7 More Deadly Games of Survival
by Lynzee Loveridge,
There are few quicker ways to ramp up tension between a group of strangers than throwing them headfirst into a battle of kill or be killed. There are tons of manga centered on the topic, for example Yen Press' release of Though You May Burn to Ash is one of the newest takes on this story available in English. Some of these crazy, shock-fueled stories have made their way from the pages to the small screen to gross out even wider audiences. We should all just be thankful that these tales of despair stay in the fictional world.
Doreiku The Animation Doreiku The Animation is one of the strangest premises I've come across for a survival-horror game, seemingly borne out of some desire to add more BDSM to a plot device that already walks the line of "torture porn". A hodgepodge of weirdos, sadists, and social misfits agree to wear a retainer that gives them the power to control others wearing the same device (or be controlled by them). The only way to stay on top is to gamble on your own strength of will or become a slave in the process. Doreiku's characters are wholly unlikable so maybe it's supposed to be cathartic to watch them treat each other like crap?
Gantz Before "you die in the game, you die in real life" became a common trope, there was Gantz, the top dog in edgy entertainment. Players face off against impossible alien foes while wearing skin-tight black suits, compelled to battle by an ominous orb. No player is exempt from the possibility of a gruesome death in Gantz. What elevated it beyond B-horror entertainment might be its WTF ending and pretty explicit sex scene for a non-hentai title. Whatever the reason, Gantz's story always circles back every half decade or so, whether its in live-action or CGI form.
Riddle Story of Devil A bunch of psycho assassins are put in a classroom together to carry out the same hit, a seemingly oblivious and optimistic girl named Haru Ichinose. Her dorm mate, Tokaku Azuma, decides to forfeit the reward for killing Haru and instead pledges to protect her from everyone else. It's two girls versus the ugliness of the world and the other assassins will go to great lengths to see them fail.
Danganronpa I have a soft spot for Danganronpa, because as far as the survival game genre goes, it manages to balance its horror content with enough cartoon hijinks to keep everything from going too far off the cliff to depression town. Of course, that's kinda Danganronpa's point. It contrasts the ugliness of humanity with the possibility of hope. Can one school and 15 kids work as a microcosm for the world at large, and will they choose hope or despair?
Alice in Borderland Ryōhei Arisu is a high school student who's irritated with his intolerable everyday life. One night, he tags along with his troublemaker friends Karube and Chōbe to hang out in town. However, the town is suddenly covered in giant fireworks, and when he comes to his senses, Ryōhei notices that no one else is there. Finding themselves in a different world, Ryōhei, Karube, and Chota are forced to participate in survival games like solving equations and other riddles, or else face a gruesome death. The manga was adapted into a three-episode OVA, but it's unfortunately not available legally in English.
Deadman Wonderland A murderer known as the "Red Man" slaughters Ganta's entire class, and he's summarily shipped off to prison as the only viable suspect. Ganta's innocent, but that won't last long if it wants to survive in a private-run prison where inmates are little more than entertainment. Every inmate is on the verge of death by poison unless they dance for their antidote, i.e. do what they're told and participate in a corrupt economy unique to the prison. Just as Ganta's getting the hang of things, he develops a new special power that puts him at the forefront of the Carnival Corpse event in the prison; where it's kill or be killed.
King's Game The Animation Structurally, the anime is an absolute mess but that doesn't mean you can't enjoy it with a big tub of popcorn. A mysterious entity sends a text message to an entire class requesting that two classmates hook up or else they'll die. Everyone thinks it's some kind of sick joke, but it turns out to be all too true. The deadly game of dares only gets more extreme as our protagonist reveals he's lived through the same game before and was the sole survivor. Throw in a nutty yandere and a whole lot of other nonsense and it's easy to see why this show is getting a second season. (I'm joking, why is this getting a second season?)
When she isn't compiling lists of tropes, topics, and characters, Lynzee works as the Managing Interest Editor for Anime News Network and posts pictures of her sons on Twitter @ANN_Lynzee.
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