I want to play a game. However this isn’t some typical game show whereby you spin the wheel and guess letters of a sentence to figure out the word and earn big bucks in the process. This isn’t also some reality TV series like Survivor where you just get voted off. Nakanohito Genome [Jikkyouchuu] is a game whereby participants are mysteriously whisked away to a strange place and forced to play various games along with other participants if they are to return to their ordinary lives. The catch? They can die here for real if they are not too careful or fail! Gasp! What kind of game show would risk the lives of their participants?! Oh well. You do know the dog eat dog world of showbiz, right? It’s going to attract a lot of viewers so what’s a little risk, no? Like they say, no pain, no gain.

Episode 1
A few lucky people have been chosen to participate in Let’s Play game called Nakanohito Genome. Among them is Akatsuki Iride as the next thing he knows, he finds himself in a jungle along with Karin Sarayashiki. They have to run for it because a giant panda is coming their way. Kaikoku Onigasaki tells them to take out their eyes and it is easy. However Akatsuki climbs a tree and tries to befriend the panda. It worked! With this stage cleared, the host, Paka congratulates them for such an unusual solution. He lets them know a counter on their left arm known as the epidermal counter. The number represents the view count in real time. Their goal is to make that counter reach 100 million during this live stream. Paka has everyone introduce each other. All are well known streamers who are good in their respective filed like Akatsuki in escape games, Karin in horror games and Kaikoku in Japanese style and Sengoku games. The rest include Himiko Inaba (nurturing games), Anya Kudou (fighting games), Yuzu Roromori (puzzle games), Zakuro Oshigiri (stealth games) and Makino Aikawa (dating sim games). As Anya is uncooperative and wants out, Paka warns him those who are stubborn will be placed in some white room while their comrades go about achieving the goal. That person will wait and wait, not knowing any updates of the progress until he/she dies waiting… Also, death is real here. No resets or save points. In the next Ouija game, Akatsuki, Karin, Anya and Zakuro are selected. They do what the spirits ask like give water. Akatsuki volunteers to be the spirit’s friend. It gets weird when Akatsuki is suddenly pulled from behind and out of the window. Luckily the giant panda broke his fall. Akatsuki then points out somebody in the room. It’s that spirit. Now that she is visible, she thanks him for the water and wonders if he could still be her friend. Akatsuki agrees. But the spirit wants him to burn and die with her. She feels sad that he won’t and will soon be forgotten. Akatsuki confirms he wants to be her friend but cannot go with her now. Once everything is over then he will. You can count on it because he never breaks his promises. With the spirit at ease, the stage is cleared. Their viewership has risen to over 83,000 views.

Episode 2
Paka informs of floating cameras called Pakamera everywhere so that everyone will be able to view live their exploits. They can use the facilities in the city and tower as they wish but do not step into the 51st floor ever. Violators will be persecuted. In this next stage, they have to nurture an egg, raise her and make her get along well with a handsome teacher, Hikaru Genji. At least 4 people are needed for this stage so naturally simulation specialists, Himiko and Makino are in. Akatsuki volunteers and oddly Anya takes this one? With Himiko being serious in raising a character, we see them all hugging around the egg waiting for it to hatch. And the moment it hatches, woah, what this monstrosity?! Folks, meet Murasaki. She is the culmination of their thoughts. Panda face (Akatsuki) with afro (Makino) in a sailor high school uniform (Anya). As the quartet do their best to raise their ‘daughter’, meanwhile we see Yuzu and Karin taking a bath together. Yuzu trolling Karin of lesbianism and even hinting she is not a girl! But this proves that viewership is also evident outside play areas because their view counter just risen a lot! I think bath scenes are going to be a hit… Back to the panda nurturing game, now Murasaki has been enrolled in an all-girls’ high school. Genji is a very popular man among the girls so it is going to be tough. But one day Akatsuki and Makino investigate further into Genji and see him throwing away all the presents the girls gave him as he complains they should have given him better presents like wine. WTF?! Then when Murasaki comes in to give her cookies, after putting up a fake charade, he tramples on her cookies and as usual starts complaining. Murasaki catches him in the act but before he could do something about it, Makino hits him out with a bottle. Murasaki makes cupcakes for everyone while explaining how nice Genji is as a person. Cue that this stage is about to be cleared because damn, this scene of Murasaki disappearing like as though she’s been exorcised?! One last big hug from her ‘parents’. With the stage cleared, their viewership sharply rises to 3.5 million views. We see a secret behind Yuzu’s secret cabinet: Lots of posters on Akatsuki. This girl worships him?

