“Sabage” is the short form of “Sabaiba Gemu,” the Japanese reading of the English, “Survival Game.” There are quite a few survival game anime series. Sabage isn’t technically its own genre yet, but I consider it one. Sabage anime involve some kind of game or situation where characters must survive by killing each other. In other words, it’s like Battle Royale. Usually, there are 10-20 contenders, and the winner gets a reward. The protagonist is typically someone weaker than the others, or got pulled into the game against their will, but this isn’t an absolute rule.
Shows like Sword Art Online (first season), Akame ga Kill, and Akuma no Riddle might also qualify as Sabage anime series. There is a situation that calls for characters to kill each other in order to survive. However, in SOA, this potential is never realized, since Kirito is against killing any other players. In Akuma no Riddle, or in Mai-Hime, it plays out just like a Battle Royale, but in the end, few characters actually die. They’re just put out of the running. Anyway, now that you know what a Sabage anime is, here are seven of them ranked from least to greatest personal enjoyment.
This is a Fall 2012 series produced by studio Madhouse. Ryouto Sakamoto is kidnapped and forced to take part in a survival game on a deserted island. He and the other contenders all use bombs to fight with, just like in the online game Ryouta played, called Btooom!!
6. Juuni Taisen (Zodiac War)
Animated by Graphinica studio, Juuni Taisen aired in Fall 2017. Twelve characters with special fighting abilities, and traits like the twelve zodiac animals, are forced into a survival game. The last one standing may have one wish granted by the organization that controls the world.
5. Basilisk: Kouga Ninja Scrolls (2005 version)
This Fall 2005 series was produced by studio Gonzo. A remake was made just recently, but I haven’t seen it. The story follows the “war” between two ninja clans, the Kouga and the Iga. This is a major problem in and of itself, but also because the two young clan heirs are in love. Despite my personal enjoyment of it being a bit lower than I had hoped, Basilisk (2005) is a great anime from an amatuer critic’s standpoint, having unique and detailed art, beautiful music, a compelling if sometimes predictable story, and a variety of characters with interesting fighting abilities.
4. Magical Girl Raising Project (MGRP)
This one is like the opposite of Basilisk, being fairly average from a critic’s perspective, but for some reason I have a high personal enjoyment of it. MGRP is a Winter 2017 animated by studio Lerche. 15 girls and women (and one boy) are made into real Magical Girls after playing a mobile game called Magical Girl Raising Project. The mascot and ambassador from the magical world, Fav, at first tells the girls their job is to help people. As the series progresses, though, Fav’s real goal becomes apparent: to make the Magical Girls kill each other until only one is left.
3. Danganronpa The Animation
This anime was based on a video game, but I absolutely love the show even without ever playing the game! Danganronpa was animated by studio Lerche and aired in Summer 2013. 15 hopeful new students Hope’s Peak Highschool are trapped within the school and forced to play a survival game, where the last one standing gets to return to the outside world. One of them, a boy named Naegi, refuses to kill anyone, and seeks only to solve who committed the latest murder at the weekly Classroom Trials. The one responsible for this death game seems to be a little animatronic bear calling itself Monokuma.
2. Fate series (including Fate/Zero and Fate/Apocrypha)
Chances are you know something about the ever-popular Fate series by Type Moon. There are many different series and versions, some of which happen in the same universe at a different point on the timeline. Fate/Stay Night: Unlimited Blade Works is my favorite of them, but the most popular of the anime series is Fate/Zero, which aired in Fall 2011 and Winter 2012, and was produced by ufotable. Seven mages are chosen to compete in a “war” to win the Holy Grail, a mysterious, wish-granting entity with its own will. Each of the seven can summon a servant from history and/or legend, and each servant is one of seven classes: Saber, Lancer, Caster, Archer, Assassin, Rider, or Berserker. The last mage standing wins.
1. Mirai Nikki (The Future Diary)
One of my top 20 favorite anime series ever, Mirai Nikki was animated by studio Asread, airing from Fall 2011 through Winter 2012. The God of Time, Space, and Causality needs to choose the next God, so he presents 12 contenders with cell phones that give accurate predictions of the future. Male protagonist Yukiteru is timid, anxious, and insecure, but he survives thanks to the female protagonist and love interest, the famous Yuno Gasai, queen of Yanderes. As team, can Yukiteru and Yuno make it all the way to end of the game? This series is thrilling and sometimes horrifying, with an underlying mystery to be solved. I love it!
This has been Anime Rants in Sunday’s Select Seven feature. Thank you so much for reading! By all means, leave a comment if you have time. Ja ne! Bye now!