Death Parade: Reflections on My Younger Self’s Idiocy

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This post contains slight spoilers if you haven’t watched the anime. Please proceed with caution.

You can say I’m late in joining the bandwagon because I just started watching the anime Death Parade, not in the year it was released (2015).

Eh, whatever. Let’s just get to the point.

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Click the image for source

For those of you who are unfamiliar with the anime, Death Parade takes place in a bar called Quindecim which exists between “Heaven” and “Hell”. The deceased go there after they have passed on in order to face judgment imposed by an arbiter. As for the judgment, they have to play a randomly selected game with their lives as a stake. Depending on their performance and what they have done while they were still alive, they either go to “Heaven” or “Hell”. Why the quotation marks? In reality, “Heaven” is actually reincarnation, while “Hell” is an abyssal void. The story follows a stone-faced arbiter disguised as a bartender called Decim, his new assistant, and several other characters that reign over humans’ death.

Personally, I really enjoyed the anime so much. It has great storyline, realistic characters, a catchy soundtrack, and great visual aspect as well. I have to admit some episodes brought tears to my eyes because there are moments that make you just want to squirm in your bed and drown yourself in the feels. To me, 50% of the feels come from learning the truth of a character, whereas the rest comes from rethinking what life actually means to you.

Well, I’m not going to review the anime and pass a judgment whether it belongs in the reincarnation field or the void like Decim, the anime’s main character, does his job. No, I’m not going to rant about why this character is my favorite/most disliked character in this post either. That’s because I don’t think I deserve to do it since I don’t have a degree in reviewing stuffs.

In fact, I’m going to write about my thoughts on several dialogues in the anime, its relevance to my experience(s), and what I learn from them.

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Arbiters’ job in a nutshell according to Ginti. Source: screenshot EP 7

In the screenshot above, Ginti refers to the way humans get carried away by their extreme emotions when triggered by extreme conditions that arbiters create. In a sense, I somewhat agree with his words. I find people foolish when they abandon their professionalism and obligations just because they can’t control their emotions. I remember because of that, I wished I had no emotions at all so I can keep on doing what is expected of me by society in order to be accepted when I got into high school or so.

“Sheesh, act like a professional adult, will you? Crying is reserved for kids!”

I have accustomed myself to those toxic words. After all, that is what my parents had taught me. To them, I am the biggest nuisance on Earth if I feel blue because I like to spout some depressing nonsense if I’m sad. Not only that, I’d leave my assignments and studies hanging too. Since then, I just wanted to discard every single remaining emotion I have in order to keep up my image as the perfect child of the family.

I tried repressing my emotions to stay on my toes every day. It brought me benefits that I had been dreaming of. I could do what I have to smoothly and present myself as someone professional and calm; thus my teachers and parents garnered with my praises, especially in front of my juniors and younger relatives. Needless to say, I felt it was more than enough. I couldn’t care less about the strained relationships I have caused thanks to my own selfish desires which made my old friends perceive me as unapproachable.

As time progressed further, I began to rethink about my wish. What I have always wanted only rendered me unable to feel other positive emotions such as gratefulness, happiness, and so on. I could fake a smile every now and then to exhibit my openness in front of people, but then again, it’s not real. It didn’t come from the bottom of my heart. My wish left me numb and empty. Later on, I couldn’t even be happy when I was supposed to be happy. One of the prime examples is when I was celebrating Christmas with my close friends (and a crush) in the past. I didn’t feel like my heart was going to pop out of joy; I was emotionless.

Something came across my mind as I kept on watching the show until its end.

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I salute you, old lady! Source: screenshot EP 11

The moment I stumbled upon the old lady’s past and that screenshot above, the realization hit me like a ton of titanium bricks. Normally, people would have been depressed if they were put in the same situation as her. You have a family, but no children? We would break down instantly as people sneer at that fact and bombard us with hurtful questions because of that. Conversely, this old lady felt grateful and thought of her illustrations as her own children instead. She was so grateful that she could say she had lived a good life back then.

Emotions, although dangerous when we let them control us, are actually beneficial for seeing the good things in life. That old lady could be satisfied with her life because of emotions. Most of Quindecim’s previous guests realized that their death was hard for the people who cherished them in contrast to their prior mindset because of emotions. As I have mentioned previously, Ginti considered human emotions to be idiotic to which I concede. However, I came to believe that very idiocy allows humans to feel that their life is indeed fulfilled. It invokes a sense of gratefulness and satisfaction in them and as a result, enables them to be positive about life.

What do I think? Refer to the following screenshot, please.

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Sums up how I feel. *high 5s with Decim* Source: screenshot EP 2

Next, emotions also help us realize that although there are times where we feel useless and unloved, there are other people who cherish us and would mourn for our death. The thought of being separated from us is hard for them and it could only be felt through emotions. Feeling cherished and loved by someone sheds some light on our tunnel vision mindset that traps us into thinking we’re worthless and our life deserves to be ended as soon as possible. That light induced by the positive feeling of deserving love helps us thank those people and as a result, we can keep on living with all we’ve got.

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You can never know this fact if you can’t feel. Source: screenshot EP 12, compiled by me.

After witnessing the anime’s finale, I learned that emotions come in one package (McD or KFC’s Paket Hemat as I like to call it). Anger and sadness can distract us from our obligations and cause regret if we let ourselves drown in them, but without those seemingly negative emotions, we won’t be able to feel the positive emotions such as delight and gratefulness. Besides, in order for a light to stand out on its own, it requires darkness. The darker it is, the brighter it shines. It can be said the same for emotions as well. No matter how down we’re feeling right now, it will all be repaid with intense joy we could never forget.

“Oh, happiness is an alarm for us before sh** happens and then we’re down in the abyss again!”

I realize that objection my negativity tends to raise. As I mentioned before, emotions come in one package. The positive and negative emotions are inseparable. You can’t have just either one of them. You can’t be happy without feeling sad beforehand and there’s no way your life is going to be a huge pile of suffering full of sorrow. There’s going to be a happy ending for each of us.

Indeed, such simple (but potentially burdening) things in life are the things that make us human. A living human, at that. That is why I’d like to discard my old wish and let myself be vulnerable to emotions slowly. It’ll make me realize that I’m not as worthless as I thought during my early adolescence. Hopefully, it can heal my past wounds and prevent me from ruining potential deep relationships ahead with my idiocy.

Tl;dr: wishing to be emotionless is one of the biggest mistakes I have done. It scraps me away from looking at life positively, leaving me feel worthless.

As a closing to this rant-like reflection nonsensical post, here is an illustration of a quote that struck me hard while watching the anime.

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Click the image for source

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