Hey guys, Josh here once again, back with another episodic review of King’s Game: The Animation. As always, I want to thank you all for checking out my last two reviews! It’s always a thrill when you know that your work is being read and appreciated. To know you guys are actually looking forward to my next update, even with all my rantings and ravings, is heartwarming, and I hope I can continue to oblige.
So, last week, when I wrote up my review for Episode 2, I said that we simply can’t have any more episodes like this. Thankfully, Episode 3 is NOT like Episode 2. It’s actually…decent! Sure, there are some moments that make me wonder what the heck were the writers and/or animators thinking and/or smoking, but on the whole, this episode was, to quote Saitama from One-Punch Man… “Okay.”
That being said, to quote the OP of Gundam: Iron Blooded Orphans, “We can start it on just right here right now.” I’m Josh, and this is Episode 3 of King’s Game: The Animation.
Last time out, Nobuaki, AKA “Nobu-Kun,” told his current classmates about his former classmates who were all caught up in the King’s Game before, including a boy named Daisuke who, after spending the last 24 hours scoring with a girl and rocking out with his bros, hung himself per an order from the King. However, none of that mattered to our dear girl Natsuko Honda, whose primary concern was who was going to be the first to take her virginity RIGHT THEN AND THERE because…PRIORITIES. Some dude tries to rape her in the middle of the field with all her classmates watching which flips a switch in her brain that makes HER go all cray-cray and want to rape HIM and turn the class against Nobu-Kun. Caught up? Good. Hang on…it gets crazier from here.
The episode kicks off with Kenta Akamatsu saving Nobu-Kun from the epic beat down his classmates was giving him. Don’t remember him? He was the guy from the first episode trying to befriend Nobu-Kun and cheering him on during the relay race. (Yeah, I had to go back and look because I completely forgot about this guy.) Anyway, Kenta walks up and the first thing he notices is his classmate Satou Yuuchi dead and bloodied on the ground. So he has the natural reaction of shock…for all of 5 seconds, until his attention is diverted to the beaten Nobu-Kun. AGAIN, PRIORITIES. Remember once upon a time when Japan actually respected their dead? Yeah, me neither. The class doesn’t seem too bothered about their handiwork when pressed why they did it, but Kenta pulls a “Come at Me Bro” before the OP starts.
Speaking of this OP…it still sucks. Moving on.
Nobu-Kun expresses his thanks to Kenta for saving him just as a convenient emotion-induced rainstorm comes through. Natsuko comes up, still with no shirt on, and once again tries to convince Mizuki to text “Die” to both Nobu-Kun and to Kenta per her King’s Order. She goes into fully crazy mode, urging Mizuki to show the group the “Beautiful” deaths of the two boys in order to save her life. Now, keep in mind that NOBODY knows what exactly will happen when someone receives the “Die” message…not even Natsuko. However, even with Nobu-kun weakly pleading to go ahead and send the message (to him and to Natsuko), Mizuki decides against it and breaks her phone. Disappointed that she couldn’t see the “beautiful” death, Natsuko returns to her former rapist for some long awaited King-Ordered fornication. However, Kenta throws her to the ground and reminds her that her needs for vaginal satisfaction are secondary to their dead classmate. He then picks up Nobu-Kun to get his wounds taken care of. Mizuki, having had enough of this crap, wants to go along. Natsuko coyly asks if she can come along too…which leads to my favorite moment in this show thus far…
After keeping his pimp hand strong against Natsuko’s face, Kenta, Mizuki and Nobu-kun set off to the hospital. Mizuki frets over her broken cell phone as she is now unable to follow the King’s order, even though she still has more than 24 hours to get a new phone and follow the order. Kenta allays her fears reminding her that he has the King-For-The-Day power, and he’ll use it to give himself an order: that he protects Mizuki and save her life, thereby putting his own life on the line.
RAISE YOUR (DEATH) FLAGS!!
Ahem. Anyway, Nobu-kun interrupts this little scene with yet another clunky flashback to the last King’s Game. It’s the next day, and he tells the class about how Daisuke died. Shouta, the jealous boyfriend/King-For-The-Day who gave Daisuke the order to hang himself and die is clearly distraught over the situation. You can see the anguish in his eyes and…
Oh, wait…no you can’t…BECAUSE THE ANIMATORS ARE EITHER WORKING ON THE CHEAP OR THEY’RE REALLY LAZY! How was it that this shot made it past the production staff?! NO EYES WHATSOEVER! And this isn’t the first time this happened either! This is inexcusable!
