It’s the most magical time, that happens 4 times a year… It’s a new season of anime. I had already chosen to review Spy x Family as it airs because I loved the manga so much but I didn’t know what my second pick should be.
Honestly, I decided on Tomodachi Game for a number of really mundane reasons. It was one of the more anticipated shows on my to-watch list (although we saw how that turned out with Platinum End…), it’s a genre I like and, most importantly, it airs on Tuesdays! That means I get 3 full days to write up a post for the weekend. Don’t underestimate how important that is!
I said that Tomodachi Game is a genre that I like, namely psychological thriller. But that’s not exactly true. It’s a genre I want to like but in practice, most of the anime I have watched that fit the bill were not my cup of tea. Darwin’s Game was o.k. but not great. Shin Sekai Yori was wonderful but I think I may be stretching the genre a bit. Basically, I was sort of thinking that there’s a pretty big chance that Tomodachi Game goes down the drain and I figured it would be easier to take with some company. Hence the post!
I will say, the first episode has left me cautiously optimistic. I looked up the manga and it’s at 78% on AniList which is actually pretty good (8.15 on MAL). For comparison, the aforementioned Platinum End manga is at 64% so that gives me some hope.
Moreover, there were a lot of things in this first episode that subverted my expectations in a good way. I was hoping for something like Cube (if you remember that movie) or maybe Squid Game (I haven’t watched it but I somehow know what it’s about) but realistically expecting like King’s Game. But now, I’m cautiously optimistic.
I really liked that they didn’t just throw gore and blood around to force tension. In fact, so far the stakes seem to only be money (at least on the surface. And that’s great. It really sets Tomodachi Game apart from all the shows and movies it resembles. Of course, the implied stakes are that the game (win or lose) could cost you your friends or even the ability to trust anyone and make friends in the future.
I know that on the screen that’s just not as impressive as the risk of getting decapitated with one wrong move. But I find the idea of it both frighteningly cruel and so very interesting. I mean the only hint they were given was, always trust your friends…
I also thought that Kokkuri-san was a really great choice for a first game. No big impressive technological wonder. No complicated rules that you have to keep straight. An extremely simple game that you can infuse with so much meaning. And it perfectly illustrated how easy t is to sow doubt.
That is not to say that there aren’t any red flags. The production is a little unimpressive. It’s only the first episode and I already noticed that the animation can get choppy and the character models are inconsistent. This is bound to get worse if there are more action-filled scenes.
Also, the two observers were basically just flat audience inserts that served as exposition dump devices for obvious information. I hope they find a proper use for the characters caus I liked their designs.
The dialogue in general is a little flat and shallow so far. I mean none of them seemed that surprised by the supernatural aspect of all of this. In fact, right from the very start main character Yuuichi was way more concerned about getting in debt than about being kidnaped and taken to a magical dimension or something. This could be an adaptational flaw. I figure seeing them all trying in vain to figure out what’s happening is something that is likely to get cut if you have limited time. However, for me, it made it feel a lot more generic and not quite thought out.
However, like I said, I am mostly pleasantly surprised by this episode. Possibly because my expectations were pretty low. So I will be watching more and I hope you enjoyed it as well.