King’s Game: The Animation – Episode 4 – “Breakthrough (Solution | Hades)”

What’s up? Josh here with another episode of King’s Game: The Animation to review. Once again, I just wanted to give a shout out to everyone who is giving me positive feedback and encouragement with these reviews. I admit it’s been a long time since I did regular reviews like this, and with each one, I feel myself getting back into a writing groove, so to hear that you guys appreciate it makes me so happy, so I want to thank you all again!

That being said, let’s talk about where we are now. This is episode 4; we are ¼ done with this series and…well…I thought the show was finally starting to LOOK like it wants to do something. I thought this would be the episode that would finally get this show going on the right track and things would finally get in order. Episode 3 was okay…so this one just had to be the same, if not better, right?

Oh, how wrong I was. This episode had me questioning everything, even questioning my decision to review this show in the first place. I went back to my bro Kadeem and asked him what could’ve possibly possessed me to pick this show for review. His answer, of course, did not disappoint.


That being said, to quote “Dragon Soul,” let’s go Fearless and Free! I’m Josh, and this is Episode 4 of King’s Game: The Animation.

Last time out, Nobuaki, AKA “Nobu-Kun,” was rescued from his mob beating at the hands of his classmates by the friendly jock guy named Kenta from way back in Episode 1. Don’t remember Kenta? Don’t sweat it, neither did I. Nobu-kun then tells Kenta and Mizuki about his adventures in “Better Class Land,” where his best friend Naoya and class whore Kana are King-ordered to enter into a popularity contest. Nobu-Kun does some begging and pleading around the class to get Naoya voted most popular while Kana, freaked out about her potential punishment should she loses, begins offering guys in the class chance to go fearless and free in her vagina if they vote for her. However, the whoring doesn’t work, Naoya wins, and freaked out with the prospect of uncertain punishment, Kana decides to take a Superman header out the window in a panic. Alas, she is not a super human being and dies before completing her punishment which falls to Naoya—he must have sex before midnight. But as Bro-Love wouldn’t work because “Eww, Gay!” the task falls to Chiemi who is down for whatever. Plot Convenient Vagina is Plot Convenient. There’s a lot of crying and screaming until Nobu-Kun cold clocks Naoya and the deed is done…somehow. Got all that? Good. Let’s do this.

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“We’re from the manga that SHOULD’VE been made into the anime…”

The episode kicks off with Nobu-Kun, Kenta, and Mizuki still continuing their chat from earlier. Kenta once again recommends that Nobu-Kun goes to a hospital to patch up his wounds, but he declines saying that there’s somewhere he needs to go first; the location of the first King’s Game…a peaceful ordinary village that—

OH MY GOSH YES!! THIS IS IT! WE’RE FINALLY GOING TO YONAKI! The location of the “King’s Game: Origin” manga!  We’re going back to where it all started! This episode is going to be awesome!

The lies I tell.

Anyway, Nobu-Kun says that because of the King’s Game, the village was sealed off and abandoned, but he postulates there had to be some kind of record kept during that time, and therefore a way to end the game. Kenta and Mizuki invite themselves along for the ride and as the sun rises, they all agree to take the first train out. Longest. Night. EVER!

Cut to the OP, which still does nothing for me, but at least I’m getting used to it. Moving on…

Either somebody at the animation studio got super lazy, or this train is a TARDIS from Doctor Who. 

Our intrepid trio of teenagers cut class and take a train…HOLD UP. Wait a minute. This train looks COMPLETELY different from the outside than it does on the inside. The train on the establishing shot looks pretty small with small rectangular windows on the outside. It looks a lot like the train from Episode 1 of Persona 4: The Animation; an old country commuter train. However, cut to the INSIDE and the train looks FREAKING MASSIVE AND MODERN! This does not look like the same train. Heck, this looks more like a ferry-boat on the inside than a commuter train! Did NOBODY think to double-check this?! Lazy, Lazy, Lazy…

Also, what version of Train Simulator did the creators steal that external shot of the train from? It looks downright awful! There’s no detail on the train cars, the background looks fake, and the road running alongside the tracks looks like it just vanishes! Hey, animators! It’s only Episode 4! It’s too early to be giving up the ghost already!

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Kenta already knows he’s not going to get anymore screen time this episode…he sees the flashback coming…

Anyway, back on subject, after talking about Mizuki’s choice in clothes, Kenta reminds her to switch to her backup phone once they get to their final location. She begins fretting over what Natusko said about not sending out the “Die” message, but Nobu-kun reassured her that Natsuko is full of BS and she has nothing to worry about. Seeing Mizuki worried reminds Nobu-kun of one of his old classmates and…OH LAWD…here we go again! FLASHBACK TIME! Because we can’t just spend time in the present–we have to go back…back to the past…(and if you finished that last sentence with “Samurai Jack,” you are awesome.)

