For the past decade, most people have had the convenience of owning a smartphone, which is something a lot of people, regardless of generation, take for granted. Not only can they make phone calls, they can also be used to send messages, take pictures and videos, surf the net, listen to music, watch videos and most of all, play games. While boomers like to say that playing games turns kids into zombies, Darwin’s Game challenges that notion as it allows its players to physically participate. When a player starts the game, they are given a superpower, or a “sigil.”
For high school student Kaname Sudou, his sigil allows him to create objects he has touched before out of thin air such as a 9mm. Despite being a rookie, he instantly makes a name for himself as he defeats one of the game’s top players, Shuka. Together, they form a clan in hopes of winning as they face more challengers. So what is it about Darwin’s Game that you NEED to watch?
It’s A Critique of Our Society
While the anime takes place in Japan, its themes can be universally applied. In recent years, addictions to games, the internet, and cell phones have been considered a health crisis (we’re not here to debate whether or not it is, just give you the fact that medical associations around the world have declared that). It’s severe to the point that China and South Korea now have treatment centers for those that are addicted to technology. The world of Darwin’s Game takes that concept and dials it to 11!
As we shared in the intro, as opposed to the player using their screen to play, they must physically engage in combat with other players or they die! Considering a lot of traffic accidents in some countries are caused by people who can’t put down their phone, the gimmick of Darwin’s Game is a good stepping stone in allowing viewers to re-evaluate the responsibility we have in owning a cell phone.
It Still Shows the Positives of Technology
Though our first entry explores the negatives of having a cell phone, it doesn’t mean that there are positives. Thanks to all the features our phones presently have, they allow us to be more connected than ever. Through gaming and the internet, we can make new enemies or we can make new friends. During Kaname’s journey, as we’ve seen thus far, while he initially engages in combat with Shuka, Rein, Ichiro, Ryuji, and Sui, he decides to befriend them knowing that killing them is wrong. As they participate in the campaign event, they also see how cameras and GPS on phones can be helpful and save their lives.
OK, so the power of “nakama,” or your friends, has been done to death in anime and manga but it gets to be a repeated theme because it also applies in real life. If you’re facing a life-and-death situation, would you rather try to figure it out on your own? Or would you try and overcome the problem with a group of people you can trust? Not only are two heads better than one, but so are three or four heads. Thanks to Kaname’s simple schoolboy morals, he’s able to connect with the people he encounters and by learning to rely on each other’s sigils, not only do they learn to apply teamwork, but reap its benefits.
Beyond having cell phones, all of the protagonists in Darwin’s Game are relatable to the audience. Kaname may just be a teenager, but his straightforwardness along with his clear-cut morals are something viewers can also relate to. If you’re a teenager now or—for some of you adults—remember your teenage years, you probably think/thought of the world in simpler terms and you learn/learned as you went along.
While Kaname’s journey into Darwin’s Game takes that notion to higher extremities, you do feel a genuine sense of teenage purity from him and that’s something we’ve all experienced as he tries to see the best of everyone in a dire situation. As for the supporting cast, they all have their reasons and motivations as to why they’re playing Darwin’s Game. For example, Ichiro is hoping to use the prize money to treat his daughter’s illness and, what parent wouldn’t sacrifice for their child?
Naturally, we can’t expect that content in our cell phones can physically manifest in the real world but what Darwin’s Game portrays is enough to show that what we download may have severe consequences to the point of death as we see in the beginning. As we said before, cell phones as they are today are amazing. It’s hard to imagine that 25 years ago, kids and teenagers would settle with pagers, and they certainly can’t tell a story like Darwin’s Game. For smartphones, they’re simple to the point they can be used as baby toys! However, with micro-transactions, cyberbullying, and those who use phones for criminal purposes, it’s natural that people fear the negative aspects of the technology we have.
In the case of Kaname, he faces such situations the moment he starts playing Darwin’s Game and instantly loses one of his best friends. Being the person that he is, he tries to take responsibility by taking matters into his own hands. While he does make some enemies, he eventually gains valuable friends. When you watch Darwin’s Game, do you feel that the situation Kaname faces relates to modern-day society with how even kids have smartphones with how they’re both beneficial and yet dangerous? Do you think this is an excellent critique of what our society has become? If you have anything to say, please share it in the comments!