An unpredictable battle of superpowers. Kaname Sudo, an ordinary high school student, receives an invitation email to try a mysterious app called "Darwin's Game." Kaname, upon launching the app, is drawn into a game where players fight one another using superpowers called Sigils. Without knowing the reason for all this, can Kaname survive furious battles against the powerful players who attack him?
Darwin's Game is your run-of-the-mill survival-game seinen show which is adapted from the manga carrying the same name. Is this anime a worthwhile suspenseful ride with a lot of cool action, great characters and awesome plot with surprising twists and turns? Or is it a total waste of time? You might have already gotten pretty good idea what I think about it by looking at the scores, but nevertheless let's dive in and see what this anime is made of! Review contains light spoilers. If you don't want to be spoiled please head down to "overall"-section to see spoiler free tl;dr-part. STORY: Meet our main character. Kaname Sudou. As you might've already guess he's your typical high-school student who likes to hang with his pals and all that fun stuff. One night he suddenly gets an email from his already dead friend, which contains the invitation to Darwin's Game. He of course accepts this invitation and partisipates in this high-stakes game, where his life is on the line, but where he can also gain a lot of money and all kinds of other fun and expensive knick-knacks like guns, cars, explosives etc. Not only does he get the priviledge to participate in this generic survival game he also becomes dollar-store Emiya Shirou with his new Sigil power. This is power bestowed to all the partisipants and they range from clairvoyance to mind-reading and controlling plants for example. At first our main character just wants to quit the game and survive, but soon his new objective is to put an end to the whole game and possibly kill the creator. This he can accomplish with his harem and few male characters that kinda just are, who join in his team one by one during the anime and it's events. Story is your basic survival-game stuff, but there's one huge flaw. This anime does not have any suspence at all. First few episodes are pretty standard stuff, but soon Kaname has two best players of the game fighting over him and with him, one of the biggest clans of the game on his side, information-broker basically on his side and to top it all off pretty overpowered Sigil. And apparently he's somewhat of a special case as is if we believe what everyone in the show are telling us viewers about him. All this + his overpowered team sucks the tiny bit of suspense that this show had away immediately. You know the MC ain't going to lose anything (except few disposable friend-characters, that just help him to take the edgy 180-turn to a brooding cynic and make him even more of an unstoppable killing machine than he already is.) and if he's about to the plot-armor saves him. This makes the show incredibly boring and tedious to watch, as if being generic didn't make it so already. As a whole the story is really generic survival-game stuff, except without any excitement or suspension. You can guess all the plot developments easily and it really doesn't do anything to spice up the plot or story in any way. ANIMATION: Art and animation is kind of rough at places. Sometimes art looks really bad and animation is really minimalistic. Some shows can take advantage of their minimal animation (Like Toilet-Bound Hanako-Kun in this same season did), but it really is a huge downfall in this sort of intense battle anime, However there were some shots, transitions and bits where both artstyle and animation looked kinda good. These were kinda few in numbers sadly so I can't really give a lot of points from those. SOUND: Opening song was pretty nice. Not really anything special, but I didn't skip it. Ending was also good. Didn't stick to listen it, but it ended up in my playlist. BGM was pretty forgettable. I remember some kind of electronic track being in it and nothing else. I guess it left a little mark in my memory, but I honestly can't recall anything else that it sounded like really basic dubstep-y track. Overall nothing to brag about, but OP and ED were solid. CHARACTERS: Kaname Sudou was somewhat entertaining at first, before he became too OP. He isn't like most of the MCs in this sort of anime aka. total wuss, but actually is capable of thinking and doing stuff on his own. This was a tiny bit refreshing to see, but like I already have said multiple times he became too OP and he lost the little charm he had. Other characters are really generic Shuka Karino is your #BestGirlDont@Me who is kind of badass, but melts like a butter when Kaname is around. Rein is information-broker kuudere. Nothing special about her. Ryuuji Maesaka is the bro character that is obviously better than MC only because he isn't the MC. And last but not least from all the "important" characters is Sui, who has split personality and he is also some kind of trap I guess. Villains don't fare much better either. Main villain of the season called Wang is just your typical power-hungry, violent guy with no other personality trait than being evil. Other villains are surprise surprise also generic cartboard cutouts. Take your pick between dad who does evil things so he can afford his daughters medical bills or some random dude who just kills weak beginners for a reason that is not explained at all. This wouldn't be an issue if the main villain wouldn't also be some dude who kills because he likes it, but since they all are just canon fodder for almighty Kaname I guess personalities aren't needed. OVERALL: Darwin's Game is another survival-game seinen that does nothing special. It lacks suspense, the characters are all pretty much generic stereotypes, animation and art are generic at best and soundtrack is forgettable outside of OP and ED songs, that may fancy to some readers taste. I highly advice on skipping this one. Not sure if the Darwin's Game manga is any good, but it may be worth giving a shot instead of this adaptation.