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Knowing this show, it’s a wonder the order wasn’t to “Hook up” with the King. 

It seems as though #22 Nami Hirano was ordered by the King to order HERSELF to do something and to follow said order as though it were from the King directly. Pretty much, it’s a different take on the King-for-the-Day order in Episode 2. So, what was Nami’s self-inflicted order? Baby girl decides to go for the gold and give herself the order to touch the King. She trusts Nobu-kun’s hunch that the King is one of the students in the class, so once she touches the King, the class will receive the “Obedience Confirmed” message and the culprit will be caught. Even when Nobu-Kun states the blindingly obvious, that there is a decent chance the King is NOT in their class, and she is potentially putting her life on the line for nothing, Nami remains confident in Nobu-kun’s deduction and is willing to pay the ultimate price for it. Also, baby girl is clearly crushing on Nobu-kun and has the hope that if she becomes a hero, he’ll fall for her. Dang…the things a girl will do to get Sempai to notice her.

The next day, Nobu-kun and Nami announces the plan to the class, who all seem very impressed with it, including Naoya who…looks a little different from the last episode. Maybe it’s just my eyes, but Naoya’s face looks somewhat rounder and his eyes look a little smaller. Again, maybe it’s just me, but having seen this show’s animation blunders first hand, I can’t help but think somebody once again missed the character design memo. Or maybe because he lost his virginity in the last episode, Naoya has a different look about him. To which I have to ask–since he was unconscious, does it really count? I guess it was good enough for the King…

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Welp…that was easy! Only four episodes! Cool! NOW can I review Kino’s Journey? 

Anyway, Nami begins the rather slow process of touching each student to see if an “Obedience Confirmed” message pops up. All the boys are in the clear, so they move on to the girls. Remember that quiet girl with the white hair from way back in Episode 2? You know, Ria Iwamura? Well, like I predicted, she’s the first one up for the girls. Before Nami lays a hand on her, Ria states that she knows who the King is because…she IS the King. DUN-DUN-DUNNNNNNN…

Coming back from the commercial break, the class is clearly in shock at this bit of news. It appears as though Ria was just speaking hypothetically, postulating that if she WERE the King, there wouldn’t be anything the class could do about it. She then states that exposing the King isn’t enough to stop the game, they must KILL the King. Nobu-Kun is aghast at this thought, but Ria rightly states that since Nobu-Kun started this hunt for the King, he must assume responsibility for killing him. This thought terrifies Nobu-kun so much that he doesn’t realize that Nami’s touch confirmed that Ria is not the King.

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Oh, NOW you decide to question it…

So after going through the last remaining students in the class, none of which reacted to her touch, Nami bolts off on her own in tears. And of course, no teachers are around to find out what all the commotion is about because REASONS! Chiemi tries to stop her, but for obvious reasons, Nami pushes her off and continues bolting. Chiemi urges Nobu-Kun to go after her. After trying to call her phone and struggling to think of where she could be, Nobu-Kun finds Nami at Typical Anime High School Hangout Location #3 (The Riverbank). She’s clearly bummed that there’s a chance she’ll die at Midnight, but Nobu-Kun pledges that he won’t let her die. Yeah, umm…Nobu-Kun, brother man, your track record with that promise kinda sucks; need I remind you of Daisuke? One minute he’s rocking out, the next he’s swinging in the study that you just so happened to find him in.

Anyway, Nami asks Nobu-kun to stay with her at the riverbank until Midnight. The two sit out talking and reconciling as the King sends out reminder messages about the time. As the 60 second mark approaches, Nami struggles to confess her feelings, but she just can’t bring herself to do it. Midnight strikes and the King’s message comes in:

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No…Nami proved that she’s a dope for trusting you and that the King wasn’t dumb enough to let himself fall for such an obvious trap. 

So it seems as though our junior detective was right: the King was in the class. However, in order for his identity to be revealed, everyone in the class must hate each other. Nami’s punishment of eternal darkness soon takes effect—she is now totally blind. Nobu-kun apologizes to her, but she feels it’s okay as she is still alive. That’s right, baby girl! So long as you’re alive, that’s all that matters! You just have to look on the bright—oh, wait…never mind. (And you’re JUST as wrong for laughing as I was for writing that, so don’t try to guilt trip me!)

Anyway, before Nobu-Kun has a chance to process things, the King sends his next order. This one is for Nobu-kun specifically: he must lose something important. Nami asks about the new order, but he plays it off saying it was nothing and that the order was not for him. Great. Lying to a blind girl. Good job. Anyway, while Nobu-kun sleeps, Nami calls Akemi and asks about the newest order.  After getting her answer, she goes off on her own and Nobu-kun, upon waking up and finding her missing, begins freaking out, calling everyone BUT Nami. Seriously, he calls Naoya fir—

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Uhh…who are you again? 

