Darwin’s Game Episode 6 Review

Darwin6 Episode

Water and Ice

Darwin’s Game was took Shuka’s near drowning, which I was already uncomfortable with, and threw an unhealthy dose of portraying CPR as something romantic this week leading me to a serious eye-rolling fest. I really hate this trope. One character sinks in water, they are dragged out, and then, rather than administering necessary first aid, the character deliberates over whether or not to do CPR usually why we get ridiculous close ups of moist lips and blushed cheeks. You know, instead of lips going quickly blue and the person in question worrying about saving their life. This trope has to stop. CPR is a life-saver and portraying it as anything other than a life saving action is just wrong and romanticising something that is incredibly traumatic for the person on the receiving end (you know – drowning) is incredibly irksome.

Okay, that’s my own little bug but I’m sick of it and there’s not a huge amount to talk about with this episode so it kind of stuck with me throughout.

The girl just drowned. And she’s still having to tread water in freezing conditions. She isn’t kissing him. This is just stupid.

Anyway, Darwin’s Game continues to stumble along. Last week there was some vague hope that it would finally settle itself and find a direction, but this week jumps from Kaname rescuing Shuka, to the machine gun guy pursuing the water user, to the hotel where Rein and the Florist are waiting, over to the Eighth and there’s no real coherence to an episode that seems largely set-up for future events. I’ve already established that the Kaname and Shuka moment was plain stupid (as was their happily chatting as they swam through the freezing water and out of the tunnel), and to be honest none of the other sections really grabbed my interest this week because I just wanted to know what the deal with the rings was.


Naturally we don’t get an answer in this episode, though the diamond ring showing up has helped Rein figure out at least where they need to go. I’m kind of glad they didn’t all just go back to the hotel and take the siege head on. While the Florist seems to want to keep ring collecting for cash, Kaname and the others seem more determined to actually finish the event.

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One-handed Gaming Keyboard

We briefly see Wang, the leader of Eighth and it looks like he’s also figured out something about the rings and their code so possibly Kaname and the others are going to run headlong into him anyway. I wonder how long they will stretch this whole sequence out. We’ve got the Florist tearing through the guys who assaulted the tower and the rest of the known characters descending on Shibuya station but will they get into the fight next week or is this going to be a couple more episodes coming?


All things considered, this anime continues to be just kind of watchable. The game itself could be interesting if they ever get to explaining the how and the why, but so far little movement has been made on that front. Unfortunately, the characters themselves are just not compelling enough to carry the story without the sense that we are getting somewhere so while there have been some interesting moments, at the mid-season point I’m feeling this one is probably just going to be a miss.

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Karandi James

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.

Darwin’s Game Episode 5 Review

Darwin5 Episode

What’s The Game?

Darwin’s Game, after having a week off, has returned and in honesty this episode is actually relatively solid. At least by the standard so far set by this anime series. For once the pacing feels like it fits the episode, Kaname only makes one blindingly stupid decision, and most of the interactions between characters feel at least like someone has had a conversation with another human before writing them. Throw in the built in tension of them being half-way through a match where they might die and things just kind of come together in episode 5 of Darwin’s Game.


We learn that the field of 300 players is almost halved and those still in the hotel are preparing for another clan to attack. A short cut over to the clan in question and we learn that they are calling in outside assistance so prepare to attack at night. This gives us a bit of time for some other drama to unfold before we get back to the basic tower fight.


There is a weird bit at the beginning of the episode where we see Kaname’s two friends who have both died playing the game in a dream sequence. if they wanted this to have some kind of impact they might have given us a few more scenes of them together as a close group of friends prior to knocking them off in episode 1, but then they couldn’t have opened with a panda killing a school boy and Kaname getting drawn into the game.

However, a bit of the episode is also given to Shuka who is still on route to the hotel and ends up in trouble. I’ll put this down as my least favourite part of the episode. Not so much because it was bad but more because of my usual issues with characters being drowned and basically this sequence had me on edge. It doesn’t dominate enough of the episode that I felt the need to skip forward but I did have a few fairly uncomfortable moments.


However, by far the best part comes from Rein. As the boys are scrambling about and making questionable decisions, she’s calmly analysing the rules for this match and realises something hasn’t added up. Through further investigation she discovers a code on the rings they’ve been collecting. While we don’t get an answer this episode, it does make me wonder what game the characters are supposed to be playing if the ring collection is really just a means to an end.


With Darwin’s Game pulling itself together and finally settling some of its pacing and character issues, what we’re left with is something that is bordering on intriguing. It still hasn’t quite crossed into being good, but it certainly remains watchable and may end up feeling quite worthwhile depending on where they go next with some of the questions the audience has been left with.

