Memento Mori 「メメント·モリ」
We’ve come to the inevitable episode I’ve been wanting to avoid – what did your life mean to you? Does it matter in death?
This being the penultimate episode (no say it isn’t so! I don’t want Death Parade to end!) we’re facing final loose ends. I’ve been wanting to avoid ever reaching this episode’s topic because honestly, it’s a question that viewers face themselves regarding their own mortality. Just as how all good things must come to an end such as Death Parade, life itself comes to an end and most of us fear death, fear it cut short, fearful that we’ve not lived it the way we wanted to – remember how surprised Decim and Chiyuki were at how content last week’s grandma guest was? How many people can truly die having lived the way grandma did – content? Memento Mori~ remember that you have to die.
We had a terrific lead in to this episode carrying forward from Ginti’s conversation with Decim last episode. Arbiters are there to judge a soul. To Ginti, it doesn’t matter what sort of life they lived because humans are born to die i.e. to live is to die. His job is just to arbitrate that static moment of death. Decim on the other hand, having interacted with Chiyuki all this while, has come to believe otherwise, that it is precisely because humans lived a life that they die and so arbiters ought to arbitrate based on one’s entire life. Humans have a range of emotions, simple or otherwise, that’s what Chiyuki taught Decim. So the irony comes unfolding this episode for Chiyuki took her own life, ending that good thing she had by her own hands.
Yes, Chiyuki did have a good thing. She was a star ice-skater until a bad knee injury meant her life as an ice-skater was to end there and then. But she had friends, family and loved ones so why would she fall into such despair that she had to slit her wrist in the bathtub? Because without her core ice-skating career, inspired by the Chamot children’s book her mother read to her as a child, what was left of Chiyuki but a hollow shell? That’s how she felt, that her life was just her identity as an ice-skater. It was that simple. So it’s especially cruel that she learns about life, in death. Looking at this from a parallel angle, didn’t Chiyuki judge her own life simply at that one point in time? Such unfortunate irony. Should Decim also judge Chiyuki statically or should her life be looked at as a whole?
Ginti still had to somehow judge Mayu from episode 06. She should’ve been reincarnated then so I don’t understand why Ginti hadn’t judged her. If she’s evil then the void it is but she was selfless, sacrificing herself for her boyband idol crush Harada. That’s exactly what he doesn’t understand, not that he wanted to. It’s just that as an arbiter, he needed to make a judgement at that moment and when he can’t, he resorted to asking about her life – what did Mayu live for? Purely for Harada and even now in death, she’s repeatedly proving time and again that she’s happy to sacrifice her soul to trade places with Harada’s in the void, knowing full well what the void is. Ginti tried to trick Mayu by offering another guy’s soul to trade for Harada’s but the purest of hearts Mayu chose to sacrifice her own. And why can’t she? It’s her life! So Ginti got his answer by actually judging Mayu on her entire life, by eventually sending both Mayu and Harada to the void where it’s suggested they’ll be together forever… but it’s really unfair for Mayu right? Nah, it’s what she wanted so I reckon Ginti did a good deed, even if he doesn’t realise he’s arbitrated differently.
Decim must have a moe thing for Chiyuki, volunteering to arbiter and take her case on when she first graced Quindecim with no memories except that she was dead. Those tears did him in and why wouldn’t they? Decim’s an emotional Arbiter! Tsk tsk Nona for experimenting with Decim because Oculus looks really upset that an arbiter has human emotions now…
The one track for this episode – Memento Mori, is a gem that’s worth putting on loop. Perhaps it’s with Chiyuki’s backstory that this track sounds poignant but overall it fits beautifully with the general mood and tone of the OST, which itself is an understated accompaniment to this anime. I’ve never seen ice-skating animated before and it’s for good reason – it’s damn difficult to draw that many complex movements. Well, Death Parade absolutely nailed it with this episode and the end product is as contemplative in itself as it is in the theme of the day.