Anyway…Nobu-kun reminds the class of the next King’s order: there will be a popularity poll between Naoya Hashimoto (Mr. Old Navy Frost Free Quilted Vest) and #9 Kana Ueda. The one who is less popular will get punished. Chiemi and Nobu-Kun come up with a plan to whip up votes for Naoya, but he’s hesitant, not wanting anyone to die just so he ends up living. Nobu-Kun wants none of this stating that it doesn’t matter if anyone else dies so long as he doesn’t lose Naoya. Intense much, bro? While I will grant the fact that these two have probably known each other for years, Nobu-Kun says that he doesn’t want to lose Naoya with such passion that you would think the two were lovers or something. We’ll touch on this a little later…
In the meantime, Nobu-Kun begins to whip votes in pure Frank Underwood House of Cards style. He coolly and calmly intricate plans and deceptions in order to convince—HAHAHA….yeah, no. He actually begins begging his classmates to vote for Naoya. Kana comes in while Nobu-kun is begging Misaki (The girl that slept with Daisuke earlier) for her vote, playing up their friendship to full effect, causing Misaki to break down. Nobu-kun then breaks out the big guns; getting down on his knees and begging to spare his friends life, stating that he couldn’t bear to lose Naoya after losing Daisuke. Misaki decides that since Daisuke did indeed save her life, she would return the favor for him and vote for Naoya. Umm…okay? This doesn’t make sense to me. She really didn’t owe Naoya or Nobu-kun a favor. Even though Daisuke was friends with the two of them, it was Daisuke that did the deed with Misaki. Unless the writers wanted to make it seem like Misaki was casting her vote in memory of what Daisuke did for her and for his best friends, but I think that’s a bit of a stretch. Scratch that: That’s a HELL OF A STRETCH and more complicated then it needed to be! Anyway, Kana is clearly fuming at this and vows that she will do whatever it takes to survive.
Cut to Kana trying to use the “power of boners” to save her life by seducing some poor unsuspecting sap behind the school. She’s really turning on the charm—raising the pitch of her voice, unbuttoning her blouse to reveal her sweater puppies, and promising that if she were to survive, she would do ANYTHING for him. Shouta overhears all this and goes to talk to Nobu-Kun. He is clearly remorseful over giving Daisuke the order, and is also fretting over the upcoming vote as he now, once again, has the power to decide who lives and dies. Nobu-Kun reassures him that Daisuke’s death wasn’t entirely his fault and that while their vote may end a life, it will, in fact, save a live. Shouta tells Nobu-Kun about Kana’s whoring all around with the boys in the class, and that there’s a chance that Naoya will lose the vote. He also promises that, even though it may not mean much, he’ll cast his vote for Naoya.
After the commercial, we come to the actual vote. At first, it looks like Kana’s whoring is paying off—she’s in the lead by a handful of votes. However, after a while, to her horror, the gap shrinks between her and Naoya and it all comes down to one vote. As Nobu-Kun goes to read it, Kana yanks it out his hands to prevent any kind of cheating. She peeks inside and to her delight, sees her name written. However, before she has a chance to turn around and see the group of guys standing behind herd, glaring with eagerness in their eyes while holding a value box of condoms, her world comes crashing down as Nobu-kun opens the ballot to reveal that it is in fact a note:
Sorry boys, no nookie for you today. Time to head home, snuggle up with your body pillows and do what needs to be done. Immediately after, everyone gets a message that Kana will be punished. Baby girl does NOT take this news very well as she screams, takes a running start, smashes through the window and lands bloody on the bottom floor.
Now, I could go into how there’s no way that Kana should have been able to break through the metal framed window. This is anime, after all; a medium that features, among other things, giant robots fighting in space piloted by women with breasts the size of Casaba melons with no spinal issues. I learned there are SOME parts of my mind that I have to shut down. What I DO NOT accept is that baby girl lands on the ground with all the force, intensity, and splatter of a lovebug on a windshield…FROM THE 2nd FLOOR! Yes, that is a pretty tall height, and yes, Kana would no doubt have some bad injuries, but not to the extent that we see, and not with THAT much blood splattered on the ground. Speaking of blood, the blood splashes upwards when she hits like she cannon-balled into a pool…again, FROM THE SECOND FLOOR! Unless Kana had about 500 gallons of blood circulating in her system, BLOOD DOESN’T WORK THAT WAY! GRAVITY DOESN’T WORK THAT WAY! This makes no sense!
