As the Gods Will – The Second Series Manga Review
This manga review is the start of something new as Linny kicks off a series she has dubbed the “CrunchyCrawl” in which she reviews the first volume of every single manga series offered in Crunchyroll’s library in alphabetical order. This is in part an attempt to help newcomers to the world of manga get a feel of what the manga catalogue from Crunchyroll has to offer as some of the series come with rather puzzling synopsis or might turn out to be different than what it sounds like in the synopsis, or in some cases are related to series that aren’t officially licensed by Crunchyroll themselves or aren’t available legally in the western market. If you would like to read more reviews in this series, simply click on the CrunchyCrawl tag at the bottom of this article and you will be directed to all the reviews done so far on Crunchyroll’s catalogue. Please bear in mind that some were done before the official realization of CrunchyCrawl so they may have a different tone or layout.
As the Gods Will – The Second Series:
Reviewed by: Linny
Synopsis: The sudden appearance of a Daruma doll in a classroom changes the lives of the students forever as it kicks off a murderous spree and everyone trapped in the room has to figure out a way to survive. As The Gods Will The Second Series focuses on the fate of those who happened to be skipping school the day this event took place and how they will be paying the price for having escaped the fate of their fellow schoolmates.
Review (Warning: Spoilers to Follow):
Do not let the ‘SECOND SERIES” in the title fool you. While it does have clear ties to a previous series, it clearly can be enjoyed on its own as a separate story as it deals with new characters and events that simply happen to fall in the timeline of the original. As someone who had never heard of the original, I can confidently say that this series can be enjoyed by all newcomers as well without them having any prior knowledge of it. Our story opens with in the middle of a passionate football match that quickly cuts away to three high school boys debating the age old question of ‘tits or ass?’.
The first chapter introduces us to two characters who seem like they are the main cast for now. We have Akashi Yasuto and his best friend/ football teammate, Aoyama Senchi and the football match at the start is one that they lost and ended up causing them to also miss out on their chance to go on to the Nationals Tournament. It is these two who are debating the merits of the female form with a third classmate as they are interrupted by a female classmate named Takahashi who reminds them that they should be focusing on their future as they are in their final year of high school. Aoyama responds with gusto that all he cares about is enrolling into the same college with Akashi, preferably a college that will help further their futures as football stars. This however leads to a blow out between Akashi and Aoyama as Akashi confesses that he is done with football and is actually planning to spend his college years as a regular student, and that if he ever feels like playing football again, he will only do so casually in a college club rather than competitively in a college team. Aoyama is devastated as football was one of the foundations of their friendship and as children, they had made a solemn vow to be the best striker and the best passer in the football world. A bitter argument ensues as Akashi mocks Aoyama for holding onto childish dreams which ultimately leads to Akashi lashing out at everyone and walking out of school for the day. What none of them realize is that there’s something terrible about to happen at the school after Aoyama leaves that might end their friendship permanently, whether they wanted it to or not.
So this first chapter is basically world and character setup and a sort of reminder of what happened in the first series which was basically a survival story about a cast of kids that find themselves trapped in a series of game of death. While this second story does show its cast members engaging in some of the same games as the original ones, the main theme is to follow up on what happens to the kids who happened to miss school that day and escaped having to participate in the deadly games. The games in this series are traditional Japanese games and while the names of the game may sound foreign to western readers, they have very similar counterparts in the western world. For example, the first game is called Daruma-san has fallen, which turns out to basically be the Japanese name/version for the children’s game popularly known as Red Light, Green Light. As I have not read the first series, I can only conjecture that the original series had the children play several different games until only a single winner emerged. However, in this first volume, the games are interrupted by the police breaking into the school so the games continue only up to the second round. Based on what we read in the first chapter, it’s no surprise that one of our two main characters turns out to be the leader and saviour as he is shown to care for others and takes charge in stressful situations. The games are brutal and while it is all in black and white, I still would not recommend this series to anyone with a queasy stomach as there is a lot of bloodshed and sadism involved. Like most survival game stories, once the teens realize the dismal and deadly situation they have found themselves in, it brings out the worst in some of them as they try to sacrifice others for their own survival. And of course, a lot of them meet with really gruesome and gore-y deaths. There is some sense of creepiness in the story as we watch the juxtaposition of innocent and silly childhood games resulting in such violent deaths which can make for some spine tingling and thrilling reading.
