Just in time for Halloween, this year's fall season is offering a two-for-one on survival games. Where Juni Taisen offers an over-the-top battle royale, King’s Game leans much more heavily into the horror side of the genre. A class of 32 students receive text messages from an unknown “king” in a game of Simon Says where failure to obey the rules means certain death.
King’s Game is based on an original story by Nobuaki Kanazawa, which was, appropriate to the subject matter, a mobile novel read on the phone. His first and only work, King's Game has been a blowout success, exceeding 40 million views. Since, Kanazawa has written 8 works in the same world which have been published under Futaba and sold over 8 million copies in total. Kenji Konuta with be adapting the story for series composition, whose past experience includes Servamp and the second season of Ace of Diamond.
The series will be directed by Noriyoshi Sasaki. It will be his first full series at the helm, with his previous directorial work being the shorts Ojisan no Marshmallow and My Wife is the Student Council President+!, the latter under King’s Game’s production studio Seven. To date, the majority of Sasaki’s work has been as a key animator and episode director and neither director nor studio have touched on material quite like King’s Game before. If that wasn’t enough, studio Seven is also entering new territory with King’s Game as the studio’s first solo production featuring full-length episodes.
Kan Soramoto, who worked with Sasaki previously on My Wife is the Student Council President+!, will be chief animation director and lead character designer. Although well acquainted with animation direction, this with be Soramoto’s first venture into character design and it's quite an ambitious project to start off with featuring a full class of 32 distinct characters right from the start. Perhaps that is why Yosuki Ito is also slated as a character designer for the series. Ito also previously crossed paths with Sasaki working on Psycho-Pass, which is about as close thematically to King’s Game as any of the primary staff’s experience approaches.
The primary character, Nobuaki Kanazawa, is voiced by industry legend Mamoru Miyano whose numerous roles include, but are in no way limited to, Kei from Ajin, Dazai from Bungou Stray Dogs, Masaomi from Durarara!!, Rin from Free!, Chrollo Lucifer from Hunter X Hunter, Death The Kid from Soul Eater, Takuto from Star Driver, Rintarou from Steins;Gate, Tsukiyama from Tokyo Ghoul, and JJ from Yuri!! on Ice. The lone survivor from his previous school's King's Game, Kanazawa is likely to go through a range of emotions discovering he will once again become the victim of a nightmare scenario which Miyano will doubtless be prepared to deliver. The heroine, Natsuko Honda, is voiced by Yui Horie, who was Naru in Love Hina, Tsubasa in the Monogatari series, Chie in Persona 4, and Minori from Toradora!.
Among their many supporting classmates, a few interesting names emerge such as Yoshitsugu Matsuoka, voicing Toshiyuki Abe, who was Kirito in Sword Art Online, Souma from Food Wars, Sora from No Game No Life, and Teruki from Mob Psycho 100. Another is M.A.O, who will be Chiemi Honda, who you may recognize as Hikari from Digimon Tri and Luluco from Space Patrol! Luluco. Each seem well suited to playing innocent students thrown into a dangerous situation. Ultimately, in a series packed with horror and intrigue, we can expect a great demand on the voice actors to modulate their performance with the mood. Of course, how long any of them will last is anyone’s guess.
King’s Game is an interesting prospect for the fall season from a production standpoint. For the director Sasaki and Studio Seven this will be their first full televised solo production, for the Soramoto it will be his first production as character designer, and for all of the above, it will be their first venture into a genre with such dark and brutal themes. The anime can rely on its strong source material and experienced voice talent, but it will be a great opportunity for the people behind the scenes to show that they’re made of.