Ginti is tasked with judging the two guests for this episode – pop idol Harada from the boyband sensation CHA, and his very eager fan Mayu. Mayu is beyond excited about the chance to be in the same room as her beloved Harada, let alone being able to play a game with him. Harada tolerates her obsessive enthusiasm with a pleasant face, however we eventually learn that he really isn’t a very nice person behind the scenes. In fact, he’s a complete womanizer, was involved in numerous scandals and considers Mayu unworthy of him. But he’s still eager to impress her in their game – which turns out to be Twister – that is, until Ginti eventually adds the Quindecim twist to it that turns it into a life-or-death struggle where every colour causes dangerous levels of cold, wind or heat.
The game itself is frightening enough, but Ginti completely lacks Decim’s neutrality and seems to have quite a lot of fun watching humans suffer.
This episode was actually a lot of fun, and while more light-hearted in tone than the other episodes so far it did manage to maintain some depth. I would say that it was another surprising departure from its formula…but it’s obvious now that Death Parade really doesn’t have any formula, only the one that viewers expected it might have had, because the outcome is literally always unexpected and it’s always doing things a little differently to the time before. This time the first major difference is the absence of Decim – the foul-tempered Ginti, with some help from his mysterious cat, is arbiter for these two guests. The difference is pretty striking – he’s impatient and even sadistic, acting with obvious disdain for the humans. The other major, and much more surprising difference was that neither of the two seemed to end up being judged – or at least not in this episode. Given that Mayu is featured in the show’s opening, though (and is so far the only ‘guest’ that has been) it’s clear that she has a bigger role, but exactly what, I can’t tell at this point.
I always admire the way Death Parade takes the way we expect things to go and then veers into a different direction, and it’s just as nicely done here. A lesser show would have just kept the ‘twist’ at ‘the idol is actually an asshole who doesn’t respect his fans and is fine with sacrificing one for his benefit!’, or even ‘the fan is actually devoted to the point of insanity and ends up killing the idol!’. Instead, Harada is revealed to actually be a semi-decent person – still pretty horrible, sure, but wracked with grief and blaming himself for the suicide of one an ex-lover. His sudden desperate change of heart and desire to save Mayu’s ‘life’ felt genuine, as did his grief at thinking that she too had died. As for Mayu, I wouldn’t call her a particularly deep character and there’s no hidden side to her, but she’s refreshingly honest and pretty fun to watch, and probably one of my favourite characters featured in the show so far. I mean, the poor girl died not for any deep reason but because she slipped in the bathroom – she’s as simple as they come, but that makes a nice change.
I’m incredibly curious about what the outcome of this game will actually be – if there is one. It looks like the next episode will be another one about the arbiters, but hopefully we learn why Mayu is in the opening, too.