On the other hand, As the Gods Will also has a very campy feeling to it. Notice in the image above how the kids are made to dress in mouse costumes while fighting for their lives. For some, this will come off as adding to the creepy feeling of the show by having the kids being forced to dress in a playful manner while they’re scared to death and in such a deadly situation. For others, this might evoke silly mental images that make them laugh and giggle and take away some of the tension of the situation. If you fall into the second group, Volume 1 might best be enjoyed by you if you treat it like it was made campy on purpose as other events occur in the rest of the volume that just start to feel more and more silly such as kids being transported in trash can shaped jet packs and panty shots at the most random moments. However, if you loathe campy horror, then best that you give this series a skip.
Moving on to the rest of the volume, without spoiling too much, all I will tell you is that it deals with how Akashi deals with the mental trauma of realizing how he managed to escape the ordeal and how deeply he regrets his words and actions that he committed in anger. We also get to meet his father who happens to be a detective in the police force and adds to the campy and comedic feel by constantly switching between distraught/relieved parent and serious/tight lipped policeman. Despite his dad’s strict warnings to avoid answering the door and remain in the house, Akashi is overcome with feeling of guilt and remorse and ends up agreeing to follow a strange statue like person who claims to be there to collect the ‘trash’ who skipped school and thus skipped the games. And once again, things get weird and comedic as Akashi is transported on the aforementioned trashcan jet pack device, meets several other kids on similar trashcan devices and befriends a girl whose panties are one of the first things he notices about her.
All of the events of the day culminate with these ‘thrash’ kids dropped off at a mysterious looking school where they are informed that to survive, they must graduate from this school as penance for having avoided school that fateful day. It soon becomes clear that this is no ordinary school and we are left wondering exactly what lies ahead for our trapped protagonists. A prominent feature of As the Gods Will – The Second Series, besides its survival game theme is its heavy usage of Japanese culture and icons. The very volume cover itself features a Daruma, which is a hollow, round, Japanese traditional doll. These dolls are typically red and depict a bearded man. Though they are considered toys, they are also used as good luck charms. The Daruma doll plays an important role in the very first death game of the story. Similarly, the kids who skipped school are picked up by a statue like man who looks exactly like a statue found in most Japanese schools. This statue is of Kenjirou Ninomiya,a prominent 19th-century Japanese agricultural leader, philosopher, moralist and economist. It is not uncommon to see statues of Ninomiya in or in front of Japanese schools, especially elementary schools. Typically these statues show him as a boy reading a book while walking and carrying firewood on his back. These statues are depicting popular stories that said Ninomiya was reading and studying during every moment he could and is most likely meant to be a reminder and encouragement to students to be like him. For those of you intimidated by a lack of familiarity with Japanese culture. the translators have done a good job of including enough translation notes in the sidelines of the relevant pages. So even if you do not know a lick of Japanese culture, do not let that discourage you from picking up the story as you will still be able to follow along.
If I have any major complaints about this story, it is that even in the first volume itself, there are some convoluted events that happen for the sake of the plot rather than for logical reasons. Since the very theme of this story is supernatural and consists of several illogical events, it is usually easier to brush aside your disbelief and most issues with inconsistencies. However, if you are someone who likes their stories to make basic logical sense, you might be disappointed with some parts right from the very start. The most prominent issue I noticed in this volume was how one of the ‘trash’ kids who turns out to be a NEET/ hikikomori manages to escape being taken by the statue that comes for him over a very convoluted reason. I won’t go into details to avoid major spoilers but if you decide to read the series or have already read this series, I would be curious to discuss this matter and hear your takes on it. PLEASE do remember to mark spoilers so as to avoid spoiling it for others if you leave comments about it.
In conclusion, I would recommend As the Gods Will – The Second Series to you if you enjoy violent survival game stories with some comedic elements, either to enjoy as a campy experience or to help lighten the tense vibe. I would however, recommend that you skip it if you cannot stand excessive bloodshed and/or prefer your thriller/horror to have logical or a serious vibe throughout. I would also like to reiterate that this series really does not require you to have any knowledge of the original/ first series and if you are worried about the heavy Japanese cultural references confusing you, the translation notes provided do a great job of making it accessible to all readers.