I expected this anime to be quite similar to King's Game from a few seasons ago. It is SO MUCH better. Plot follows a highschooler Kaname Sudo, who accidentally gets dragged into a deadly game with amazing rewards. As he gets to know the rules he meets other players - most important of whom is Shuka. This anime offers nothing original, it's your typical high stakes game anime with some battle royale sprinkled in. Characters are nothing special either, some common tropes are present (Shuka being a little yandere, newbie being a natural talent, mysterious information broker, etc.). The first episode is especially mediocre, with some laughable bad guys. However, if you get past that it's a really fun watch with some amazing fight scenes and interesting superpowers. Character development is present as well, some of them have pretty interesting backstories and getting to know more about them offers an interesting insight. Battle royale arc (which covers a big part of the season) was especially good. It lasted a few episodes but the fights weren't drawn out, strategies characters used were fun and the whole thing ends pretty nicely. If you're a fan of Mirai Nikki and Battle Royale genre in general, I would definitely recommend this. It's a perfect anime to binge - just relax and don't overthink it, as it's meant to be mindless fun. Oh and bonus points for great OP/ED themes!
Somewhere Between Edgy and Boring Darwin's Game is quite possibly the best Death Game anime ever. Do these words not excite you? Do they not enthrall you? No? Well that's probably because it's not such a high bar to clear. Death Game anime where a bunch of people fight until one person survives are commonplace in the industry. There are multiple problems with the genre, such that by its very nature, most endeavors into it will be overwhelmingly edgy, and difficult to praise critically because it relies on this trait for entertainment. So how does Darwin's Game rise above the rest like a unenthusiastic dictator who is satisfied conquering only one square mile more than his adversaries? Let's get into the D-game. Laugh now. Characters: In this category is where the show first goes above the usual trite for the genre. You have a rather generic protagonist, sure, but unlike in most Death Games like this, he isn't completely incompetent, overly edgy, too nice, or too much of a wimp. He's not a good character either, but Kaname proves that you can technically have a Death Game protagonist that doesn't fall under one of those annoying tropes definitively. However, he's also quite boring, and is characterized by absolutely nothing more than being the main character in the Death Game show. In that, if this weren't the situation, he would be just a boring, normal guy. And there's nothing that cool about him. So the show has to make up for that in other ways, by providing a decent back-up cast. And you know what? They don't do such an awful job of that. Trying really hard not to look at the camera. Shuka is the secondary character. She doesn't exactly have enough personality to fill her role, but she serves as the "Badass female lead" fill-in that kind of phones in the role. Don't expect to get super invested in her overly smug character who pretends to be unaware of the sexual innuendos she spurts out randomly near the beginning of the series. The rest of the cast are quite decent. Rein is the intel girl, a soft-spoken loli who is apparently hyper-intelligent. Not a bad change of pace for this type of character, she's fairly valuable to the plot and "explains" the very few nuances of it. Ryuuji is the trigger-happy mercenary who gets wrapped up with the group. Sui is a very interesting character with multiple sides to her, so to speak. Liu is the mysterious skilled one. So far, this cast gets a bit of a pass for me since they actually aren't that overly annoying like the main casts of most Death Game anime. They all serve a purpose, and really, there are a few decent ones in there. To boot, some of the more minor cast that aren't entirely relevant are pretty strong too, such as the botanist. The main villain sucks a huge veiny meaty cock though. So just forget about him. It's whatever. Story: this is the weakest aspect. The entire concept of this kind of death game in the first place is just very conceptually flawed. Do I even have to explain it at this point? Only with this one, the difference is the suspension of disbelief is REALLY hard to pull off because of the addition of superpowers. Most of which are very inconsistant and hard to understand, especially considering how simplistic the battles are. The storyline is lame, but they treat it as more complex than it is, spending large amounts of time just explaining things that don't need an explanation or wandering around like it's a Slice of Life to kill time. It's just not necessary. I feel like they wanted to make it more themed and interesting than other Death Games, but there's nothing to suggest that it should be considered as such. The themes are only skin-deep. And the characters goals are super generic. It's really not breaking any new ground. I would have a lot more respect for this if it was more self-aware, just being focused on fun instead of all this Pretentious Darwin shit. It's not that hard to understand. The game is alludes to survival of the fittest. We get it. Let's move on. The Sound design of this anime is... surprising. It's almost hollywood quality, and sometimes it's kind of off-putting how well this kind of sound design would work in like a real movie. The Sound Effects are amazing. The Animation is a bit more complicated to dissect. While some of the shots and transitions are very neat for an anime about this. They clearly put a lot of work into some of the sakuga, there are moments where the camera does some unusual things and it's pretty cool. But the artstyle is, in my opinion, kinda ugly. I don't know how I should classify it. Somewhere in the middle? It's just not nice to look at during still frames, but when things are moving, it looks good. Overall, Darwin's Game isn't something you're gonna want to sink your teeth into if you're looking for quality storytelling or originality. Despite the areas of boredom though, you might have a decent time watching the action just for the hell of it. 5/10.
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