Darwin’s Game

Darwin’s Game

Darwin's Game anime series cover art
Darwin’s Game


Darwin’s Game (ダーウィンズゲーム) is an interesting anime in that it’s better than you would initially suspect based on the synopsis. It’s based around a “death game” played by people across Japan which is basically a battle royale mobile game, but in real life.

At the start of the series, the idea is that players join the game via their mobile devices, and then they’re thrown into death matches with other nearby players at random. Players can also begin duels against each other (and I don’t think the other person has a say; they just get notified that the duel has begun).

So basically you could be thrown into a fight for your life at any moment. Later on in the series, however, the focus shifts away from these individual battles and onto larger events which are more like your typical battle royale games.

Of course, if you die in the game, you die in real life. But, that’s not exactly a feature of the game, which is one of the interesting things about this series. It’s not as if the players are in some fantasy world — these duels to the death are taking place in the real world, just facilitated via a mobile game.

You even earn money from winning matches and events — which is deposited into your bank account automatically — and you can use that money to purchase items from the game shop. These items range from weapons to a temporary stoppage of random battles being initiated.

And because Darwin’s Game (the name of the game) turns real life into a game, it also gives each player a unique ability. You know, just to make the fights to the death more interesting. For example, the first antagonist can turn invisible.


Character abilities will be spoiled in this section.

Kaname Sudou is the unfortunate protagonist of this series. I say unfortunate because he never wanted to join Darwin’s Game. He was sent an invitation to the game from one of his friends, he didn’t know what it was, he opened it, and once you open Darwin’s Game there’s only one way out.

It will probably also come as no surprise to you that Kaname, being the protagonist, is also the least interesting character in the series. His sigil (ability) allows him to manifest any weapon he’s touched before. Basically he’s a bootleg, lesser version of Emiya from Fate.

Kaname Sudou from the anime series Darwin's Game
Kaname Sudou

Shuka Karino is the female lead of the series and partner of Kaname. Her sigil allows her to freely manipulate anything with a “rope-like” structure. She uses this to wield chains tipped with spearheads as a weapon.

Rein Kashiwagi is another member of Kaname’s crew who specializes in information gathering (and selling). She typically stays out of combat and games the system by trading information to other players. Her sigil is perfect for this, because it allows her to see her escape route in slow-motion when in danger.

Ryuuji Maesaka is the fourth member of Kaname’s crew. He wears heavy, bulletproof armor and carries a light machine gun. His sigil doesn’t sound that good in a death game like this, but it’s actually pretty useful if you know how to use it. It allows him to tell if people are lying or not.

The fifth (and sixth) member(s) of Kaname’s crew is(are) Sui (and Souta). Technically they’re one person, Sui, but Souta is her twin “brother” who manifests as a second personality. Interestingly, they both have unique sigils. Sui can control water and Souta can freeze it.

Impression Over Time

So like I mentioned at the start of this review, Darwin’s Game is better than you might first expect. I originally picked it up thinking it was going to be bad considering it’s an anime basically about a mobile battle royale game. But the way the series goes about that concept is interesting to watch.

I’m not going to say that it’s the most unique anime out there, but when you consider all the similar series take place in fantasy worlds, one in our own world is kind of refreshing. But, I didn’t always think that.

The first episode or two aren’t as good as the rest of the series is. They try to paint Darwin’s Game as this “wacky” death game through the first antagonist, Banda-kun. He’s the local baseball team’s mascot who happens to be a Darwin’s Game player — and yes, he plays in character.

Rein Kashiwagi from the anime series Darwin's Game
Rein Kashiwagi

Once you get past those opening episodes, though, the series does get a lot better. You learn more about how the game works, what is and isn’t possible within it, and how different characters use their abilities in unique ways. And although I didn’t think Banda-kun’s fight was that great, it introduced concepts which are featured throughout the rest of the series.

For example, even the strongest seeming abilities have a weakness. Banda-kun could turn invisible which seems overpowered, but when in a match, your phone works as a mini map which shows the locations of all players — including invisible ones. The idea that every ability is viable in some situations, but also has drawbacks is always present.

And the mini map is a recurring feature throughout the series. It’s not like it was introduced just to balance Banda-kun. It’s more like Banda-kun was introduced to explain the mini map feature.


I ended up rating Darwin’s Game a 6/10. I enjoyed watching it a lot more than some other series from this season, but it’s not as though it’s one of the best anime around. Basically it’s just like I’ve said from the start — better than you would expect it to be.

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