Happy Holidays one and all! Josh here with yet another review of yet another episode of the meandering monstrosity that is King’s Game: The Animation! As per usual, I wanna thank you guys, one and all, for sticking around with me for so long through this drudgery and giving me feedback as needed! Seriously, you guys are awesome, and writing for you has been a thrill. If only I had something better to write ABOUT.
We have reached the penultimate episode, ladies and gentlemen! After this, we only have ONE MORE episode remaining! The endgame is within sight, guys! And much like the episode “Endgame” from Star Trek: Voyager…it’s severely lacking, does nothing to further the plot, and makes decisions that are questionable at best and downright stupid at worst. Really? We don’t get to see them land on earth? We don’t get to see the reunion between Tom Paris and his father? No promotion for Harry Kim after SEVEN YEARS of faithful service?! SEVEN OF NINE AND CHAKOTAY ARE GOING OUT?! GAH…Oh, wait…sorry…lemme bring it back. Sorry guys, sometimes the inner Trekkie in me comes out. I blame it on Star Trek: Continues, the webseries by anime voice actor Vic Mignogna, who also plays Captain Kirk, and Todd Habberkorn, who plays Mr. Spock. I blame them…getting anime all in my Trek and whatnot…
Ahem…anyway, to quote “Sakura,” the 4th OP from the prodigious anime Eureka Seven, lets “Sighing a spinning message.” I’m Josh, and this is my review of Episode 11 of King’s Game: The Animation!
Last week, after the class suffered a momentary bout of coo-coo crazy, the remaining class got an order from the King to make like Forrest Gump and run off to the summit of Nuegakubi. Trick is, every eight hours, the student furthest behind gets killed off and no modes of transportation are allowed…not even an Uber. So the group runs off, with Nobu-kun and the Perpetual Sand-Up-The-Vagina Tsundere, Rionna, far behind. There’s a lot of running and talking and running and talking that takes place, and one of the students, Masatoshi, gets hurt by another student, Takuya, and it’s up to Nobu-kun to try to help him out as usual, but he falls into a plot-convenient ocean. Nobu-kun tries to save him with some underwater CPR, but of course it fails and Masatoshi is doomed to a watery grave. Riona does a heel turn and now she likes Nobu-kun and the episode ends with Nobu-kun ready to sacrifice himself for the game…AGAIN.
The episode starts, oddly enough, a few minutes before the previous episode ended. Nobu-kun explains the current situation to the audience…wasting time as per usual. He then feigns having to tie his shoe under the guise of leaving himself last in the pair. The King sends them a message that the first 8 hour period has elapsed and that Ooi Masatoshi, the Klein look-alike from the previous episode, will be punished by suffocation. Wait—what?! If you recall in the last episode, Masatoshi DROWNED himself to save Nobu-kun! So unless he’s Sonic the Hedgehog and survived by breathing in air bubbles, he was already out the game and dead. That makes no sense whatsoever! How can you kill someone who is ALREADY DEAD?! What, did the King just bring him back to life only to kill him off again?! This is CLASSIC King’s Game right here, boys and girls…and it’s only going to get worse from here.
After the OP, Riona confronts Nobu-kun about what happened; how he kept himself in last place in order to save her. He just brushes it off saying that she was over thinking things and urges her to continue onwards. Riona follows after him saying that she will kick him in the balls if he tries to do something like that again…because, of course she will.
Fast-forward 8 hours later (literally, the show just skips 8 hours using a montage), and it’s punishment time once again. Nobu-kun decides that now would be a good time to figure out who will take the last-place spot and take the punishment. Riona is shocked that they even have to make this choice, but Nobu-kun rationalizes that because they haven’t come across anyone else, they are the last two in the race and the only fair way to determine who gets punished is to play Rock-Paper-Scissors. Riona is incredulous over this, and for once, I’m gonna have to agree. You’re potentially deciding who lives and who dies over a game of jan-ken-pon?! Why not run alongside each other to see if that throws the King off or maybe just keep running on the off-chance that someone else may be further behind or gave up? Stopping here to play a game of Rock-Paper-Scissors is just downright stupid and a waste of time—which, when you think about it, fits this show PERFECTLY.
