgments of tragically flawed human souls.

Stray notes & observations:

This is where the assistant first arrives in her strange, new world. Lying there upon the leaves, she almost look as though she is already in the serene embrace of death. At the very least, we’re in some sort of afterlife, if not purgatory.

— In case there was any doubt with regards to what we’re dealing with…

— What’s with the jellyfish theme?

— So their eyes are supposed to resemble film reels…

— According to Nona, they are to judge people on not just their memories, but also “the extent of the humanity they display during all this.” So does this help us decide who got sent where in the Death Billiards OVA? I’m inclined to think that the young man got the chance to reincarnate. More over, perhaps the old man had whispered in Decim’s ear that he would like to concede. After all, the old man wanted to return to life in order to see his dear wife once more, but once he realized that he had already died, there’s no way that would actually be possible.

— The episode also suggests that Nona is the boss around here. If she doesn’t outright run the whole show, she is at least superior in rank to Decim…

— And this is where the short, pale girl retires after a hard day’s work. Of course, it’s hard to say if there are even day and nights in this world. Plus, if this is where Nona goes, where do the others go in order to get some rest?

27 Replies to “Death Parade Ep. 2: In case you were confused…”

  1. On the jellyfish:
    “Turritopsis dohrnii, the immortal jellyfish, is a species of small jellyfish which is found in the Mediterranean Sea and in the waters of Japan. It is unique in that it exhibits a certain form of “immortality”: it is the only known case of an animal capable of reverting completely to a sexually immature, colonial stage after having reached sexual maturity as a solitary stage.”

    1. “How can you have imperfect individuals ultimately decide other people’s fates?”

      Isn’t that fitting, though? Aren’t all belief systems on Earth man-made constructs and therefore doomed to their own flaws? Humans are imperfect by nature. Belief systems used to “judge” mankind each have their own imperfections. One such aspect seen often (and in this series) is the judging of morality as decisively good or evil, whereas many individuals fall in-between.

      1. We make do with what we have. We’re not supernatural beings who have the ability to send people to either reincarnate or doom them to the void. It’s not really a fair comparison.

  2. Was extremely dissapointed the show was basically like “woah, we are sooo sorry we tried to make you think, please forgive us”, it chickened out from my point of view, instead of leaving it up to the viewer it decided to clarify things, can’t say the episode was boring or anything but really dissapointed me they didn’t have the balls to leave things unclear.

    1. Did it really clarify anything, though? Aside from explaining exactly how things work and what their goal is, I don’t think that they necessarily clarified anything in regards to whether the husband or the wife deserved to go to hell. We’re still not certain if the assistant’s theory is correct or if the wife actually married her husband just for his money and the baby was someone else’s. The viewer is still free to think about whether or not Decim made the right choice in the end, and if he didn’t, that just opens up more questions.

      1. You can look at it however you want, from the way I see it the show had a very clear idea of what it wanted to do and used this episode to explain it instead of leaving it all up to the viewers, obviously you can look at this and say the show is “wrong” but the writer didn’t want it to leave it up to you, there was a very clear attempt to explain what happened here and it was very clear that they knew what message they wanted from the start and didn’t want to leave much room for interpretation.

  3. Wait, Machi cheated on her husband because he suspected her to have cheated? That completely flew by me, though in fairness I wasn’t paying much attention to this episode. Damn it’s pretty stupid

    Good point on Decim & his hobby. Related:

    Regarding the jellyfish, if my memory serves me right we had one or two shots where we look at the assistant via the jellyfish aquarium. According to the website below, “Jellyfish [symbolize] sensitivity to water energy (emotions)”. In other words, the assistant would bring the human understanding that Decim lacks.

    And finally, isn’t the old man from Billiards in the OP? I haven’t checked, but I think so

      1. Welp, sorry for comment #3. Here’s the shot in question (17:43)

        We have that shot as the assistant explains her perception of Machi’s motives. It would lend credence to my reading above, but the fact that we’re associating her to an aquarium is pretty ominous. Maybe it’s just to emphasize how different she is to the white-haired duo though. Anyway, the important thing is the parallel between water sensitivity & the assistant’s understanding of humanity

  4. I didn’t feel this episode as “explanations”. It was more like the characters in the show were giving us their opinion. So, maybe, the goal of this show is to see the main characters grow through the judgments. Maybe they will always give us their opinion so we can see how their perspective of human nature has changed, so they can break the episodic format.

