One of life's darkest and most reveal questions is, "What are you willing to kill for?" For some people, it's impossible to imagine a situation in which they would take another life. For others, they might be able to list a price, but without being in the situation, there's no way to be sure if they could do it. In death games, participants find their price: it's usually a large sum of money and, of course, their own life.
In death games, participants usually find themselves in the same predicament: kill or be killed. And while some participants join the games willingly, many find themselves forced to play the game. Not all death games are made the same, of course. Creators of death games constantly find more and more interesting ways to force the participants to rack up the body count in the most gruesome manner.
Here are the Top 10 Death Games in Manga.
10. "Kill the White Rabbit" from Are You Alice?
- Authors: Katagiri, Ikumi (Art) & Ninomiya, Ai (Story)
- Genres: Action, Fantasy, Mystery, Psychological
- Volumes: 12
- Published: May 2009
Wonderland is a place of mystery, and the biggest mystery of all is the identity of Alice. In Are You Alice? all the inhabitants of Wonderland are looking for Alice –the real Alice. Over the years there have been 88 people to claim the title of Alice, and play the game of "Kill the White Rabbit." Of these 88, none have succeeded. Are You Alice? follows the 89th Alice as he plays Wonderland's unique death game.
The game of Kill the White Rabbit is a unique death game, as the victor is already decided. The winner of the game is Alice, but not just any Alice; only the real Alice can win the game. Over the years, in an attempt to find the real Alice, there have been 89 candidates to the title of Alice of Wonderland. The rules of the game are very simple: having been given and accepted the title of Alice, the game begins. Alice receives from the Queen of Hearts the ability to kill the White Rabbit. If Alice kills the White Rabbit, then the game is over. While Alice must kill the White Rabbit in order to end the game, there is no worry as the White Rabbit cannot kill Alice.
The challenge of the game comes from the fact that only the real Alice can kill the White Rabbit. Disguised as a death game, Kill the White Rabbit is really an elaborate game of hide and seek, as its true aim is to find the real Alice. Despite the game's aim is so that only the White Rabbit is killed, Kill the White Rabbit has claimed the souls of many failed Alices.
9. "Rabbit Doubt" from Doubt
- Authors: Tonagai, Yoshiki
- Genres: Mystery, Psychological, Thriller
- Volumes: 4
- Published: July 2007
Rabbit Doubt is a cellphone game similar to Mafia. Players of the game are rabbits in the same colony. One player is chosen to be the "wolf." As the wolf picks off the rabbits one by one each round, the rabbits must work together to uncover the identity of the wolf before it eats every rabbit and is the last one alive.
Yu, Eiji, Haruka, Rei, all avid players of Rabbit Doubt, and their friend Mitsuki meet to relax and play Rabbit Doubt together. But when they awaken in a psychiatric hospital one day and find one of them dead and the words "Rabbit Doubt, Start!" on their cellphone, they realize that they have been placed in a real-life version of the game.
At first, the group of friends try to escape from the hospital, but as members of the group are slowly picked off, the remaining survivors realize that they must find and kill the wolf among them before they all end up dead. Forced to participate in this deadly game, the friends could escape if only they are able to kill the wolf. But with its identity unknown to the group, they find their trust and convictions being tested.
8. "Darwin's Game" from Darwin's Game
- Authors: FLIPFLOPs
- Genres: Action, Mystery
- Volumes: Ongoing
- Published: December 2012
Darwin's Game is a unique death game, in that all of its players are normal humans with superhuman powers, trying to live their lives while being forced to play the game. When a person is invited to play Darwin's Game and joins, they are given a Sigil, which grants them superhuman powers. With this power, they can kill other players in the game world, earning then points which can be traded for money. Hoping to get rich off of the game, the players take part in deadly battles. While the game takes place in an alternate world, it has effects on the real world, a fact which the players must come to terms with Kaname Sudo and his clan, the Sunset Ravens, are currently playing the game, with the hopes of finding a way out.
The two ways they know of that will end the game are by either finishing the game or killing the game's administrator. A generally peaceful clan, the Sunset Ravens don't hesitate to kill if their enemies force their hand. Darwin's Game is an interesting death game because presumably it can be won without taking another life. With in-game prizes and real-world riches available, the game's options to kill is too enticing for some of the players.
