Review of King’s Game

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Great concept. Poor execution. That’s how I would summarize this anime adaptation of a Japanese cell phone novel. Wait, what? Cell phone novel? People actually write books on their mobile? Due to my stubby fingers I can barely type “hello” on a phone keypad, let alone an entire story. Bah, whatever. King’s Game stars a group of students who one fateful day start to receive text messages from an anonymous source. The texts request that each pupil perform a task within a specified time limit, or they will be executed in a most gruesome manner. Things start off simple enough, with orders requesting that the unfortunate teens kiss each other. After a while however, things escalate to the point were participants are expected to hack off their limbs in order to survive.

OVERVIEW

Transfer student Nobuaki Kanazawa is the protagonist of this sordid tale. In episode one we learn that in his previous school he participated in a King’s Game and emerged as the contest’s sole survivor. How he escaped with his life is beyond me, as he is a crybaby who regularly offers to sacrifice himself for the sake of casual acquaintances. The only time Nobuaki didn’t shed tears was during a 24 hour stint were the King decreed that anyone who sobs will be slain. Many of the show’s early episodes are peppered with flashbacks detailing the events that occurred in the previous King’s Game. The callbacks, to what transpired in Nobuaki’s last school, became so frequent that I began to wonder why studio Seven didn’t adapt that story instead and save this plot for a sequel.

Danganronpa has conditioned me to expect that, in these type of death games, the mastermind orchestrating the murders is one of the protagonist’s classmates. That wasn’t the case in King’s Game. Nor is the culprit a supernatural force, as was the case in the vastly superior Another. If you want to watch teens die in creative ways watch that show instead. The root of the King’s Game is basically influenza, which has somehow mutated into a computer virus. I’m not sure how a mobile phone Trojan causes people to spontaneously combust though. Nor am I sure why digital germs would demand that adolescents partake in sexual intercourse and race each other in a marathon. Malicious code has come a long way since the days when it would merely slow down your PC!

VERDICT

My rating for King’s Game is a one out of five. Battle royale shows can be compelling, as they show how different people react when placed in a life or death struggle. That only works however when the cast act in a believable manner. What ruins King’s Game is how brain dead everyone is. Despite being outnumbered, one villainous girl is permitted to run roughshod over her entire class. People calmly speak to their chums whilst on fire. A girl willingly saves the person who broke her hand a few seconds prior. Sweet and innocent children turn into complete psychopaths with no prompting whatsoever. Students dropping like flies, on a daily basis, don’t attract the attention of parents or law enforcement. I can suspend my disbelief when it comes to fiction, but only so far.

As you can imagine from a twelve episode series that has a huge cast, the characterisation is poor. King’s Game does the Akame Ga Kill trick of only fleshing out its characters moments before they die, in a vain attempt to make the audience feel sad at their demise. It didn’t work for me and the slog to the finale wasn’t worth it, as it all culminates in an unsatisfying “to be continued.” Wow, how optimistic. I can’t imagine this anime ever getting a second season. King’s Game is only worth watching with copious amounts of alcohol and friends who will join you in laughing at it’s silliness. The only thing I enjoyed about the show was the opening tune “Feed the Fire.” Coldrain’s rocking song is wasted on this series. The script is so weak I really can believe it was penned on a mobile.

28 thoughts on “Review of King’s Game

    • This is one of those examples were the trailer lies. I think the idea of a death game involving texts is cool, but the way the characters act is nonsensical. I think the visuals are okay, but in some scenes the artists do take some animation shortcuts.

  1. Lol…I’m writing this response on my mobile phone right now (am at work 😂), but I always take ages to write like this 😉
    I loved your review. Even though I didn’t hate the show as much as you did (I kind of like seriously bad shows😂😂), you definitely are right about all the things you wrote. That girl being on fire and calmly continuing to speak was a real stupid thing 🤣
    But that said, for some really weird reason I still liked it, despite it’s flaws. I doubt a second season will be arriving too…but who knows, stranger things have happened 😀

    • Get back to work you slacker! Haha 🙂 I’m amazed you can write so well on a phone. Whether it’s a touchscreen or hitting buttons it takes me forever to type out anything on a mobile. Guess I have been spoiled by proper keyboards.

      King’s Game is terrible because it wants to be edgy, but doesn’t have the strong writing required to pull it off. I can certainly see how some people enjoy laughing at it though. Even though I disliked the anime I didn’t drop it, as I was intrigued to see how stupid things would get.

      Given how panned the series has been I would be surprised if another season came out. Perhaps the “to be continued” message is hinting at a new novel/manga?

      • Haha😂😂 My shift starts at 7 minutes from now, so I figured I might as well read some wordpress and type some comments 😉 But..it’s the same with me as well..it takes me ages to type on these things 😀
        But this show could really have been great (Another kind of great) with much better writing. Haha: and yes in the end this became really stupid lol.
        Well…as soon as I hear news about anything new about this series in whatever form, I will let you know 😉
        Hmm..time to get back to work 😀

  2. Didn’t you know; if you break people (mentally) bad enough they will do anything for you. That’s what the evil girl said when she made her friend die for her. (super bad with names) Ugh!

