The themes of Death Parade and Milgram are similar in that they both explore the darkness of the human heart and the potential for evil that exists within us all. However, there are also some critical differences in how these themes are expressed.
Milgram’s experiment was a real-life study that showed how easily people can be persuaded to obey authority figures, even if those orders are morally wrong.
The plot starts thus- Es wakes up in a strange place, with a rabbit on their lap and no recollection of where or who they are. The rabbit introduces himself as Jackalope and goes on to explain that Es is a prison guard, tasked with the job of managing the 10 prisoners incarcerated in the prison. Jackalope warns Es that despite what they seem, all the prisoners in MILGRAM are murderers.
Es must find out what the prisoners’ crimes and motivations are, and then choose whether to vote them guilty (not forgiven) or innocent (forgiven). MILGRAM extracts a song and music video from the minds of the prisoners, from which Es can then make their judgment.
The voting is carried out through a 3 trial system. You, as the audience, can decide what judgment Es will make in the trials through your votes. The votes may change the songs and placements of the prisoners in the next trial.
This experiment shows how our capacity for evil can be amplified by authority figures. It also shows how easy it is for us to rationalize our actions, even when we know that they are wrong.
— MILGRAM -ミルグラム- 公式 (@MILGRAM_info) August 30, 2023
Death Parade is a fictional story that explores the same themes in a more indirect way. The anime follows the journey of Decim, a bartender who works in the Quindecim bar, where recently deceased souls are judged based on their actions in life. The contestants are forced to play games that reveal their true selves, and Decim must decide whether they deserve to be reincarnated or sent to oblivion.
Decim receives his “guests” at the same time. They may have died together or at separate places. His guest’s memories have been erased and are programmed to be sent back during their Death Game. Their behavior during their game affects how Decim will pass judgment on their souls.
Death Parade is a more subtle and nuanced exploration of the themes of good and evil, but it is no less powerful. The anime shows how our actions can have a profound impact on others, and how even the smallest choices can have a lasting legacy.
Comparison of Themes
The main difference between the way Milgram and Death Parade express their themes is that Milgram’s experiment is more direct and explicit, while Death Parade is more subtle and nuanced.
Milgram’s experiment clearly shows how people can be persuaded to do evil things, even when they know they are wrong. The investigation is a powerful demonstration of the power of authority and the dangers of blind obedience.
Death Parade, on the other hand, is more ambiguous. The anime does not explicitly state whether the contestants are being judged for their actions in life or for their actions in the games. This ambiguity allows the viewer to come to their own theories about the themes of the anime.
Milgram is more effective in expressing their themes, but Death Parade is an equally contending must-watch. They both preach the same message in different ways. Milgram’s experiment is more direct and explicit and has a better form of expression, while Death Parade is more subtle and nuanced.