7. "The Game" from Alice in Borderland (Imawa no Kuni no Alice)
- Authors: Aso, Haro
- Genres: Action, Horror, Supernatural, Psychological
- Volumes: 18
- Published: November 2010
Not the hardest working students, Alice Ryouhei and his friends, Daikichi and Chouta, aren't exactly looking forward to their lives after graduating high school. After wishing to live in a different, more exciting world, during a firework festival, Alice and his friends wake up to find themselves in a post-apocalyptic world. There they learn that they are in "The Borderland," where people have to play and win games to survive.
In Borderlands, your life is only guaranteed by your ability to play and win games. Based on the standard playing card suits, the Borderland has different types of games that inhabitants must play: diamond games test intelligence, spade games test physical strength, with club games testing both in tandem. The final and most dangerous game, heart, tests mental stability. Players must go around the Borderland, playing the games in different arenas. Depending on the difficulty of the game, players' stay in the Borderland is extended. If they run out of time in the Borderland, they are killed.
Just about all of the games in their arenas carry the risk of death or injury. That doesn't mean that outside the arenas are safe either, as King of Spades is always being played in the Borderland, with the King of Spades, a skilled mercenary, hunting the players. In the Borderland, your safety is never guaranteed, and while the players aren't solely looking to kill each other, they will do so if the opportunity arises.
6. "God's Game" from Kamisama no Iutoori
- Authors: Fujimura, Akeji (Art) & Kaneshiro, Muneyuki (Story)
- Genres: Action, Horror, Supernatural, PSychological
- Volumes: 5
- Published: February 2011
"Be careful what you wish for" is the only way to describe the events of As the God's Will. Bored with his life at school, Shun Takahata asks God for a release from the mundanity of his school life. One day, he gets what he asks for as his teacher's head explodes and the entire class is forced to play a game of "Daruma-san ga Koronda," the Japanese equivalent to Red Light Green Light. In this game, if a player is seen moving when Daruma turns around then that player isn't just "out," they're dead.
After clearing the first deadly game, Shun finds that there are more games to play, each a deadly version of a children's game. As the players' numbers thin out, more and more about the game is revealed. The contestants of the game become known throughout Japan and the world as "Kami no Ko" or "Children of God," as this game is going on all across the world. It is understood that the game is being played in an attempt to find a new God.
The players that survived the game, however, do not receive any large coronation or deification and instead must find a way to return to their life as they once knew it. That is until they are once again summoned by God to continue playing His deadly game. As the God's Will doesn't see the characters killing each other off. Instead, the victors of the games are all decided by their different strengths and ability to survive,
5. "Ousama Game" from Ousama Game
- Authors: Randa, Hitori (Art) & Kanazawa, Nobuaki (Story)
- Genres: Horror, Mystery, Supernatural
- Volumes: 5
- Published: 2010
When the 32 students from a high school class receive a text message from the enigmatic person, only known as King, they find themselves playing Ousama Game. The rules are simple, all students must play the game, no one can withdraw from the game, and within 24 hours of receiving an order from the King, it must be completed. Despite believing the whole game to be a joke, the students play along, but as the orders progress from being harmless and innocent to be more sinister, the students realize that despite its name, Ousama Game is not all fun and games.
In addition to receiving horrifying orders, the students learn that the punishments for not completing the orders are just as bad or even worse than the order itself. As the game progresses, the students must come to terms with the fact that in order to live and avoid the punishments, they will have to do the unthinkable. A different take on the death game, the Ousama Game sees the students doing and asking others to do worse and worse things, all in order to be the last person alive.
4. "Nightmare Game" from Life Is Money
- Authors: Yaguraba, Tekka (Art) & Asaniji, Teru (Story)
- Genres: Drama, Horror, Psychological
- Volumes: 3
- Published: August 2011
When one thinks of a death game, the general idea is a bloody gorefest where the participants must kill the others in order to be the last man standing. In this survival of the fittest competition, it is usually the strongest and those most willing to kill that come out victorious I the end. But what does a game look like where violence is forbidden: well, Life is Money's Nightmare Game has the answer.
The Nightmare Game is an interesting death game, in that the game can end with all of the participants alive. The players are incentivized to kill each other with the promise of lucrative earnings at the end of the game. If all ten of the players survive, then they will each walks away with 50 million yen. If one of the players dies, then their promised earnings are split among the remaining survivors. The game ends when half of the players are left o at the end of a 10-day period.
Desperate for money, the 10 participants in the Nightmare Game are brought to an unknown location, where they will gamble with their lives in the hopes of winning a large sum of money. There they must survive 10 days in order to win their prize. Things, however, are not as simple as they may seem, as every day they must play "the Dice Game." In the Dice Game, the contestants risk being deprived of one of their senses. The purpose of the sensory deprivation and the entire game is to lock the players in a "mental prison." When the players experience a high level of stress they die. In the game, the players must learn how to cope with attacks on their sanity, while working to drive their opponents to madness.
