What exactly is the creepy-bird-on-a-telescope scene? Is it an hallucination? Is that a real talking skeleton vulture? How does it know the perfect choice of words to give Manny nightmares?
That's one of Hector's messengers. You see it referred to as such by Bosley in year 4. The bird is real, and planted to lure Manny into a trap.
Why exactly does the Department of Dead need travel agents to work with the recently dead? Think about it - if the package you qualify for depends on how good of a life you led, then why do they need sales agents to theoretically bargain with the recently dead over their packages with? The DOD could just assign the dead their packages based on how good of a life they led; if so, then not only would there not be any actual sales involved, then there wouldn't be a hierarchy to the salesmen, either. If that was the case, then would that mean that skilled salesmen can sell clients better packages than their deeds in life qualified them for? Can the dead theoretically choose cheaper packages over more expensive packages? If so, what "currency" if you will are they making the exchange with, and what would they spend it on later if they chose to save it?
The impression I had of it was that they were not sales agents bargaining over it, they were distributing the rewards one had earned. A bureaucracy, not a shop. Manny didn't try to sell the guy who got the walking stick a better package, he just said 'this is what you get'. Don't you think the one who traveled in a packing crate full of foam would have gotten a better deal if he could? Although with the 'agents' getting points toward their own afterlife with the quality of their clients, it does seem like there's something like sales going on. Probably best not to think about it too much.
The currency they spend is money they're buried with - part of the tradition that the game is based on (Mexican and Aztec, I think). As for what Manny "sells", perhaps they're things that might make the journey safer? Client goes for a walk, they get a walking stick. Client catches a boat, he books them quick tickets. The crate full of foam might suck, but it's better than getting eaten by demon beavers walking in the Petrified Forest and takes the same amount of time. The more they qualify for, the more money they spend, the better the sale, the better Manny does. ...Possibly. That's my theory, anyway.
I've always seen it on a different way. Travel agency have 2 works: A selling you a plan for something valuable B making sure what you booked in advance happens. If you take as a fact that your deeds in life are part A of their work (if you were good, you've booked a place in paradise, so to speak), then the travel agency from Grim Fandango only have to worry about part B, and make "your booking" happen.
The package you get is not necessarily the best package you qualify for. It's pointed out that to get on the No.9 you need to both have lived a very good life and to have been buried with lots of money. As such, one could qualify for the No.9 without having enough money to afford it. As an extension of that, people could conceivably choose to go for lesser packages in order to keep some of their money. The job of the sales agents is to try to get people to pony up for the best package they qualify for, and to maybe add on some extras (such as a walking stick).
The whole thing is kind of vague, but yes, it seems to be a mix of good deeds and money you were buried with, though the money part is only briefly mentioned, and not at all when Meche is in the office. But you don't have to take the deal that is owed to you, you can chose to convert the ticket to money and use the money to stay in the Land of the Dead, as many have, carving out a sort of (after)life for themselves. And people can pick a cheaper ticket, get the ticket and left-over money, leave the office with some cash on their hands, before they start their journey. Again, kind of vague, but that is how I understand it.
My guess is that the money thing was the first element of corruption in the system. Originally, it was probably more like community service: a reaper's job was to escort souls to the underworld, explain the system to them, give them the best equipment they qualified for and send them on their way. Do it long enough and they were free to go. But then some manager (Copal or his predecessor) got the idea that if these saintly souls were going to the next afterlife, they might as well leave their money behind for his enjoyment. So he started charging for upgrades, and to motivate the workers, told them that selling upgrades would get their penance done faster.
I seriously doubt money has anything to do with it. Meche qualified for a top-of-the-line Number Nine ticket but says she had very little money in life ("Ever cheat on your taxes?").
Domino's whole idea of depriving Meche of oxygen doesn't make sense. She's a skeleton, what lungs would she be using? It's even more conspicuous when you consider that Manny can walk around underwater, not to mention Chepito. How is this supposed to work?