Episode 3
Kaikoku and Zakuro report to the rest. While they were in the previous game, they did some exploring and research. This entire city is like a ghost town. There is nobody else but them. They also explored the 51st floor but the moment Paka showed up, they ran for it. But looks like now he is back to attack them. Due to this violation, he has mimicry man eating plants attacking the place and the entire is lockdown. They must defeat this monster to clear this extremely hard level. Akatsuki almost got devoured by one that mimicked Karin. But when the sun sets, it becomes inactive and even shrinks during night fall. The gang take refuge at the cellar’s storage room. Akatsuki learns Anya has some sort of sleeping problem due to his family’s inherited sleeping disorder. Kaikoku follows Yuzu to her room to take poison ampules that could literally kill the monster. He sees the posters but she hopes he can keep it a secret. They test the poison on the plants and it works like a charm. Yuzu then proposes some password test so that they could differentiate friend from foe. The guys are tasked to follow the roots and pinpoint the core. It leads them to 2 Makinos. Trying to figure out which is the real one, turns out both are imposters! That night, Karin needs to go to the toilet. So why wake up Akatsuki to accompany her? I know Yuzu might be a little cuckoo but shouldn’t she try Himiko? As Akatsuki waits, he too feels the need to use the toilet. But doing so, Yuzu approaches him and attacks him with a hammer! Though missed, Yuzu is very certain this Akatsuki is an imposter. She knows the real one is ambidextrous and this imposter used the wrong hand to protect himself! This imposter must be an intelligent and high level monster to be able to move around at night. Yuzu prides herself in observing Akatsuki her entire life. Actually she doesn’t care if he dies because she wants to dissect him and see what he is made of. He is also the reason why her research of him can never be incomplete. She is in a dilemma to kill this imposter but the moment it shows its fangs, she stabs the poison into him. The next day, Akatsuki doesn’t know why but Yuzu is clinging onto him, feeling a bit guilty but glad that he is okay. The stage is cleared and they gained 7.2 million viewers.

Episode 4
Akatsuki and Anya are fighting because the former tried to give him some sleeping pills he asked from Paka but the latter would not accept it and punched him. Kaikoku and Zakuro continue their investigation. Definitely the city is dead. The utensils are new but there is dust all over. Zakuro doesn’t want him to be reckless again and give them trouble. Because he is here for a reason and won’t quit till he achieves it. His goal is to find his lost twin sister. Paka leads the gang through a village holding some festivities. Because demons will come out to abduct their maidens, to clear the stage they must stop this and rescue all abducted maidens. Destroying all demons will give a true ending but it will be impossible for their level since the demons are on cheat code. The gang is further explained by the village elder, Kihachi and his granddaughter, Kikka. They argue about who should participate in this game (as usual, Akatsuki always volunteers) but the question in who should cross-dress as a maiden to bait the demon. Other than Akatsuki, Makino is selected since his eyes have this strange charm on others regardless of gender. As they wait for the demon to show up, turns out that Kihachi and Kikka are the demons themselves. All travellers who walk in will become their sacrifice. Kihachi doesn’t want those cross-dressing guys so Kikka picks out Karin. She wants to pick another one but Kihachi points out the dungeon is full and if they have to pick another, they must get rid of one. This is when Akatsuki volunteers himself on grounds he can get rid of him if he doesn’t like it. Also, he is doing it for Karin so she won’t be alone. Anya is very upset about this. He remembers Akatsuki talking to him about his bad physical stamina. If Anya collapsed, Akatsuki will not be able to carry him to safety. He wants to clear game this with everyone. I’m sure that struck something inside that hot tempered guy. But don’t despair. Yuzu has stuck a transmitter on Akatsuki and they can track him down.