3. "ReAca" from Real Account
- Authors: Watanabe, Shimizu (Art) & Okushou (Story)
- Genres: Adventure, Sci-Fi, Psychological
- Volumes: Ongoing
- Published: January 2014
How many followers do you have on all social media platforms? How many do you actually know? How much does your online presence reflect your real life? When some of the top users of Real Account, an incredibly popular social media application, find themselves drawn in into Real Account's cyberspace, they realize that their lives will depend on the answers to those questions.
Greeted by the Real Account's mascot, Marble, the players learn that in order to return to the real world, they must survive the Real Account's death game. In ReAca, the players will play many different games whose prizes range from earning money to, well, not dying. If a player dies in the game, then the player along with their followers die in the real world. If a player's followers all unfollow them, then the player is also killed.
ReAca forces the players and their followers to analyze their dependence on social media. As the players continue to play the game, they do so knowing that their life isn't the only one on the line. Likewise, the followers continue to follow and watch the game, knowing other than keeping their players alive, they have no direct control over the outcome of the game and, therefore, their own life. ReAca's death game is truly fascinating because the players are playing to save more than their own lives, and the fact that they're still alive to play Is only a silent confirmation of this fact.
2. "Dead Tube" from Dead Tube
- Authors: Kitakawa, Touta (Art) & Yamaguchi, Mikoto (Story)
- Genres: Ecchi, Horror, Shounen
- Volumes: Ongoing
- Published: April 2014
Dead Tube is a website where users can upload graphic videos, be it violent or sexual. The more graphic the video on Dead Tube, the more successful a video does. The competition to earn views does not make Dead Tube a game, however. The rules and prizes, on the other hand, do. The video with the top views on Dead Tube receives a cash prize of 10 million yen. With this kind of prize on the line, it's almost impossible to resist the temptation to enter.
Of course, every game has its winners and losers, and in Dead Tube, a loss is more than just a mark on your record. In the game, the loser is forced to pay the fees and crimes of the winner. If someone starts one of Dead Tube's weekly games and decides to not participate, they are immediately considered a loser for that week. With such promising reward and severe punishments, it's no wonder that in Dead Tube, the videos' graphic content continues to increase as the game continues.
Dead Tube eventually catches on at Tomohiro Machiya's school, with more and more students taking part in the deathly search for internet fame. To be successful in Dead Tube, the videos need to be as graphic as possible. In Dead Tube, participation is voluntary, but the promise of riches and fame is too much for many to turn down.
1. "The Program" from Battle Royale
- Authors: Taguchi, Masayuki (Art) & Takami, Koushin (Story)
- Genres: Action, Drama, Horror, Psychological
- Volumes: 15
- Published: 2000
When it comes to death games, one name is synonymous with the genre across all mediums: Battle Royale. Based on Koushun Takami's novel of the same name, Battle Royale, follows a junior high school class who has been selected to participate in "The Program," a government-run military program. In the Program, junior high school students are kidnapped and forced to participate in a death game. A death game in its truest sense, the students must kill one another, with only the last surviving being declared the winner.
In many death games, the participants have some motivation to participate in the game; some find the participants with a modicum of a chance to get out alive without having to kill anyone. In Battle Royale, neither of these things exist. In the Program, if there isn't one victor at the end of the game's three-day period, all of the students will be killed. The metal collar will kill all the students by exploding at the end of the three days also tracks their positions and will kill a student if they spend too long in a "Forbidden Zone," parts of the arena, which continues to grow in number, forcing the students to move around and close to each other. As if the Forbidden Zones and 3-day time limit wasn't enough incentive to kill, if anyone goes a full day without killing, their collar will explode, killing them.
A death game with many different iterations, the Program is the greatest death game. It guarantees bloodshed, whether the contestants choose to participate or not. The Program also finds a way to even the playing fields, or at least, attempt to, as the game starts off with each student receiving survival packs and a random weapon. Because of this, a student is not guaranteed to find himself with a tool they are skilled with, or even useful at all. At the end of the day, however, in order to survive the Program, it still requires one to have the ability to take another life.
Death games do a good job of finding a person's true character. Forced to kill to survive, many are able to able to awake their most primal instinct. Of course, it is this same primal instinct and bloodlust that gave birth to death games, and their ever-increasing gruesomeness and individual intricacies. Fortunately, death games are only a thing of fiction. Or are they?...
Let us know your favorite death game in the comments below!