Death Parade
Episode 8

by Zac Bertschy,

Last week, Nona told Castra to send a particular set of incoming souls to Quindecim, a pair that required 'special attention'. This week we see what she meant; the combined memories tell Decim that one of them is a murderer, and he double checks with Nona to make sure this is alright. She tells him it's fine. Obviously it isn't, and this is another test to see how the emotionally-infused Decim will handle a new set of circumstances while examining and judging the human soul.

The guys that show up are particularly grim and reserved. There's Shimada, a young man whose parents died while he was young, leaving him to care for his sister, Sae. Then there's renegade detective Tatsumi, who's apparently living in a Liam Neeson movie where his wife is murdered and he becomes single-mindedly obsessed with revenge. The two are told to play air hockey, with the usual gimmick - each puck represents a vital organ, and they have to score on eachother to advance the game.

So this is a particularly slow episode of Death Parade and the first time the show kinda bored me, and the reason for that is simple - it's a two-parter. They're setting up a mystery, leaving clues that these two men are somehow connected. It's revealed that Shimada's sister was battered (he claims by a stalker, but contextually we're led to believe it could've been him) and that's the last thing he remembers about his mortal life. Tatsumi's obsession is the last thing we learn about him - well, that and his intention is to straight-up murder whoever killed his wife - before Decim informs the two men that the game is now going into overtime and each goal will result in searing pain for the loser. Fade to credits.

The first half of this episode drags pretty badly, which is unusual for the show, and that it's done in service of stretching this story out over two episodes this close to the end of the series is kind of a bummer. It isn't a bad episode, but literally everything interesting about it will happen next week, which means this would've worked better if they'd cut the padding at the beginning and just crammed it all into one installment. There's one interesting wrinkle: Onna asks for access to the memories of these two so she can help Decim with judgment (the "let's make everything unfair" remote is busted for now) and what she learns is a real barnburner, but it doesn't really justify dragging the story out like this.

So far all the wrongdoing in this show has been articulated in shades of grey - selfishness, unfaithfulness, shallowness, obsession - crimes of the heart, not of the body. These are the things we judge others for on a personal level, something that might change the way we interact with them, and where they fall on our personal morality spectrum, but nothing so cut-and-dried as "they killed a guy". It'll be really interesting to see what Decim does when confronted with having to judge the soul of a killer, but I guess we won't find out how he handles this until next week.

Rating: B

Death Parade is currently streaming on Funimation.

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