First Impression: Darwin’s Game

A new year brings us a new season in anime, which hopefully means something to help us bide our time while waiting for Dr. Stone to continue. (I’m sorry, was that too soon?)

In my particular case, I am almost always eager to try shows that attempt to take advantage of the success Sword Art Online has known through its several seasons. And I’m sure the other 11 people who watched and enjoyed Log Horizon feel the same way. So it was inevitable that Darwin’s Game would be something that I was, well, game for. I was, however, not prepared for the episode to be double-length.

The first episode of Darwin’s Game opens in Shibuya at night to a grisly sequence (I will note already that this show is not for those who can’t stand the sight of blood). Perhaps the game somehow takes place in the real world, much like BTOOOM! did, rather than in virtual reality? Or perhaps the game and real life exist in some sort of parallel fashion? And could it have anything to do with the “performance art” pieces seen recently all over Shibuya, which resemble pixellated outlines of dead bodies? Before we can work these things out fully, our protagonist and futsuu na koukousei du jour Sudou Kaname accepts the invitation to download the free cell phone app and join the game.

Of course, of course it is, Sudou-kun. What could possibly go wrong?

Before we know it, Sudou-kun is in the thick of the game, where he encounters both a friend and an enemy. Of course I don’t wish to spoil what happens, at least in any detail. However, much seems to revolve around the “Sigil,” which seems to be some kind of special ability given each player upon joining the game. All I’ll mention for now is that Sudou-kun manages multiple amazing feats against impossible odds (we would have expected nothing else of course), and in the process gains a new friend. Or perhaps “a new servant” is a better way of putting it. None of this, naturally, comes at no cost.

Sudou-kun couldn’t possibly have known what joining this game would cost him.

The episode is sharply-paced, and drops hints that factions involving organized crime might also exist. I am tempted to share the last image shown in the episode, which might as well have been conceived for no other reason than to make me roll my eyes. But again, I don’t want to spoil too much. At the very least, however, I think I will watch the next episode, double-length or otherwise. I am intrigued by the relationship between the “game world” and the “real world,” which seem to interpenetrate one another. However, I will again end with a strong recommendation that no one under about the age of 16 watch this show. It has quite a bit of blood, some of which is censored; as well as some nudity, if relatively tame.

MAL score: A strong 6/10 so far, with mobility both upward and downward possible.

Darwin’s Game can be streamed on Funimation.

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