The latest duo of guests to arrive at Quindecim apparently came with a disclaimer – one of them has killed somebody before. Apparently this takes a slightly different protocol than the norm, seeing as Decim remarked that he had no experience in dealing with it. The guests themselves are Tatsumi – a hardened detective, and Shimada, an otherwise average young man who seems a little flighty. Their game is air hockey, which proceeds rather normally until they begin to regain their memories.
It turns out – spoilers – that they’re actually both killers, and had done so out of revenge. Tatsumi’s wife had been murdered in a break-in, while Shimada’s sister had been assaulted and left hospitalized by a stalker. Although unorthodox, Decim allows Kurokami to receive their memories – the first time she’s been permitted such a thing – and is horrified by what she sees.
While these two guests shouldn’t have had anything to do with each other, the reason they are linked becomes more and more apparent as the game becomes more intense. Things quickly get ugly when they are pushed to breaking point – as is the Quindecim tradition – a tradition that Kurokami has by now had it up to here with, and she finally gives Decim a piece of her mind.
WELL, this two-parter sure was something. To be honest, the first half of it did drag a little, and it was more than a little obvious that they’d tried to pad things out in order to stretch it to two episodes, but I think it paid off in the end – the alternative would be squashing it down. As a result of this, though, the second episode was a good deal better than the first in terms of pacing.
What was most interesting about the first episode was the concept that a guest who has killed someone is something that needed to be pointed out, not to mention Decim’s remark that he didn’t have experience with it. (Which is curious, given the amount of people he honestly has to have seen through by now.) It doesn’t actually dwell too much on what this change of protocol entails at first – most of the first episode is the building suspense as it tries to get the viewers to guess which of the two men has committed murder (after all, they both have motives) – unfortunately, for the first time I actually saw this twist coming. After having every ‘twist’ not be the thing I expected, it was a little disheartening to finally be right – and not just on the detail of them both being murderers, I also called one of them being the killer of the other.
This story arc seems to being hailed as the best in Death Parade so far, but I have mixed feelings on it. It’s very suspenseful, and it blends the dark states of the guests’ mind with unexpectedly gut-wrenching happy scenes concerning the ones they seek revenge for. (Having Shimada’s sister juxtaposed over the end credits after he finally loses it was an amazing touch and really brought the whole thing together). Yet, it really came close to bogging itself down with pain and suffering. Obviously, a huge part of Death Parade is the suffering of the guests, but I still felt like it’s been handled better than this – it came awfully close to nihilistic in places. The subject matter of murdered wives and assaulted sisters acting as catalyst for all the suffering also makes for some tough viewing. Yet, it’s the juxtaposition of this with Kurokami’s ‘enough is enough’ outburst that really made the episode. She’s made her position on the manipulative nature of Quindecim’s games clear before, but this was the first time she outright interfered, even embracing Shimada to try – in vain, presumably – to prevent him from dooming himself to The Void.. With Kurokami causing so much fuss in Quindecim, things aren’t boding well for her in regards to the show’s climax.
But even more than her anguished attack on Decim, it was Decim’s wordless shock that really got to me. The show’s really been dancing around the issue of the truth behind his ’emotions’ – despite what Nona has said, Tatsumi, the detective who specializes in reading people, even remarked that he could sense no emotion from him at all. And yet, don’t think I missed him touching his heart in one part… I’m so anxious about what this show is going to do to me in the end.