I’m still fairly ambivalent about Tomodachi Game. I have definitely watched and reviewed shows I have enjoyed less than this but I can’t say it’s a great show either. It does have the potential to get interesting or to go completely down the drain.

However, as I’m otherwise having a great anime season, I figure I might as well throw a wildcard in the mix. It is quite different from everything else I’m watching. But I’m divided.

After my review last week, I had a few people as f this was an anime saw. It’s really not. So far there is no violence whatsoever, and no indication that any harm will ever come to anyone. that could change but for the moment, the stakes are not physical. And that is one thing I like about the show. Because of the base premise and how the first episode started out, the immediate assumption is that this is going to be a horror anime. And the fact that it’s not makes it a bit more interesting I think.

If I had to compare it to something a lot of my readers might have heard of, I would say that this is more of an anime Survivor. Or any reality TV show for that matter. I actually haven’t seen anything other than Ru Pauls Drag Race but I often watch people talking about reality tv for some reason, so I have a pretty good idea of what goes on. I thought that even before the episode mentioned viewers and pretty much spelled out the comparison.

And it works. Except for the fact that the contestants seemed to have been kidnapped, the rest could be a reality tv show. Silly little games to win or lose money artificially built social tension. It’s all there. Heck, a lot of real-life contestants go into debt to get on these shows, hoping the fame will boost their earning potential. So even that aspect sort of tracks.

And as I was watching the three boys all go gaga over one girl who had just confessed to one of them, I thought, if this was an actual reality tv show, I bet it would be super popular. Everyone would be watching this. It’s exactly what reality TV shows are for. The edit is a little too dramatic but otherwise, give them all roses to give away or something, and you have a hit!

But there’s something that really rubs me the wrong way about the show. It’s not the plot at all, it’s the dialogue. I’m going to say something I’m not sure I’ve ever said before. I think this would be better as a manga.

Everyone in this show talks almost entirely in exposition. There are no normal conversations between friends that hang out all the time. As soon as someone opens their mouth, they are either explaining what is happening or spouting backstory. And it gets very irritating. At least to me. Not to mention that everyone delivers their lines in very tense dramatic monologue.

It gives off the effect of bad acting. I’m not blaming the voice actors for this, I just really think this dialogue doesn’t work when it’s spoken out loud. I bet it would be fine on paper. And actually, there are some interesting elements in the way people are sowing doubt about each other and how they are trying to manipulate the games. If it wasn’t for the stilted dialogue, I bet it would be fun. But that dialogue is going to be hard to take for an entire season.

Previous Episodes

5 thoughts

  1. So halfway through Episode 2 I decided to drop the show. I couldn’t even watch the rest of the episode. It IS dumb (hurtful) people games, and I don’t like dumb people games. They haven’t succeeded in making me much like any of the characters. And yes, any random set of strangers off the street would have done about the same as these “friends”. If there’s a point to the show, I’m not getting it and well, frankly, not enjoying it.

    I do love RuPaul’s Drag Race – but I actually haven’t quite watched them all because I had about a ten season binge and even THAT started feeling too much like mean girls stabbing each other in the back while smiling to their faces. Also, I was a serious fan of Terrace House until Hana’s suicide brought out that it is all staged and fake anyway. So, yeah, just not for me.

    I agree about the stilted dialogue. It might be better as a manga, but even as a book – like a light novel – I think it would just get boring. Totally things I’d rather be doing with my time. 😛

  2. Yeah, they never once felt like friends, really. The show likes to talk big, but if they’d just herded strangers together to play the part, the show wouldn’t be much different. I’m sort of fine while watching the show, though the mascot is irrititating in a way that doesn’t help the show. Remembering the episode is already hard, and trying feels not worth the effort. It also doesn’t help that in show of “friends” you single one of the boys out as a protagonist, and make all the girls crush on him. I’m not sure if the show wants me to root for the guy, wants me to think he’s devious, or wants me to think his good points win out in the end. If they’re going for ambiguity the problem is that I don’t much care either way. I mean the inner group dynamics so far is: all the girl like protag-kun, and none of the two guys are connected to anyone – they just fill out numbers so far. So they feel less like friends, and – after this episode – more like a harem with rivals. The money angle is sort set-up as a class thing, but it also feels more shallow than anything else. It’s not so much a bad show, as it’s a show that consistently refuses to recognise opportunities to be interesting, and so after a while I don’t know what to say anymore.

    I’m currently not in an intellectual mood, so I’m not even thinking the games through…

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