    It’s all pure speculation from my side, though.

    1. The opinions came later, though. The first 10 minutes or so were just what we had already seen but from a different viewpoint. I didn’t really need to see Nona explain to the new girl how everything worked. It felt like a waste of time.

      1. Looking at the opening, it looks like we will spend more time within this… afterlife? than with the humans at the Queendecim. That way, it makes sense that Nona had to explain some things. I’m not saying it wasn’t kind of boring.

        1. If she explained anything we didn’t already know, it’d be one thing… but she didn’t. Other than us seeing a few new faces and a few new locations, the episode was essentially a recap of the first but from a different point of view.

  5. Fuck this episode. No really, I KNEW they were going to do this just from the last episode’s ending, and while it’s not as bad as it could have been, it’s still a kind of bad that’s very foreboding of where this series will go.

    Did we get an entire episode devoted to explaining the plot synopsis of a previous episode in the Outer Limits?
    Did we get vague backstory and world building as to who Ron Serling is and what that floating door actually does in the Twilight Zone?
    No? Maybe because those shows knew what they were and didn’t treat its audience like idiots. Most importantly, those shows didn’t become self-involved, because doing so would overshadow their episodic nature and thus ruin the whole.

    Death Billiards reveled in ambiguity, and when Death Parade was announced we all expected the same thing: an episodic series dedicated to exploring the human condition in various ways with new faces each episode. I compare it to shows like Twilight Zone or even Little Shop of Horrors (the anime) because their premises aren’t all that dissimilar.
    __Death Parade’s uniqueness came from how it would proceed with its premise: two arbiters (one of whom would be the stand-in for the curious audience) would see these stories unfold in the conflicts between two new arrivals per episode who would seemingly be chosen at random (until the episode’s central theme came to light), all while maintaining the over-arcing theme of natural lounge games made into death games.

    However, this kind of show needs true ambiguity, or at least for the show itself to stand at a truly objective and somewhat dissociated, perhaps second-hand perspective as to allow the episodic themes to shine.

    Each episode is like a play, each story taking place on the same stage and overseen by the same managers but always involving different stars and different stories.

    The problem here is that in an instant almost all of the flavor of the series has soured due to it’s inexplicable need to become self-involved. Oh sure, it’s only for an episode right now, but let’s be honest: if you have a colorful cast then they will inevitably take the spotlight, and in this kind of show the spotlight deserves to be on the various tales of human drama.
    _You don’t world-build like this and just drop it. It’ll rear it’s horrible head again.

    And I must ask: Why? Why did they do this? Why did they strip away all ambiguity (apart from whatever we can force in)? Why did they explain exactly everything, and I mean EVERYTHING that SHOULDN’T be explained?
    __Oh, so reincarnation is another shot at life while the void is death. …Well shit, cause see no matter how you look at the direction the world is taking, only a nihilist would place absolute death over continued life, even if it’s in another form without prior memories.
    __Oh and the arbiters are pretty much just flawed people? Why? For what purpose?

    Two answers: 1. the purpose is slowly revealed throughout and thus further overshadows the separate stories, 2. the characters develop throughout and thus overshadows the separate stories (since they lessen in importance to the development of the characters) or 3. nothing that this episode devoted itself to detailing is explained, which leaves us with the Death parade of the Midochlorian speech from Star Wars.

    Harsh reaction, I know, but I’m sorry E Minor, nothing you say can make me unsee what I just saw. I mean think about it. Look at your post. Most of it is devoted to what these characters are thinking, why they do what they do, what their purpose is etc. Shouldn’t this be more like Twilight Zone, or to reach further, even something like Mushishi, where sure you can have a protagonist of sorts but the individual stories and their themes are what take precedence? Isn’t that what everyone expected?