Riona tearfully pleads with Nobu-kun to not do this, but he’s foolishly resolute. Switching back to Tsundere mode, Riona agrees. The two throw out their fists and Nobu-kun wins, but instead of running on ahead, he opts to run BEHIND Riona, saying that he should be able to decide what he wants to do as he won the game. Riona, a girl of her word, kicks Nobu-kun in the family jewels, causing him and the male viewing audience to double-over in pain. Riona yells at him and darts off back down the path they took. Nobu-kun runs after her. Now, let’s pause right here. This man JUST got kicked in the gonads…HARD. HOW IS HE ABLE TO RUN AFTER THIS!? My male readers will understand where I’m coming from, but for my female viewers—imagine just having given birth. I’m talking 5 minutes after. WOULD YOU WANT TO GET UP AND RUN?! WOULD YOU BE ABLE TO?! I rest my case.
In any case, Nobu-kun catches up to Riona, who puts up an absolutely PATHETIC fight against him. She then asks about what kind of girl his ex-girlfriend was, as she must’ve been a strange girl to go out with him. She then states that the next girl he goes out with must be as good as she is…whatever that means. She then tearfully apologizes for slowing him down and asks that he stays with her, admitting that she wishes she had never met him. Nobu-kun then darts off backwards down the path, attempting to make himself the last one. Riona cries out after him.
Meanwhile, with the earlier group, Ryou is emotional over a text message that he received on his phone from the King. The next one punished is Aimi Murazumi. It seems as though she ran backwards down the path to make herself last and save Nobu-kun. As she ruminates about how much encouragement he gave her, she vows to save him. Sure enough, the King sends a message that she is in last place and will die by decapitation. With her last breath, she ruminates that even though things had gotten complicated, she still loved Natsuko and was happy to be her friend. Well, look on the bright side, Aimi…now you can make some new friends that won’t manipulate or mutilate you… friends like Machi Kyoko or Celty Sturluson. I think you guys have loads in common…now more than ever.
After receiving the message about Aimi, Riona tearfully takes Nobu-kun’s hand and makes him promise that no matter what, the two of them will survive. He agrees and the two set off running again. As they run, Nobu-kun asks if Riona wants to hear about how his first game ended. Riona agrees and for the first time in a long time, we are thrown back into “Better Class Land!” Finally, we’re back with characters that we actually know and got attached to! It’s been so long! Anyway, we pick up the same night Ria was punished after trying to hack the Matrix. Chiemi and Nobu-kun are both staring at the computer Ria was using that is remarkably undamaged after being used by a person who was engulfed in flames earlier. The computer then chirps and a new order comes through…that they must kill the person they love the most within the next five minutes. Chiemi, apparently down for whatever when it comes to the King’s Game, produces the knife that crazy dude Abe stabbed her thigh with way back when and asks Nobu-kun to do the deed to her. Of course, he won’t do it, tearfully saying that he wants to live the rest of his life with her. Chiemi then makes like she’s going to stab herself, causing Nobu-kun to grab the knife. With both of their hands on the knife, Chiemi then stabs herself. Umm…does that count as Nobu-kun killing her? I mean, BOTH of their hands were on the knife, and she did start the process…so technically she killed HERSELF. Ah well, it’s almost over anyway, so let’s just hammer through it.
With her dying breath (because everyone in this show gets a few seconds to say final words—especially if they’re dying in Nobu-kun’s arms) she states that she loves Nobu-kun and urges him to survive. As she passes away, Nobu-kun lets out yet another scream of anguish and LITERALLY on cue, it starts pouring rain. I mean, this whole scene would be REALLY dramatic if it wasn’t so poorly done. We’ve seen and heard the same old anguished scream from Nobu-kun so many times, you could make it into a drinking game. Almost with EVERY person that’s died under his watch, he’s had the same scream to the heavens. There’s nothing special or stomach churning about it the 5th or 6th time around. Remember in episode 18 of Neon Genesis Evangelion when Shinji thought he had just killed his best friend Toji? That guttural scream he gave was so painful, so emotional, so unexpected, it was downright stomach churning. You knew with that scream that something horrifying happened, and that Shinji would never be the same. When Nobu-kun does it, it’s just a Thursday, and the next episode he’s perfectly fine and moving on with his life. And don’t get me started with the well-timed rain shower. I mean, I’ve NEVER seen such perfectly timed rain before in my life! In any case, before the act break, we come out the flashback with Nobu-kun stating the obvious—that he was, in fact, the last one to survive that first game, and that the final message that came through on the laptop was to either continue the game or be punished.
