Kanazawa Nobuaki has transferred to a high school far from where he used to live. Due to an incident at his old school, Nobuaki is afraid of getting close to his new classmates and keeps himself at a distance, but he starts opening up because of a sports day inter-class relay. Then, a single text message from someone calling themselves the “King” is sent to everyone in class. Nobuaki’s classmates think it’s a simple prank, and don’t take it seriously–but Nobuaki knows that a death game is about to begin, and struggles to oppose it
– From Crunchyroll
It is very hard to judge a supernatural horror from a first episode, mostly because you can get something really lame and have it turn out amazing, or you can have something pretty decent that doesn’t manage to do anything with its set up. King’s Game definitely gave us the fairly decent beginning.
That said, it doesn’t do much to break from your standard horror tropes (which is probably why it works so well for me because this is very much slipping into comfortable viewing). Nobuaki has been through the King’s Game before and is traumatized so even before anything happens at his new school he’s on edge and trying to keep classmates at a distance. Already we know he’s going to give in and make friends and it is going to end tragically. The class photo more or less sealed that deal.
Though, I like that they return to this at the end to do the body count. And that is where this kind of deviated from the expected. It wasn’t just one dead in the first episode to prove the seriousness of the game. Ten die in the first episode. Which makes far more sense when they don’t yet know to take the game seriously (and who ever listens to the ravings of the one student who claims that it is real), and they don’t yet know the consequences. So it makes a lot of sense that they aren’t checking their phone and they aren’t taking the instructions seriously and the high body count (while clearly being played for shock value) automatically lets the audience know that we just shouldn’t get attached to these characters.
They also lay to rest the question of whether this is supernatural or a serial killer with that final death of the episode being unable to be anything but unnatural (if they try and explain that away later I’m calling bull on it).
There is however some fairly gory imagery and horror isn’t exactly everyone’s cup of tea so this isn’t going to appeal to everyone (plus they start the episode with my least favourite trauma as the main character dreams of drowning).
That said, I’m pretty sold on this for the season. Even if it derails, bad horror can still be entertaining and this was a pretty good set up. I’m in and if I change my mind later I’ll pretend I never said that.
Thanks for reading.
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