Anyway, after Kana makes her premature departure, the class receives yet another message from the King. Kana’s punishment for losing the popularity contest is that she will confess to the person she likes. Wait, what?! This honestly took me by surprise and I have to say, this was a pretty brilliant twist. At NO POINT did the King specify what the punishment would be for the loser of the contest. Everyone just automatically assumed, based on previous events, that punishment was death. Kana, bless her heart, thought that she was going to be killed and freaked out, when in reality, if she had just waited a few seconds, she would have gotten the message. Honestly, this is probably the best bit of writing in the entire episode.
Fast-forward to later that day. Nobu-kun and Naoya are at the hospital with Kana who is not expected to survive through the night. (Admit it, you started humming the Outlaw Star theme song, didn’t you?) Nobu-kun confesses that he used “Evil Magic” to sway the votes in the popularity contest. He sent a message to a certain number of his classmates who looked like they would vote for Kana stating that he found a way for himself, Chiemi, and Naoya to escape the game, and he could save one other person, providing that Naoya wins the contest and that the decided within the next five minutes, forcing them to decide quickly. Wow. Talk about “Dark Magic.” You’re a regular Voldermort there, Nobu-Kun. Good grief…
Anyway, 15 minutes till midnight, and Chiemi joins our group at what I can only assume is Nobu-kun’s apartment. Honestly the cut between the last scene and this one is pretty awkward. For a second, I thought they were still in the hospital. And of course, seeing as how it’s almost midnight, there are NO other adults around. In fact, the only adult we’ve seen in this episode was that one eyeless receptionist at the hospital in the background! What is this, The City of Lost Children or something?! Anyway, Naoya gently teases Chiemi and Nobu-kun about their close relationship wishing he could have a girlfriend like her…
Almost on cue, Kana kicks the bucket and a new message is sent out from the King. Rest in peace, Kana…you went out a window and you went out a whore. The horny teenage boys you promised yourself to will mourn your passing…until their Body Pillow comes out the washing machine. Because Kana is taking a one way trip on the Midnight Train to Georgia, she’s not able to follow the order that she confesses to her crush, so Naoya has to follow an order in her place; he must have sex before the end of the day, or commit suicide by setting himself on fire. OH THE DECISIONS…
Well, Naoya, you just said you always wanted a girlfriend like Chiemi…for the next 10 minutes, you get your wish!
Facing the real possibility of losing his best friend, Nobu-kun locks Chiemi and Naoya into a bedroom and tells them to hurry up and do the deed. Chiemi seems okay with the plan, as it will save her best friends life, but Naoya doesn’t want to betray Nobu-kun by taking Chiemi’s virginity, expressing his love for them both and not caring if he lived or died. Nobu-Kun opens the door and tearfully begs Naoya once more to go ahead and have sex with Chiemi.
OKAY. PAUSE. Right here. Time to address the elephant in the room, so to speak. The King’s order is that Naoya have sex before midnight. The order did not state WHO he had to have sex with or what gender they had to be…meaning that, technically, if Nobu-Kun and Naoya were to have sex, it would both satisfy the King’s order and leave Chiemi untouched.
Would it have been a shock? Absolutely. It probably could’ve been the most memorable moment in the 2017 anime season and it would’ve been a remarkable and unforeseen twist. And it would be very much in tune with what we’ve seen all this episode. We’ve seen how much Naoya means to Nobu-kun. He was willing to put his own pride and life on the line to save his life. And we also see how devoted Naoya is to Nobu-Kun. In fact, in this scene, he tearfully and passionately professes that he loves both Nobu-kun and Chiemi. I don’t think they’re secretly in love with each other, but it shows just how close these two are; Nobu-kun is willing to allow his best friend to have sex with his girl to save his life and Naoya would rather die than violate his best friends girl.
These two are clearly willing to put it all on the line, so why not go for it? I know Japan has stigma against homosexuality, but that would’ve made it all the more interesting. It would have blown my mind if the creators would’ve defied expectations that Naoya would have sex with Chiemi and had him have sex with Nobu-Kun instead, or at least contemplate it for a minute. Honestly, I think the creators took the safe route by making Chiemi the default choice for the Emergency Sexual Encounter. It’s making her seem like just a convenient vagina.
Naoya continues to refuse to have sex with Chiemi and while he’s not looking, Nobu-kun knocks Naoya unconscious. Darn it, Naoya, when Nobu-kun says you’re going to get the nookie, YOU ARE GOING TO GET THE NOOKIE! He then begs Chiemi to go ahead and have sex with Naoya…while he’s unconscious. Yeah. Umm…I’m not sure how this works, exactly. Does it count if he’s out cold? How does she…umm…arouse him? Does this count as rape since Naoya didn’t give his consent? So many questions…ugh…
Anyway, the deed is done and Nobu-kun gets the confirmation message from the King– WAIT A MINUTE…they started at 11:57PM…assuming the confirmation message came in right at midnight, that means the whole process only took 3 minutes. Wow. Even when he’s unconscious, it appears that Naoya was pretty eager. Anyway, Chiemi and Nobu-kun embrace and they both tearfully confess their love, promising each other that they’ll survive.
