First of all, I am not a fan of this genre of survival/death game anime. With some exceptions, the general problem I have with them is that they’re more laughable or stupid than genuinely suspenseful or thrilling. With that in mind, I shared very little of the anticipation that the latest iteration in the genre, Darwin’s Game, was garnering on the internet.
The first episode doesn’t really give a strong indication of how differently the show will stand from its brethren. I get the gist of it. The titular Darwin’s Game is a mobile game centered around the survival of the fittest and each player gets a super-power called a Sigil at random. It’s not a bad set up but it’s one that’s been done plenty of times in the past in some form or another.
And if not generic, the show already seems to suffer from the usual pitfalls of its genre. Someone tells the protagonist to not start the app of death with the most over-dramatic delivery possible that oversells the premise. The first opponent is dressed in a mascot costume and is the same gleeful psychopath these shows love to flaunt. Close-ups of panicked, distorted faces are abundant. Bodies get mutilated and blood splatters everywhere. I’m sorry but it’s all excessive and self-indulgent to me. As I said in the first paragraph; these shows tend to be more comical than they want to be and Darwin’s Game already looks to be guilty of that.
I will say this: I don’t dislike the two main protagonists of the show. Kaname (Yuusue Kobayashi) is only likable in the premiere because he’s your POV character and he’s getting chased by murderers but his reactions to the whole situation are very believable and I did enjoy watching him use his wits to survive. Shuka (Reina Ueda) is running dangerously close to being the stock yandere lover in the show but Ueda is giving a fun enough performance that could keep her character from being boring.
The visuals also look decent. There’s some bits of action that, in a vacuum, look cool, especially when it involves Shuka going pre-Dad of Boy Kratos on her foes. That said, I’d be lying to myself if I wasn’t expecting more from studio Nexus, especially considering their work on Granbelm last year. This isn’t what I meant when I said I wanted to see another action series drawn by them!
I’m early in the season at the time of me writing this post so I’m not going to cut Darwin’s Game out of the watch list just yet. And you know what? I do think I have seen worse from survival anime so I’ll give the show that much. But if it is to stay on the list, it’s going to need to convince me some more.
Thanks for reading!