Animation: Fair
Depth: Bad
Design: Fair
Characters: Weak
Story: Bad

Type: TV   (12 episodes)

Vintage: 2017


» horror
Verdict: Reviews @ Archen's Anime Page

King's Game

Summary: >

Nabuaki is a transfer student who keeps to himself, deliberately shying away from others. Then everyone in his class receives strange messages on their phones giving them instructions. They are now playing the "King's Game", they cannot withdraw and must comply with the king's commandments or be punished - often by death. While it seems like a harmless joke at first, by the end of the first night half of the class is dead.

In fact Nabuaki has played the king's game before, and stands the lone survivor. As friends turn to enemies, cooperation with each other is unlikely, but may be the only hope to stop the kings game.

Thoughts: >

I was fairly open minded through most of the King's Game. What got me into anime more so than any other factor years ago was the horror stuff. I wouldn't say I crave it or anything, but I'm certainly always up for some messed up shit going down. King's game however goes off-track in many many ways. Which is a shame because it had potential and could have salvaged itself at various points.

The king's game in Japan is something like "truth or dare" in America. Straws are drawn, leading to one person becoming king who can give an order to the others - typically in the form of #3 will do {something} to #2 and so on. Needless to say, this is a disaster waiting to happen when played by horny teenagers. The King's Game anime is an extension of this concept, with an unknown "king" giving orders to a class. They cannot withdraw, and failure to comply leading to a punishment (often death).

Quickly students start dying in rather graphic and horrific ways. This anime is pretty grotesque with the amount of gore, but less shocking over time. With each over the top death, King's Game becomes more and more eye rolling. This combines with melodramatic character reactions, which might seem appropriate but gets old by the 30th time you've seen it. It's like bold text losing its effect when ALL the text is bold. I'll admit this might be the sole redeeming feature of the anime, if you're into gore stuff.

A big problem with King's game the punishment being (a brutal) death 99% of the time. Often dosing out mundane punishments would have heightened the occasional death. Kings Game does pretty well capturing desperation and betrayal, but betraying someone only to have them get a slap on the wrist instead of dying would have added an additional layer of tension. I wanted a battle of wits between the class and the king, where the class find ways to technically fulfill orders without harming each other. Instead the orders are simplistic and no one bothers to think past the obvious implementation. Many orders have no out. For example one person volunteers to kill someone else, but they too die. That's not even interesting.

Perhaps the mystery of "the king" is worth it? I'm the last one to defend happenings "because it's magic", but if the alternative is 10 times more stupid, just use magic. No, it's because a virus spread in a village doing much the same, then became a "computer virus" (that's not even what a computer virus is BTW) giving out orders. Apparently deaths are caused through subconscious suggestions they can't control. It's true that people are capable of messing themselves up severely through such suggestions, but not spuriously decapitating themselves and have their heads fly off (this happens a LOT).

The characters don't fare well for a variety of reasons. There are too many at first, and it's hard to tell who has an impact on the "plot" and who will be fodder. You can tell who's going to die when a background classmate suddenly gets more screen time. Within minutes they'll be dead. The character artwork isn't too bad, but their sameness only compounds the problem of making everyone seem like... well, fodder. There are plenty of flashbacks with Nabuaki's previous experience with the king's game, which is quite clever. It allows gory deaths and drama along with the condensed version of what happened to give depth to Nabuaki and the game. However Nabuaki never gets any deeper than being the valiant good guy agonizing over everyone's death, and reflecting on his dead girlfriend. The King's Game just kills people, so it's not like there is much to expand on there either. A girl who survived a previous king's game becomes a antagonist, but she's too inconsistent and overdone. Towards the end, big boobed rich girl Reina becomes romantically interested in Nabuaki (for reasons), but she's never developed enough to give weight to the relationship. Nabuaki becomes the chivalrous knight for Reina but it doesn't work well (if you're going to be a knight in shining armor for anyone, it should be the big boobed rich girl by the way).

Despite all the problems, I still wouldn't have rated this so lowly if it wasn't for the damn ending. It pissed me off enough to the point where I give it my lowest rating. I guess I didn't explain the story, but a bunch of kids I didn't give a damn about do dumb shit and/or die violently. Potential plot points never go anywhere. It's like King's Game did its best to intentionally be a waste of time.

Screen Caps: >

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reviewed by archen in 2018