(Welcome to Ani-time Ani-where, a regular column dedicated to helping the uninitiated understand and appreciate the world of anime.)

In my last post, I wrote that the sports anime genre is home to many great, and at times bizarre shows featuring games big, small, and just plain weird. While Haikyu! represents that genre at its purest, this week we’ll look at one of the stranger, yet equally as beautiful shows about playing games.

Two people enter a bar, without knowledge of how they got there, or even what their last memories are. What they know is only what the bartender tells them – they’re here to play a game, and they won’t be able to leave until they do. These are simple bar games, like darts and air hockey, but the stakes are as high as the difference heaven and hell. Indeed, Death Parade is kind of like NBC’s The Good Place, only they’re stuck at the medium place and the games will decide where they end up in the end.

The bartender is, in fact, an arbiter: an all-knowing being without emotions tasked with judging the souls of the two humans who enter the bar at any one time, and deciding if they should go to heaven (or rather, if they earn reincarnation) or hell (their souls get sent to the eternal void). What starts as a high-stakes sports anime becomes a deep exploration of what makes us human, how and why we judge one another, and the value of life.

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