When someone dies, their soul must be judged to either be reincarnated or go to ‘the void’. One of these judges, or arbiters, is Decim. He along with his assistant, adjudicate over games that two individuals must play, their behaviour during the game influences Decim’s decision. The only catch is, that the individuals don’t know their dead. These seemingly simple games are designed to bring the worst out in people, and test their very limits. Popular games such as bowling and air hockey are given a twist as they pit person against person. The struggle of one’s humanity and basic survival instinct is set against a larger political backdrop of the morals and evolution of arbiters.
I absolutely loved this series, it doesn’t hold back in analysing the grim realities of life, but also provides introspection of audience members. The series doesn’t divide characters into good or bad, but presents them in an incredibly sympathetic and complicated manner as we try to understand the souls placed in front of us. I particularly enjoyed how in each episode the life story of each character was slowly unveiled, leading to many twists and turns. The series presented a very true account of human nature, one that is particularly haunting as we question certain judgements and wonder what we would choose ourselves.
Characters can be classified in two broad categories; there were the human characters and the arbiters. The human characters were the ones that fascinated me the most. Each episode introduces two new humans, each with their own pain and secrets. Some characters stick with you more than others. For example the characters in episode 1 and episodes 8 & 9 were haunting in their portrayal of the human condition, revenge and love. Other characters were not as memorable but overall the audience is at the edge of their seat, waiting to see the unfolding character before them.
The arbiters must follow a couple of basic rules in their creation, one is that they are not allowed human emotion. Decim is particularly apathetic to the humans that come under his judgement. Sometimes it was hard to watch, but as the series goes on, he, like the human characters, is found to have many layers. However, other arbiters such as Ginti, seemed to exhibit very human emotions, contradicting to the aforementioned rule. Some may argue that, for example, Ginti’s anger and frustration are personality traits. Personally, I don’t agree with this view, although I do believe it is the vein that the creator’s were going down. For me, I believe emotions, expressed or not, are the reflection of personality, thus for me, where i viewed, Ginti’s use of anger and frustration I perceived it not his personality, but the way he expresses it. I believe if the creator’s truly wanted emotionless arbiters they should’ve made them all stoic, rather than hinting at different human emotions. Although judging by the end this could be expanded on in season 2 (provided there is one!)
Another interesting factor in this series was seeing the different games individual’s had to play. The way the games were designed was fascinating. The animation for the series was reasonably good, but the last two episodes ended on a big note – with some absolutely beautiful scenes. The character designs were interesting. There was a lot of thought put in to how to use every inch of each scene in an innovative and interesting manner.
Overall I absolutely loved this series. After each episode I would sit there mulling it over, questioning decisions and reflecting on characters. 9.5/10.
Favourite Character: I absolutely adored this character, probably because she reminds me of me when I fangirl over someone.
Character who had the put up with the most shit: Ginti