Episode 5
Kaikoku and Zakuro are chosen to track down Akatsuki and Karen. Zakuro reminds their mission is to bring the duo back alive and not to engage any demons. Kaikoku wonders why he is telling him all this especially about his twin sister. Because the rest are earnestly playing the game and Kaikoku isn’t, it means he is most determined in getting home. The duo reach the base and stumble into Akatsuki. Somehow he managed to squeeze out of his cage. He takes them to see a bird’s eye view of the room. Kikka has turned Karin and the other prisoners into dolls so she can play them in this life sized dollhouse. They split up to find where the other girls are held. Lucky Akatsuki finds them and from the hints they say, the key to the door must be in Kikka’s room. But as he goes get them, he gets knocked out by Kihachi. Grandpa is ready to kill this kid but Paka warns him not to as he is indispensable. Doing so is equivalent to breaking the game system and if he insists, as the admin of this game he will have to reset everything. Does he not want to stay a little longer with his granddaughter? Kihachi gives in. Akatsuki believes Paka has always been alone here and hopes they can escape this place together. But Paka declines. He can’t leave because of a promise. Zakuro is in panic. He finds a tag containing his sister’s name, Sakura. It is revealed she played a beta version of Nakanohito 2 years ago and disappeared. Desperate to look for her, the only way Zakuro was ever going to trace her was to play this game himself. Meeting up with the rest, Zakuro wants the rest to leave first while he settles some unfinished business. He asks Kikka about a girl who looks like him that came here 2 years ago. She taunts him that she might have gotten rid of her. This makes Zakuro mad as he is ready to slash her but is stopped by Kaikoku. Cool his head and leave with the rest, he’ll handle things from here. Kikka was just toying with Zakuro because of his serious face as she can’t remember all her dolls. She calls grandpa to crush Kaikoku but he didn’t respond. Seems Kihachi treasures his time with her so he isn’t going to lift a finger. This leaves Kikka devastated so Kaikoku tells her not to be so selfish. Kikka can’t understand because no grandparents would hate their grandkids but Kaikoku begs to differ. Kikka might have the last laugh since she can tell Kaikoku’s family hates him. That’s why he envies her who is loved by grandpa. Kaikoku just leaves. Together they return and clear this mission. 18.7 million views now, huh?

Episode 6
Paka takes them to a desert tomb. This stage is relatively easy but only 2 can participate and must be a boy and a girl. The pair must head in and retrieve some chromosome but be warned. The only thing you can’t do is lie. Himiko and Anya are chosen from the lot. Akatsuki would have wanted to go but he broke his bones from the last time and is forced to sit out. There goes his perfect attendance record… Anya and Himiko don’t really get along well. Especially when Himiko starts asking some questions, he lies to get her off his back. Then the lights go out. Then mummies attack! Is this what happens when you lie? Eventually they fall down a chasm. We see Anya’s dream of why he cherished his helmet so much. It belonged to his eldest brother and he was killed in a motor accident. When they wake up, before them is an alpaca statue who is going to ask them 3 questions. Because Anya is short tempered and getting violent with it, the statue threatens to squash them with the ceiling. The first question relates to memories. Who was your first love. Anya has none while Himiko took a while to confess about some kid who lived across the street. Meanwhile Zakuro confronts Paka. If it is about his sister, Paka already told him he knows nothing. Zakuro wants to know what he did to Yuzu but Paka warns him about the white room. It isn’t only for those who aren’t uncooperative but who will disrupt the game balance. Don’t worry. The leading potential is Kaikoku. Zakuro wanted to attack Paka but luckily Makino brings him away. Back to the Sphinx’s question, the second question has them reveal 5 great qualities of this form this slime has taken shape. Since both of them see Akatsuki, while Himiko is quick to say them all, it took a while for Anya to drag it out from his mouth. The final confessional question has them say the greatest sin they have committed. Outside, Yuzu is ‘comforting’ Akatsuki who is worried the duo haven’t come back yet. He wonders if he should have gone in instead but Yuzu knows this game will definitely not be suitable for him. Speaking of the devil, Anya and Himiko have come out and cleared this stage. 25 million views now, huh? I am guessing because Himiko’s answer to the third question was she killed her older brother?

