Death Games Get A Dark New Reimagining In Chilling New Manga

Tokyo Underworld by mangaka Kenji Sakaki reimagines what manga has embraced over the years since Gantz popularized the trope of death games.


Warning: SPOILERS for Tokyo Underworld Chapter 1A new series called tokyo underworld is putting a disturbing spin on a popular sleeve genre where the main characters are drawn into games where they are forced to participate in deadly scenarios.


A previous manga that undoubtedly influenced tokyo underworld it is Gantz, a series where characters who have just died are transported to an unfurnished room. There, a bald man in a black sphere named Gantz forces these recently deceased characters to participate in various games where they must kill aliens.

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In tokyo underworld by Kenji Sakaki, there is an urban legend that anyone who causes the death of another in Tokyo is dragged into a hellish version of the city. A poor teacher who is relentlessly harassed by his students takes this myth very seriously and decides to prove the truth of it by herding them on a bus and performing a horrible act that leads to his death. Unfortunately for his students, the urban legend about the Tokyo Underworld is true because before the teacher dies, he proclaims that he was put to death and they are transported to this underworld. There, the students take part in a twisted game where the first round requires them to kill a terrifying warrior on a broken bridge.

In addition to the game of death connection, mangaka Kenji Sakaki of tokyo underworld also clearly found inspiration in Gantz for how it portrays its two main leads. Before their teacher’s death, the two of them try to protect their teacher from their peers as they harass him. And yet, their teacher still perceives them negatively and decides to condemn them as well. In Gantz, two of the main characters transport to the villain of the same name after performing a selfless act. They were hit by an oncoming train while trying to save a man who had just fallen onto the tracks. Worst of all, everyone else who was there at the station just pulled out their phones to capture the entire ordeal on video. Meanwhile, the two heroes who tried to save the man are forced to engage in gruesome games to the death.

As of now, only two chapters of tokyo underworld have been published simultaneously in shonen jumpMANGA Plus, the online exclusive spin-off of . The twist in the first chapter where the teacher condemns his students, even his two students who have been nice to him, serves as a perfect homage to Gantz. However, the introduction of death games in the next installment, while interesting, is almost a nod to the previous series. AfterGantz, many other manga have replicated the game of death to some extent. In popular culture outside of manga, for example, creator Hwang Dong-hyuk launched the South Korean television series squid Game, which follows a similar premise, except none of the characters had to die first to get there. While it’s exciting that the students find themselves in a hellish landscape, it’s a bit disappointing that they’re now the contenders in yet another game of death. I wish tokyo underworld find ways to distinguish yourself from Gantz and the manga that have followed in their footsteps.

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