Preview: Tomodachi Game
May 30, 2022
In high school, for many boys and girls, friendship is more important than anything else. But how well does a confidential friendship work if it is suddenly literally jeopardized? This is what the new psychological thriller anime Tomodachi Game deals with, which has been involved in this year's spring season on Crunchyroll since April 5, 2022 and drives a wedge between five inseparable friends. Patrick Snir
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A long friendship threatens to break up
Yūichi Katagiri is not a boy who has been showered with fame and fortune. Instead, he's going to have to push himself and work hard to be able to take part in next month's class trip. Not going is not an option for him, after all he promised his four best friends in high school who are more important to him than anything else in the world. Thanks to Shiho Sawaragi, Tenji Mikasa, Makoto Shibe and Yutori Kokorogi, Yūichi at least manages to give his dreary life some color and not to drown in despair. However, their harmonious and inseparable friendship is suddenly jeopardized.
After Yūichi was also able to contribute the necessary money, the amount collected from all classmates for the class trip was stolen by an unknown person. Self-explanatory, Yūichi falls into the sights of his classmates – who else could be considered if not the "poor" from the class? Days pass as mysterious events unfold one evening when Yūichi supposedly receives a letter from Sawaragi asking for a meeting that same evening.
Worried, Yūichi rushes to her, but instead of meeting her alone, he spots his entire group of friends at the meeting point after they also receive a letter. When it turns out that she didn't write him the letter, the group is attacked and kidnapped. From this point everything changes and Yūichi and his friends get involved in a mysterious money game where they have to decide whether friendship or money is more important.
image and animation
Tomodachi Game is based on the manga by author Mikoto Yamaguchi with drawings by mangaka Yuki Sato and is being directed by Hirofumi Ogura in the still new Okuruto Noboru studio, which has previously been used for adaptations such as The Hidden Dungeon Only I Can Enter or the second season of How Not to Summon a Demon Lord . In Japan, the broadcast started on April 5, 2022, while the anime series is simulcast in Germany on Crunchyroll.
In keeping with Tomodachi Game 's genre, the anime adaptation is predominantly presented in drab and saturated colors that make the setting a mainstay of the plot. Flashbacks, in particular, ensure a certain lively variety, which are not only essential for the plot, but together with fresh, dynamic accents and the cinematic look (in cinemascope format) they deliver an all-round valuable picture.
Satomi Miyazaki's character design adheres very strictly to the original by mangaka Yuki Sato and stands out for its accurate contours, although the depiction is very simplified. I looked at Manabu's GCI design with a stern eye, but after the first few episodes I can say that it was a good decision.
Not only because Manabu stands out strongly and plays a central role as a game master, but also because his character design fits into the picture wonderfully without being distractingly eye-catching. In addition, the animation is not really stressed, but already knows how to convince with smooth movements in the picture.
dubbing and music
Tomodachi Game is currently only available in the original Japanese version with German subtitles on Crunchyroll. The Japanese voice cast is considerably enriched with many experienced and well-known voices, such as Minami Takayama as Manabu (Japanese voice of Conan Edogawa from Detective Conan ). The expected performance is reflected in the anime and the good voice acting is particularly pleasing. The voices also fit their respective characters, exploiting their characteristics and are in sync with their lip movements.
I would have hoped for a little more from the music composed by Michiru. Although there are sequences that underline and carry the events with opportune soundtracks, the music is mostly passive and leaves the dialogues in the foreground.
The opening ( Double Shuffle by Nana Mizuki), on the other hand, is a rhythmic catchy tune with introductory scenes, while the ending ( Tomoshibi by saji) forms the rocky conclusion to each episode, mostly with still images.
So far, Tomodachi Game is an anime series that has not found a large audience. No wonder, since the first episode left a lot to be desired and starts without a prologue. Only from episode to episode does the pacing become more pleasant and thus attracts attention. The friendship of the five protagonists is the linchpin of this plot, the backgrounds of which also play a major role and are used excellently.
Unfortunately, Tomodachi Game 's biggest problem is the characters, which don't feel real with their respective traits and current approach. Unfortunately, there isn't any empathy to describe the characters as endearing. In addition, there is no character development after the first half, because all the characters are closed and only let the flashbacks speak for themselves.
The main strength of the anime series again lies in the main character Yūichi Katagiri, who brings the story to fruition due to his depth, complexity and bewildering personality and thus brings the pleasure to life. It makes the anime come alive and gives the plot a certain originality.
Without question, Tomodachi Game is a good psychological thriller anime if you give it a chance despite the bleak first episode and dive into the action without great expectations. The exciting and unique plot of the series, the common and surprising plot twists and the solid visual implementation outweigh this.
Whether for fans of survival dramas like Squid Game , Alice in Borderland , Danganronpa or exciting psychological thrillers – Tomodachi Game is a clear recommendation despite its initial difficulties and convinces with its original plot.
Images: ©Mikoto Yamaguchi, Yuki Sato, KODANSHA/ “Tomodachi Game” Production Committee.