Death Parade
Episode 5

by Zac Bertschy,

It's a worldbuilding, character-introducing backstory-palooza this week on Death Parade! It's hard to know where to start with this much new information packed into a single episode. We begin with Onna's strange recurring dream that mirrors the Chavvot, the children's book Nona is reading in Elysium. Then we get the first of three new characters: an old man who says he's the closest person to God around, who Nona is playing a game of galactic billiards with. Decim is then put to a test: Nona sends in a ringer, disguised as a kid, and a dummy brought to life to test Decim's sharpness in picking out decoys. The ringer is Ginti, ruddy-haired, foul-tempered arbiter from another judgment bar. They don't get along, and Ginti strongly disapproves of Decim's decision to keep Onna around.

The subject of Onna's condition is explored in further detail here; we learn that she was one of the few who showed up with complete memories of dying, and Decim had her memories erased and her judgment period extended so he could keep her around to assist with decisions. Ginti argues that a human and an arbiter will never belong together, but his protest is dismissed. Then we get yet another new character, the mysterious Castra, who is ensconced in a particularly evil-looking room full of blood dripping into wineglasses,  and a conversation with Nona indicates that people are dying almost too quickly to be judged.  The episode wraps with the rest of the Chavvot story.

So, here's what we know now:

  • The judgment system relies on edited down versions of peoples' memories, along with the stress test in Quindecim, to make the final call. No judgment can be rendered if there are no memories.

  • The old man who claims to be the closest to God mutters under his breath that God has been dead for a long time.

  • This entire operation seems to be run by Castra, who wears a rad skull helmet, although not-quite God refers to Nona as being the one who "runs this place".

  • Nona has been an arbiter for 82 years.

  • Decim has been the arbiter at Quindecim for 5 years. Nona replaced Ginti with him.

  • Onna takes a shower at the top of the episode. I guess you still need to bathe in the afterlife.

  • Castra says "all righteousness is in a competition with itself, it's a wonder it doesn't get bored." What?

At this point the episode becomes almost nonsensically cryptic, referring to a bunch of stuff we don't understand yet. It's a little strange to see the story suddenly become exponentially more complicated, populated by at least 3 new characters (with more to come), but it's clear the second half of Death Parade is going to largely focus on the judgment system itself, and how Onna's presence as a human among all these otherwordly judges changes things in the afterlife. I'm excited to see where it goes, and the animation in this episode was really on-point; Ginti's showdown with Decim is fantastic and I hope there are a few more chances for arbiters to duke it out.

It looks like next week we spend some time in Ginti's bar, or it's a flashback to when Nona had Ginti in charge. Either way it's more worldbuilding and backstory, and that's fine - the show was always going to eventually focus more on the afterlife's denizens than the people coming in through the elevators, and we just don't know enough yet. The slow doling out of cryptic clues and references will have to do for now. I remain patient.

Rating: B

Death Parade is currently streaming on Funimation.

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