King's Game The Animation Episode 6
by Christopher Farris,
How would you rate episode 6 of
King's Game The Animation ?
King's Game's agonizing flashback storyline had been slowly slogging along for the past few episodes, and I really thought the manic magic that made the introduction such stupid fun to watch had dried up. But then this episode, the apparent climax of that foregone conclusion, drops in and shatters all my numbed expectations. I'm sorry King's Game, I should have been more patient.
The central gimmick of this round (which does at least step back into the present-day to remind us of the flashback framing) is that one of the students must roll a die to mete out punishment. Unlike other anime with ‘King’ and ‘Game’ in the title, adding a dice game actually marks a step up in this one's quality, though it does take a while to get going. Honestly, the first full half of the episode has the same idiotic issues we've been struggling through these last few weeks. Portions of the story make no sense, the show's format undercuts any dramatic tension because we know all these people end up dead anyway, and it doesn't try especially hard to make us like them while they're alive.
One egregious issue that becomes especially apparent in this stretch is the nonsensical way that so many of the students put their faith in Nobuaki to somehow solve the game and beat the King. It's completely unjustified, given that Nobuaki has done almost nothing but panic just as much as everyone else so far, and what plans he has put into action all ended in catastrophic failure. He's treated like the hero of this story by the other characters, but nothing about his actual role bears that out. It's just kind of an accepted fact of the story around him, at which point you might note that the author who literally phoned this story in named Nobuaki after himself.
Once people start dying on the die though, the show gets going in that good old King's Game way, starting with a darkly hilarious decapitation. The rest of the deaths are less creative, mostly being single shots of ludicrous blood loss, though the last two to go (the antagonist of this segment and his hapless lacky) at least get ridiculous blood-fountain explosions that leave them flopping around on the ground like dead fish. As the one who rolled the die, Naoya ends up dead too, somewhat lamely reusing the falling-to-bits death from the last episode. At least we find out where Nobuaki got his hilariously stupid “What do you think Heaven is like?” introspection from.
Now at this point the show was at least fulfilling its goofy violence quota enough to keep me watching, but I was pretty over how perfunctory the story had become. Of course, I'd forgotten about Ria for a while there. Only after everyone except Nobuaki and Chiemi has been taken out does she step forward, pull a laptop out of her ass, and start hacking the King's Game. I honestly don't even know where to begin with this. Ria vomits forth a detailed, pseudo-scientific explanation of how the King's Game actually works, as an insane combination of the power of suggestion and hypnosis that exists as a virus for the human body but managed to spread as a computer virus via electronic networks. It's an explanation I never really asked for from this show, but the way it's delivered is incredible. I wouldn't have believed it was possible, but King's Game managed to get stupider. Thank goodness.
This sequence finally had me laughing as hard as I did back in the show's second episode, and by the time Ria revealed that she had pieced together secret messages from the deceased's phones to reveal an exploitable bug that she used to whip up an Anti-King's-Game-Virus, I was so on-board for this glorious nonsense I was practically cheering. It's one of those sequences you can only wonder how seriously its staff possibly could be taking it. Ria's hacking is some hilariously impossible Hollywood nonsense-typing crap, and when it actually seems to work, she can only smirk at how anti-climactic it feels. Then she bursts into flame.
This absurdity continues until the episode's conclusion, as Ria never actually acknowledges that she's on fire. There's no hint of discomfort from her, and the flames just float around her for several minutes with no visible damage while she carries on a conversation with Nobuaki. I guess the idea was to show how hardened she was by her father's abuse, which is also recounted along with her explanation that in between all the sexual battery he somehow found time to teach her to be a great computer hacker. However, the raw simplicity of the whole stupid scene just results in an outlandish sequence of a girl nonchalantly stripping down while explaining the plot before leaping off a cliff, all while on fire the whole time. King's Game has always been a joke, but this week I had to wonder if it was actually in on itself for once.
The flashback story isn't entirely done. We still need to find out how Chiemi got killed and Nobuaki ended up the winner. He and his tagalongs have also made it to the mysterious village in the present-day. Honestly though, I'm concerned that after an epic-level shark jump like this episode, the series might settle down to less entertaining heights for another stretch. I can only hope whatever terrible decisions the show makes next will prove me wrong.
King's Game The Animation is currently streaming on Crunchyroll.
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