Gia's List: Anime's 6 Deadliest Tournaments

by Gia Manry, Mar 10th 2012

With the western novel franchise The Hunger Games about to make its big screen debut— and particularly because its frequent description as "kind of like Battle Royale " - we thought it might be time to look over some of the deadliest tournaments in anime history. Unfortunately, it's almost impossible to place these in any kind of order, since their creators don't usually provide a handy death toll, and the levels of seriousness and violence vary pretty widely. So take the numbering with a grain of salt, and as always, share your thoughts in the comments!


6. Eden of the East
Eden of the East has a unique place on this list: its game isn't a "tournament" per se, and the overall goal of the game is to better the lives of the people of Japan. And not in a creepy dystopian way, either. The different participants are all given 10 billion yen, a phone that connects them to a seemingly omnipotent "concierge," and the instructions to simply save Japan. These chosen ones, the Seleção, can theoretically work together...but quite a few turn out to have a violent streak and would happily see their fellow players dead. Another item that sets Eden of the East apart is that in addition to worrying about each other, the Seleção have to worry about whoever is running the game...if they run out of money, refuse to participate, or are judged to be doing a poor enough job, they will be eliminated. That 10 billion yen sounds less fun now, doesn't it?



5. Shigurui
In terms of sheer, unadulterated violence, Shigurui is probably the title-holder for recent years. Most of the series is a flashback to the lead characters, who trained together and then competed against one another to succeed their swordmaster in the early 17th century. However, the framework of the series presents us these characters in the "present" (the year 1629), both men battered and broken already, as they agree to fight in a tournament in which they will use metal swords, rather than the more traditional wooden ones that mostly prevent the deaths of participants. But whether in the past or the present, the series features more violence than you can shake a stick at: beheadings, be-nose-ings, be-face-ings, and the removals of even more body parts we'd prefer not to think about.



4. Future Diary
As if it's not bad enough to con a bunch of kids into participating in a deadly game by giving them a uniquely limited view of the future (each of the 12 participants gets to know what they themselves would have written about the future after it happens)&mash; but they also have to be threatened into playing so that they can save the world. Yes, only one player must be left standing by the end of 90 days, or the entire world will come to an end. If one player succeeds in killing off all of his "playmates," he or she will become the new God of Space and Time and, presumably, save the planet. However, the worst part about Future Diary is that its goal in finding contestants apparently did not involve a psych evaluation: the players are a ramshackle bunch with a variety of unique psychoses.



3. Fate/stay night
Many years ago, three families worked together to attempt the creation of what they called the "Holy Grail" (although it had nothing to do with the Christian tradition). Unfortunately they learned that the thing they created only had enough power to grant one wish. Naturally the families set to fighting for that wish, but they did so in an organized fashion that resulted in an ongoing series of "Holy Grail wars. Every so often, after enough mana has been amassed for the summoning, seven magic-users summon seven champions and they all fight to the death to take charge of the Grail and make their one wish. However, it's not enough for these wars that the champions are destroyed for the duration of each war If their summoner is left alive, they may be able to summon a new champion, so generally speakin the summoners must kill each other when given the opportunity.



2. Deadman Wonderland
Ever heard of a "work release program" at a jail? Deadman Wonderland has a unique take on the idea. This strange jail uses its prisoners to operate an amusement park for the general public, running everything from janitorial duties to— you guessed it —the entertainment. Main character Ganta gets the death sentence, but he can put off his own death by lethal injection as long as he keeps getting the medicine he needs to counter the injection. This means participating in the excessively lethal combat games. Ganta fortunately develops a remarkable power (he can manipulate his own blood) which grants him access to the top-tier game, which is held as an underground event only for the wealthiest of audiences. The game is called the Corpse Carnival, and that should tell you everything you need to know about how deadly the other participants are.



1. Bokurano
The stakes are high in any deadly game: afte rall, everyone is playing for their lives, and perhaps the lives of a friend or family member...except in Bokurano. In this series, a group of kids unwittingly volunteer to pilot a robot in battles in order to save their entire planet, with a different child in control every time. Their own lives aren't the only ones at stake— their friends, families, fellow pilots, and the entire rest of their race are all counting on these middle school kids as well. One can't describe the sheer extent of the death, damage, and destruction that is wrought by this particular "game" without spoiling the most significant plot revelations, but this dark mech tournament tale makes even the most emo Gundam pilot's back story sound downright perky.

The new poll: As a counterpoint (and to cheer us up after the bloodbaths above), we thought we'd see which was your favorite ridiculous, over-the-top, goofy tournament. Vote here and let us know!

The previous poll: We asked you all which was your favorite art anime, and there was actually a fairly tight contest for the #1 spot! Bakuman. won out with 30% of the vote, while the more sedate Honey and Clover went home with 28.7%. Rounding out the top three is Genshiken 2, included because of its emphasis on characters making doujinshi.

  1. Bakuman. - 30.19%
  2. Honey and Clover - 28.70%
  3. Genshiken 2 - 14.07%
  4. Hidamari Sketch - 9.81%
  5. Comic Party - 7.22%
  6. Geijutsuka Art Design Class - 2.96%
  7. Sketchbook ~full color'S~ - 2.96%
  8. Dojin Work - 2.22%
  9. Canvas 2 - Niji Iro no Sketch - 1.85%

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