The king’s game is something I’ve seen a lot of slice-of-life and comedy shows, and I’ve always thought it would be a good idea for a horror show. The king’s game is often seen in slice-of-life and comedy anime. If you don’t know what the king’s game is, I’ll explain real quick before the review:
You draw lots and the person with the largest stick, specific number, etc. is the king. The king can then give an order to one person (or more depending on what rules you are using), and the picked persons has to obey- no matter if it’s buying ice cream for the entire group or telling everyone your crush. It’s just like truth or dare, but the name is a tad more sinister.
King’s Game uses its namesake to tell the story of one Kanazawa Nobuaki, who has transferred to a new school where he refuses to interact with his new classmates due to an undisclosed incident at his previous school. After a few days of school, however, the entire class receives a text from a mysterious phone number calling itself the “King,” that gives absurd orders to the class who view this a prank. Nobuaki knows the truth, the king’s game is a death game that they will all have to work together to play until the end.
Let me start by saying that I would have loved King’s Game in eighth grade. The way the characters speak and interact with each other, and the general premise of the show, remind me of everything my angsty little heart loved as a 12-to-13-year-old. Unfortunately, King’s Game is not made for anyone past the age of 16, and it’s painfully tough to get through as an adult. But, I did it. I watched it all, and boy was it bad.
The show attempts to gain a fair amount of sympathy for Nobuaki by showing us the deaths his previous class underwent after he is beat to an almost incomprehensible state by his current class of overzealous morons. There is a also a point in the show where we visit a village where the King’s Game supposedly began where there is a semblance of resolution that is dashed without any sort of follow up as the showed meandered it’s way to the end of it’s season.
If I sound frustrated, it’s only because I am.
It’s not that I expected anything profound from this anime, but do expect cohesive storytelling, no matter how chuni/emo the show. There is nothing more upsetting than a few episodes of time wasted on the plot regarding the village where this king’s game started that is never touched again except in acknowledging that the plot points happened involving the two girls Nobuaki likes because they seemed to have once lived in the village. You’d think we would draw on the girls dragging out this curse or maybe wish for the curse to spread- like some of the timelines in Higurashi: When they Cry. But, nope. It’s only revisited by Nobuaki before everything hits the fan for a second round of tragedy in the show.
It’s fascinating to see what should add depth and pizazz turn into the grossest red herring I’ve ever seen.
Now, I do understand that it’s tough to work a good horror story, (especially in anime formats) but that isn’t an excuse for the odd insult King’s Game became. The show often tried to do too much, characterization and suspense are two great examples of where this anime failed, at the same time. In particular, there is one scene where the class is in a circle about to smash their fingers in pieces, and we are brought aside to have one young man cut Nobuaki’s hair so we can learn about his passions before his (obviously) imminent death.
Speaking of death, none of the deaths in King’s Game are interesting for a horror show. They rotate between strangulation, limb ripping, and suicides. It’s actually very boring by the time you finish the first half of the show, and the chainsaw ending brings joy to your heart because it’s breaking the monotony of bulging eyes and twisting arms.
The last item of business is the overall animation of King’s Game. . . it’s not bad.
Seriously. It’s not great or wonderful, but the animation didn’t seem to drop to quality like most shows do toward the season end. The consistency of the show’s visual quality was only sullied by the sudden addition of censoring the deaths with those large fuzzy black blobs I remember (so fondly) from Terraformars. I swear there wasn’t any censoring through the first half of the show, but I noticed the black shadows at about episode nine. Since the deaths are, in my opinion, low-key, I found the use of censoring annoying.
While I did truly dislike this show, it was fun to watch it fall apart as the season progressed. I wouldn’t suggest watching it unless you are a glutton for punishment, or just want to laugh. It’s not a “it’s so bad, it’s good” show by any means, so please don’t expect an ironic adventure. King’s Game is a show I wanted to drop so badly, but never did because you drop something this depressingly bad.