Pulled into a game of life and death against his will and with only two ways out, Kaname is going to have to find a way to win the game, because the other option isn’t that much fun!
What did you watch?
At first, I wasn’t too sure about Darwin’s Game. It’s always a bit of a gamble starting a series with a double-length episode. It might seem like an odd thing to say because surely more is better, but when you watch a lot of anime and you end up scheduling your life into twenty-four-minute blocks, the sudden appearance of something twice that length makes you think twice about watching it. That said, I did find the time and was pretty happy that I did. Let’s find out why and don’t forget there will be spoilers.
Kaname received an invite on his phone to a game from one of his friends. Another friend attempted to stop him from activating it, but it was too late. A snake shot out of the screen and bit Kaname causing him to pass out. When he woke, he felt fine but decided to head home anyway. On the way home, he was attacked by the mascot from the local baseball team. It looked like he was trying to kill Kaname and would have if it wasn’t for the intervention of his friend. Kaname managed to survive the encounter, but his friend and the mascot both died and then mysteriously disappeared.
With nowhere to turn for answers, Kaname accepted an invitation from another player to meet up. His questions didn’t help him and before he knew it they were fighting to the death. Kaname was sure he was going to die and without any answers, but then he managed to make a weapon out of thin air and was able to force his opponent to surrender. It’s unusual for a solo player to survive their first fight, but to defeat one of the top-ranking players too was unheard of. It was certainly enough to convince Shuka that Kaname was worth teaming up with.
What did you think?
This series starts slowly and doesn’t give much away. In fact, there were several opportunities for Kaname to get some real answers early on, but he got hung up on another detail. That said, I really enjoyed it and like the mystery of Darwin’s Game. Then, as the series went on, I got more and more invested in it. The action was excellent, but it was primarily down to Kaname’s approach to the game. He managed to draw players to his side and seemed to be building up quite the team. It was his showdown with Wang and the Eighth that really brought this series to life.
What was your favourite moment?
As I said, things seemed to get better and better as the story progressed and while I loved the final showdown with the Eighth and Kaname winning the event, it was episode 8 that won the series. Not only were we introduced to Xuelan, but the episode was split into two fight scenes and both were excellent. The second one was when the Sunset Ravens tried to recover Kaname from Xuelan, the number one ranked player in Darwin’s Game. There was a battle on top of the cars and it was just insane and epic all at the same time. If nothing else, we need a second season just so we can see more of Xuelan.
What was your least favourite moment?
Watching Wang torture Rein was not a pleasant experience, but it told us a lot about both of their characters. Other than that moment and the time that Kaname resuscitated Shuka while floating upright in ice-cold water and then kind of making it a romantic moment… it was an odd one for sure, I think there were several moments where the dialogue was a little clunky and unnatural. Characters would randomly tell their colleague a piece of information that they should probably already know so that we would know rather than letting us join the dots.
Who was your favourite character?
It was obviously Xuelan, but she wasn’t in it long enough to really count. I actually enjoyed most of the characters, but Kaname was the one that brought it all together and had some amazing moments. One of my favourites was when he finally got a handle on his Sigil and was able to create a weapon and overpowered bullets, customizing his attack. It was excellent to see him grow and adapt to the situation and that all came to a head in the final episode.
Who was your least favourite character?
Banda the Rookie Hunter! It was an interesting idea and definitely caught your attention in the first episode, but I’m not sure that it was the best way to start things. Looking back, that scene felt like it was from a different series as the mascot suit made it feel a little corny and cheap, while the rest of the series was far from it. I liked that it made the whole situation that much more absurd, but it could have been just as effective with a masked attacker instead of a guy in a panda suit.
Would you like some more?
Without a doubt. I am all in on a second season and hope that we do get one. Unlike most shows that get a second season nowadays, there was no immediate announcement after the final credits, although we did get a tease of the next event. I really do hope we get more and not just because of the chance for more Xuelan. I felt like all of the characters were interesting in their own way and offered a different perspective and ability to the group. This one is just getting started and I want to see where it goes.
What have you learnt?
I really enjoyed the way that the detail of Darwin’s Game was slowly revealed. Sure, they could have hit us with a massive exposition dump and got it out of the way, but I like to be able to work out the story as I go. It definitely played more into the show and don’t tell philosophy which I’m a big fan of. I’m also a fan of the collection of oddballs that unit around a seemingly unnatural leader only to see that they were the perfect person to lead this group.