by Zac Bertschy,
Welcome to Viginti, the judgement bar of our ruddy-haired, sour-faced friend who showed up last week and challenged Decim to a brawl. Harada, blonde-haired, fresh-faced playboy idol from the boy band C.H.A , and Mayu, C.H.A superfan with a personality bigger than her ridiculous teddy bear hair accessory - show up in Ginti's wood-paneled, carefully manicured bar for a deadly game of Twister. Ginti yawns and grimaces his way through the early part of the game - overseen by his pet cat, Memine - and doesn't come to life until the stakes are raised, when each Twister circle can turn the room into a blast furnace, a meat locker, or a wind tunnel, and naturally here we start learning the tragic (or tragicomic) circumstances behind these two deaths.
As it turns out, Harada - infamous womanizer - was murdered in an explosion masterminded by the sister of a fan he dated who killed herself when he so cavalierly dumped her. Mayu's death wasn't quite so dramatic - she just slipped in the shower on some soap after a C.H.A concert. When the floor drops out and our couple is stranded above a spiky death pit, Ginti tells them that the first one to fall will die, and so the pathos comes out; Harada is inches away from shoving Mayu headfirst into the pit when she sacrifices himself for him, as a thank-you for the years of comfort his songs have given her. Harada sees the error of his ways and tries to save her life, and it looks like everyone here is reincarnation-bound. Ginti, however, couldn't be more irritated by all of this nonsense.
So this is a look inside Ginti's bar, and it's an attempt at showing us just how completely different the Arbiters can be. It's another chink in the armor of the system, another display of how brutally unfair all of this is. If someone winds up in Decim's bar, they're going to be afforded at least some dignity, and Decim's kindness will shine through all the grim proceedings. Not so with Ginti, who couldn't be less interested until his chance to flex his sadistic side comes out - he's all about making these dumb humans squirm for his entertainment, and the dramatic redemption arc and unexpected character turns that happen during his death game is an irritant, something getting in the way of his fun. There's no other backstory, no new revelations about what we saw last week - this could've been the pilot episode, if the series were about Ginti instead.
Thankfully, this is one of the most entertaining and downright silliest episodes of Death Parade so far; Mayu and Harada are a hoot, and the two get a small mountain of hilarious and sometimes touching character moments. Ginti's crappy attitude is a refreshing change of pace; the juxtaposition of the now-standard Death Parade Human Drama with his eye-rolling impatience showcases an entirely different dimension to this show. Ginti seems bored with the very idea of judgment - he even mocks the "drama" of busting out the little "make the game unfair" gadget they use to drag out the darker recesses of the human soul. This must be why Nona seems so unimpressed with him.
Even though the overarching story doesn't move forward in this episode, it's the most fun the show has ever been. The animation is just phenomenal, too - Mayu's wild takes and hyperactive expressions are rendered in crisp, hilarious detail (you can't help but love her wind tunnel face - kudos Mad House on making that sequence laugh-out-loud funny). So while this episode firmly places Death Parade's storytelling prowess at "uneven" - with last week being a cryptic infodump of the highest order followed by, well, this - it's forgivable if we get more wildly entertaining stories like this one. While I still think episode 4 is the show's strongest effort - it's as close to a perfect execution of the Death Parade concept as has existed so far - this is a very close second.
The post-credits sequence made me laugh so hard I startled my cat. What a fantastic episode.
Death Parade is currently streaming on Funimation.
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