Around Halloween, what’s more fun and frightening than exploring a haunted house or trekking through the nearby spooky forest? It’s a perfect adrenaline boost for the holiday, and if you bring along someone you have a crush on, maybe you’ll have the chance to protect them when they get scared!
The kimodameshi (test of courage) is a Japanese variant of the same concept. It often pops up to provide a tense atmosphere, endless pranks, or just an excuse for two prospective lovebirds to get a little bonding time alone together. So today, let’s take a look at five of our favorite kimodameshi in anime!
1. Ouran Koukou Host Club (Ouran High School Host Club)
- Episodes: April 2006 – September 2006
- Aired: 26
Tamaki and Haruhi are clearly the most prominent romantic duo in Ouran High School Host Club, but episode 21 takes things in a different direction. Haruhi’s class holds a haunted house/kimodameshi tournament, much to the chagrin of class rep Soga. He’s easily scared and only agreed to the idea because it would make his crush, Momoka, happy. Hikaru, Kaoru, and Haruhi give him encouragement during the tournament and his willingness to go through with it despite his fears ends up impressing Momoka.
Hikaru also reflects on his and Kaoru’s relationship with Haruhi. Is he okay with things staying the way they are, meaning that he might lose his crush to another guy? Are the bonds they share like those of a family, or something more? Even though this kimodameshi propelled another couple forward, it threw the others into a vortex of questions.
2. Gakkougurashi! (School-Live!)
- Episodes: July 2015 – September 2015
- Aired: 12
Yuki’s mind refuses to believe that there’s a zombie apocalypse going on in her school and stays bright and cheerful no matter what. So when the group needs to go on a supply run to the school store and the library in episode 2, they disguise it as a test of courage for Yuki’s sake. Unfortunately, there’s a zombie lurking around the library...
The girls’ teacher, Megu-nee, heroically keeps Yuki calm and quiet the entire time while the others distract and dispose of the zombie. Yuki returns to the group, none the wiser as to how much danger she was in. But can they really keep up this façade forever?
3. Full Metal Panic? Fumoffu
- Episodes: August 2003 – October 2003
- Aired: 12
In episode 6 of this (mostly) lighthearted Full Metal Panic spinoff, Kaname takes hardened mercenary Sousuke to a haunted hospital in an attempt to scare him. It’s got everything – creepy noises in the distance, unexplainable shadows, and even a ghostly girl covered in blood and hovering in mid-air. Sousuke reacts to everything with complete indifference, so Kaname pretty much just scares herself.
To top it all off, Kaname falls through a collapsing floor and injures herself. But the episode ends on a very sweet note, with Sousuke carrying her on his back and admitting that he was only legitimately scared when Kaname was in danger. Aww!
4. Boku no Hero Academia 3rd Season (My Hero Academia 3)
- Episodes: April 2018 – September 2018
- Aired: 25
With a cast full of superheroes, it’s easy to imagine how a kimodameshi could go crazy. But unfortunately, it’s not the fun kind of crazy. In episode 3, classes 1-A and 1-B are having fun scaring each other in the woods until the newly formed Vanguard Action Squad of the League of Villains crashes the party, hell-bent on kidnapping Bakugou and turning him to their side.
With the students separated into small groups, it’s easy for the villains to overwhelm them. Izuku, Tetsutetsu, Kendo, Todoroki, and Tokoyami (with an especially cool usage of Dark Shadow) manage to take out a few scattered villains, but ultimately Bakugou gets captured anyway. A very dark conclusion for what’s normally such a lighthearted event.
5. Shingeki! Kyojin Chuugakkou (Attack on Titan: Junior High)
- Episodes: October 2015 – December 2015
- Aired: 12
Attack on Titan: Junior High is funny and clever all by itself, but it gets even better the more you know of the source material. And nowhere is this more evident than in episode 8, when the new recruits embark on the 57th Test of Courage. The older students (Hange, Levi, and his squad) have fun making their juniors so scared that they drop their chibi designs to scream in realistic terror, but the ghostly apparition of a young black-haired girl isn’t something they planned.
Manga readers will recognize the girl as Frieda Reiss, who is Historia’s older sister and has a ghost-like presence in the original story as well. In 2015, when this episode was released, Frieda wouldn’t appear in the regular anime until three years later. It was so fun to see her animated and acting like a protective sibling, even though nobody knew it was her!
The test of courage is a fun little part of Japanese culture that we get to experience through many different lenses in anime. Whether it’s plot relevant or just for fun, and whether it goes hilariously right or horribly wrong, we always enjoy our kimodameshi.
What did you think of our list? What are your favorite tests of courage in anime? Have you ever been so scared that you shifted into a different art style? Let us know in the comments, and thanks so much for reading?