Tomodachi Game is a new thriller anime for the Spring 2022 season. It is based on a manga with the same name, written by Mikoto Yamaguchi and drawn by Yuuki Satou. Prior to this anime adaptation, Tomodachi Game had actually received some live-action adaptations back in 2017. So this anime adaptation is actually a long time coming.
Tomodachi Game itself is a story about a group of friends who are forced to play a game that will test their friendship in exchange for lowering or even erasing their debt. However, more often than not, this game ended up destroying personal relationships and even increasing their debt several times over.
This kind of story can be considered a part of the Death Game genre. So what is the "Death Game" and can the Tomodachi Game bring something different and refreshing to this stale genre?
What Is The "Death Game" Genre?
Death Game is a story that involves a group of people who are forced to participate in a game where a failure to complete certain tasks or objectives will result in severe punishment, usually involving physical violence. Some stories will even go as far as making it a literal death game where participants are forced to kill each other.
There have been numerous iterations of this genre in popular culture. Some of the live-action movies in this genre that manage to achieve the status of a global hit are the Saw franchise and The Hunger Games series. Another massive hit for this genre that took the world by storm recently was Netflix's Squid Game.
As for the world of manga and anime, well, this genre is pretty much a staple already. Every couple of years or so, there will be a new Death Game manga and anime published in Japan. Some of the most notable titles are Battle Royale, Psyren, Future Diary, Deadman Wonderland, As The Gods Will, Btooom!, and now, the Tomodachi Game.
The Most Common Tropes In A Death Game Story
Clueless participants. One of the most common tropes that exist in the majority of every death game story is the fact that there will be at least some clueless participants who don't know why they are there, such as Sakamoto from Btooom! and Katagiri from Tomodachi Game. Even if they knew to some extent why they are there, they don't really understand what the game has in store for them, such as the students from Battle Royale and Ganta from Deadman Wonderland.
Over-the-top violence. Death Game does employ some tasks or objectives that require analytical thinking from time to time, but more often than not, they thrive in violence. The more bizarre and over the top it is, the better. As a matter of fact, this is pretty much what the fans of the genre are excited to see. One of the best examples of this is definitely As The Gods Will. From blowing up the heads of the entire students in a class to slowly dropping people from floating panels in the sky, this series has found lots of creative ways to kill its characters.
Finding allies is crucial. The overwhelming majority of the stories in this genre craft the story so that the main characters have to find allies that can help them throughout the stories. As a matter of fact, this is pretty much one of the key components that the characters have to do in order to complete the game. This fact is true for almost every example mentioned above.
What Makes Tomodachi Game Different Than Other Death Game Story
Emphasis on mind games. Unlike other death game stories that often involve some physically taxing games or tasks, Tomodachi Game goes the other route and puts a heavier emphasis on the mind games instead. Games such as purposely giving the wrong answer to simple questions, or telling your friend's deepest and most embarrassing secrets won't put a strain on the body, but they are certainly heavy on the mind.
No-Violence policy. As mentioned above, the overwhelming majority of death game stories thrive on death and violence. But that is simply not the case in the Tomodachi Game. From the very start of the game, violence is strictly prohibited by the game master. After all, the main goal of the Tomodachi Game is not to kill its participants, but rather to utterly destroy their personal relationships and any sense of trust that they may have in other people.
Allies are the enemy. Similar to other death game stories mentioned previously, Tomodachi Game also urges its participants to make friends and find some allies. However, the Tomodachi Game adds a sinister twist to it. After all, when the games are designed to break your heart and your relationship with your friends by forcing you to choose between your deepest, darkest secrets vs theirs, with an additional looming threat of your debt being multiplied, it's hard to stay loyal to your friends. Even if you can, there's no guarantee that they could do the same. That is why it is difficult to differentiate between allies and enemies in the Tomodachi Game.
The Future of The Death Game Genre After Tomodachi Game
There is a unique charm in Death Game as a genre that will always make people feel attracted to it. Sure, it may not be everybody's cup of tea, but the fans of this genre absolutely love it. That is why there will always be a place for Death Game stories in popular culture.
That being said, rather than the usual mindless violence and crafting bizarre ways to kill the characters, the popularity of Tomodachi Game will likely usher in Death Game stories that will put more emphasis on the mind games. Because as Tomodachi Game has successfully proved, blood and gore is not the only thing that can make the audiences feel the pain of the character.
With its no-violence approach and a heavier emphasis on the mind games, Tomodachi Game manages to bring something different and refreshing to the Death Game genre. Nobody knows what the future holds for this niche genre, but one thing is for sure, Tomodachi Game certainly opens up some new paths that future authors for this genre can explore and implement in their stories.
Do you consider yourself a fan of the Death Game genre? What are some of your favorite movies, tv-series, anime, or manga from this genre? Be sure to share your thoughts in the comment section below.