    I KNEW this show was in trouble the instant the OP was flashy and full of characters that didn’t need to exist. I got upset when it seemed the theme was as blunt as it looked (which this episode went ahead and said, “yes, yes it is as blunt as it looks”). I then got put-off by the reveal of where the two characters ended up as opposed to the ambiguity of Death Billiards. The clincher was the episode preview, which showed us exactly the nonsense that this episode was.

    I’ll keep up with it because you’re reviewing it, mate, but once a show like this gets self-involved and tears away so much of the mystique, it’s like its just clawing at itself. I’m intensely disappointed already.

    1. I totally see where you’re coming from. I would have been happy if the series followed DB’s ambiguous formula all the way through, and I was also disappointed at the overly elaborate way this episode explained things.

      But I’m not convinced that a bit of worldbuilding and character development for the arbiters will ruin the show. It could even make things more interesting, and as long as the episodic characters remain this well-written I don’t mind that the arbiters are portrayed as a bit more flawed and human, perhaps with their own little arcs.

      By my calculations, there will be 3 more episodes focused on the recurring characters spread throughout the show (there are 9 games in total, 7 left), so that should give each pair of characters that comes through the elevators enough room to breathe.

  6. Quick note, did you notice the repeated inclusion of the storybook throughout the episode? Nona reads it near the end and the two characters on the cover are shown throughout the opening. Has a bit of a Monster vibe to it!

    1. That’s interesting. I never read Monster (though I’ve been yelled at by my friend that it’s absolutely a must haha) so I wouldn’t know, but now that you’ve pointed it out I am rather curious about where that will go .

  7. I would’ve been fine if they just showed what goes on behind the scenes, like showing those weren’t dead bodies but just mannequins. And that the people don’t have some their memories right away but they get them back little by little.

    But telling us everything else just takes the fun out of it…

    Anyways, for me, I think cheating is forgivable depending on how long people have been together and if the person is actually sorry, really regrets it and is willing to make up for it.
    If a couple have been married for years, and a drunken mistake happens then it seems like a waste to end all those years of marriage for just that one time thing and hopefully wont happen again.
    Just my opinion on it.

    I like seeing people’s opinions on cheating because it’s always different. Also, what they think cheating is. Some people think if they are just hanging out with someone else without telling their partner about it then it’s not cheating, unless they end up kissing or having sex.

    But for me, if they feel like they have to hide who they’re hanging out with, then it’s cheating.

    1. I like seeing people’s opinions on cheating because it’s always different.

      I can never see it as a drunken mistake, because it takes several steps to get there. After all, even if I’m drunk, it’s not necessarily the case that I would just sleep with someone. There has to be some attraction there to begin. There has to be some desire there to begin with. The next thing to consider is that I put myself in that situation. Why am I alone with someone that might make me cheat? Why am I then even drinking with that person? Why am I drinking so much that I can even dare to use it as a plausible excuse? So I disagree; no matter how I look at it, it’s not just a simple mistake. When a person cheat, they take several deliberate steps to give themselves the opportunity to hurt another person — a person they claim to care about — immensely. It’s the worst kind of selfishness.

      And I’d say it makes it all that much worse when one person in a long marriage cheat. After all, in a young relationship, the couple has no strong ties to each other. If my new girlfriend cheated on me, of course I would dump her, but I would also forgive her much more easily. For a wife to make such a drastic error — a person who has known me for years — it puts the long history of our entire relationship into question. I mean, just look at it the other way: if we’ve been married for years, how could you throw it away for one drunken “mistake?” And that’s why I would willingly throw away years of marriage over any sort of infidelity. The cheater has just done the same, so why can’t I?

      1. Oh yeah, it depends if that is what happened and they got drunk while already being alone with someone then they already have it in their head that they might cheat and they are going for it.

        but when I wrote that, I pictured it in my head that the person went out to drink with no one and ends up waking up with someone. and if that happened, then I find that forgivable. because the person most likely would feel bad and wouldn’t ever go out drinking alone again. Or do whatever to make sure that doesn’t happen again.

        but I agree, if they went out with someone and drank that much knowing they are attracted to the person then they have in their mind that they want to cheat, just to blame it on being drunk.

