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Geek It! Anime Review: Darwin’s Game (2020)

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Imagine a gaming app that allows you to play scavenger games. Imagine hunting people down to get money and benefits. Imagine if that app actually exists in real life. Welcome to … DARWIN’S GAME. 

17-year old Kaname Sudō was just an ordinary high-school student. That is, until he decides to accept his friend’s online invitation to play a mobile gaming app called Darwin’s Game. But this game isn’t your ordinary mobile game — this game is literally a battle of life and death.

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From the moment Kaname entered the game, he immediately gets attacked by his first opponent, Banda, a man wearing a Panda mascot costume. To his great shock, he barely scraped by and emerged victorious from battle. To defeat a high-ranking player on his first go, Kaname soon attracts the attention of other players and he knows that from that day on, his life will never be the same again.

As the title explicitly suggests, Darwin’s Game is an anime about survival of the fittest. Every player is blessed with a unique gift or ‘Sigil’. Luckily for Kaname, his Sigil allows him to recreate weapons and other simple objects he has seen or touched before. If you lose or die in combat, you will be pixelated and evaporated into thin air. Darwin’s Game is Battle Royale and Btooom! set in modern context — this anime will no doubt attract the attention of many viewers. How did the anime fair though?  

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The pilot episode made a dramatic splash and it impressed us immensely — which is what you want from a pilot episode. We have been craving for such anime for a long time now and we were curious to see where Darwin’s Game would take us in the long run.

However, right off the bat, the overall character design is disappointingly average and the animation is very inconsistent. And although the characters and the intense action scenes initially captured our interest, we weren’t too keen about the character development throughout the course of story.

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Imagine being in Kaname’s position though. He is only 17 years old who just got roped into a bizarre game. His friend has died and he fears for his life. We don’t know anything about his family or background. There isn’t anything remotely special about Kaname, except being an expertise at bluffing. Due to the sudden nature of everything, it makes sense to not even bother with character development. All the audience can do is follow Kaname and watch him scrambling to stay alive whilst manipulating the game to his favour.

Much of this intensity and anticipation for something great abruptly halts when we are introduced to the special ‘live event’. After a series of combats with various enemies, Kaname begins to recruit a bunch of talented nobodies as part of his scheme to stay alive together. From here on, the pacing of the story slows down significantly as we see them making negotiations and strategies in the lead up to the climax. 

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With not much progression happening, the storytelling got lost in its own game and we wouldn’t be surprised if viewers strayed away from the series. But just when the series is about to come to a close with a few episodes to spare, Darwin’s Game quickly shifts into a new tangent when it ultimately becomes a stand-off between Kaname’s posse and Wang’s Eighth clan.

It was the chaotically mental and physical battle that we were yearning for since the beginning of the series. The intensifying animated action scenes, the heart-dropping adrenaline, and the ominous rebellion that awaits beyond the sunset — the wait totally paid off in the end. 

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Rating: 7/10 

We had high expectations for DARWIN’S GAME but the series unfortunately offered a mixed result for us. With more lows than highs, Darwin’s Game eventually redeemed itself with a good selection of action and character moments. The series isn’t exactly on top of our list but it is a great average anime to indulge in your spare time. But alas, with the mysterious cliffhanger and many questions still unanswered, we wouldn’t mind watching the next season just to satisfy our curiosity and boredom. 

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— ENDS —

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