Death March to The Parallel World Rhapsody
by James Beckett,
How would you rate episode 12 of
Death March to The Parallel World Rhapsody ?
I understand that Death March to The Parallel World Rhapsody has been a slice-of-life show as much as anything else, but couldn't there have been a slightly more eventful episode to close out the season than this one? This series has a whole host of problems, but the “Rescue Mia from Zen” arc is still the strongest bit of storytelling Death March has given us, so it would have been a perfect place to end this portion of the series. Instead, the past few episodes have doubled down on the aimless (and boring) meandering, concluding Death March with this compelling crisis: “Satou and the gang make pottery to settle a political dispute”. Even by this series' standards, the last couple of episodes have been especially lame, too low-stakes to make for an interesting fantasy quest but too complicated to make for good slice-of-life entertainment. The closest this story comes to providing even a modicum of tension is when the goons arrive to bust up all the pottery our gang has made, but it only takes a minute for Satou to reveal that he had a foolproof plot laid out in advance to save the day, because of course he did.
Even the show seems to be aware that this plotline stinks, because it sweeps the conclusion under the rug as quickly as it can once Satou arrives at the Assistant Viceroy's. The villain takes the news of their success as expected, but before any real conflict can build up, the hitherto unseen Count Kuhano arrives to put a stop to the Assistant Viceroy's schemes and set everything right with the forest folk. Normally I would scoff at such a blatant deus ex machina, but I was just happy to see the story wrap up. On the plus side, we do learn that the young witch girl's terrible hat is actually a bird that lives on her head. This silly gag did muster a chuckle out of me, so this finale does earn points for one good moment.
Unfortunately, that good will is squandered in the final third of the episode. Since the episode has nowhere to go with the main storyline concluded, the last scenes of Death March simply indulge in the tackiest and most indulgent fanservice gags to date. Poor Nana is the brunt of most of them; first she ends up straddling Satou nude for the show's umpteenth variation on the “Arisa gets jealous of another slave girl” bits, which has never been funny. Nana also gets in the last joke of the season, where it turns out that squeezing one of her breasts is a convenient way to boot her up. In an average episode of Death March, this would be the comedic low point, but the finale does try to outdo itself by sexualizing Pochi and Tama. Outside of the egregious bath scene from weeks ago, Death March has been okay about not going too far with the youngest members of its cast, but then this episode decided that the scene where Satou teaches the girls about drinking aloe vera juice needed to be framed in the most tasteless manner imaginable. I understand that the overt lewdness of the scene is part of the joke, given the group's reaction faces, but that doesn't keep it from feeling especially gross.
There's a somewhat cute scene of Satou reading to the girls from a book of myths, sandwiched between the episode's poor attempts at comedy, but I can't help but feel like this is yet another holdover from the books that's been crammed into the end of the episode to fill space. Even when a series exists primarily to supplement an already existing story in a different medium, it should strive to be a complete tale on its own too. More worldbuilding scenes like this one and the goddess foreshadowing from episode 10 would have been nice earlier in the series' run, but tacking it on to the end of the finale so clumsily just makes the whole effort feel even more like low-rent advertisement space for the books.
I have heard that the light novels this anime is based on are significantly better, but you wouldn't know it going off the quality of this adaptation. Death March to The Parallel World Rhapsody has been a shoddily produced mess of an isekai series, with its very rare bright spots easily drowned out by lame writing, horrible aesthetics, and Satou's utter lifelessness as a lead. Even if you disregard the uncomfortable reliance on infantilized slave characters, Death March is still guilty of the worst sin that any piece of entertainment can commit: it's always boring. If the novels truly are better, then anyone who hasn't already wasted their time with this anime should stick to them exclusively. This woeful adaptation is better off being forgotten.
Death March to The Parallel World Rhapsody is currently streaming on Crunchyroll.
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