Episode 7
Anya and Himiko are arguing because the latter wants to keep this slime! Punitsuki?! Anya remembers Himiko explaining about killing her brother. She can’t remember her brother’s face as he put her up for adoption when she was young. This was to protect her. Soon after that he went missing. Legally if a person is missing for more than 7 years, that person is officially declared dead. Hence Himiko felt that is how she ‘killed’ her brother. Damn technicalities. Today’s game will be hide and seek. Not just your ordinary hide and seek but they’ll hide from these 3 lovely ghost ladies. Folks, meet Misery, Isabella and Carrie. The play area will be their dorm level. Every 15 minutes, the ghosts will come looking for them and they’ll play this for an hour. If the ghost comes into your hiding and finds you, that’s strike one, you’ll lose your vision. The second strike means your eyeballs will be gorged out! To clear this stage, all of them must not be cursed at the end of the game. Due to this difficulty, those who are cursed can be ‘rescued’ if being touched by those not cursed. In the first round, all the girls hiding in the same room got cursed. Also, Kaikoku and Zakuro. Losing sight means having an irremovable blindfold over your face… Akatsuki and Anya come to heal them. In the second round, Kaikoku is hiding in Yuzu’s room. He sees her secret Akatsuki worshipping area but what caught his eye is about some data on the users of this game. Akatsuki and Anya are already cursed once and it is a miracle they managed to hide from the ghost despite Akatsuki sneezing. I guess the ghost wasn’t thorough enough. For the third round, it seems all of them got cursed! Who is going to save them! Makino! He was sleeping in his room all along and somehow fell and stuck between the bed and well. Damn I tell you the ghosts aren’t even thorough! So thank goodness. In the final round, all of them hide in the same room. Akatsuki is confident the ghosts will no look in here. And in the end, all of them cleared this stage and viewership is no at 36 million.

Episode 8
Kaikoku goes through the data on each of them he found in Yuzu’s room. He notes that Yuzu and Akatsuki’s data are the only ones unavailable. With the players having their rest day, Paka suggests trying out the open bath. Akatsuki is bugging everyone to go but looks like this is on hold as they see Kaikoku having a serious talk with Yuzu. Why are they assigning colours to everybody? Curious Akatsuki asks. It’s the colour of their underwear! WTF?! The guys head to the open bath first. OMG. Paka bathing in his suit?! Will this contaminate the water? Because Akatsuki is the only one who will soak in with him, Paka tells a secret. No it’s not his weakness or how to clear this game. They are right next to the girl’s bath! As Paka leaves, he decides to play a prank. He switches the gender signs outside. So when the girls are heard coming in, the guys go into hiding behind the big rock. Then they hear Yuzu molesting Karin in the most ambiguous yuri way. With all the Pakamera lining up, Karin throws a single bucket and strikes all of them out! Woah! What kind of special move is that?! Now the guys are scared. They fear they will meet the same fate if Karin finds out so they discuss for a way to get out alive. Then they ponder some reverse psychology. The guys were here first and since the girls came in later, it’s like the girls were peeking on the guys so it’s not their fault, right? Yeah, try to make it look like an accident. The problem now is who goes first, second, etc. Since they’re arguing over it, Karin busts them. Time to run like hell! It gets even worse when Karin’s towel drops. Somehow this increases her special power. And so we have a bloodied bath and it ends with Himiko dropping her flash grenades. This is surely raking in the views. In the aftermath, Kaikoku continues to look at the data. He looks at his own and sees a note that grandpa is in critical condition. Immediately he takes the elevator to the top. Next morning, Zakuro informs the rest that Kaikoku is nowhere to be found. Indeed. It seems he is now in the white room. Viewership only at 41.8 million? Man, I thought this would have doubled and blast through 80 million!