HOLD UP! PAUSE RIGHT HERE! Now I KNOW I’m not crazy! Naoya looks WAY different now! The eyes and the hair are different! In fact, if I didn’t know better, and if it wasn’t for that Old Navy Frost Free Quilted Vest he had on, I wouldn’t know that was the same character. Would it HURT the creators to have even a LITTLE Continuity with regards to the animation!? Just a little!

Anyway, Nobu-kun FINALLY gets the bright idea to call Nami after having his customary screaming/crying freak out. Seriously, this guy cries and screams so much in this anime, it’s almost comical! You could literally start a drinking game whenever Nobu-kun starts crying…granted you would be pass-out drunk, but you never know–it might make this show more enjoyable; both Kadeem and Rob can attest to the power of imbibing while watching Naruto Shippuden. Nami asks if Nobu-kun is important to her. He all but admits that she is, and she then asks if her life would count as something important, admitting that she’s scared to continue with the game and that being blind is pretty crappy. Jeez, I hope Geordi LaForge isn’t watching this sometime in the future. Also, for someone who just went blind, you seem to be doing alright Nami; after all, you managed to get quite a far distance away from Nobu-kun! (More on this later). Nobu-kun continues to try and talk her down, but she disconnects the call after saying that’s she had something important to tell him, but it would only be a bother.

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You’re trying too hard, Nobu-Kun. 

Nobu-kun goes home and then goes on a rampage in his room, smashing everything he owns with his guitar. Isn’t it convenient that there’s NOBODY home to hear him go ape on all his things…or that his neighbors are completely uncaring as to the racket going on in the apartment next door? Nobu-kun uses his guitar to smash just about everything including a window (Heaven only knows why) and nobody in his apartment building thinks this is unusual! Some neighbors they are. And while I’m thinking about it, the King ordered Nobu-kun to LOSE something important; not damage something important. If I have a Bugatti Veyron 16.4 Grand Sport Vitesse and I decide to smash it up with a Rickenbacker Model 4001 bass guitar, I didn’t LOSE the car; I just damaged it. The car still physically exists. I still possess it. Smashing something does not equate to LOSING something. So all this destruction Nobu-kun is causing is POINTLESS. Good job, bro. Anyway, Nami calls Nobu-kun and tells him goodbye and that she will never forget the time they had together. Nobu-kun then darts off after Nami.

Okay, HOLD UP! HOLD UP! PAUSE RIGHT HERE AGAIN! How does he know exactly where she is? Nami didn’t tell Nobu-Kun where she was…heck, part of me believes Nami herself didn’t know where the heck she was! He just goes running off yet again trying to find her! He’s done this before with regard to Daisuke—out of all the rooms in this large mansion, he just so happens to know exactly what room to go to. I’m now of the belief that it’s not just “Dumb Luck” as I thought earlier, it’s just BAD WRITING.

The OG of awesome blind characters. 

And, in case you forgot, NAMI IS BLIND. How in the world is this girl getting around so well!? She’s been blind for less than 12 hours. There’s NO WAY she’s that familiar with the town that she can get around without seeing where she is going. Not to mention, Japan has a little thing called “traffic.” Perhaps you’ve heard of it. It’s this thing where cars, trucks, motorcycles and other moving vehicles move down the road at a set speed. How is this NEWLY BLINDED girl able to get around with such relative ease without any assistance crossing a street? I know there are visually impaired people who are able to use canes and/or seeing-eye dogs to get around, and they do perfectly fine. In fact, I admire the way they go about their day-to-day lives with little to no assistance. But those are people who have been trained and who have experience getting around. NAMI HAS BEEN BLINDED FOR LESS THAN A DAY! If you expect me to believe that this high school girl, who is newly blinded, is able to get from one point to another with NO HELP AT ALL, then you are asking way too much of me! This is foolishness of the highest order. One more thing before I move on. How the heck did Nobu-kun lose track of Nami that quickly in the first place? Even if he was asleep for a while, NAMI IS BLIND. NEWLY BLIND. She shouldn’t have been that hard to lose track of. Would it have been THAT HARD to find her? Okay…let’s finish this up…

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That’s the funniest and most elaborate way I’ve ever heard anyone break up with anyone else! “Leave my sight, whore! I am bored of you!” 

