First Look: Death March to the Parallel World Rhapsody

Alternative title(s): Death March kara Hajimaru Isekai Kyousoukyoku
Light Novel Adaptation by Silver Link
Streaming on Crunchyroll

Premise

Crunch during video game development is pretty stressful, so the staff have some extremely tropey and unimaginative dreams while sleeping at the office over the weekend. The show has isekai in the name, you know what’s up.

colons’ verdict: It remains entirely possible that there will be interesting commentary in this show

There’s a lot of detail here that we really don’t need to cover, because I’m pretty sure it’s all just parts of a delivery mechanism for stuff you’ve seen before. Our protagonist is a member of a development team for a bad MMO during a crunch period, presumably very shortly before release. We see him showing up to work on a weekend, shit-talk other members of the team, and then sit down to do some work before a very long day that ends with him falling asleep at his desk. He dreams, and he dreams about the game.

Within the game, he is massively over-levelled, and gets up to exactly what you would expect Shit Protag to get up to in a by-the-numbers isekai power fantasy.

If the point they’re making here is that this team is making a boring game and as a result the dream takes place in a boring game, there is totally room for cool stuff to happen in the rest of this show. Perhaps this instance of Shit Protag will have some revelations about how rote the whole thing is. Perhaps he’ll have some revelations about characterisation or monotony. Perhaps, since he’s wildly overpowered, he’ll realise that the game doesn’t have enough endgame content. Given how many other shows we’ve seen set up worlds with interesting possibilities and then completely fail to capitalise on them, though, I suspect they’ll just stick with the tropey garbage. Call me pessimistic, because I am.

The gender representation issues here are pretty stark, too. We don’t see a single femme staff member (because, as we all know, there are literally zero women in games), so the only women we see are some background characters out in the world, a real-world mother, and a subset of the people in the game/dream itself. None of the latter are particularly great characterisations.

Euri’s verdict: An anime blogger wakes up to find themselves writing about isekai shows

This show starts on a sour note due to just how clumsy the depiction of video game development is. Buzzwords are thrown around to the point where it seems, to me at least, that the author doesn’t know enough about what’s involved, and there are mixed messages about whether this is a game developer, a test house or something else entirely. It does get the awful nature of crunch and sleepless workdays correct, but it’s also a pretty notorious part of game development. Either way, the opening doesn’t do much to get us invested in this character.

The MMO world portion of the episode also falls flat. There are some interesting ideas here, notably that the protagonist isn’t able to use features that aren’t in the game yet, and encountering buggy code, but it’s inconsequential. If we got to see him wake up, fix the issues, get praised by colleagues for finding these bugs, fall asleep and return to the newly-fixed world, there might be an interesting take here. By the end of the episode, he’s still in a bad MMO, doing boring things with the real world long forgotten. If there’s any kind of loop between being in the real world and winding up in the MMO, episode one completely fails to make it apparent.

So as far as we can tell, this is another bad show about ending up in an MMO. This time though, they at least skip the bullshit and make the protagonist look like Kirito. They know what money they’re chasing with this.

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One thought on “First Look: Death March to the Parallel World Rhapsody

  1. It wasn’t a great first episode. The only reason I’m curious about this one at all is because I have read the source for once and I didn’t think it would make a particularly good anime and I’m curious as to how they may have adapted it. I don’t know that many people are going to stick around for this one though after that very average (at best) first episode.

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