Episode 9
It seems Kaikoku is accusing Paka of doing something to his grandpa but Paka maintains he did nothing. When Paka goes to see the other players, they aren’t pleased that their friend has been sent to the white room. Even Akatsuki is calling for a strike and won’t play the next game unless all of them are together. Wow. Paka panicking that his best player won’t play? Yuzu suggests calling off the games for the moment. Soon, Paka has everyone gathered. They are given a chance to rescue him within 72 hours. To find the 6 digit combination to enter the white room, the hint is in this 30,000 jigsaw pieces! Paka hints to Yuzu that he is doing this puzzle to remind her of her place. Yuzu being the puzzle expert relays some hints on how they can go about this like they don’t need to put together everything in order to figure out the final answer. Meanwhile Kaikoku finds a lose tile in the bathroom. It seems there is a path headed underground. As he crawls out, he stumbles into Nanami Omejima and Chihiro “Hiro” Akafuda. On pretence to make friends, Nanami tasers him out. When he wakes up, he thought he saw a female version of Zakuro. It’s Sakura! Nanami explains that they are the only people who are now underground and they are from different game editions. They might sound different but it is actually the same place and the name is updated when different people play. Nanami has been stuck here for 4 years. This place is a deserted island and from time to time, there will be helicopters bringing in the supplies. Paka makes sure they all don’t see this. Hiro panics when Sakura goes missing. Kaikoku easily finds her rummaging some stuffs so she explains her being ‘missing’ happens very often. I think Kaikoku realizes a weird love triangle going on here. Hiro -> Sakura -> Nanami. Then going through some watery parts of the underground, she mentions about some mermaid ghost. Oh, is it popping up now? Meanwhile Yuzu is under extreme stress. Based on her experience she knows this puzzle cannot be completed within the timeframe. Until Karin snaps her out from her nail biting habit. She promises to do anything she asks for so in the meantime, please hang in there. Yuzu then starts to realize something. Lots of complicated equations! Damn f*cking equations to get to the answer!!! Looks like Yuzu’s back in the groove.

Episode 10
That mermaid… Turns out to be a giant goldfish! It gets hostile but thanks to Nanami shooting at it, it backs off. Nanami recognizes creature as it was a target in one of their games then. Yuzu explains the Luhn algorithm on how to derive an answer from seemingly random numbers. In short, I don’t get it! She tells the rest to get some rest while she works on it herself. Kaikoku and the rest return to their hideout. Nanami offering Kaikoku to join them in case this is a ruse by Paka to capture them all in one fell swoop. Gee, Paka must be patient to recapture them in one go instead of one by one. Anyway, Kaikoku declines as this kind of team play isn’t his style. Though he agrees to exchange info. The strain has Yuzu collapsed. As Karin goes to get help from the rest, Paka seems to help solve a little of the puzzle and drops the important puzzle piece. This is to make her owe him one and to remember her place as his subordinate. The puzzle to the white room is solved and the rest head in. Hiro calls out to Kaikoku as there are people calling his name. Is there any merit that Nanami is trying to pretend to be Kaikoku and not letting the rest know that there are others? Anyway, Zakuro explains how Yuzu tackled this hard puzzle so hard for him that she passed out. That’s why he wants him to come back with them. Sakura then has Kaikoku promise not to reveal about her. Imagine the flood of emotions her brother will have. After the rest goes back into hiding, Kaikoku only opens the door, much to his friends’ delight. He apologizes to them for making them worry and heads home with them. Later he visits Yuzu in the infirmary and wants to know about the documents on the players he found in her room. Yuzu admits she is this game’s record keeper and on Paka’s side. Her job is to pass info to Paka and serves like a monitor inside the game. She took on this role out of curiosity but now feels she doesn’t want the game to continue on like that. Kaikoku doesn’t care for all that and only wants to know if she is friend or foe. Take your time with your answer but until then, he calls for a truce.

Episode 11
Paka trolling everyone by being afraid of them because they hate him?! Anyway, with the viewership reaching halfway point of 50 million, it’s time for the next game. In this VR game, looks like Kaikoku, Yuzu, Himiko and Makino are turned into little kids. The rest must nurture them until the plant on their head blossom. To clear the game, 3 of them must bloom. Otherwise they will be stuck as kids forever. Anya, try to be nice, okay? So we see them take care of the kids that make it look so easy. Heck, Kaikoku wants to go bath with the girls and Karin allows it because he is a kid and not the current Kaikoku?! Whatever. In the end, Kaikoku, Yuzu and Himiko bloom and the stage is cleared. However noticing that Makino has not even bloomed an inch, Paka again gives some leeway to get them clear the game before tomorrow morning. Don’t want to risk another boycott, eh? No matter how much they do fin things with him, his plant will not grow. We see Makino’s trauma. His parents are always fighting and ignoring him. He sometimes finds his solace with his neighbour onee-san, Sumire. However she only looked at him as a little brother. So leave it to Akatsuki to go have a heart to heart talk with him. Akatsuki doesn’t remember about his own past and his current mom isn’t his biological one. Sometimes the real one doesn’t see her but it’s fine because he knows he loves her. So does Makino have anybody he loves? Even if that love is not returned, can he not be happy with just that? Can he accept it and move on? Makino is about to shut himself out due to his broken heart, thinking his parents never bothered with him and Sumire loves somebody else but then his friends are here to bring him back! Wohoo! Power of friendship, no? Yeah, time to move on. With that (as well as Zakuro calling him by his first name), Makino’s plant blooms. Stage cleared with 67 over million viewers!

