The First Rule of D-Game…
Well, after the first double length episode Darwin’s Game was kind of confirmed to be trash horror at best and certainly not a mystery as the tag would indicate (unless the mystery is how this got green lit) and episode 2 doubles-down on that and presents terribly misleading dialogue, characters who are inconsistent, and makes no effort to even suggest that anything will ever be explained. I’m actually good with horror not giving us a reason until the end but I do need to believe that there is some explanation forthcoming. So far there’s been little to reassure that there’s anything more to this than ‘just-because-we-can’ logic.
From the episode opening that picks up with the naked Shuka still lying on Kaname and him freaking out over her ‘start a family’ comment from last episode, the anime exposes itself as being incredibly cheap as Shuka clarifies that she meant start a clan together in the game. So why say ‘family’ in the first place? Not to mention her explanation as to why she was naked was just outright lazily done and completely unconvincing.
But why worry about the little things. It’s time for a shopping trip and a pseudo date between the two. Naturally this is because there’s an ‘event’ that’s about to happen but largely we get more dialogue between Kaname and Shuka that explains practically nothing and we watch Kaname wait for Shuka to try on clothes. Can I just point out that Shuka explains that mentioning the game in public is against the rules, as in there are written rules, and for some reason Kaname still hasn’t opened them and read the stupid things. How dumb is this guy? Yet we’re supposed to believe he is somehow going to survive a game he hasn’t even read the rules of?
And oh yeah, we get a cut of this cage fight between these two that seems to be an excuse for yet more exposition that says nothing. I really like conversations between characters that are deliberately ambiguous and tell us only what we already know (sarcasm). This is not how you build mystery. Actually, let’s watch Darwin’s Game as a lesson in how not to write a narrative or characters and that will probably make this all feel worthwhile.
Another cheap shot the story takes in an attempt to build something resembling tension, and because it apparently must throw a fight into every episode, is the appearance of a hooded character who has bought information about Kaname from the ‘Analyst’ – or the cute girl sitting in front of all the glowing monitors. You think he’s some big-bad heading in to town but mostly he just takes Kaname’s phone, lectures him for a bit, throws his phone back and then starts a fight with him. A fight he really hasn’t made any real preparations for and seems pretty haphazard really. A fight he ends up having to surrender when Shuka shows up so really what was his plan?
There’s so many things wrong with this sequence. Also, I’m still confused as to whether the public can see these fights or not. You would think if they can they’d intervene and the players would have all been arrested by now for street violence, and yet there’s no indication that people can’t see them. There’s a real break in logic that is killing my ability to suspend disbelief. Also, Kaname suddenly not only acts sensibly but actually plots out a decent move in his fight against the sudden opponent. Kaname acts so stupidly 90% of the time but then we’re supposed to buy into these flashes of brilliance when things get tough. It really is hard to swallow.
Then the ‘event’ starts and the episode ends but we have a pointless death of an unnamed character to finish the episode because apparently we can’t have an episode without a death in a death match. Makes as much sense as anything else in this episode did.
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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.