Hey guys, Josh here, back for yet another episode of the meandering tale that is King’s Game: The Animation. As always, I want to thank you guys for all your support and critiques. It is very much appreciated and I take each one to heart. You guys are who I write for, and I truly appreciate your feedback! You’re awesome, and don’t let anyone tell you otherwise.
So, yeah…it looks like the streak continues with this show. This week’s episode was… another somewhat tolerable one. Oh yeah, there are some clear moments of stupid in it that we’re going to touch on, but for the third time in a row, this show actually looks like it wants to do something and this episode in particular shows what this show COULD have been if it didn’t insist on falling on its face. Like I said last time, this does not change my earlier declaration of this show being a failure; it’s already earned it’s “F” grade, but credit where it’s due—this show IS struggling to get some points so it may at least be a high “F.”
Anyway, let’s kick this party off. To quote the OP for Cowboy Bebop; “I think it’s time we blow this thing…” I’m Josh, and this is my review of King’s Game: The Animation Episode 9!
Last time out, Nobu-kun got a call from Natsuko while she was riding Teruaki’s flesh colored-heat seeking missile. While playing with a used condom, she laughs and taunts the deaths of the faux Romeo and Juliet and the fact that she still has Nobu-kun’s cell, effectively keeping him out of the King’s Game. Thanks to some information provided by Riona, who suffers from Perpetual Sand up the Vagina syndrome, Nobu-kun learns that Natsuko was involved in a King’s Game at another school and was the sole survivor. Fast-forward past some hijinks with Haruko to later that day with remainder of the class for their next order, which involves breaking fingers, each assigned a different point value, and give those points to another student; last student with a Negative score is punished. However, the class is having none of this, having had a meeting earlier without Natsuko and agree to work together to try and beat the game. However, Natsuko still wants to play, so the game begins with everyone passing their turn. When Teruaki’s turn comes up, he decides that NOW would be a great time to give Nobu-kun’s hair a little trim as he suggested in the first episode. Natsuko is annoyed, but the haircut goes forth with Teruaki raising his death flag as he talks about how his dreams of being a stylist. Once the trim is complete, our barber bro suddenly breaks one of his fingers and, as the episode ends, he takes a large rock and gets ready to slam his left hand and give all those negative points to Natsuko. Caught up? Good. Let’s get with it.
So we pick up right where the last episode left off with Teruaki smashing his left hand (which represents negative points). Admittedly, when I saw the end of the episode last week, I thought that there was going to be some sort of cliché last minute thing to come up that would stop him. But no, this show actually decides to do something completely out in left field and lets Teruaki get down with the pound…literally this time. That actually took me by surprise. I did NOT think this show could be that creative! Anyway, after smashing his hand, Teruaki threatens Natsuko that unless she gives up Nobu-kun and his phones, he will give ALL the negative points to her, meaning that she’ll either have to smash her right hand for positive points or face the consequences.
After the OP, Natsuko asks what assurances she has that Teruaki won’t just give her all his negative points once she turns the phones over. Teruaki states that because he shattered his left hand, he’s lost his dream of becoming a stylist and thus lost the will to live. Dang. Dramatic much, sir? I mean, you just lost your LEFT hand…unless that’s your primary hand, you can still style using your RIGHT hand. I swear, these kids don’t think anything through. I mean, look at Kana from Episode 3—baby girl jumped out a window before she even got her punishment. And don’t get me started on Nami; she goes BLIND and thinks her life is over, yet she actually gets around better than most people WITH SIGHT. Teruaki smashes his hand and thinks that it’s all over! DUDE—YOU HAVE A RIGHT HAND, USE IT! (Not in that way, you perverts!)
Anyway, Natsuko relents and gives Nobu-kun the cell phones. After the exchange, Terukai makes it official; he gives Nobu-kun one positive point, Natsuko four negative points, and Aimi gets one negative point. OH SNAP! Natsuko lashes out saying that he promised that he was going to use the negative points on himself if she returned the phones. However, Teruaki sees through that foolishness and states that he never made such a deal and she just assumed Teruaki would keep the negative points when he didn’t actually say WHAT he would do with them…only that he wouldn’t give them ALL to Natsuko. Credit where it’s due; that was a very brilliant move.
Teruaki then takes a seat stating that she could always just pass and hope that the four others that come after her turn want to break a finger to bring her point total back to zero. He then taunts her stating that she could just do it herself by breaking one of her own fingers. And in a final act of pettiness that rivals even our own sitting president, Teruaki offers Natsuko the bloodied rock he used to break his hand. Natsuko declines, and attempts to break one of her fingers, but surprise, surprise, she can’t bring herself to do it and passes her turn dejectedly. Teruaki explains why he gave Aimi one negative point; before the game even stated, she requested that Teruaki give her the point. While Natsuko demands answers from Aimi, Teruaki and Ryou quietly explain why exactly he shattered his hand and his dreams; it was all for the sake of ending the King’s Game by coming together as a group and standing behind a strong leader.