Episode 12
Akatsuki asks everyone if Makino has a girlfriend. Because when he and Himiko go wake him up, he accidentally hugged her and thanked Sumire. Asking the guy directly, he just blushed. They even vote on if his girlfriend is older or younger? Only Akatsuki thinks Sumire is older. As the next stage starts, so Paka saying this is where the real fun begins… You mean it’s just going to be a bonus stage?! Everyone is given a set of coins to play any games they want. They can win as many coins and at the end they can exchange it for prizes. Paka merchandises? Boring! But wait! There is one ticket that allows Paka to grant you any wish you want. The only condition is that it must be in the confines of Nakanohito. So we see them playing various (boring) games. Some try to make a killing by betting big but lost all their earnings. Heck, there is one room with suspicious green pipes in which if you drop in, brings you to a familiar underground with familiar blocks and coins… And when you come out, you sport a familiar moustache!!! Ring a bell?! Of course time for some drama as a game Akatsuki plays, he falls into a trap. Not sure what place he is but he is seeing strange visions of his family. I think. The rest are worried he hasn’t been out yet so Paka explains that although his life won’t be in danger, but if he isn’t back by the time limit, he will become a dropout. I guess the only way now is to exchange the coins for the magic ticket. But all of them have lucked out or exchanged them, right? Oh wait. There’s Makino. He’s killing it at the slots! He’s drowning in coins! But since they are only halfway, they can double that with a simple game that is all or nothing. This high-low card game has you guess your card’s value is higher or lower than the dealer’s. So what’s it going to be? Time is ticking… Then everyone remembers Akatsuki’s vote on Sumire’s age. Yup, definitely higher. And with that, Akatsuki returns! Tadaima. Meanwhile we take a detour back at Akatsuki’s household. Mom thinks it’s okay for her husband to go and off he goes with his groupies. For something. On the other hand, our players are getting ready for the next stage… Wow. The bonus stage netted them 70 million viewers?

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What a downer. Here I was expecting the final episode to be some cliff-hanger ending, it ended with somewhat a fun-like level instead. Boring. Heck, I’d be complaining if that cliff-hanger ending made the cut either. And that final scene whereby Akatsuki’s dad meeting up with a few other people, I am assuming they are parents of some of the other players. Because you know, that striking resemblance to their kids… It’s like they’re off to go rescue their kids after they’ve been missing for who knows how long. Anyway that scene feels redundant considering the way the series ‘ended’. Sure, worried parents try to go rescue their kids but I guess they’re not convinced seeing how much fun they’re having and the millions of viewers they are garnering. I wonder how many more don’t like seeing this. Hint, like yours truly! Oh heck, I must be one of those million viewers since I stayed and watched this series till the end.

I think a lot of people try to compare this with Danganronpa and because this one somewhat doesn’t live up to that standard, hence why many gave such excuses of finding this series a poor adaptation. I am guessing that why this series lacks any sort of excitement is because, wait for it, nobody dies!!! As we were told that people who participate in this game have a chance of losing their life for real, initially my perception is that the number of participants will eventually thin out towards the end as the game gets tougher and tougher and some will be risking their lives just to solve the stage and let the rest move on. I know. Blame me for being a bloodthirsty sadist but that is basically how you attract viewership, no? The basic human nature of wanting to see blood spill of others. Therefore with all of the participants here clearing the stages and being so happy in the end, it is a mind boggling matter of how their viewership count can increase dramatically by the end of each stage! Where’s the excitement in that?! Unless they are fans of the participants so it’s like they just hope and wish to see more of them in action rather than some casual viewer who is just out for blood. Too bad this isn’t a horror survival series then.

