When I initially wrote my watch or drop post for Battle Game in 5 Seconds after viewing the first three episodes, I certainly acknowledged that this anime wasn’t shooting to become a work of art or even break free of its own genre trappings. That said, I was vaguely optimistic about it delivering at least a decent amount of entertainment within those genre constraints.
Alas, by mid-season it became clear that generic was the best Battle Game in 5 Seconds was going to aspire to and by the end of the season not only were the characters and plot disappointing but even the visuals (which weren’t ever amazing) seemed to take a decided dip in quality. Seriously, the final battle of this series is almost unwatchable and most of the characters look like they are barely moving.
I actually wouldn’t have minded this anime never rising above being a generic survival kind of game. There’s certainly fun to be had with that particular genre. However given the story is incomplete, character motives feel shallow at best, and the central gimmick of only being able to use their battle abilities five seconds after the fight starts and they are released is cast aside for most of the second half of the series, there’s very little left to recommend even starting this anime when it is in such an over-crowded field.
Battle Game in 5 Seconds feels like a good idea with no direction.
The basic set-up of Battle Game in 5 Seconds is actually pretty interesting. While Akira isn’t the most original protagonist, his obsession with games and winning means he doesn’t waste too much time whining when he’s whisked into the death matches and uses his head to fight. That could be interesting enough even if he was a bit on the bland side.
The use of the wrist bands to restrain their powers and only releasing them after 5 seconds meant that characters weren’t just able to go power crazy and were more or less forced to follow along with the games and that was enough to keep this feeling like it had its own identity.
The early set-up with each character spending time in their room before being moved to the site of the next ‘game’ worked well enough even if it didn’t feel terribly original, and you could kind of buy that some secret organisation had built this facility, kidnapped all these people, performed some kind of experiment on them to give them powers, and you know the talking cat-girl who seemed to be in charge could have just been an anime quirk.
But the plot quickly veers away from this set-up. After the first few rounds and the introductions to a handful of characters, Akira, Yuuri and others move into this massive outdoor zone where three teams of players have more or less formed and are fighting each other. What makes it a bit odd is that the notion of Battle Game in 5 Seconds kind of falls away here with characters seemingly using their powers whenever they want.
Throw in that any plausibility of this game and experiment goes out the window when you see how many characters are here and the size of the space they are in, plus there’s no longer any kind of controlled experiment going on here, this is just a power free-for-all, and it kind of means you just watch the second half as characters smack each other around, make plans, prove themselves smarter or tougher than other characters, and a series of events leads to a resolution of sorts but the overall plot is still completely unresolved.
Of course, Battle Game in 5 Seconds is listed as a supernatural anime and it is very clearly drawing influences from games and the super power genres so the lack of credibility of this scene change can be excused. However you end up with a very different type of story from Akira taking on the game makers and wanting to beat them at their own game to the usual kind of brawl between over-powered characters, most of which don’t get anywhere near long enough to really be established or sympathised with.
That and some of the powers are just plain ridiculous.
I’d love to discuss the characters of Battle Game in 5 Seconds but outside of Akira and Yuuri, most of the others barely get an introduction and basically boil down to simple descriptions. The shy girl, the cocky guy, the sadistic murderer, etc. Naturally Akira and Yuuri, being the protagonists, team up with the leader who tries to protect the elderly and children who end up in the battle zone so I guess they are the ‘good’ guys whereas the other team are lead by those who extort and enslave other survivors (clearly they are evil and must be destroyed).
It’s all a bit simple and immature in how it is set up. Even the final fight of the series ends up being a bit of a fizzle. Despite having a huge range of interesting and unique powers inevitably the story comes down to two guys punching at each other.
Of course, if done well and with enough energy and bombast, Battle Game in 5 Seconds could have still been a highly entertaining romp despite all these short-comings and yet by about episode 5 I felt this one was dragging. It actually ended up being a chore to finish and my response to the cliff-hanger at the end setting up another season that I don’t believe will ever occur (or potentially a read the source nod) was more or less to roll my eyes and just be glad that I was done.
Basically I can’t recommend Battle Game in 5 Seconds.
It isn’t done well enough to actually be good. It isn’t high energy enough or over-the-top enough to fall into the so-bad-it-is-good category. None of the characters ultimately amounted to much and the plot is a bit of a tone shifting mess. Visually it deteriorates as the series continues and nothing else really stands out enough to recommend it.
As always, I’d love to hear your thoughts so if you watched Battle Game in 5 Seconds be sure to leave me a comment below.
Images from: Battle Game in 5 Seconds. Dir. N Arai. SynergySp and Vega Entertainment. 2021
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