For me at least, this anime season is continuing its weirdly rocky start.
Honestly, I wanted to like this series more than I actually did. Slice-of-life dramas and dad shows are right up my alley, so on paper at least, a combination of the two should have been an easy pick for one of my favourite shows of the season. So I’m surprised to say this, but something about Deaimon just didn’t click with me.
Maybe it’s that I’ve been spoiled by the high quality of anime titles with similar tones or themes (Usagi Drop, Sweetness and Lightning, Barakamon, Kakushigoto, etc.). Maybe it’s that I was unconsciously seeking one of those quiet, understated soul-soothing shows and was slightly taken aback when Deaimon’s characters instead overdelivered, with both Nagomu and his father seeming to yell half of their lines. Maybe it’s that I was expecting a more realistic kind of setup and was abruptly pulled out of the story when it was revealed that Nagomu’s parents simply started raising Yukihira as their own, apparently seeing no issue in not contacting the police/child services after she was literally abandoned by her own father, complete with an apology note. Most likely, it was a combination of all of these elements.
Don’t get me wrong, I like the base concept of Deaimon, but I definitely think it’s lacking somewhat in terms of execution, and I find the disconnect between the two really jarring, to the point where I’m unsure if I’ll even be back for a second episode.
I’m well aware this might sound completely contrary, but although I often gravitate toward the idea of death games in fiction (Battle Royale is probably still one of my favourite Japanese live-action films, and it’s been over two decades now), I have an intense dislike for the whole “Oooh, look how dark and edgy we are!” shtick that tends to come with them. I mean, I do get that death games are meant to be dark, but I’d argue that this doesn’t mean they can’t have a sense of humour.
Unfortunately, Tomodachi Game strikes me as very much the type of series that takes itself way too seriously from the get-go. By that, I mean everything is played 100% straight, but without any kind of intentional overkill (no pun intended) that would make the proceedings actually entertaining. There’s also no kind of self-awareness here, nor any attempt that I can see to deliver any particular message behind the shock value. What I’m left with is a plot that I’ve seen numerous times before, repeating every death-game trope in the book, purely for the sake of attempting to be grimly sinister and therefore ‘cool’.
Add in the clunky-as-hell exposition, incredibly on-the-nose flashbacks that still fail to endear me to the main character whatsoever, and frankly pretty cheap-looking production values, and I see no reason to continue with this one.
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