Death Reverse 「デス・リバース」
Damn is this a good show.
As the title suggests, this episode was a reverse/inverse/behind-the scenes if you will, view of the opening episode featuring recently married, recently deceased Machiko and Takashi and how the game they played was meant to test their characters as human beings. We kinda guessed at that both in Death Billiards and last week’s opener, that people pushed to the extremes out of fear of life will do extreme things. Although, through the eyes of the newbie assistant aptly named thus far as the woman with black hair (a surprisingly but fittingly muted Seto Asami), we get a walking commentary of how judgment is passed and how customers are prodded ever so slightly in order to get them to spill their innermost, raw human instincts. These arbiters are definitely sadists and that makes this reviewer very very happy to be able to see human emotions peeled away layer by layer over the course of just 20 mins. But over and above that, I like the stark contrast shown in identifying those human layers in the customers vs the non-human fallacy of arbiters such as dead-ish sounding Maeno Tomoaki‘s Decim (don’t get me wrong, it’s very difficult to sound dead-ish with a hint of curiosity as Maeno has done here). The juxtaposition is subtle in the script and classily unveiled. Think about it, the arbiters are not human and yet their job is to pass judgment on humans based on what kind of a human being they were in life. It’s not quite fair and mistakes like with Machiko do end up being made.
You’d think Decim’s all white-haired, tall, glum and so one of those cool maybe even smoldering type of anime characters (the number of people remarking he’s Mushishi‘s Ginko’s afterlife lol) but no, the true badass is big boss Nona, voiced by Okubo Rumi whom I’ve last heard as Tama in Barakamon; she had it in her there to voice extremes and she’s got it in her here too. Nona’s got the old soul trapped in a youngling’s body thing going on solidly and make no mistake, her petite self will grab arbiters like Decim by the collar and threaten that they not screw up ever again. I’m intrigued by what looks to be her home on the top floor for it’s got a post-war serenity vibe being a standalone building in the middle of ruins. Also introduced this week is the lift boy Clavis, voiced by another surprisingly lighthearted Uchiyama Kouki – when was the last time he sounded so not surly?! I really can’t wait to have more of the supporting cast join in and interact with Decim to teach the guy a thing or two about humans so he can pass better judgments!
Arbiters judge based on a hunch. They get the human’s memories literally downloaded (crazy eyeball and iris movements man) into them just before the customers arrive. The customers themselves don’t know they’re dead, having been in shock over their deaths to even remember it ever happening. They get coaxed into playing a little deadly game staking lives that they don’t know they don’t already have. And therein the judging begins. It’s theatrical, magical even but nowhere near whimsical because judging a life is serious business. Even on a hunch. So Nona’s seemingly pleased to see the newbie assistant work on her instinct to comment that Machiko wasn’t lying about Takashi’s baby, even if she did possibly have a one-night stand. The problem was with Takashi’s inability to trust anyone. Like I said, all he had to do was ask Machiko instead of letting paranoia stray into fear. Machiko’s guilt was the one thing I never thought of because I just blamed Takashi last week – black-haired woman suggests that Machiko’s tearful 180 turnaround was to lessen Takashi’s guilt over killing them, especially their unborn child. Which makes her an even bigger human being right? To show compassion and forgiveness towards a man who’s left with suspicion and distrust towards the end? But Decim never thought of that because he doesn’t know what human compassion is right? Off to the void for all eternity the adulteress goes. It’s this ironic thought process placed on feelings from the heart that I absolutely love about Death Parade!
I think there’s a lot of pressure riding on this show’s director and production staff so this viewer can only hope that it keeps this high standard of storytelling through till the end. The anime mirai 2013 movie was brilliant and Death Parade‘s debut episode has been nothing short of excellent, considering what it was following up from. This second episode then, has set up the judgment world nicely both visually and in the plot, as though one were slowly sipping the intoxications of Nona’s usual cocktail. Let’s just hope that like that delicious cocktail the show leads us into happy thoughts and gleeful moods~
Next week’s customers seem to be yet another couple. I’m guessing unmarried young lovebirds this time which definitely spells completely different dynamics from last episode’s newly weds. Can’t wait!
As much as I adore the mind-troll OP with Decim dancing erstwhile with a straight face, this ED sequence featuring his macabre hobby with manequins is just downright creepy. I’m not a fan of dolls in any form especially porcelain ones here… just adds to the whole death theme of this show but no thank you I shall be skipping it if it comes on.