Quindecim’s got a pretty cool bathroom. For the record, I’ve given up on trying not to spoil each story in this show so be warned – spoilers ahead.

Decim and Kurokami, now quite used to Quindecim, welcome two new arrivals to play a game. Again, it’s a young man and a young woman with no memory of the events that happened before. However, the woman actually has no memory at all, and is disturbed to find that she can not actually remember who she is, including her name.¬† Decim tells her that she may regain her memory during the game¬† – which turns out to be bowling this time – so the game goes ahead. The weird twist to the game this time is that their bowling balls contain (realistic) representations of the other person’s heart, allowing them to feel each other’s pulses in real-time.

Although nervous at first, the two start to have fun playing the game and start to develop obvious feelings for each other, and eventually their memories return piece by piece. The mood becomes happier still when they realize that they are childhood friends…however, there’s an eventual truth that they both realize last. While Decim assumes this truth is something that will make their game end on a sour note, he is surprised yet again.

Can’t say I expected such a carefree game so early.

I love the scenery in this so much.

No creepy threads this time.

It seems like this episode was a pretty polarizing one, and I can see why – it had a happy ending. Apparently, the fact that the ‘rule breaking ‘ of showing something we didn’t expect (ie, things not ending badly for the couple) shouldn’t have happened so early in the series was a sentiment shared by quite a few viewers. I understand where they’re coming from – it’s true that this episode may have been better after a few less happy ones so that happy ending could be more of a surprise as a deviation to an ‘established norm’, but I also disagree that it’s placement is a bad thing. I didn’t expect that good ending, and it was a surprisingly pleasant twist. I think that a show like Death Parade is going to be at its best when it doesn’t go how we’re expecting it to go – that’s what it’s been doing so far, and that’s why it’s been such an amazing watch to me three episodes in a row now.

The show definitely wanted us to think that the twist was going to be an awful one though. Even in the scenes of the two having fun and growing increasingly fond of each other, there’s an offputting sense of foreboding and a steadily growing atmosphere that grew more and more tense. Forget the creepy ‘pulse inside the bowling balls’ thing – my pulse was actually racing as I waited for whatever penny was going to drop. That moment came when it was revealed that the childhood friend the woman thought she was had actually been a different person who had moved away, and she was a different childhood friend entirely…one who had undergone plastic surgery. The man assumed he was reuniting with what we can assume is a first love – only to realize it was someone different all along. In other words, it’s not that big a twist, and certainly not the bombshell that the slow and foreboding buildup was making out like it would be(In all honesty, I was anticipating a reveal that the woman had murdered that other childhood friend and stolen her identity) yet that, too, is what really made the episode for me. The happy twist to it all was that the man didn’t actually care and made a special request to Decim that they be able to have a date together – within Quindecim – before they pass on. Writing all that out doesn’t sound like particularly solid twists – with this show it’s all in the atmosphere and buildup as the characters regain memories, and it did a really great job at keeping me hooked. Some may have been disappointed that nothing absurdly horrible was revealed, but for me it was more like a wash of relief. I’m glad these two passed on happily, and that the only particularly negative thing besides their own deaths was the fact that the woman felt the need to undergo beauty enhancement surgery at all. The end of the episode had a beautifully gentle mood that I honestly didn’t expect to see in this kind of series, and it was actually touching, especially with all the gorgeous interior scenery and lighting.

What this episode has mostly done is demonstrate two key things – one, it destroys the assumption almost everyone had that each two souls would need to be sent to either reincarnation or the void; this one sees both souls reincarnating. The other is that it showed that a Quindecim experience does not have to be negative – in fact, for these two, it was potentially their happiest moment. The bowling game was unnerving, but it wasn’t ghastly or painful in the way that the previous game of darts was. Now that we’ve established that these ‘judgements’ can be good or bad, I’m even more curious about how the rest of the show is going to go, especially since the next episode preview looked much grimmer. Something else of interest is that Kurokami mentions that she’s ‘gotten used to’ the place and implies that the two in these episodes were not the second pair that she saw – although it’s unknown how many souls had passed through Quindecim between the ones in the first two episodes and these ones. I’m liking Kurokami more and more – she’s torn down the stereotypes of what a ‘mystery character’ ought to be and I loved the way she demanded Decim spoil the twist about the couple in advance rather than putting up with his crypticness. We’ve got a contender for ‘best female character’ of the season here, and I can’t wait to see more of her.

It was a nice touch showing her pre and post surgery faces, but it’s a shame she thought it necessary.

I didn’t expect Kurokami to be so damn cute.

From the ending credits – looks like there’s quite a lot to do inside Quindecim!

Out of 5,