The other big problem of this series is the games that they play. I believe they do not want to focus on the games and instead of the interaction and bonding of the players. Many of the games that we see them play are just borderline boring. Like raising a child? WTF?! Go to a demon village and rescue captured maidens? Boring! No plot twist whatsoever after the stage is cleared. I know it is to appease to fans of different genres since we have participants from different abilities in the game. But really, the games are somewhat a tool and stepping for the characters to grow closer and bond. But they fail in that too. More on that later. So in terms of the games, I could basically sum it up as boring as f*ck. The closest a game was the most interesting was the hide and seek one with the ghost ladies. I admit it was interesting and as well suspenseful because you know, ghost ladies trying to hunt you down! But the biggest disappointment comes in that final round how all of them managed to win the game without being caught at all! They put all their eggs in the same basket! The worst part was they never explained it to us how Akatsuki deduced that this was the safe room! Yeah people, use your imagination on how they survived that. By that time I was downright losing it and from then on, I wasn’t just interested in whatever games they played anymore. Whatever. Just get it on and clear the stage.

On to the characters, I believe they are also a big miss and unfortunately as much as they try to keep the intrigue and mystery with some of them, ultimately I think that a dozen episodes weren’t enough to properly flesh all 8 of them out. Maybe they could have run for another cour but who knows if it would still be interesting. The biggest gripe I have is have the characters’ backgrounds feel superficial. They are just shown snippets of their past or whatever and then nothing else. You move on. I mean, all of the players I believe have some sort of past and a reason why they participate in this game, willingly or unwillingly. But to skim over them just to ‘alert’ us that hey, this is their past. Note that? Okay. Let’s move on. It just doesn’t make us feel we want to put our support behind them. Ironically we have players who are pros in their related fields. But where is one who is skilled in third person shooters? I guess Japanese people don’t play Overwatch, Fornite, PUBG or even Call Of Duty or Counter Strike.

Like Himiko, when she said she killed somebody, it sure hell made me interested to know more about it. And then it was just briefly explained about how she technically ‘killed’ somebody figuratively and not physically. It was really a disappointment. So that’s it for this shy chick, huh? The only reason why order is kept and the guys not fighting each other because of her flash grenades. It’s her only prominent point we’d mostly remember. Every group needs an angry guy. That’s you Anya. What about why he carries a helmet around to honour his dead brother? Then there is Makino who is always sleeping wherever and whenever he can. Yes, this guy can even sleep upside down on rock like as though he is defying the laws of nature and physics! They try to make this Makino guy having this enigmatic ambience. It makes us want to know who this guy. Every time you look into his eyes, you wanna fall in love with this hunk. And then a convenient episode just to give us his flashback… Uhm… I guess it’s okay? Once you know about that, it’s like, whatever.

The biggest mysterious players are Akatsuki and Yuzu themselves. It is hinted that they are more than just players and while Yuzu is revealed to be on Paka’s side, it didn’t really send any shockwaves. If this is supposed to be the biggest twist, then I guess it failed. Of course Akatsuki as the main character, how much do we know about him? He seems like an eager beaver wanting to join in every game. He is like the glue that sticks all the players together because otherwise nobody would be wanting to cooperate in the first place. His eternal smile and positivism I am guessing is hiding something even tragic. That is why he acts like an airhead to try and cover up whatever background he has. I may be wrong and Akatsuki might just be some natural airhead who loves to play games. That’s all. Last episode tries to hint something but it just didn’t really matter because once again you’d expect the power of friendship to get him out of whatever problem. That’s what friends are for, right? Another unanswered question is how the genome fits into all this. Every time they clear a stage, they receive some chromosome thingy. Are they taking samples of the players’ DNA to build a secret army? Or at least clone their gaming skills?

As you might have guessed, there are a few mind boggling questions that pop up in your head while watching this series. At least mine did. The mind boggling one goes to those secret underground kids. Don’t tell me Paka is that dumb and lets them run around and do as they wish? Nanami I assume is the ‘oldest’ because he has been stuck underground for 4 years! FOUR DAMN YEARS!!! So what is he planning to do? I’m sure it is to bust out and waiting for the right time. Keep waiting… So long those kids do not interfere with the current games, I guess Paka is willing to close an eye. I mean, Paka could have captured all of them as and when he likes and as the game master, he has the power and authority to do it. I know we see him kowtowing to Akatsuki’s demands but I’m sure he is just trolling for the sake of the game.

