Death March to The Parallel World Rhapsody
by James Beckett,
How would you rate episode 10 of
Death March to The Parallel World Rhapsody ?
It took almost the entire season for me to figure this out, but a single scene of Satou using his game interface this week finally clued me in that the smeary filter plaguing so many shots in Death March is meant to mimic the effect of distortion caused by pulling up the HUD. It's a testament to how inconsistent this technique seems that it took me this long to fully understand this terrible choice. (Honestly, I would not be surprised to go back through older episodes and find that this visual aberration is used or neglected at random between first-person shots.) That minor revelation aside, this week's episode of Death March to The Parallel World Rhapsody is even more scattershot than usual, with about two-thirds of the episode composed of inane camping scenes and the other third an abrupt injection of backstory for how Satou might have come to this other world in the first place.
The camping stuff is business as usual for Death March, which is to say it features a couple decently cute moments buried underneath a pile of tepid pablum. The gang cooks food, stitches together some new cushions for the cart, fashions whistles from tree leaves, and generally dawdles around the countryside for the better part of twenty minutes. Some of these bits were fine, such as Nana's enthusiasm for the stuffed toy Satou makes, but given how little personality most of the cast possesses, the majority of these slice-of-life antics fell flat for me.
Even when the rest of the cast isn't involved, most of Satou's solo material is equally boring. He spends much of this episode experimenting with magic-crafting menus and the limits of his inventory slots, which is about as riveting to watch as it sounds. These bits also lead to the episode's (and perhaps the series') single most groan-worthy gag, where Satou gets so lost in his menu exploration that he doesn't notice Nana making him grope her chest. Given how many of these scenes feel roughshod and half-baked, it's hard to see these slice-of-life antics as anything more than a weak excuse to pad out the episode's runtime.
Just about the only point of interest this episode offers is when Arisa and Satou stumble upon the remains of Japanese temple gates, which prompts a sudden flashback for Satou involving a childhood friend with rainbow hair who speaks of eternal bonds, reincarnation, and the lives of gods and mortals. This scene is a mess in both writing and direction, since it's mostly bizarre that Death March would only now decide to offer any details about Satou's past on Earth, ones that seem so unrelated to his current life as a game programmer, despite his theory that the flashback was him remembering a game he played. Not only that, but the cheap rainbow effects that surround the mystery girl look positively silly in motion, making the whole sequence more awkward than intriguing.
Still, I'm glad to see the show explore its protagonist's backstory and for Satou to finally start asking questions about what he's doing in this other world. It's pretty late in the game to be doing this though, given that there are only a couple of weeks left in the season. But if the only options are shoddy world-building and boring slice-of-life, I'll take the former over the latter any day, even if it's just for the final few episodes of the series.
Death March to The Parallel World Rhapsody is currently streaming on Crunchyroll.
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