Death Billiards was part of the Young Animator Training Project’s Anime Mirai 2013 project, which funds young animators. Death Billiards and a few other short films each received 38 million yen (over $300,000) from the Japanese Animation Creators Association, who receives funding from the Japanese government’s Agency for Cultural Affairs. Death Billiards, along with the other Anime Mirai shorts, opened in 14 Japanese theatres on March 2, 2013. It also spawned the full length series, Death Parade.
The premise of the show is that when two people die at the same time, they are transported to a mysterious bar that’s run by an arbiter. The arbiter in this case is Decim, a mysterious, white haired bartender who tells the two people who have arrived that they must participate in a game, a game where their lives are on the line. During this game, things will be revealed to the participants about what lead up to their death. The arbiter’s job is to determine which soul deserves to be reincarnated and which deserves to be banished to the void. The short film revolves around Decim the bartender and arbiter, his dark haired assistant who at this time is nameless and the two people who met an untimely demise. One is a younger man and the other is an older man, who have to play billiards to determine which of them gets to be reincarnated. You don’t get to see too much about Decim and the assistant here because the short is more about the situation the two guys find themselves in, playing a game for their lives.
For something that was done as part of a training program, they sure did put a lot of time and effort into this. I won’t say everything is perfect, there are some minor flaws visually but for a show of this quality, you’ll probably ignore it.
This short film was done very well, I can see why it was awarded the cash. They really didn’t cut any corners with this one and at the time, it wasn’t even going to be a series or anything. It was just something that was done as part of training. I’ve seen Death Parade so I can’t act surprised or anything here, well I could but I don’t believe in being fake. After seeing Death Billiards, I went right to Death Parade, didn’t pass GO, didn’t collect $200. If you aren’t sure about Death Parade then check out Death Billiards and go from there.