What about the viewership of the game? Are the rising numbers due to the same people watching (because some of us own multiple devices and online accounts) or are they truly unique viewers? Because it feels strange that the counter actually goes up by a few million after every stage is cleared. I mean, are there no viral cute cat videos out there?! Are people so bored or the marketing team of this game is so good that they attract others to get glued to their screen? Heck, even there are not many fanservice scenes and the numbers still increase proportionately. As the numbers do not go down, I am assuming once they start watching the stream, they’ll forever watch it till it finishes. No wonder at this rate they look like they have potential to hit a million viewers. It is just going to take a while… I mean, there’s no time limit to achieve that, right?

Of course Paka himself being the biggest mystery of all, you wonder what his intentions are in hosting these games. Conspiracy theories and speculations are rife from my side because one of mind is that he would need to achieve a certain number of viewership before he can leave the island. Or maybe he needs to host a number of editions before he can get his wish granted. Something like that. Or maybe he is the last of his Alpacan alien race and the only way to save his tribe is to extract the DNA of the best players? A bit of a stretch there… Paka doesn’t sound or look very threatening and quite accommodating to the players as most of the time you see him give some freedom to complete things. Like how he helped Yuzu complete her puzzle and give others a chance to save Makino. I’m sure those aren’t part of the rules but as the game master and host, he controls everything. I don’t think he even wants to kill them at all. Seeing how he prepared events for them to relax and have fun, this guy probably wants people to enjoy his giant amusement park. What’s a big Disneyland when you have no visitors to enjoy, huh?

Art and animation I think it tries to be as edgy as Danganronpa but overall it comes off as a bit bland, the visuals and the colour hues. The characters have this cute and kawaii looks to it like as though they are one step away from being a chibi version of themselves. Even Anya as the angsty character doesn’t look menacing. A lot of crude talk perhaps made us think he is so. This series is animated by Silver Link who has done Non Non Biyori, Strike The Blood, Masamune-kun No Revenge, Kokoro Connect and Imouto Sae Ireba Ii just to name a few.

For the voice acting, I only recognized Kenjiro Tsuda as Paka. Why do I have a feeling that this guy is going to be the Johnny Depp of voice acting since his eccentric low voice makes him suitable to voice weird characters like that pervy erotic novelist dad in Midara Na Ao-chan Wa Benkyou Ga Dekinai and Ogata in Golden Kamuy. The other casts are Daiki Yamashita as Akatsuki (Midoriya in Boku No Hero Academia), Akari Kitou as Karin (Kaho in Blend S), Kaori Nazuka as Yuzu (Tsukasa in Amagami SS), Tasuku Hatanaka as Anya (Kaminari in Boku No Hero Academia), Takuya Satou as Kaikoku (Sasajima in Nana Maru San Batsu), Kouki Uchiyama as Zakuro (Ichika in Infinite Stratos), Manaka Iwami as Himiko (Chiaki in Gamers) and Takuma Terashima as Makino (Stone River in Tantei Opera Milky Holmes). Bonus point: Mamiko Noto making her short cameo is Akatsuki’s mother!!! Or aunt. Whoever. I don’t care. Phew. So glad hearing her voice just made my day after finishing watching this series.

Not Game by Tasuku Tatanaka as the opening theme, uhm, feels a bit weird. I has this hip tune to it and although it is not bad, somehow I just feel it doesn’t fit the series. Because it gives off this feeling that everybody is having fun and that there is no danger at all to the players! Which is what it is actually. Then the ending theme, Boku Wo Mitsukete by Fhana feels equally weird at least in terms of the tune of the song. Not really to my liking. I don’t know if the ending credits animation is trying to do homage or copied after the first season of Durarara’s ending theme. It looks strikingly similar…

Overall, I wanted to like this series but unfortunately the boring games and weak character development, it only makes me dream if there was an alternate version whereby it was truly a horror survival game where the participants truly dies! But I guess I have to accept that this is a team game whereby everyone pitches in and helps each other out. Yeah, this feels like one big elaborated team building camp with the characters coming out nicely and happy. Everybody wins! Everybody gets a participation trophy! You’re a winner! He’s a winner! She’s a winner! Everybody’s a winner! Certainly, this isn’t the next Gangnam Style material that would break the counter of YouTube. What next after achieving a million views? I guess we are going back to watch those viral cute cat videos. That will surely rake up hundreds of millions of views in a short period of time.