Death Games: A New Anime & Manga Genre?

Astro Boy

TETSUWAN ATOM by Osamu Tezuka © 2002 by Tezuka Productions

Yesterday I was at a “PreCon” event for ONECon, the anime convention in Middlesbrough for which I work as their “Manga Manager”. There I gave a panel in which I tried to claim that I believe there is a new genre of anime and manga that has been growing in recent years, which I’ve dubbed “Death Games”.

I define Death Games as: “A series in which the central protagonist(s) is/are forced to take part in some sort of game or contest which involves having to kill the other competitors at the risk of being killed themselves. The story follows their efforts to win the game and thus at least escape with their life/lives and possibly to win something else too.”

As you can see from the above image however, the idea is not nothing knew, as Osamu Tezuka wrote about in Astro Boy – although he did wrongly claim that his “Murder Game” as he called it would be in existance in 1993.

I written an article for Anime UK News explaning my theory and I hope that it will generate debate about the subject. In terms of Death Games in anime, manga and other Japanese works the main series I’ve been able to come up with are:

  • Battle Royale
  • Gantz
  • Sword Art Online
  • Mirai Nikki / Future Diary
  • Deadman Wonderland
  • [C]: Control – The Money of Soul and Possibility
  • Doubt and Judge
  • Danganronpa

If you can think of any other Death Games in anime and manga, please let me know.