First Look: King’s Game: The Animation

Alternative title(s): Ousama Game The Animation
Novel Adaptation by Seven
Streaming on Crunchyroll

Premise

A group of classmates receive a text message with orders from the “King”. These orders much be carried out within 24 hours and anyone that disobeys, dies. Nobuaki Kanazawa survived this King’s Game at his last school and now he must try and fight it again.

Jel’s verdict: The King orders you to not watch this

This concept could be interesting since the main character already lived through the game, but only if he A. heroically tried to fight back or B. ends up being the killer. We kind of missed the boat on A. I mean, in a coldly logical way his decision to die first with Natsuko could be considered a kindness if you have no hope of beating the game. It’s also understandable he would be severely traumatized after he went through and might not have the strength to fight back. But does that make a good story? Not really, it just made it frustrating to watch.

As for path B, I think that still could be a possibility. It seems less likely considering the King is an omnipotent being that can just make people explode into a bloody mess, but that’s a detail that can be hand waived with some supernatural shenanigans. Point is, Nobuaki did survive the first game, we’re only hearing about the first game from his point of view (you would think news of a high school mass murder spree would get around), and the most graphic “punishment” was triggered as a defense mechanism when he was getting kicked in the teeth.

Consider those last two paragraphs my attempt at optimism because even in the best case scenario, King’s Game is torpedoed by horrible writing. For example, to reveal the background of our main heroine we have two girls walk by her in the hall and say “oh, that’s Natsuko. I heard her parents died in a double suicide” then keep walking. That could work in a campy, over the top horror story but I think at least emotionally we are supposed to be taking this seriously. No amount of interesting plot twists can fix that, and so I’m declaring King’s Game a loss. If you do want something like this I’d suggest the under appreciated Another or the sleeper favorite Kokoro Connect.

Artemis’ verdict: Hard Pass

I basically hated this episode from start to finish. I’m not saying the idea in itself is necessarily bad – I’m not opposed to gory material and am really only squeamish when it comes to live-action horror – but this kind of thing just takes it way too far for me. It’s the kind of show that’s clearly trying desperately hard to be cool, namely by shoving as much shock-value material in your face in as little time as possible. You might ask why I’m okay with the likes of Juuni Taisen when I’m not with something like King’s Game, and the simple answer to that question is while the former feels intentionally fun and ridiculous, the latter feels like it’s actually trying to take itself seriously. The low production qualities certainly don’t help make King’s Game any nicer to look at, and throwing in a bunch of cheap fanservice purely for the sake of fanservice was the final straw for me. I have zero interest in watching any more of this.

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