Meanwhile, three more students pass their turn, leaving Aimi the last one standing. Natsuko begs her to break a finger to save her life, but when Aimi looks like she’s going to waver, Natsuko decides to take matters (and Teruaki’s rock) into her own hands. After licking the blood on it (because CRAZY!), Natsuko pushes Aimi down and begins to smash her hand…because FRIENDSHIP! As Aimi looks at the crazed look in her friends’ eyes, she reveals why exactly she asked Teruaki to give her a negative point—she wanted to see if Natsuko would be as willing to save her life as she would be ready to save Natsuko’s life if the situation were reversed. Natsuko pulverizes Aimi’s hand several times before Nobu-kun finally gets the bright idea to knock her off the screaming Aimi. Dude, you had AMPLE time to push Natsuko off. While you were screaming and yelling, you could’ve easily grabbed the rock and clocked Natsuko upside the head with it! But no, he waits until AFTER irreparable damage is done to Aimi before trying to stop Natsuko. Our hero, folks. When he questions her mental state (Oh, NOW you decide to ask why she’s crazy?!) Natsuko explains that you can easily manipulate people when they’re mental states are weakened; by pulverizing Aimi’s hand and betraying her trust, she now can manipulate her to do anything. As if to prove this, Natsuko calls out for Aimi to give her the positive points, using the excuse that she only smashed her hand with a rock because she was “driven to the brink” and she was only playing the game…even after explaining her manipulation plan. I swear, some of the people in this show, if not all of them, are plot convenient stupid and/or deaf.
Natsuko then claims that she’s the only one that can save Aimi. This triggers a flashback to an earlier time when Natsuko and Aimi first met in what I can only assume is middle school. Much like she did to Nobu-kun in the first episode, she tries to sweetly convince Aimi to join the track team. When she declines because she has asthma, Haruko insists this is more reason for her to join the sports team because, according to her, asthma attacks can be prevented by working on breathing control and using fitness. Personally, I call Bullpocky on this, but I’m no medical expert. Anyway, when Aimi continues to reject, Haruko takes her hands and says she’ll always be there for her, because they’re friends. This apparently is enough to get Aimi to push Nobu-kun off Natsuko and after stating that she’ll be the one to save Haruko, even after she just shattered her hand, because they’re friends. She then gives 4 positive points to Natsuko. As they clasp hands in friendship, Natsuko then breaks Aimi’s thumb, stating that she’s doing it to save Aimi, who then tearfully awards herself the point, bringing her total to zero. On queue, everyone gets an “Obedience Confirmed” message, and we’re all done…FINALLY. If you thought that was difficult to read through—imagine having to type it all out. Seriously, this section was a SLOG to get through and honestly, I felt it slowed the entire episode down. This could’ve been it’s own episode, truth be told. But we have more to get through so let’s keep on keeping on.
We cut to the hospital and—OH MY GOSH! ADULTS! THERE ARE ACTUAL ADULTS HERE! TWO OF THEM! Granted they don’t have eyes, but still…take what you get! One is the receptionist and the other is what looks like a patient! Adults! I’ll be dawg gone! They actually exist! And they also appear to be the only ones in this hospital! I mean, the lights are off and there’s hardly anyone around! Anyway, Aimi and Natsuko walk out together, her hand heavily bandaged. After a bit of back and forth, Haruko says to gather the others Yatsuhashi Bridge for the next round. Teruaki then comes out with his hand seriously bandaged up but looking remarkably chipper for someone who was told by the doctor that he would never be able to move his left hand again. He tells Nobu-kun that he doesn’t regret what he’s done and that, contrary to what he said earlier, he HASN’T given up on his dream or on life as he can use his right hand instead of his left. THANK GOODNESS HE’S COME TO THAT REVELATION! Finally, a character that actually has brains. And so, the two leave the hospital to meet up with the others. So, NOBODY is gonna ask ask how this high school boy shattered his hand? Nobody is going to call his parents to let them know what’s going on or call the authorities because you have a high school GIRL in the next room with the same injury? Just patch ‘em up and move on huh? JAPANESE MEDICINE, EVERYBODY!
Anyway, the class meets up, minus Natsuko and Aimi, at Yatsuhashi Bridge and–HOLD UP! HOLD UP! I did my research, and a Yatsuhashi Bridge looks NOTHING like this! This is just your typical generic anime bridge. This is what a Yatsuhashi Bridge should be; planks interlinked together in a zig-zag that go across or alongside a shallow ponds or marshes. If you’re going to call something Yatsuhashi Bridge, then make it a Yatsuhashi Bridge. If not, then just say “We’ll meet by the bridge.” Yes, this is a nitpick, but dawg gone it, this show deserves it!
