Just finished Death Parade, a series I’ve heard good things about but never got around to watching until now. The main cast are so called “arbiters” who, with the backdrop of a fancy cocktail bar, have freshly deceased souls play games to judge their characters better and draw out “the hidden darkness”. It is quite good and an interesting excursion about life, death, how you earn “salvation” and who gets to decide that on what basis. And the OP is absolutely fantastic.
However, the show also had a couple of flaws. For one while the characters in the show decide on whether a given person is reincarnated or sent “to the void”, no explanation is really given what those two options entail until the second to last episode. I kept expecting that “the void” is actually turns out to be the desirable option. The show toys with Buddhist symbolism, but does not establish the possibility of reaching a Nirvana, though it also makes quite a point that the arbiters are deliberately withholding information from the people they judge.
The other problem I have is contained in the overarching plot so consider this a spoiler warning. In the last couple of episodes we find out that the assistant to the bartender, Chiyuki, was in fact human. This is treated as a sort of revelation, though the show kind of fails in making the viewer assume that she was an arbiter to begin with. At least I never did. Maybe they could have handled that better by showing how Decim “awoke” as an arbiter to begin with and drew parallels to Chiyuki in how they were placed in their positions, e.g. by paralleling how Nona explained the work of an arbiter to Chiyuki in episode 2 but with Decim in Chiyuki’s place somewhere around episode 6 or 7.
Another show I watched recently is Kakegurui, a gambling anime set in a high school for rich kids. I kind of like these sorts of gambling shows, from the king of kings in that subgenre with Gambling apocalypse Kaiji, to series like One-Outs and Liar Game. Unfortunately Kakegurui leaves a bit desired there. For one, while it showcases some kind of interesting games, it burns through those games way too fast and doesn’t let the tension build enough. It seems to race toward a conclusion almost, though unfortunately the season ends with what basically amounts to an anti-climax.
Another problem with the show is that the stakes almost don’t matter. Sure people talk about exorbitant amounts of money, but they might as well be chocolate coins for as much as people seem to value it. There are some gambling scenes with a wager involving bodily harm, but those are then undercut by the one making the wager having already completely seen through the game at that point.
The show still does some interesting stuff, particularly with its usage of facial expressions and colors, and just the indomitable sexuality radiated by its main character, but it unfortunately falls a bit flat with the regard of what it nominally sets out to do. It’s still a glorious piece of trash in a similar vein to Prison School.
Finally I’ve been trying to make my way through Steins;Gate. For the unaware the series starts with a main character hamming it up to portray himself as a “Mad Scientist”, and he and his friends stumble into actually creating a time machine with which they can first send text messages, and later memories into the past, which of course turns out to be a horrible idea.
Usually these kinds of shows should be up my alley, and I heard good things about this show, but I find myself a bit dreading to watch it. It’s not that the show is bad, but the pale color palette and the equally bleak attitude of the show makes it tough to enjoy it. It almost seems to me that it tries to make the viewer suffer alongside the main character but for me it fails in that and instead makes it into a slog. I also have no clue how after this show concludes they can wring a second season out of it, which started airing this spring.