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Karandi James

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.

Darwin’s Game Episode 4 Review

Darwin4 Episode

If At First You Don’t Succeed…

Darwin’s Game doesn’t appear to be getting any worse, though it also isn’t appreciably improving. Episode 4 spends the entire duration inside the hotel, largely following the confrontation between Kaname, the Analyst and the Florist. As a positive, as the Analyst and Kaname work to pull off a plan with an 80% chance of death attached to it (after factoring in multiple stages of the plan and each component’s odds of success) the episode builds some genuine tension even if the outcome does seem pretty clear cut.


I think what makes this episode work is that there’s no attempt to throw new gimmicks at the audience. Using the established situation with the established Sigils, these three characters go through the cat and mouse process before we get a final confrontation that feels fairly meaningful. While it doesn’t bring us any closer to understanding why this game exists at all, for once it didn’t feel like things were just being made up or added as needed but rather that we were consolidating known information and seeing how the characters could use these things in action.


There is a moment toward the end of the fight where we seem to be inside Kaname’s head and there’s some interesting implications from that sequence. Previously, another blogger speculated that the entire thing was actually a virtual world (which would make a lot of things make more sense), but the characters aren’t aware of it. Honestly, that sequence this episode certainly lends weight to the idea of a virtual reality or alternate dimension theory.

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Also what helps sell episode 4 is the Analyst. She’s actually a much more reasonable character than Shuka and Kaname and the Analyst working together actually kind of grounds the story. Kaname is the every-man character and having someone reasonable by his side to converse with and plan with actually helped to ground the whole death match into a more real feeling atmosphere rather than feeling like a teenage fan-fiction.


It will be interesting to see what happens next now that the immediate crisis is solved but the event is still ongoing and there are some very strong players outside of the hotel. I’m also wondering if Shuka’s going to appear in the next episode because she didn’t get any screen time this week.

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Karandi James

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.

Darwin’s Game Episode 3 Review

Darwin3 Episode

No Need To Kill

Darwin’s Game is clearly working on the theory that a lot of people make the decision whether to drop or stay with an anime based on episode 3. As such, not only is the battle event starting bringing a range of pointless deaths and new abilities they also give a few glimpses as to how this game actually operates in the world without people wondering what is going on. Admittedly, there are no answers given, but just enough to intrigue the viewer and to lead them to believe that at some point answers will be forthcoming. While it doesn’t make Darwin’s Game appreciably better to watch, it at least indicates that the people behind it are putting some thought into their efforts.


At the beginning of the episode we see a crowd of people, some of which just witnessed the girl fall off the roof from last week. Cue a static effect and suddenly they simply disperse, seemingly forgetting about the entire situation. It’s been done before but it does at least take away the immersion breaking situation we had before where apparently murdering someone in the street wasn’t causing a fuss. Later we see a room of people apparently watching the match and betting on the outcome of the battle. Again, people betting on death games for amusement isn’t new in this genre but at least we’re starting to put some context around the situation.


The rest of the episode seems split between Shuka and Kaname who have started in different locations. Shuka’s got more than enough rings (for herself and Kaname it should be pointed out, assuming she ever finds him). Kaname on the other hand had one ring and gave it to another player in a desire to actually survive. Of course that seems counter productive given there aren’t enough rings in the game for all the players and not having them will lead to a ‘game over’.

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That said, outside of getting at least three rings, there’s little incentive to kill other players in the set up for this match and yet what we’ve seen in the opening is a blood bath. Players killing seemingly without caring whether they are gaining a ring or not from doing so. When Kaname finally meets a character who doesn’t seemingly want to kill him on sight just for existing he actually laughs because it is just so different from what has been established as the norm in D-Game.


Which leaves me wondering how so many kill-happy people all ended up playing the game. Were they targeted when the app was distributed? Did all the non-kill-happy players already get taken out? It just seems weird how few of the players feel like real people who could exist in the world outside of the game. I had a similar problem with Mirai Nikki. Actually, I really liked Future Diary but none of the diary holders could be considered a well-balanced individual. Anyway, episode 3 isn’t a disaster by any means and it kind of indicates more thought to the story than the first two episodes demonstrated. Hopefully that means that at least the anime won’t get any worse and if they actually played their cards right we might even get to decent.

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Karandi James

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.

Darwin’s Game Episode 2 Review

Darwin2 Episode

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.

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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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Karandi James

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.

Darwin’s Game Episode 1 Review

Darwin1 Episode

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.

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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.

Thank-you for reading 100 Word Anime.
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Karandi James

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.