Wishing Naoya rolled a ten-sided die right now…
Overview (Because Everyone Loves Spoilers)
After the whole “No-Cry-Day-Friday” incident, the class of the past was given a new order. One student was to roll a die, and designate a bunch of students by name, the same number as they rolled. Both they and the designated students would be punished. At best, two students would go down. At worst, the class would go from ten to three. Everyone gathered together to decide who would roll. At least one person had to choose to take a bullet. Toshiyuki was the class thug, and only had one friend. If anyone but his friend rolled, the bruiser knew he’d get punished. At first, he begged his friend to do it, and spare him. The class pointed out that he was asking his friend to die for him. Nobuaki took the dice, and was prepared to roll when Naoya swiped the dice and rolls instead. Six. Afraid for his own life, Toshiyuki grabbed Chiemi and threatened to kill her if his name was called. It’s decision time. One by one, Naoya had to choose which of his friends will die. At the end, only Nobuaki, Rea, Chiemi, Toshiyuki, and his little buddy were left to choose from.The downtrodden little guy jumped up and punched the bruiser, freeing Chiemi. He then asked that Naoya choose him and Toshiyuki. He did, and says farewell as he takes his own punishment, bit by bit, his body parts fly off. After his death, Rea ran over and rummaged for his cell phone. That’s when she revealed her master plan. She had been doing her own research into the game, and found out how it had started. It had begun as a virus that gave hypnotic suggestions to people, forcing their bodies to self-destruct. Somehow, with the advent of the digital age, this virus became a computer virus and… Nope! No, I’mma talk about it later. Now’s not the time to go on a rant. So, Rea, using her previously unknown skills as a super-hacker that she learned from her father (who was apparently into 50 Shades of Gray as well as Lolita), whipped out her laptop and begins to hack the King’s Game virus from the inside. What she didn’t know was that the bug in the system she intended to exploit was actually a trap set by the King. In falling for it, she got punishment by immolation. Only Nobuaki and Chiemi were left.
In the present, Nobuaki and company take a taxi and arrive in Yonagi Village. Here, they will discover the truth, and perhaps a way to end the game once and for all.
Alright, let me take this in halves. The first half was tense. And intense. There was a pressure left to right and center about who should roll the dice, who would be named, consequences, and all that. With the class getting nearly decimated again, the worst of each character was brought to the forefront. Well, except for the good guys, who just stayed beacons of light and hope. The writing wasn’t all that bad, honestly, and the translated lines came off as genuine.
Then, we get to the second half. Those characters we didn’t get to see much before just got offed, unceremoniously and without even a chance for them to contribute to the scene. They just died. When the episode lost all credibility was when Rea tried explaining the King’s game. A sentient computer virus that had started as a normal virus, and kills with hypnosis. Somehow, it was capable of all the complexities of language to mask itself as a series of commands and… seriously? Let me be honest, the creator of this whole thing tried to get creative, and bombed hard. You have a pretty easy tee-ball for an explanation here. You can simply say it’s an evil spirit or a grudge, or even the growing spirit of hatred in the world manifesting through technology. Nope. You go with a convoluted explanation that makes no sense for how any one of those phenomena act. Hypnosis can’t make you do things you don’t want to do, and any physical changes it enacts are the result of changes over time to the sympathetic nervous and glandular systems. Viruses may affect the brain, but not in complicated ways. Biological junk like a virus cannot simply jump to being a computer virus. Even if it was to do so, that virus would need to be attacking from somewhere, not just amorphously as a thing “in the communications pipeline”. By putting this in terms of real world things like hypnosis and viruses and computers, you made it so we did not need to use our suspension of disbelief. That means that everyone can take one look at your cockamamie explanation and know that it’s the stuff people write for term papers due the next day. Oh, and it isn’t cool that Rea doesn’t even react to being on fire, and just calmly strips naked as she explains about her father’s abuse of her. If she was going to jump into the reservoir anyway, why wait to do it? Every second she waited and talked was another second of being ON FIRE. As soon as she hits the water, it’s all over, one way or the other. It’s bogus, Nobuaki.
Oh, did I not mention that? The character Nobuaki is actually the creator of the source material. When he was releasing this series of short scary stories by cell phone, he did so with himself as the main character. This is literally an insert-yourself-fanfiction, and it makes all of the stuff that has happened in the series a bit disconcerting. When he wrote all this, was he thinking of people from his high school going through this? I am now quite disturbed by just how sexuality-focused the King’s demands were. When you insert yourself into a story about horrific, explicit death and indirect rape, you might want to stop and look at your motivations. Maybe talk to a psychiatrist.
This episode also makes the complete absence of adults conspicuous. In a class of thirty, ten children are left, and all the others died horrible deaths. No funerals are mentioned. No police investigations. Even the teacher is gone, not even a mention as to what his take was on all this death in his class. As Nobuaki travels by taxi, he discusses with his compatriots the deaths of the previous class. In a taxi. With a driver. Or, at least, we assume there’s a driver. We never actually see who is in the driver’s seat, but they show no reaction to this incredulous story they hear. If a kid was in my car, telling his friends how all his friends died because of this horror show, I’d be reacting, and possibly trying to call some sort of authority on this whole thing. It just feels like Evil Peanuts in here.
The animation goes downhill during the second half of the episode. It feels like they ran out of budget during this episode. The deaths made an attempt at having the same flare and detail as prior deaths in the series but fell horrendously short. It was practically humorous watching them all die. I feel terrible about that. I laughed as Naoya’s hand went bad and hit the ejector button, throwing itself several feet. I’m a bad person now, Nobuaki, and it’s all your fault. Even the CG of the taxi turning a corner on the mountain road was terrible. It didn’t move at all like a car should. It just swung around the corner, like a CG model would if it was simply rotated, rather than truly animated and then overlayed over the normal video.
The voice acting wasn’t all that bad. Nobuaki (Coby Lewin) and Naoya (Howard Wang) brought their emotions to the forefront. Especially determination. On the other hand, Mikaela Krantz didn’t really bring much to the party as Rea. She’s a tortured girl who just discovered her mystical hacking skills failed and she is now on fire. Could you put a little bit of pain in your voice? Maybe disappointment? Nope. It’s just like you lost a game of cards. I know you were taking a cue from the animation, as she just powered on through the fire, but you could have given it a bit of depth with your acting.
We are now halfway through the series, and it has dropped the information as to what is going on. At this point, I question the decision the writers made to organize the series as they did. Up to this point, if they had not shown anything of the present, it would have been the same exact show. Perhaps even better. Instead of experiencing this in the modern day, then flashing back to the past for the majority of five episodes, you could have written everything that happened in the past and had us follow Nobuaki to the present. When the game starts over, we initially feel that it is going to be the same story, different town. But, then we get Natsuko jumping into the looney bucket and spilling it everywhere, as the heroes go to find out more. Rather than constantly looking back, we just keep moving forward, and see the drama build.
For a while there, the show was hard to watch. However, this episode was no issue, and it made me realize I hadn't been feeling that lately. It isn't because I'd been desensitized. It's because the show has been slowly losing my interest and empathy as we have gone. I give this highly illogical episode five hypnotic computer viruses out of ten.