Teruaki lies to the group saying that the doctor told him that his hand would be healed in two months. Nobu-kun then gives a speech about how the group has to trust him and each other in order to survive the game. Everyone promises to do so, but here comes Natsuko to wreck up everything as per usual. You know, I have to ask myself…Why is this class putting up with Natsuko anyway? Why are they even listening to her?! Once she snapped in Episode 2 and began acting crazy, people just started following her lead and act like they’re downright scared of her. Umm, hello? Do you guys NOT remember that Kenta gave her five across the face in a previous episode? Just smack her down or take her out! It’s like she has a spell to control the people around either through manipulation as with Aimi or threats as with Teruaki. Why are ANY of these guys doing ANYTHING she says? I’m a nonviolent person by nature, but I have to ask…wouldn’t it be a LOT easier to kill off Natsuko? Heck, we’ve already established that adults either don’t know or don’t care about the kids in this town, and considering the massive amounts of deaths that have been stacking up over the last few DAYS, one more probably wouldn’t be noticed too much. Just do the reverse of what she did to Teruaki—shatter her phone so she can’t receive orders and let the chips fall where they may. Or just kill her! It’s CLEAR she doesn’t care about ANYONE but herself and her own survival, and she’s clearly stated that she HAS killed before in order to ensure her own survival. So why not just punch her ticket on the Midnight Train to Georgia for her and get the wild-card out the equation? Or, here’s an idea—TELL SOMEBODY OUTSIDE THE GROUP WHAT’S GOING ON!
After some banter between Natsuko and Nobu-kun about this, that and the other regarding how best to beat the game, Miss Sand-Up-The-Vagina Riona asks a pretty good question; if Natsuko doesn’t care about who lives or dies in the game, why did she save Aimi in the last game instead of letting her die with the negative point. Natsuko states she was only repaying a favor.
After a bit more banter, Midnight strikes, and the group receives a text message from the King…but instead of an order, it’s a punishment decree. For breaking the rules, Teruaki Nagata is to be punished. Almost immediately, Teruaki’s neck starts bleeding profusely. When he asks what rule could he have broken, Natsuko giddily states that Teruaki should’ve locked his phone with a PIN code as she was able to go into his phone and block all messages from the King, breaking the “No dropping out part-way” rule. And THIS is why my phone is locked with a pattern and a fingerprint. Because you NEVER know. These girls out here are crazy; always trying to get in your phone to look at your text messages, check your Facebook page, block contact from a super powerful entity that has you entangled in a life-or-death game. These women are crazy, amirite guys?
Teruaki ruminates how glad he was that Ryou was not around for his death (he was off buying a hat to celebrate him leaving the hospital…because celebratory hat?) as he wouldn’t be strong enough to handle it. Nobu-kun tearfully tells him how he gave him hope and courage and brought the group together. Teruaki tells him to keep moving forward and stand together with everyone. He head then falls completely off his neck with only a bad censorship blur covering it. Natsuko is downright giddy about this kicking his head around and making jokes. When Nobu-kun blasts back at her that Teruki wanted to live, she rebuffs him stating that she did him a favor because he could no longer achieve his dream of being a stylist. When Aimi pulls out her phone to possibly block the King’s messages from her phone, Natsuko walks over and stops her stating that she needs her to live. Aimi doesn’t put up an argument.
And as though it couldn’t get any worse, Ryou arrives and, upon seeing the head of his friend and possible love interest lying separate from his body, proceeds to go off the reservation, thinking everything is just hunky dory and talking as though Teruaki’s head was not lying feet away from the rest of him. He even puts the hat on Teruaki’s body as though it were still alive. Witnessing the mental breakdown of all his classmates, Nobu-kun ruminates that their attachment to life is going numb.
22 Dead, 10 Remaining.
So, that’s it for Episode 9…and I have to admit, this episode was borderline tolerable. Again, this show shines when it’s not in “Better Class Land,” and the last couple of episodes, including this one, proves it. I have to say once again that I wish we had more time with these students instead of the ones from the flashback. We needed the extra time with this group to see just how Natsuko managed to seize control. I feel that’s something we needed to see played out over an episode or two, not in a few minutes thanks to some long winded exposition. Also, I would’ve loved to have seen more of the relationship between Teruaki and Ryou. They seem to have a very close friendship as we saw in the finger-crushing game; almost like Naoya and Nobu-kun, and I would have loved to see more of that.
Speaking of, I feel that the whole finger-crushing game went on for way too long. I mean it took up all of the 2nd half of Episode 8 and the first half of episode 9. It just feels so drawn out and I honestly got tired of it real quick…I was literally looking at the timer at the bottom of the screen wondering how much longer this going to last was. It just too long and drawn out. I would’ve much rather this had been its own episode instead of taking up the better part of two different episodes.
That being said, I was impressed, however, with the plots and schemes in the first half. It was nice to see someone, albeit briefly, get the drop on Natsuko and I especially love the fact that it was Teruaki who got the drop on her, even though Natsuko eventually won the duel. I liked seeing these guys actually making plans and using the rules of the game to work to their advantage. It actually shows they’re thinking about what’s going on.
So, yeah…this episode was officially tolerable, extending the “streak” Again, my original assessment stands—this show still fails and is still mediocre across the board. But it’s looking like this show is not wanting to go down without a fight and I can honestly appreciate that.
Just a reminder that King’s Game: The Animation is currently streaming on Crunchyroll with new episodes every Thursday at 11:00AM. Funimation is currently doing a simul-dub of the show, with new episodes premiering on Saturdays at 3:00PM CST.