Meep, welcome to Anime Rant! I haven’t consistently watched any new anime for a few seasons now, but for Spring 2022, I’ve at least started watching three. They are Ascendance of a Bookworm (third season), Kaguya-sama Love is War (third season), and Tomodachi Game (first season). I have a few thoughts to share about the latter anime so far. I have not read any of the manga, so these are only musings about the first few episodes of the anime.
I felt highly skeptical of this anime going into it, because although I liked the premise, most recent series with a similar premise have been terrible. I love survival game anime, and although Tomodachi Game isn’t about risking literal lives of the characters, it’s still a very intense kind of game that could make or break the direction of their lives to come. Anime with high-stakes games has recently felt too edgy to me. Sometimes edgy is ok, if there is enough thought-provoking content or interesting character psychology to balance it out. But usually, edgy anime series don’t have this sense of balance. All that to say, I expected Tomodachi Game to be too dark and edgy.
My expectation was entirely wrong. Tomodachi Game is a little overly dramatic, but it isn’t edgy. If anything, it’s too “clean,” in a psychological sense. I expected darkness, blood, and loud, crazy characters. But there’s little violence, and our characters are very childish and shallow. Sure, there is drama between them, but it’s just like any other petty teen drama, with very little substance. Nobody cares about another love triangle or a jealous ex-boyfriend or the style of underwear one chooses. When there is a significant development, or something worth discussing, the characters are all petty and concerned about the wrong things. A few examples are below.
Yutori is concerned that the others will think she’s “impure” because she might not be a virgin, and it became an issue. Nobody talked about the obvious real problem, which was that Yutori was sexually assaulted and, before that, badly bullied. Nobody even talked about the concept of consent, or potential trauma– only Yutori’s virginity. And there’s also the stupid character of Shibe, who thinks women should not have cosmetic surgery. Shiho’s plastic surgery wasn’t strictly cosmetic, but that doesn’t matter. If you care about that sort of thing, you are not only being gross and misogynistic, but also shallow as fuck. Clearly, our characters are insecure and petty. The narrative style of Tomodachi Game doesn’t help, as it also places emphasis on the wrong things.
Now as far what’s actually edgy or disturbing, there is at least one strong element. Tenji (“Glasses Character”) Mikasa is an extreme stalker and psychological abuser. That is indeed serious, but so far, there’s been nothing interesting about him in the way I would hope for a well-written antagonist. It might be too early to say that, but his character concept just isn’t great so far. He’s a boring villain. For that matter, none of the characters are great. Shiho is too predictable and gullible. Yuuichi is slightly better, but still nothing worth writing home about. Shibe is trash, and half of Yutori’s character (and body weight) are her boobs.
Speaking of boobs, all of the female characters are typified and highly sexualized as usual in anime. It’s so usual that most people wouldn’t bat at an eye at it. But I’m just really sick of the unrealistic bodies, personally. Plus, you know, sexualizing girls who are still students. As far as the type stereotypes goes, to be fair, the guys are also shallow. There’s the genuinely kind main character, the tall and calculating glasses character, and the shallow rich kid. Yeah, these characters all basically suck.
Now, I might still keep watching Tomodachi Game since it’s only projected to be 12 episodes. Don’t underestimate the power of boredom. But I also might quit before the end; I’m not sure yet. But I can at least confidently say that unless more interesting elements are added soon, I will drop this show like a hot rock. I was actually very disappointed that the traitor (Tenji) was revealed so early. Despite myself, I was looking forward to another 10 episodes of mind games before the final answer was given. Tomodachi Game just ruined half of its appeal, which was to let the viewer guess the traitor. There is still a slight appeal in the mind games that provide some moderate mental stimulation. All in all, however, I’m unimpressed with this anime. Thanks for reading.