I think he wanted her to cool her down and have her either a). get her head straight and go back being cooperative like she was before or b). leave her in there and ditch the island. Almost as if to say "not a total loss".
I have a question about Salvador; "What did he do to end up working as a reaper?" He said himself the he used to be a reaper for the D.O.D. Correct me if i' m wrong, but; don't people who work at the D.O.D are the ones who did wrongful deeds in their past lives and decided to make it up by being reapers instead of walking? As the viewer/player can possibly tell how Manny could've ended up working for the D.O.D. He's very competitive, manipulative, dangerously Genre Savvy, a thief, and quite possible more. In general, he is a Loveable Rogue. Salvador seem to have some of same qualities as well as a strong sense of loyalty. But we later found out that he was qualified for a golden ticket on the number nine. Which raises more questions about him, a). how long was he with the D.O.D? b). was his crimes in life was so bad that he needed to work there?
My guess is that he was one of the first people LeMans & Co stole a No. 9 ticket from, before they had fully refined the scam into dumping those clients at the lightbulb mines at the edge of the world. I'll bet they thought - hey, as long as this guy can't leave, let's tell him he's actually indebted to the DOD and get him to work for us in the bargain! But Sal found out and went underground, and Domino had to come up with a better plan to deal with former clients.
It might also be that when a reaper completes his service he gets a Double-N ticket as a reward. After all, Manny got one that way, and having to walk after already completing penance in the underworld would be double jeopardy. So Sal earned his ticket, but someone in upper management stole it and lied about his status. He got suspicious and eventually turned rebel.
I have another question; it's about the people in the two cities. So in the beginning of the game you can see several people (including the clown and and counting the D.O.D workers as well) at the Day of the Dead festival and in Rubacava. So are those people refusing to walk or are they working to pay of their debt or get some funds for there journey? and if the last are the case, so do they do that every year? And what happen if you refuse to walk the four or three years?
Some give up hope of reaching the Ninth Underworld or even stop believing in it. And if you refuse to make the journey, you effectively condemn yourself to the Eighth Underworld, with all its dangers. There is no enforcement of any rules other than the gatekeeper, so presumably the only real rule is that you can enter the Ninth as long as you don't cheat yourself into it.
Why in the world are Number 9 tickets interchangeable? For all we know, this system has been in place for millennia; surely Hector LeMans can't be the first person to try to game the system and get what he doesn't deserve. If agents at the DoD can determine what the new arrivals deserve and have it waiting, there must be something in place that keys the reward to the person who earned it. If that's the case, it shouldn't work for just anyone holding it. For that matter, WTF was up with Hector expecting to be able to show up with a briefcase of stolen tickets and get in with them. It doesn't seem to be a matter of quantity mattering, but of whether you deserved one or not. Security on the whole thing seems really lax for something so valuable.
The tickets aren't interchangeable; why do you think Nick went plunging headfirst into hell when he tried to use somebody else's? It's not clear if it's because he doesn't know better or he's just desperate and in denial (the latter seems more likely, since he's smart), but for one reason or another, Hector has convinced himself that he can bribe his way into heaven through sheer quantity of stolen tickets.
What are the first seven underworlds and why do souls get to skip them?
Maybe they don't if they're not reaped? Having enjoyed both The Book of Life and South Park, here's a WMG: 1. Land of the Remembered, 2. Land of the Forgotten, 3. ???, 4. Profit.
If the majority of stays in the Land of the Dead are supposed to be temporary, why are there so many skyscrapers in El Marrow? For that matter, who built and maintains the freeways? Sure we could handwave it as "the elementals/demons did it" but that just raises the question of "why?". It doesn't seem like demons work at super speed or anything.
Because the dead don't all make their journey at the same time. Once one group of dead people use them, they're still there for the next group.
The driver demons are there because the dead are apparently unable to operate cars in some way, but Olivia drives without any apparent issues. What changed?
The demon drivers are there for the reapers. The reapers aren't allowed to drive cars, otherwise they'd take their hearse and take off through the Eighth Underworld.