What They Say:
An entire high school class of 32 people receive a message on their cellphones from a person known only as the “King.” The messages contain orders that the students must obey, or they risk the punishment of death. With their lives on the line, the students soon find out that the orders are getting more and more extreme as time goes on. But one student, Nobuaki Kanazawa, is determined to put a stop to the murderous King’s Game, once and for all…
The sound quality has options of 5.1 English Dolby Surround and the Japanese a 2.0 Stereo option. There were no complications of the audio throughout the release and the 5.1 option definitely comes through well with no need to adjust default settings on the audio system I was using. There were no problems with the video synching in with subtitles and the sounds come very thorough…including the more unpleasant moments. Well, at least the opening and ending sound fantastic through your screen….
Similar with the audio, and with the series released quite recently (late 2017) the video is set in 16:9 – 1.78:1 aspect ratio via NTSC transfer to PAL format – the animation is very clear and colourful, again, some of the more gorier moments are shown in full details at least with the blood and don’t hold anything back, and the flashback sequences can be quite dark as do some of the current day ones but it shows very well throughout the screens (again, you can say if that’s a good thing depending how your reaction is to blood) – again, cannot fault the visuals like the audio….just what it entails as we shall get to…
There was no packing for this test release however the Blu-Ray Special Edition version of this will get collector’s packaging.
On each of the discs, the menu is the same – we have a sketched out drawing of Nobuaki on a blood red background with a creepy soundtrack in the background, below are the menu selections which are very basic, with Play All, Episodes, Set Up and on disc 2, Extras. Nothing interesting in the slightest and whilst no issues with it in terms of efficiency and speed (the usual popup menus come up during the show and it is super fast), it is pretty basic.
The only extras are on disc 2 with the cleaning opening and ending and some trailers. That said, the opening and ending may very well be the best part of the show….
King’s Game: The Animation is based on a mobile game (Osama game) with a series of light novels and manga released in Japan between 2009 and 2015, with the anime coming in 2017. The Kings game is basically a game that in general is that someone is the ‘king’ and they give orders to a person or people and ‘order’ them to do something – usually comic or embarrassing, similar to Truth or Dare…
….this version is a tad more…brutal. Both physically and mentally. And not necessarily in a good way as this show relies on shock visuals, gore, betrayal and a bit of mystery – trying to be the next Higurashi.
Instead, it just makes no sense. This is one of these shows that has an interesting concept and even starts out well, but when you get to the end, you just go….O.K….
We start off with our lead male Nobuaki Kanazawa, a transfer student who seems initially at first to want to be alone and clearly has a chip on his shoulder. However, we see scenes of his classmates trying to get him more involved and he seems to appreciate…until he gets a message on his phone from someone called the King. And the King is making a game that every student in his class has to follow…or they face a punishment. And it seems this isn’t Nobuaki’s first dance with this…
Needless to say, initially everyone is thinking it’s a joke and even turn on him, though one seems to believe him, a friendly girl by the name of Natsuko. In the King’s Game, she and him have to kiss before midnight and whilst others think he sent it just to kiss the pretty Natsuko, she actually kisses him to stop him from dying. However, other classmates ignore their messages…which turns out to be a grave mistake when the students realise many of them have hung themselves and one of them have broken a rule and bleeds to death in front of them.
And this begins problem 1 – how is this happening? There is a reason but it isn’t one that makes sense as the King seems capable of manipulating both mind and body to commit them to hanging themselves or just oozing blood, but that is just the first of many strikes…
The next order includes Natsuko having to have sex with a classmate named Teruaki. It is clear now Nobuaki has played the game before and is trying to save everyone, but obviously this is a bit more extreme. And when Teruaki basically tries to pretty much rape her, she obviously refuses it…
…and then something really changes.
Natsuko changes from nice girl next door to one of the most hated characters I’ve witnessed in anime. She then tries to rape Teruaki (and later succeeds – making a rare case of female on male rape in anime) as she clearly only cares for herself and wants to survive…we later learn this isn’t her first dance in this hence her willingness to pretty much do anything, but what gets me is that after she basically flat out turning out to be a wolf in sheep’s clothing, she drag Nobuaki to try and force him to find the way out of the game, and then screams saying he tried to rape her…
…AND THE CLASS BELIEVE IT EVEN THOUGH IT’S CLEAR SHE WAS A BACKSTABBER LITERALLY MINUTES BEFORE.
Yeah, this class is definitely not the brightest – one of the orders was from a girl named Mizuki to text DIE to two people, who would then die. Fortunately one of the classmates Kenta saves Nobuaki from being beaten up and Mizuki actually smashes her phone (which does turn out to be a mistake) as the three leave to find the area where the King’s Game apparently originated. Inter-mixed with this, we get flashbacks of the King’s Game Nobuaki was part of, from popularity contests, to a classmate giving herself an order to touch the King, thinking it was someone in their class (spoiler: it didn’t end well), another sexual order when Nobuaki’s then girlfriend Chiemi, basically raped Nobuaki’s best friend whilst he was unconscious just so they both could survive an order (granted, Nobuaki asked her to do it whilst in tears) and a lot of death via some King’s orders.
There is however ONE redeeming part of this show in these flashbacks, and that was the character of Ria, who seems incredibly suspicious but is actually working behind the scenes trying to beat the game as well. It leads to a tough decision where the King forces the remaining students of the first game Nobuaki was involved to roll a die, and whatever number comes up, that person has to say the names of that many students and they die. Oh, and whoever rolls the die also dies….
