The thing about King’s Game is that it’s written by Nobuaki Kanazawa, through the eyes of a Nobuaki Kanazawa. Coincidence? I think not!
Disclaimer: I dropped King’s Game after one episode and do not intend to watch more of it just to justify my opinions on this post, so if there is any more evidence for either side of this debate, please feel free to chip in using the comments.
“The one [real living person] novelists can introduce into their fiction…is themselves. Writers like doing it, with a knowing nod and a wink…” – John Sutherland, 50 Literature Ideas You Really Need to Know
When I read this, the one work that came to mind was King’s Game. It’s possibly the only anime which has this trait, after all, due to the idea of being humble about oneself being baked into most anime. Bringing attention to yourself is problematic and embarrassing in Asian culture because of how the idea of filial piety and the so-called “vertical hierarchy” (i.e. where one places more respect for one’s seniors and is more friendly towards juniors) works.
When I previously read reviews on the show in question, I used the fact Nobuaki Kanazawa was both author and protagonist as a factor of justification for why this show was so horrible. I took the idea to be much like how a harem protagonist lands all the girls in regards to how much of a self-insert it was. More specifically, my idea was that “protagonist Nobuaki has survived the first King’s Game and tries to convince his classmates that the King is fake and using this, the manga and its spinoffs promote protagonist Nobuaki’s survivalist tendencies”. However, it had the self-deprecating idea of the killing game to justify both plot and (poorly) disguise the fact it was a self-insert in the first place.
However, considering this work originated as a cell phone novel – a self-insert piece of internet fiction taken to the extreme – and after reading the above quote, I have come to the conclusion King’s Game should be judged by the rules of the internet in the cases of its source material, and less so for its anime. Content should justify distribution, and thus how a work is perceived.
With that said, how much of protagonist Kanazawa is a parody? Well, it’s hard to say for sure since authors never seem to get much spotlight (again, there’s the “humility of the self” thing). However, this wiki page notes author Kanazawa was born in 1982, which would make him 36 in 2018. That and the picture on the aforementioned back up the idea the author is writing not as a chuunibyou teenager, but from experience…with the caveat that said experience is dialled up to ten. Cell phones may not have existed in 1997 or 1998 (when author Kanazawa was 16 or 17, the same age as his protagonist), but there is still the possibility that he may have written manuscripts or other notes for it down on paper, and then transferred them to a cell phone (or other device that would facilitate the writing of cell phone novels) in order to write King’s Game. Thus, since there isn’t much information about the author available aside from one not-quite-so-trustworthy wiki page and one Japanese Wikipedia page that doesn’t add anything to the discussion, it cannot be said whether author Kanazawa merely writes horror for pleasure or to spite his former classmates.
To conclude, I will leave you with one last fact from the wiki page which is a tangentially related but interesting fact of note…King’s Game (the manga) is stated to be in Weekly Shonen Jump, which might be how Crunchyroll and Funimation acquired the rights to the anime…
So what’s your take on this? Why would anyone want to put themselves into a king’s game such as this, anyway?