In yet another flashback, the mysterious King orders Naoya to have sex before the day’s over. But oh no, there’s only ten minutes left! What are we to do? Nobuaki springs into action; he shoves both Naoya and his girlfriend into a dark room and begs them to do the deed. Naoya doesn’t want to go through with it, though. He already indirectly played a part in another girl’s death (plot twist: not every punishment results in death, but you’re free to kill yourself thinking that you’re going to die anyway). Even though Chiemi is technically willing to have sex with him to save his life, he doesn’t want yet another stain on his conscience. That seems reasonable. I get how he feels. I wouldn’t go through with it either. But what does our righteous hero do? He enters the room and punches his best friend out. He then begs Chiemi to take care of the problem. Okay, okay, hold up. Technically, Naoya just has to have sex. He doesn’t have to have sex with a girl. If Nobuaki is such a bro, why not take one for the team?
In any case, Ousama Game is a depressingly cynical anime. The moral question at the heart of the story is not exactly a new one either: what lengths will people go to when they think they’re doing the right thing? And we learn over and over that Nobuaki will do anything to save his best friend. He’ll even doom another classmate if he has to. Worst of all, he’ll force Naoya to have sex, and I doubt Chiemi is all that willing either. Consent becomes murky under duress, but that’s a whole ‘nother topic. To put it simply, Naoya was raped. Sure, it will “save” his life, but is this the only thing that matters? Even if Naoya survives the game, he’ll always have to live with guilt. Shouldn’t he have been allowed to choose? Rape is egregious for a multitude of reasons, but most relevant here is the fact that Naoya has been robbed of his agency. And sadly, this happens over and over. Naoya repeatedly tells Nobuaki that he’d rather die than go through with any of these cruel games, but the latter won’t listen.
But honestly, what’s even the point? Even if you manage to save your best friend today, the King can just as easily tell you to kill him tomorrow. I know the kids are in a ridiculous situation, and it’s easy to be calm and collected from my vantage point. But even if I was desperate to save my friend’s life, I would never ask my girlfriend to rape him. Ultimately, the only winning move is to not play. The only winning move is to love your fellow man and be selfless. But over and over again, Nobuaki doesn’t allow Naoya to make this sacrifice. No one is allowed to make that sacrifice, and this is precisely why the show is hopelessly cynical. Kana, for instance, quickly employs her sexuality in order to bargain for her life. She’s thus no different from Natsuko in the present day. If you try to be selfless, you are either ridiculed or strong-armed into playing (like Naoya). Nevertheless — and this is perhaps the biggest joke of all — people keep trying to convince Nobuaki that he’s neither a coward nor a monster.