        The being married for a long time vs a new relationship thing tho…I disagree. I wouldn’t be able to forgive a new boyfriend or girlfriend if they cheated on me because they broke a trust that wasn’t even fully developed yet. But if my husband ever cheated on me, I would forgive him because I would trust that he wouldn’t do it again and that he was really sorry. I would try to work things out because I wouldn’t want it to end.

        1. but when I wrote that, I pictured it in my head that the person went out to drink with no one and ends up waking up with someone. and if that happened, then I find that forgivable.

          That sounds like rape, though.

          I wouldn’t be able to forgive a new boyfriend or girlfriend if they cheated on me because they broke a trust that wasn’t even fully developed yet

          I’d forgive the person. I just wouldn’t work things out with them. I wouldn’t work things out with any cheater. The trust is gone. If my own wife can find it in herself to betray me, how can I believe that she will now suddenly change and not cheat on me in the future? She’s done it before. She’s willing to risk everything before. Now that the relationship is suddenly tenuous, why should I believe that she’ll ignore her desires and tough it out now? She couldn’t tough it out when things were supposedly going well! Sure, I could put my faith in her, but why risk it? The pain of being cheated on is too great, and I don’t see reconciliation as being worth the effort.

        2. (The reply button wont show up under your comment for me for some reason. Anyways…)

          Oh, I meant if both people were drunk and hooked up and then woke up together.
          Not one of them waking up alone somewhere and finding out they been sexually assaulted.

          But really, I don’t need the, being drunk excuse at all since I really would forgive him even if alcohol wasn’t involved. If he gave in to lust temptation and regretted it, I would forgive him. I would be very angry and hurt, of course but since I know what type of person he is and that would be very out of character for him, I would trust him not to do that again. For me, he is worth the risk.

          If he did end up doing it again, I would have to move out or kick him out and think things over. I want to say I might forgive him but I really don’t know what I would do if he did it twice. Just thinking of a shy, sweet guy like him cheating on me would make me think there is no hope for any other guy to not cheat. It’s something I would have to think about…

          I know I’m making it sound like I would easily forgive him but it wouldn’t be easy at all.
          It’s just we both talked about this before and asked each other if we would forgive each other if we ended up cheating. We both said yes we would, and had reasons why but maybe if it happened (hopefully it never does) I actually wouldn’t forgive him.
          Maybe I’ll change my opinion on cheating later on.

          1. Regarding the reply button, I don’t want nested comments to continue on forever, or else the comments would become ridiculously skinny.

            Oh, I meant if both people were drunk and hooked up and then woke up together.

            Then we’re just back to square one, where the cheater knowingly put him or herself in a bad situation.

            As for the rest of your comment, I think we’ve pretty much exhausted the topic. I personally know that I can’t get past cheating. If they cheat, they pretty much prove that they’re not worth it. If they cheat, they pretty much prove that they’re not who I thought they were. Our actions define us. Perhaps cheating might seem out-of-character, but then again, perhaps I didn’t know that person’s character as well as I thought I did. Anyway. I’ll just leave it at that. Obviously, I’m not trying to convince you that you should forever condemn your hypothetical cheater. I’m just defending my stance. A cheater isn’t a bad person for eternity. They can redeem themselves. Just not with me. There are enough problems to deal with in the world, and I’m not about to complicate my life with a liar.

  8. Hopefully, the team behind Death Parade won’t make the mistake of following each Game episode with an episode of needless recap commentary + exposition. I do get the feeling that they’ll do episodes where there isn’t a game and instead the assistant gets to know more about this purgatorial place and its inhabitants. She’ll also most likely get an arc of her own where she comes to understand how and why she got to be there in the first place. Whatever they end up doing, they better do it well. Because this episode was a weak follow-up to a strong premiere.

  9. After finishing this episode, I thought it sucked, but on second thoughts it wasn’t that bad, some worldbuilding is needed anyway, however I hope this doesn’t turn into a trend where they feel the need of explain everything that happened in last episode, that will hurt this anime a lot.

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