The newest pair to enter Quindecim is quite the contrast – one, Misaki, is a TV personality who became famous due to being a single mother with lots of children, and the other, Yousuke, is an otaku. It isn’t unusual that they’re drastically different, though – they’ve never met before. Misaki immediately interprets the suspicious bar as the setup for a TV show with hidden cameras and decides to make the most of it, although requests Yousuke’s cooperation to make things as interesting as possible for the viewers. The game the two are given is an arcade fighting game featuring caricatures of themselves. However, they eventually find out that if they get KO’d a part of their memory will return…and it turns out they’re both very unhappy people.
During the course of a game that Yousuke clearly has an advantage in, Misaki becomes more and more desperate to win. But, like always, it’s not the outcome of the game so much as how one plays it…
Well, they can’t all be happy stories. After the rather nice end to last week’s episode Death Parade‘s cruel side returns with a vengeance. To be honest, this episode was actually difficult to watch in places for a wide variety of reasons, and was definitely the most depressing so far. Although it did answer something I was wondering since the beginning – whether two people, in completely different locations and from entirely different causes just happen to die at the same time by chance, would qualify as a ‘pair’ for Quindecim. (The answer: Absolutely.)
I found Misaki to be a very tragic character, and I’m honestly disappointed at some of the reaction I’ve seen to her online. A victim of domestic abuse from not one but two awful men that deceived her and left her with their children, it’s obviously going to take a toll on her psyche to go on as a single mother of five. I’m not saying she’s an admirable person by any means given some of the things she does in this episode, but she’s literally an abuse victim driven to breaking point. The scenes in which she remembers being abused are confronting, her apparent neglect of her children is confronting (although she does, simultaneously, care for them), and her complete and utter breakdown by the episode’s end is even more confronting still. I’m glad, for one, that the episode itself wasn’t vilifying or victim-blaming her, but that doesn’t make it any more easy to stomach. As for our other case, Yousuke also seems to have been abused by his mother – albeit to a lesser extent, but I found it difficult to sympathize with him when his father’s new wife’s attempts to genuinely reach out to him went ignored. However, I think it was also a rather realistic depiction of depression, and that’s something I can applaud. Basically, both these characters are difficult and emotional messes and geez one can only hope they manage to find some peace after all this. Their final realizations about how much these family members truly meant to them was very hard-hitting. Not just for the viewers, but for Kurokami, who seemed so used to everything in the relatively pleasant last episode. She even confronts Decim about the fact that Quindecim seems to be intentionally trying to bring out the worst in people, questioning whether this is truly a fair judgement.
There were some other firsts in this episode besides the unrelated deaths – it was the first time one of the deaths was a suicide, and the first murder. (As for the murder, I can’t help but be curious what on earth happened to the woman who snapped and strangled Misaki back in Real Life, but I doubt we’ll ever find out.) It also showed that the creepy threads that seem to act to restrain those who become violent (like in the first episode) can actually be broken free from, but at what cost, it’s unclear.
The reason for the judgement this time was a little clearer than in the first episode – Misaki losing her mind and attacking Yousuke probably didn’t help her any. Yet, it seems cruel that she was sent to the void after how much she pleaded to be able to see her children again – which reincarnation would have granted her. Anyway, it’s difficult to rate this episode because while I can’t say it was nice to watch, my negative emotional reaction was kind of the intention. But here’s hoping the next episode isn’t so depressing.