We then catch up to Natsuko who arrives to the final destination first, and gets a confirmation message from the King. She then gets all evil again about who else might be left. We then cut to see…Takuya (the guy who pushed Masatoshi off the stairs in the last episode) making his way through the woods. He wonders if he’s going the right way, and, once again on cue, he comes across a sign pointing to the right. He follows the path and then proceeds to stumble in a trap. Natsuko comes out from the clearing gloating evilly, of course, that Takuya fell for the sign she put up pointing him in the wrong direction and the trap she placed which made him fall. Natsuko, your plan only worked because Takuya just so happened to take that particular path up the mountain and he just so happened to step in that hole. You were not clever or creative. You were just LUCKY. I can’t stand this character, just so you know. Anyway, Natsuko then proceeds to step on Takuya’s injured ankle because…well…she gets off on that kind of thing.
Later, Natsuko meets up with Yuuna and then tells her that she needs to take an alternate route to get up to the mountain. But when she walks away, Yuuna remembers just how messed up Natsuko is in the head and decides to head another way. However, Natsuko talks out loud to herself saying that she actually told Yuuna the truth about which way to go. Why is she saying this out loud is beyond me. This show is stupid, if I haven’t made this clear enough.
Rina, struggling to find her way through the forest, quite literally stumbles across Takuya. Apparently now both of his legs are broken (Even though we only seen Natsuko stamp on his ANKLE and didn’t do any damage to his legs), and he is begging Rina for help. However, the only help Rina is willing to provide is her foot to his face as she still is angry about what happened to Masatoshi. She then gets up and leaves him behind, cursing his fate. Rina eventually catches up to Yuuna, who mentioned that Natsuko told her the way to go, but she took the opposite way, thinking she was lying. Rina figures that since Natsuko already made it to the goal, the way she originally told Yuuna was correct and she goes off. Yuuna follows behind her but, of course, she slips and falls off the side of a cliff, hanging on for dear life. Rina at first APPEARS to try to help her up, but she then decides to leave her behind, much to Yuuna’s horror. So, lemme get this straight; you got mad at Takuya over what he did to Masatoshi, but it’s cool now for you to do essentially the same thing?! Double standard much?
Anyway, Rina reaches the goal, but is met by Natsuko who happily asks how many people she sacrificed to get to that point. She then states that only one can survive the game and it’s going to be her. For reasons known only to the writer, Rina begins freaking out as Natsuko walks towards her, even going so far as to hallucinate seeing the bodies of her dead classmates haunting her. Natusko then asks if Rina is able to kill all her old classmates as she once did. Rina then runs off, trips and goes over a cliff to her death. I swear, this place has more cliffs than a Looney Tunes cartoon.
Meanwhile, Nobu-kun and company approach the final location. Ryou advises them that they’re almost out of time and the group begins to run. However, Natsuko is there blocking their path asking “Who wants to guess what I’m about to do?” Umm, Natsuko, you’re outnumbered sweetie. If these kids had any kind of sense in their heads, they would punt you off a conveniently placed cliff and end this whole thing. As the episode ends, Nobu-kun clearly isn’t having any of it as he and his group run full speed ahead towards her.
27 Dead, 5 Remaining…
So, yeah, long story short this episode is just a reminder of what makes King’s Game: The Animation an absolute failure of an animated series. It’s like a greatest hits collection of everything this show has done wrong over the course of the last 10 episodes. The story is either mind-numbingly boring or face-palming stupid, the characters are unreliable, the plot relies on convenience instead of any kind of thought out plans of action, and we get flashbacks that only serves the purpose of making us wish we were with THIS class of students instead of with the characters we started the series with. Honestly, there’s not a whole lot I can say about this episode because I would just be repeating the same issues that I’ve had this whole time.
Actually, there are two new gripes I can bring up unique to this particular episode. The first being that this episode doesn’t feel like a penultimate episode at all. Typically with a 2nd to last episode, you start to see characters and story lines maneuver into a position for one big grand finale that will bring everything to a close. You give your characters a cliff-hanger problem to solve that will either wrap things up, or set things up for a 2nd season. This episode does neither of these things. It feels like an ending that could be at any of the earlier episodes, not like a prelude to a series finale. It just doesn’t feel special at all.
The second gripe I have is that flashback. Honestly, I think it was poorly placed. I would’ve saved that particular flashback of Nobu-kun and Chiemi for the last episode instead of this one. The reveal that Nobu-kun ended the game by “killing” Chiemi felt like something that would be in a LAST episode, not a 2nd to last episode. Especially when you consider that, if I may quote the OP, “This is the end…” This show just doesn’t know how to organize itself.
So, next week is the last episode. The VERY LAST episode! I know it’s sometimes fun to try to guess what will happen in the last episode, but at this point, considering how completely horrific this show has been from beginning to end, the only thing I can predict is extreme happiness on my part that I will be done with this show. Next Thursday can’t get here fast enough.
Just a final 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.