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Jeremy P · Updated Sep 28, 2015 · One True Pairing

Heaven or Helles: Death Parade

The series Death Parade centers around the lives and work of Arbiters, whose job it is to judge the recently deceased souls and determine those souls’ ultimate fate. The method that the Arbiters use to achieve this goal involves pitting two souls against each other in various games in an attempt to elicit desperate emotions for which the Arbiters make their judgment. Usually, these games are cruel and or twisted, so that Arbiter can revive the memories of the dead and hopefully glimpse the underlying character of the deceased. Based on these judgments, the Arbiter then sends the souls to one of two places: “Heaven” or “Hell,” or as it is also referred to later in the series, reincarnation and the void.

The Arbiters of Death Parade are given a brief set of memories from each soul that also helps them conduct the game and further to make their final judgment. Similarly, in the craft beer world, there is a type of evaluation known as a “blind tasting” for which multiple beers of a similar style are presented and evaluated based solely on the the style the beer  , and no other information, such as the beer’s name nor the brewery that produced it, are allowed. This method is commonly used for high-profile contests such as the Great American Beer Fest and the World Beer Cup and allows for judges to taste samples without the chance for bias. Typically, the beers are labeled in some way that does not denote the brand, but does make it so that each beer identifiable for the  judges so that data is easily collected.

The judging process is simple. First, the beers are all presented at the same time, so that judges can explore each sample in their own order and at their own pace. During this first part, no discussion amongst the judges occurs, it is so that each individual judge can form their own opinion. Afterwards, the discussion is opened up to the group, and the winners are selected.

For this article, I decided to get some community involvement from AnimeChicago members and had them be my Arbiters for a blind tasting of two beers: Surly Hell and Great Lakes Dortmunder Gold. Both of these beers are Helles lagers, which are known for having a clear and bright golden color, crisp freshness, and slight sweetness. This beer style is usually enjoyed in the summer months for these reasons, coupled with the fact that the beer carries a lower alcohol percentage. Additionally, in the series Death Parade, it appears that the beers served at the bar Quindecim, where the deceased souls gather before they are judged, are similar in color and presentation.

The judging process for these two beers came after the group’s discussion of the series and proceeded as follows: I gave each participant, of which there were seven, two small sample glasses, of which one sample was marked with a small “x” on the bottom, to distinguish the two. Similar to the standard judging process described above, I did not provide the group with the names of the beers and only provided a brief summary of the style. Here are the final results:

Arbiter Sample 1: Great Lakes Dortmunder Gold Sample 2: Surly Hell
Julius Reincarnation The Void
Ivan Reincarnation The Void
Jamie Reincarnation The Void
Tessa Reincarnation The Void
Shannon Reincarnation The Void
Shawn The Void The Void
Daniel Reincarnation The Void

As you can see by the judgment of the Arbiters, Great Lakes Dortmunder Gold will pass on to the next life with a vote of 6-1 and Surly Hell will be cast away, never to return with a vote of 0-7. The results are a bit surprising, if only because both beers come from the Top 10 in the style, according to Beer Advocate at the time that the judgment was made (06/23/15). However, the consensus was clear; Dortmunder Gold had, in the group’s opinion, better overall quality, whereas each Arbiter found one or more flaws with Surly Hell.

But just as Death Parade makes a case against the methods for which the Arbiters in the series use to judge souls, I suggest that you go out and try these beers yourself. Granted, you may be influenced by the results above, but remember that it is ultimately up to you on whether you cast a beer aside, never to be drank again, or if it’s one you’ll keep ordering.