The popularity of the death game trope is increasing recently thanks to Netflix producing blockbuster death game series like the recent hit Squid Game. The thrill of not knowing whether or not our favorite character will live until the next chapter is surprisingly addictive, and knowing the cheats and tricks for how to beat the games is just the cherry on top. Despite their recent spike in popularity, death games aren't really new in the manga world. In fact, there are actually a lot of titles already available in the market. Here are top picks for the best death game manga of the last decade!
5. Real Account
- Authors: Okushou and Shizumu Watanabe
- Genres: 14+
- Volumes: School Life, Science Fiction, Thriller
- Published: March 2016 – Present
In a familiar scene to real life, a new social media platform is taking over the world. Almost everybody has a Real Account account and are enjoying everything it has to offer, but things veer towards a deathly twist when they get transported to a digital world. It isn’t all fun and games. Well, it’s all about games, but deadly ones. Ataru Kashiwagi is one of the many who got transported into the Real Account world. Here, there are three main rules: losing the game means death; losing all of your followers means death; and once you die, all of your followers die with you.
Real Account is nowhere near perfect. In fact, it has plenty of flaws and some questionable morals. It is, however, an entertaining read. The concept is quite unique, although the execution could be improved. Taking social media, which almost everybody is using, then turning it into a deadly game is surprisingly interesting. It manages to showcase how bad people can be when push comes to shove. Not only that, it also manages to tackle internet issues like catfishing, facades, and even profiting from porn. Surely, this is one of the best manga with the death game trope at present.
4. Kimi ga Shine: Tasuuketsu Death Game (Your Turn to Die: Majority Vote Death Game)
- Authors: Nankidai, Tatsuya Ikegami
- Genres: 1+
- Volumes: Horror, Psychological
- Published: April 2021 - Present
This manga follows a selfless protagonist who got dragged into a death game. The moment Sara Chidouin wakes up, she finds herself restrained in a bed. Joe Tazuna, her friend, is also lying down restrained on the bed beside her. With a ticking timer and only one key, Sara and Joe’s friendship and wits are tested to their limits.
As the title implies, Your Turn to Die: Majority Vote Death Game is a death game manga that chooses the game’s next victim through a majority vote. In any death game manga, death is commonplace. Adding the majority vote spin, however, increases the gravity of the psychological warfare. Since nobody wants to be voted off, each and every character has to appeal to the others. This also shows how the other characters think and how fast they can discard others. It is also interesting to note that this manga’s source material is a game, making it more exciting for the fans of the original!
3. Jukkakukan no Satsujin (The Decagon House Murders)
- Authors: Yukito Ayatsuji and Hiro Kiyohara
- Genres: 2+
- Volumes: Drama, Horror, Thriller
- Published: August 2021 – Present
A certain Mystery Club goes to a peculiar island for a trip. On this island, there is the titular decagon house. What’s chilling about it is that an unsolved mass murder has recently happened somewhere nearby it. To be fair, that’s the primary reason they are there. They’ve brought the details of the murder in order to try their hand in solving the mystery. The supposed club activity, however, takes a gruesome turn when mysterious tablets and murder victims start to appear.
The Decagon House Murders isn’t a straight-up death game like the other manga on this list. While it may not be explicitly described as a game, the setup is pretty much like the Werewolf game. Someone, maybe even more than one, within the group is secretly killing the others. Instead of killing everybody in one go, the killer is doing it at a constant pace. It becomes more game-like because of the tablets. Those tablets with a detective or murderer written on them increase the tension as well as the fear among the characters. The only way for them to survive is to sniff out the murderer and put a stop to their killing spree.
2. Kamisama no Iutoori 2 (As the Gods Will: The Second Series)
- Authors: Muneyuki Kaneshiro and Akeji Fujimura
- Genres: 21
- Volumes: Thriller
- Published: March 2015 – September 2017
One unsuspecting day, daruma dolls start to appear in different classrooms. Without any warning, it starts facilitating a deadly game. Fortunately, the main character is absent during that day, but his classmates, including his best friend, are present at school. After learning the fate of his best friend, Akashi grabs the next opportunity he gets in order to talk and apologize to his best friend, even if that means risking his life in the process.
This manga does a great job of showing what a death game manga is supposed to be. The characters, especially the main leads, are fascinating. They have unique and interesting traits that just drag our attention to them. The games, although familiar to many, are given a deadly makeover. The uncertainty as to whether the players will be playing with or against each other adds another layer of suspense. At the end of the day, the only means of survival is winning the game.
1. Imawa no Kuni no Alice (Alice in Borderland)
- Authors: Haro Aso
- Genres: 1+
- Volumes: Action, Horror, Supernatural
- Published: 2022
While Ryouhei Arisu and his two best friends are hanging out, an enormous firework explodes in the sky. The next thing they know is that they’ve been transported into what looks like a dystopian Japan, but that’s not the worst part. They are forced to partake in dangerous games. Without any knowledge whatsoever, Arisu and his friends do their best to survive.
Alice in Borderland is basically what death game manga should be. The games the characters partake in are carefully thought out, and often have some interesting twists. Typical of this kind of manga, death is a common occurrence in Alice in Borderland. This manga, however, manages to make its readers empathize with the characters before sending them off. This results in a roller coaster of emotions during the games. The manga also utilizes the readers’ empathy towards the characters by occasionally purposefully providing clever holes and solutions. Because of this, readers desperately try to come up with a clever solution during the future games.
Despite the amount of corpses death game manga produce, this kind of series can surprisingly be fun to read. These kinds of games awaken people’s primal instincts. Since characters are often pitted against each other and threatened with their lives, they get desperate and scramble towards the easy way out. Because of this, they often become narrow minded and fail to see the safer solution. This is when the main character shines the most. By figuring out the trick behind the games, the protagonist often comes out as the hero while amusing the readers at the same time.
What are some of your favorite death game manga? Did we miss any that you think should’ve been on this list? Let us know in the comments!