    The story had such potential. For me it only had two things I liked; the blood and the sad moments when people cry. For some reason it got me so sad when Nobuaki cried for those people he could hardly have gotten to know. But he did so damn much to try to save them. In the end he knew all along that he wasn’t able to save one soul. Which is so stupid, he should have just offed himself at the start and saved himself the trouble and the sorrow. But, as my man always tells me, it’s TV logic. I also didn’t think the right person survived the game. So I sure as h* hope there won’t be another season. (still wonder why they didn’t do a season out of Nobuaki’s first game. That story would have been more interesting I think. Ah well.)

    • I know people can do crazy stuff when put under intense pressure and that captives will even feel fondness for their captors in some cases. The way people acted in this show however didn’t feel natural. I was okay with the person who won, although technically speaking none of them survived in the end. Yeah, they might as well have made a season based on the first game given how many flashbacks about it they subjected us to.

      • What’s her name, crazy chick (Natsuki?) she said that to Nobuaki at some point. It was more a reference to that. But yeah, it didn’t feel very natural. Ugh, so disappointing.

        I think I’m gonna read the manga. I’ve heard that it is more interesting and you get some more explanation to the virus and such and I really want that.

  3. I think one star is a bit harsh but boy, did this ever fall off a cliff after a promising start. For me, they spent way too much time exploring the previous King’s Game that we were expected to care about that group and not the current group, which we didn’t because by the time the story returned to them, we had forgotten who they were!

    I went from intrigued, to excited to bored to indifferent with about five episodes left of this sadly maladroit handling of what could have been a decent show. :/

    • Yup, they spent too much time on the previous game. That’s why I stand behind the opinion that they should have animated that game rather than focus on the followup, which they interrupt constantly with flashbacks about past events and characters.

    • The idea of a cellphone death game is cool, which is why it’s so disappointing that King’s Game squandered that concept. Oh well at least Future Diary and Another pulled off the idea with better success.

  4. It has nothing to do with the King’s Game from Persona 4? Aw…

    Anyway, fewer things are annoying than when you’re confronted with an excellent concept only to be informed of its awful execution. It’s really annoying whenever characters in horror films lack basic survival instincts (to the point where they wouldn’t last a day in normal life), so if there’s a lot of that here, it would indeed be a deal-breaker. Fleshing out characters just before they die can work, but it’s difficult to pull off well. If it fails, we run into the problem of feeling sorry about the death because of what the character is, not who they are, which feels cheap more often than not. Conversely, I remember a character in the Ace Attorney series actually getting more development after dying than while alive (when alive, the character was a one-dimensional jerk), and I thought that was an interesting touch.

    • The king’s game in Persona 4’s animation was hilarious. Victims in horror movies/shows tend to be daft, but even so the cast of King’s Game are on another level when it comes to stupidity. Fleshing out a character after their demise sounds like a neat concept. I should give the Ace Attorney games another chance. The first game was fun, but I never finished it because I got stuck on one of the cases.

  5. Haha sounds likes a train wreck I had a friend who was watching this and felt the same you did. Cast of characters that are just so brain dead but sounds like a great drunk time to have with lol great review as always from you 😁

  6. I feel your pain. I hit every key but the right key, when typing on a phone keypad and autocorrect loves to make a huge creep out of me. 🙂
    A lot of people were saying, that King’s Game was plops. The idea of a killer mobile game does sound interesting, though. 🙂

  7. What’s really amazing is that a lot of Japanese cell phone writers started (or still write) with those 11 button phones and can whip out a full sentence in no time flat. Me, I’m like “OK, I… how many times do I press for an I? Ok, now b… 123, dang it! Have to loop around again.”

    • That’s amazing, especially given that Japanese looks tougher to write than English. I can’t type quickly on a console, which has a virtual keyboard, let alone a cellphone were you have to tap the same buttons multiple times.

  8. I could actually feel some disdain for this series through reading this, I’m used to things not making sense in shows after some of things I’ve watched but I feel that I’d get confused then angry watching someone calmly talk to someone else burning. Watching this with a drink doesn’t sound like a bad shout though.

    • The series didn’t make me rage, but it certain felt like a waste of time that failed to live up to its potential. Booze is certainly recommend to make watching this series a funny experience. I hear that burning alive is pure agony so having a girl in flames calmly talk was a big stretch.

  9. This always sounded like a train wreck. A bit of a humorous one at times, but a train wreck nonetheless. It’s a shame since the premise is fairly decent, but the sheer morbidness of the whole thing probably would have turned me off either way. At least the show was so crazy it always kept you guessing

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