Nobu-Kun calls up Chiemi as he runs to Nami’s location and breathlessly tells her that he and Nami have been hugging, kissing, and having sex. He then says that he loves Nami and wants to break up with Chiemi saying that he is tired of her. Umm…okay? I think I get what’s going on here. Nobu-Kun is trying to protect Chiemi by making her less important in his life. However, it’s a pointless moment as NOBU-KUN ALREADY CONFESSED THAT NAMI AND HER LIFE IS IMPORTANT TO HIM! If you recall, Nami explicitly asked Nobu-kun if her life was important and he all but admits that it is. He comes as close as you possibly can to saying yes without actually saying “yes.” So this whole thing with him calling Chiemi and confessing that he had sex with Nami and he wants to break up is kind of pointless. If anything, it’s making matters worse. The King could easily be watching this and thinking “He’s trying to protect Chiemi, huh? So she must REALLY be what’s important.” I swear, this moment was just drama for the sake of drama…and it’s stupid drama at that!

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Not going to ask how the blind girl was able to write so neatly in the sand…

Nobu-kun finally arrives at the beach and attempts to call Nami one more time, but he’s too late. She’s already walked off into the surf leaving behind her cell phone, her footprints, and a note confessing her love for Nobu-kun. He starts bawling and screaming as per usual as the King sends out “Obedience Confirmed.”

As Nobu-kun sits alone on the beach, Ria looks down on him from the sidewalk and, in a pretty bad impersonation of Asuka Langley Soryu asks “What are you, stupid?”  Roll Credits!

The Death Toll Remains: 10 Dead, 22 Remaining…just like the last 3 episodes. Oy.

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Yep. The same 10 people are still dead and the same 22 people are still alive. It’s like the show feels the need to remind us that there has been ZERO progression in the non-flashbacks!

So, yeah…that episode was a complete, utter and absolute letdown. Just when I thought it couldn’t get any worse than Episode 2’s “I know my classmate is lying on the ground dead, BUT WHAT ABOUT MY VIRGINITY?!” plot, this episode pretty much said “hold my beer.” Here I was, getting all happy and excited that we were finally going to get something started. We were on our way to where this whole thing began and we were finally going to get some answers! And for me, it was even more exciting when I saw that one shot of the “King’s Game: Origin” crew in full color! This was going to be a fun episode…

Then the BS started. Yet ANOTHER flashback to Nobu-Kun’s old class. Another episode dealing with another death of another flashback character that Nobu-kun wants to protect at all costs and that doesn’t matter in the long run because IT’S A FLASHBACK. I’m frankly sick of it. There was no need for this flashback. It didn’t further the story along, it didn’t further the characters along, it was just there. This episode should’ve focused EXCLUSIVELY on the trip to the village where the first King’s Game took place. That’s how this episode was initially setup, and it was like the creators said “Nah, let’s do another flashback with a pointless character that doesn’t matter AT ALL to the overall plot of the main story.” This was just like Episodes 2 and 3. Another episode of manic yelling and crying and promises that can’t be kept. Another episode where the rules of logic and common sense are foreign entities. Another episode where our characters make mistakes that are questionable at best and face-palming stupid at worse. AND ANOTHER EPISODE WHERE THE ANIMATION QUALITY IS LAUGHABLY INCONSISTENT!

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I would ask how the blind girl is able to use a touch-screen phone to make phone calls, but I’ll just write it off as voice commands…I guess.

You know, when I did my initial watch of this episode, I thought it would actually be above-average from the episodes we’ve seen so far. There were some things that I actually thought were pretty creative…like the whole “Touching the King” plan from earlier and Nobu-kun’s break-up phone call with Chiemi. I even though the whole thing with Nami being struck blind and the emotional moments between her and Nobu-kun were pretty good. But once I got behind my keyboard and looked at this episode a 2nd and 3rd time for the recap and the screen captures, I realized rather quickly that this episode was actually pretty ‘effing stupid. It may even be worse than Episode 2 with Natsuko and her crazy-switch being flipped. And the crazy thing is, Episode 3 was so good by comparison. Episode 3 gave me hope for this series, but Episode 4 destroyed that hope like Monokuma at Hope’s Peak Academy. I’m now fairly certain that this show will not be able to fully redeem itself in the 8 episodes it has left. It’s wasted too much time, made too many mistakes, and spent too little time on the main characters this show is supposed to be about opting instead to spend time with flashback characters that contribute NOTHING to the main plot.

With regards to the English Dub, it’s nothing to write home about, truth be told. It’s passable, but honestly, it’s not memorable…unlike the new Kino’s Journey dub, which sounds OUTSTANDING. It’s pretty much the 2nd String V/A’s consisting of newcomers and a couple of veterans. I don’t mean that in a bad way at all, it’s just that this production doesn’t have the all-star crew like One Piece or My Hero Academia has. To use another football analogy, instead of Drew Brees at Quarterback, we got Chase Daniel.

So, yeah, this episode sucked royally and if the remaining episodes are any better, I will be pleasantly surprised. I don’t hold my breath, though.

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. By the way, Sony now owns Funimation. Interesting times indeed.

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