Another Death Game
Here’s another anime built around a death game that some unsuspecting protagonist has been caught up in and now cannot escape. This one comes as an invitation to an app on your phone and once the character starts it they are bitten by a giant snake and then suddenly a target within the game. The problem with this latest iteration of the death game genre offered up by Darwin’s Game is that like most of the others there will probably never be a satisfactory explanation as to why the game even exists or how other people aren’t aware that there’s a whole troop of people running around killing each other. I mean, a policeman got cut down inside the police box in this episode and nobody seemed to bat an eye or investigate the screaming, running teen who went in there right before it happened.
With a double length opening episode, Darwin’s Game had plenty of time to establish its concept and characters. The problem is, the concept is ‘death game’. There’s nothing more to it other than the cool visual effect when a player dies that is left for even non-players to see. Our protagonist did have a chance to get some information but instead of actually revealing anything useful we get another chase and fight sequence for the episode and we end still completely in the dark about anything conceptually.
Which would be okay if they’d done anything for their characters. Only so far we have Kaname, the poor soul who’s friend decided to invite him into the gate seconds before he was killed in the opening sequence (great decision making and really good friendship move there). Other than the usual flopping between being bewildered by the game and belligerent at the unfairness of being forced into it he’s exhibited pretty much zero distinctive personality traits and having an unusual ‘sigil’ within the game doesn’t make him anymore interesting. He also meets Shuka who is our pretty stock-standard crazy girl for the death game genre so far. Of course by the end of the episode I was getting a strong Yuno vibe from her (Future Diary crazy girl). I guess we’ll see if either of these two end up feeling like their own characters in a couple of episodes or so.
Visually this one has also so far failed to impress. The censored violence is par for the course with black shadows concealing the edges of severed heads the like, as if that somehow makes it less horrific that a guy just had his head chopped off. We also have the really ridiculous blood spray effect with the first fatality in the opening sequence. It is laughably bad and given it occurs in the first few minutes doesn’t exactly set a tone for you to take the show seriously though given it’s tagged as a mystery/shounen and not a comedy I guess we’re supposed to be taking it somewhat seriously.
Darwin’s Game has a lot of problems and it is only one episode in. That said, I’ve watched worse and I made it all the way through King’s Game so I’ll probably watch this one through. Not sure yet whether I will cover the episodes though. If the only thing I have to say each week is that it remains pretty dreadful then I’ll probably just pass and wait until it is finished and write a whole series review. I’ll wait until next episode to decide.
Darwin’s Game is making all the wrong moves, but if you want the episode reviews here they are.
Images from: Darwin’s Game. Dir. Yoshinobu Tokumoto. Nexus. 2020.