Darwin's Game Anime Review: Some games are paid with blood

Darwin's Game Anime Review

In this discussion, we'll delve into the recently concluded anime, "Darwin’s Game," belonging to the genres of Action, Mystery, and Shōnen. Serving as the animated adaptation of the manga of the same name, authored and illustrated by FLIPFLOPs, this series was brought to life by the Nexus studio and spanned what I consider to be a somewhat brief eleven episodes. While not aiming to set expectations excessively high, one could argue that this anime held the title of the Battle Royale of the winter season in 2020.

Upon initial inspection, it's easy to draw parallels between "Darwin’s Game" and the likes of Mirai Nikki and Btooom!, with various elements contributing to this resemblance. Given its nature as a Battle Royale, inevitable connections with these and other series emerge as the narrative unfolds. However, instead of delving into comparisons, this review seeks to dissect the strengths and weaknesses of "Darwin’s Game" on its own terms, discussing what worked well and areas where it may not have thrived, without necessarily pitting it against other shows.


Exploring "Darwin’s Game":

Kaname Sudo's life undergoes a profound transformation with the arrival of a mobile invitation to a game. The moment a virtual snake bites him on his phone screen, he becomes ensnared in the clutches of a merciless competition, aptly named "Darwin’s Game." A harrowing challenge unfolds as he grapples with the stark reality that there's no escape from this game, and its participants are driven by an unyielding pursuit of money and the exhilaration of combat. Survival proves to be a daunting feat.

Fueled by an unwavering determination to break free from this chaos, Kaname assembles formidable allies to form his "family." Yet, formidable adversaries emerge on his journey, going to great lengths to eliminate the up-and-coming contender who garners attention for his impressive record of victories against formidable foes.

Darwin's Game Trailer

The Highlights: Skillful Implementation of Tropes

"Darwin’s Game" stands as an anime offering enjoyable escapism. The episode count perfectly encompasses the initial major arc of its narrative. Beyond the numerical aspect, the true merit lies in the achievements demonstrated throughout these eleven episodes. As the subtitle implies, a significant forte of the series lies in its adept utilization of clichés. Similar to any survival narrative, it brims with genre-typical tropes. The artful use of clichés becomes apparent when, despite their predictability, the storyline consistently captures the viewer's attention—an accomplishment the series notably attains. Though aware of the trajectory at each step, the unfolding narrative sustains our intrigue.

Reflect on the seamless amalgamation of two story arcs, where anticipation persists for the villain's retribution and the protagonist's awakening, despite our foreknowledge of the outcomes. Building on this, commendation is due to the script's development. While not delving extensively into the psyche of each character, it adeptly highlights the motives and ideals propelling them to maintain sanity in the midst of this deadly game. The narrative focal point consistently remains Kaname, our protagonist, who, adhering to the conventions of his genre, transcends other characters by showcasing remarkable abilities despite his aversion to killing. Ultimately, he reaches a breaking point, relinquishing his idealism, courtesy of the pathetic yet standout villain, Wang, and his sadistic nature.

Certainly, the character construction may adhere to stereotypes, but this is effectively counterbalanced by the nuanced script. Shuka serves as another illustration—an empowerment character with a twisted dependence on the protagonist, rendering her the ideal companion for a lead character experiencing rapid growth in abilities.

The Drawback: Ebbing Momentum

While it's accurate that the story adheres to a straightforward structure and relies on genre clichés, it doesn't inherently make it bad. The narrative skillfully addresses its shortcomings through adept script management. However, it doesn't mean these flaws are entirely rectified; in fact, the crux lies precisely in what should be its greatest strength—the script. The primary issue with this anime is the flow of information. Explanations are deliberate and often unnecessarily prolonged, while some aspects remain underdeveloped, resulting in a loss of rhythm within the narration.

The battles lose their dynamism when scrutinizing the current situation of the players, hampering the overall pacing. Additionally, there's a leakage of information. As you may be aware, this adaptation omitted certain events and characters, all in the interest of advancing and steering the story in the right direction. However, this leaves us with some unresolved threads that aren't easily recovered, despite the script's attempts to tie them up.

Returning to the theme of pace, the most significant drawback is the haste. The story initiates smoothly and gradually intensifies, but in the final stretch, there's an abrupt rush to conclude the arc. Another element impacting the overall enjoyment of the anime is the rushed ending. As mentioned, the final episodes accelerated the pace, providing us with a closure that is somewhat satisfying yet somewhat forced.

Final Reflections:

Darwin’s Game is the kind of narrative that effortlessly fills the time with enjoyment. It doesn't strive for excessive complexity, yet it effectively captivates and entertains. Despite its straightforward nature, you'll find lingering questions that the anime leaves unanswered – queries that may entice you to delve into the manga, underscoring the addictive nature of this survival game. As previously mentioned, the anime embraces genre clichés, but remarkably, it distinguishes itself without relying on overt comparisons. While news of a second season is absent, anticipating one wouldn't be unwarranted; there's still much to unravel in this narrative.

Now, adhering to tradition, it's time to assign a personal rating to this series. In my view, this anime merits a score of 79/100. It successfully accomplishes its goal of providing entertainment and undoubtedly sustains your curiosity to continue, yet the loss of momentum significantly affects its overall rating. I can confidently assert that adapting up to the defeat of Eight has been a triumph for this series. Even the brief introduction of Xue Lan has proven to be both gratifying and intriguing.

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