So Naoya, Nobuaki’s best friend rolls the die and of course it comes up 6. It leads to everyone but Nobuaki, Chiemi and Ria surviving, where Ria finds out that the game is caused by a computer virus, using hypnotic suggestion.
Which we later learn, originated from a physical virus…which somehow became a computer virus. Which of course means are all these deaths just hallucinations? Or how could the virus turn into a computer one…and cause so much death from it?
Long story short, no-one knows and it never makes sense. Sadly, the one good thing which is Ria trying to stop the game, is that she dies because the King caused a trap for anyone trying to end the game. Considering Ria is one of the few characters that was badass, and also had a bit of a back-story that you hoped she would win (her father sexually abused her), that you knew she would die really sucked.
Because in the present time line, the characters are not as unique, and definitely less interesting and in Natsuko’s case, pretty hateful. She is manipulative, but not in a smart way, it just seems like she is there to pretty much be hated. Even when they try to make her sympathetic (as the village Nobuaki goes to suggests that Natsuko did play a game and may even be related to his then girlfriend Chiemi), she does something that makes you hate her even more. Even when she could actually be screwed over during a finger breaking game (Teruaki getting his revenge for raping him), she uses her manipulation to trick her then best friend Aimi (who has seen that she didn’t really care for her as she wouldn’t sacrifice her hand or fingers for Aimi) and even then breaks her hand to make sure she survives.
Which brings us to another annoyance – considering how many characters die when they break the rules…surely this was also breaking a role, yet plot convenience, she survives…yeah, there are a LOT of things that really don’t make sense in the end. Natsuko even managed to block Teruaki’s phone messages which was a rule break causing his death in the end, with the end coming In sight, the next task of them heading towards Mount Nuegakubi, where everyone who is the furthest away every 8 hours will die. Natsuko, also is a super athlete so she immediately ditches everyone and by this point, the show tries to have another character be a potential another Chiemi in the girl Riona, but she only became noticeable in the last couple of episodes and now the show wants to see her as a lead….with the anime only 12 episodes, it screams of being rushed and to be honest, you really don’t care about most of the cast as so many have become idiots for the sake of plot convenience that in a respect, it becomes so bad it’s good to watch just because of said idiocy.
Long story short, ends with the last order being the remaining students to make a human doll out of body parts of everyone. The last three alive at this point are Nobuaki, Riona and Natsuko, and they come to a minor truce to try and end the game, but they realise that the game will only end if everyone is dead, as both Natsuko and Nobuaki had the chance in their games to either die, or continue the game. Because of this, Natsuko angry nearly kills Nobuaki, but Riona eventually kills her with a chainsaw stabbing in the spine…causing instant paralysis and de…
…no wait, Natsuko survives just long enough to kill Nobuaki.
MAKES. NO. SENSE.
And to top it off, even with the ending that we assume Riona does try to end the game; the cliff-hanger is that the game is STILL going to continue at another score…pretty much rendering the entire show and sacrifices pointless.
So, you may have realised I am not a fan of this show. The virus element is silly enough, with it being an actual virus from the past somehow turned into a computer virus which has some sort of hypnotic suggestion? Yet considering the range of deaths and some that practically just spontaneously combust it really is stretching it a lot. The fact the cast all turn into idiots at many times despite seeing Natsuko as a manipulative so and so, combined with Nobuaki playing one of these before really is for the sake of a laughable plot, the ending not just with Natsuko somehow surviving long enough to kill Nobuaki and then it didn’t matter in the end, all the King’s suggestions are too silly, stupid or over the top that it makes it ridiculous to watch, the rules change so much that it just feels like a game of Fluxx (which I would play any day than watch this again), the reveal Natsuko was in love with Nobuaki…despite trying to kill him twice and falsely accused him of rape so his classmates beat him up and Nobuaki himself being a bit too hopeful as a likeable lead despite knowing what would happen he truly believes he can change it….and yet doesn’t. The fact that pretty much almost all the cast have very few moments (the Mizuki/Kenta side story didn’t really pan out well thanks to Natsuko, and in the past, even Chiemi and Naoya were pretty flat characters) that would make them interesting and the attempt to make Riona a main cast member who liked Nobuaki (again, out of nowhere) didn’t work.
So….is there anything to recommend?
The animation is strong, the opening and ending songs are actually really good, and in the character of Ria actually was the one person that was genuinely likeable, as she was the only one who basically called out Nobuaki on his naïve optimism and instead went to do something about the predicament they were in. So when she went, so did the show’s only really cool character. Aside from that, the fact how stupid the plot and characters are…it is surprisingly memorable and entertaining.
Just not in the way I’m sure the creators wanted it to be….
King’s Game: The Animation is one of the most nonsensical series I have watched in a long time – the plot makes no sense (especially with the reveal of the King), the characters are either unlikeable, unmemorable or just dumb (bar Ria, making you wish she was the main protagonist), the show’s villain is one of the most hateful I have come across and the ending just basically was a big ‘screw you’ to what the King’s Game was supposed to end anyway. However, in a weird way, it is actually a fascinating watch because of how bad it is in its ways, that it is almost so bad it’s good. I certainly wouldn’t recommend it as a show, but I would recommend it as an experience, just so you can look at it and go….’O.K, what just happened?’
Content Grade: C-
Audio Grade: A-
Video Grade: A-
Packaging Grade: N/A
Menu Grade: B
Extras Grade: C-
Released By: Anime Limited
Release Date: February 17th, 2020
Running Time: 300 minutes
Video Encoding: 1080p AVC
Aspect Ratio: 1.78:1 Widescreen
Playstation 4, Sony Bravia 32 Inc EX4 Television, Aiwa 2 Way Twin Duct Bass Reflex Speaker System.