This was one of those rare moments where I was a manga reader first and an anime watcher second. I’ve been reading and reviewing Death March to the Parallel World Rhapsody for Yen Press and I was excited to find out that it was getting an anime adaptation. I had a little bit of fear when the anime was announced because the manga that I had been reading, while interesting, was quite slow and I didn’t know how that would translate into the world of television. Now that I’ve seen the twelve episodes that were offered, I can finally compare the two to see if my fears were warranted.
Ichirou Susuki is a game programmer who is in the middle of a “death march.” A death march is more commonly known here in America as “crunch time.” That’s a period of time where everything for a game has to be debugged, checked, corrected, polished, etc so the game can ship by a specific deadline. Ichirou works himself into the ground and falls asleep on his office floor. This is when Ichirou is transported into another world, but he has a HUD (heads up display) that makes him think that he’s in some sort of a dream where he’s playing a video game.
He soon realizes that this isn’t a dream and he really has been transported to another world. He uses one of the cheats and calls down a massive meteor strike that takes out his attackers as well as everything is a massive radius, instantly boosting him up to lvl 310 and giving him a ton of titles as well as rare gear. Now as an overpowered character, Ichirou, now under the guise of a traveling merchant named Satou, travels the world to learn more about just what and where this place is.
Right off the bat, you think that this is going to be another action-packed Sword Art Online-style isekai anime, but that’s where you would be oh-so-wrong. Death March to the Parallel World Rhapsody manages to combine an isekai RPG setting with a slice-of-life show with little bits of action sprinkled in every now and then. When I read the manga, I complimented the fact that it treated the story like a traditional RPG would. You met characters, you get to know them and then you go off on little adventures.
The only problem is that the manga spent a LOT of time on the characters, their backstories and doing a whole bunch of world building. In other words, the manga was pretty slow and, sadly, that translated over to the anime. Episodes seemed like they were filled with pointless filler and while I was already familiar with the material, it just seemed more interesting reading it rather than watching it. The whole time I watched, I kept thinking about non-manga readers and how slow and offputting a show like this could be.
Sure, there were missions such as getting trapped in a dungeon after a demon attack or chasing down a dark wizard after he kidnaps one of your newfound friends, to even a seemingly impossible task of creating 300 potion vials, but it was all of the in-between episodes that caused the show to drag. The show spent more time world and character building than it did serving up any action to sink our teeth into. The result was an extremely slow story that slice-of-life fans may find enjoyable, but those who were coming into the series expecting something else would not.
Citrus only had a handful of characters and outside of Yuzu and Mei, I don’t think they really added much to the show. The only one that really seemed unique out of them all was Matsuri, but even then she still felt rather generic after everything was all said and done.
Another issue the show had was with its characters. Sure, there was plenty of backstory and lore behind the characters, but they didn’t really give you all that much reason to care about them. Once they were introduced, they just became another member of Satou’s harem and their bland personalities really added nothing special to the mix.
Ichirou “Satou” Suzuki
Ichirou is a pretty balanced main character. He realizes that he’s overpowered to hell and back, but he doesn’t go around flaunting that power needlessly. In fact, he goes to some lengths to try and mask his level and power from everyone around him, fearing that he would either stand out too much or people would take advantage of him. He applies his massive bank of points to skills as he finds them necessary, taking away a lot of the mystique the show could offer. His stockpile of points just seems like an overused plot device to try and progress the story. His attitude is that of a kind and caring individual, though so he does put a lot of thought into the things his does and how he feels that his actions can affect others around him. At least he’s not timid and afraid to step into a fight like a lot of main characters are these days, so that’s a breath of fresh air! It’s rare that I find the main character as my favorite in a series, but Satou was my favorite in this show because he’s the only one who stood out.
She’s one of three slaves that Satou first rescues when he arrives into town. Her master ends up dying so Satou agrees to “purchase” her, Pochi and Tama. They end up following Satou and he teaches them the necessary life skills that they have been deprived of. Liza is like a big sister to Tama and Pochi, but to Satou, she just sees him as her master. She’s pretty obedient, but you can tell that she’s also grateful to have a kind master like Satou. She eventually becomes a little more independent as the show goes on, but she still has that “yes, master” vibe about her.
Tama & Pochi
Tama – She is a cat-demi human nameless slave who receives the name Tama from Satou (more specifically Pochi and then agreed by Satou that Tama should be her name). Her and Pochi are very child-like with an obsession of eating meat since they never had a chance to taste such delicacies.