RAISE YOUR (DEATH) FLAG!!!!
Anyway, we end our flashback and return to the current day. While Kenta agrees that Nobu-Kun has done some bad things, because it was all in the name of saving his friends, it doesn’t make him a bad guy. Nobu-kun, finally finding a true friend to confide in, breaks down crying. A few minutes later, with Natsuko trying to get the remaining members of the class to her side, a phone call comes in on her phone. It’s from Kenta. She looks at the display with an evil grin as though she has something planned.
The Death Toll Remains: 10 Dead, 22 Remain.
And that’s the end of Episode 3. Admittedly this episode wasn’t quite as bad as the last one was. When I watched this episode the first time without taking notes or writing, I initially found myself thinking “Oh great, this episode is about as bad as the last one!” But on my 2nd and 3rd viewing for this review and to get screen captures, I have to say, this episode, for all its faults, wasn’t THAT bad. Granted there were some moments of face palming stupidity, and there were times when the crying and the drama were PRODIGIOUSLY overblown, and the moments when the creators decided to play it safe instead of pushing the envelope, on the whole, it was…okay.
On the positive side, it was nice seeing a little more of the relationship between Chiemi, Naoya and Nobu-kun. Even though it was mostly your typical couple plus goofball third wheel setup, it was really nice to see these three together and that they all have a genuine love for one another and are willing to risk a lot for each other. I also liked the scene with Shouta and Nobu-kun where Shouta shows deep regret over giving Daisuke his order. It shows that this character is more than just the jealous raving lunatic that we saw earlier. Once he cools his head, he realizes his mistake and attempts to make amends. I also liked the scene coming out the flashback when Kenta reassures Nobu-kun that he was doing the right thing for his friends and acknowledging his sacrifices. Seeing Nobu-kun break down was honestly very touching. To me, this is a flip of the relationship Nobu-Kun had with Naoya; now he is the one being saved and protected. And it’s only now that he can honestly break down his barriers and show just how he’s feeling about losing so much.
All that being said, I am royally tired of these flashbacks. I mean, we’re on episode 3 and we know more about the characters in the flashback than the real-time. It’s getting crazy. It’s like the main characters are only there to provide a little dialogue that will awkwardly segue us into the next flashback, where we spend about 75% of the episode. Also, giving us two full classes of students to keep track of is pretty exhausting. Not only are we learning about the main class, but we’re also learning about the flashback class as well; 48 students in all! I seriously forgot who the heck Kenta was! I thought he was the guy who died in the first episode of the blood explosion! Lastly, we had better find out what is Natsuko’s deal is FAST because she is really working my nerves, and not in a good way.
I can honestly say, I’m feeling SLIGHTLY better about King’s Game: The Animation now…or at least, I feel better than I felt at the end of Episode 2. This show still has problems it needs to work on, but if we can get 9 solid episodes out that bring this whole story together, I’m sure we can get a decent complete anime out of this. At least I hope so.
Oh, and this just in. Funimation just announced the Simul-Dub cast and crew list for King’s Game: The Animation. The ADR Director is Tyler Walker and I have to say, looking at some of the other shows he’s worked on (Case Closed, Negima!, Kodocha, Bamboo Blade, etc…) I think this dub is in good hands. Working on the script is Jeramey Kraatz. Not that many scripts on his record, but those that are there (My Hero Academia, Servamp) are well done.
Here’s a list of the cast. I’ll give my thoughts and opinions about each of them next week, once I have the chance to listen and process it. But so far, it looks like this is a decent cast with a healthy mix of old and new talent…something that is DESPERATELY needed in anime dubs nowadays. I mean, I like Bryce Papenbrook just fine, but I swear, if I hear him play yet another angry/angsty/misunderstood/brooding teenager one more dawg gone time, I’m gonna lose it…assuming I ever had it to begin with.
Just a reminder that King’s Game: The Animation is currently streaming on Crunchyroll with new episodes every Thursday at 11:00AM. Funimation will be doing a Simul-dub of the show, with new episodes premiering on Saturdays at 3:00PM CST. And for the record, Bryce is one of my favorite anime voice actors, so no nasty letters please.