Pochi – She is a dog-demi human nameless slave who receives the name Pochi from Satou (more specifically Tama and then agreed by Satou that Pochi should be her name). Her and Tama are very child-like with an obsession of eating meat since they never had a chance to taste such delicacies.
If the two character descriptions above read very similarly, that was done on purpose, not out of laziness. It drives the point home that these two have very mirror personalities to each other. One of them even adapts Hanyuu’s nano desu catchphrase from Higurashi no Naku Koro ni in an attempt to stand out, but… spoiler alert… it doesn’t exactly work and she just becomes some random child-like character. The cuteness factor here almost seems forced rather than natural, but that’s okay. We certainly aren’t getting any more characters with this personali—
-ty. Ah crap.
Okay, so Mia is the youngest elf of the Boruenean Forest. She gets kidnapped by the dark wizard Zen and is later rescued by Satou. She becomes a member of Satou’s party and her personality is exactly like Tama and Pochi’s minus the enthusiasm. She’s very monotone and emotionless in her speech, but at the same time she comes off like a little child. I mean, she is “young” in elf terms, but that’s all we really needed in this little harem is a third child trying to stand out due to their droll personality. At least we didn’t get a four—
-th. OH COME ON.
Okay, Arisa is a LITTLE bit different. Sure, she has a child’s mentality, but she’s like an older child… that’s horny…. And sex starved… who tries to seduce Satou, but his overpowered ass just puts points into his charm resistance and brings her back down to Earth. The twist here with Arisa is that she, too, is from Japan and became trapped in this world, proving that Satou is not alone. She explains that there are a couple of ways to come into this world and one of them is by dying and being reincarnated as part of it. That was her method. She became the princess of the Kubooku Kingdom, but after accidentally ruining her own lands, she was turned into a slave and rescued by Satou.
She is a Homonculus created based on Mia that was with the Iron Golem in the center room of the maze created by Trazayuya. Despite being less than a-year-old at her introduction, Nana has the appearance of a busty eighteen-year-old due to her homunculus background. Satou became her master after he defeated her previous master, Zen. She calls Mia, mother, due to Mia being her blood provider. She’s not as emotionless as Mia, but she’s pretty close. She does try to have a cute side, especially liking fluffy things, but it just adds to the hodgepodge of everything in this show trying to be cute and it’s kind of sickening.
Art, Animation, and Sound
The art is pretty good in this show as is with most modern anime (with some exceptions). The animation actually seemed to be a range of average to above average. Some of the fight scenes were well done, the special effects blended in nicely and none of the CG really stuck out like a sore thumb. There was a nice harmonious balance that drew you into the world. Silver Link and Connect did a pretty good job in that department.
The character designs were rather generic though… especially Satou who looked like the K-Mart version of Kirito from Sword Art Online. While you could tell them apart, their designs just seemed rather generic or uninspired. They all looked like the standard base NPCs you would find in, virtually, any basic JRPG.
The sound, for a show like this, didn’t really stand out. The background music was light and fluffy like you would expect from a slice-of-life show, but the battle themes and other dramatic music didn’t really do a good job of pulling you in. The tones were there to let you know that the mood had shifted, but other than being an audible indicator of change, the music was all pretty forgettable. I guess if you want some soothing music with a bit of a fantasy twist, the OST would be a good pick up for you, but this is one I would much rather skip.
The manga really had me hyped for this show, but my fears came true and the slow pace of the manga didn’t translate well to television. The show dragged on to the point where I wasn’t excited to watch this on a week-by-week basis and trying to marathon episodes to get caught up seemed like a chore more than anything. When we did get some action, it was pretty good, but aside from the labyrinth arc, most of the “action” scenes were story driven. So even when the show tried to spice things up, it was still trying to build the world that these characters live in.
While that’s not necessarily a bad thing, it is when the rest of your show is still doing the same thing. I think that Death March to the Parallel World Rhapsody suffered from too much storytelling and/or slow-paced slice-of-life situations. While a lot of the moments were cute and campy, it didn’t exactly do enough to bring in fans of the fantasy isekai genre. There are certainly much better options out there.
Death March to the Parallel World Rhapsody
Death March to the Parallel World Rhapsody starts off with a meteoric bang but them whimpers out into a slice-of-life isekai show with very slow pacing and bland characters. The action scenes sprinkled in do stave off boredom, but it isn't enough to make this show all that enjoyable. I would say it would be best to read the manga rather than watch the anime as you can take it volume by volume and enjoy this story in smaller doses.